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PDC - Darts: Wade aims to continue purple patch in Austria

The Austrian Darts Open, the fourth event on this year's PDC European Tour, sees defending champion Michael van Gerwen head a top-class field in Premstatten where James Wade will be looking to continue his winning streak.

Van Gerwen, winner the last time this competition was staged in 2019, is 10/3 to successfully defend his title and claim a second European Tour event of the year.

World champion Peter Wright is 11/2, while Wade - who flew into Austria on a high after storming to glory on Night 12 of the Premier League in Dublin on Thursday - is available at 14/1.

Van Gerwen a Euro superstar

This is event number four of 13 in the schedule for the 2022 European Tour, which celebrates a decade of success this year and no one has enjoyed these tournaments more than Van Gerwen.

Of the 174 European Tour competitions played since 2012, the Green Machine has won an incredible 33 of them. The next most prolific victors are Wright and Gerwyn Price with six - and Price won't be adding to that haul this week as he's a non-runner.

No surprise then that it's Van Gerwen who is already leading this year's order of merit courtesy of one win and one semi-final in the previous three competitions, as he looks to nail down the top seeding for the year-ending European Championship.

Machine in top gear for Austrian attempt

Van Gerwen is the big box-office draw in Premstatten, but the men in form are Clayton and Wade, who produced real fireworks in Dublin on Night 12 of the Premier League.

It was Wade who beat the Welshman in the final 6-5 having earlier produced an outrageous, career-best 114.73 average in seeing off Price. Clayton's average for the night was almost 102.

Wade and Clayton are both among the 16 seeds, who don't toe the oche until round two on Saturday.

The Englishman will play the winner of the match between Brett Claydon and host-nation qualifier Rainer Sturm - Claydon's a 2/9 shot - while Clayton awaits the victor of the first-round duel between Tour stalwarts Jeffrey de Zwaan and three-time European Tour winner Mensur Suljovic.

Austrian Suljovic will have the crowd in his corner as he strives to land match odds of 4/7, with De Zwaan an 11/8 poke.

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Cool Hand Luke out to prove he's no fluke

Price won the first European Tour event of 2022, the International Darts Open in Germany at the back end of February. Then it was Van Gerwen's turn to bolt up at the German Championship in Halle.

And last time out, at the German Grand Prix two weeks ago, it was Luke Humphries who reigned supreme, clinching a maiden European title with an 8-2 demolition of Martin Lukeman in the final.

In the semis he didn't just beat Van Gerwen, he trounced him, battering the former world No.1 7-0 with a 107 average.

Humphries is going to inevitably be hugely confident as he readies himself to take on the winner of the first-round set-to between Radek Szaganski and Danny Jansen, with Cool Hand a 14/1 chance to repeat his Munich heroics.

Humphries is in the arguably softer half of the draw - in as much as it doesn't feature Van Gerwen, Wright or Wade - where Damon Heta, another in-form player, looks a fair price at 16/1.

The Australian is one of only five men averaging over 98 on the Pro Tour this year, a claim also made by Ryan Searle, a 16/1 shot.

Both players have won on tour this season, so clearly are in great nick and ready for a good run in Austria.

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