World champion Rob Cross is set to perform in front of the biggest post-war crowd for a darts event tonight (Thursday).
The St Leonards-based player will take on five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld on night four of the Unibet Premier League in front of 12,000 fans at Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The Premier League’s incredible growth since being introduced to the calendar in 2005 has seen the UK and Ireland’s leading arenas joined by Rotterdam Ahoy in hosting the sport’s top players.
Darts’ increasing popularity in Germany led to this year’s fourth league night being held in Berlin, with tonight’s event set to welcome the PDC’s largest ever crowd following an amazing response from fans.
After heavy defeats in his first two Premier League matches, Cross picked up his first win in Newcastle last week with a 7-4 victory over world number two Peter Wright.
And the world number three is aiming to continue his return to form against 2014 Premier League champion van Barneveld in the German capital.
“It doesn’t matter how you’re playing as long as you’re winning and it was good to get the win last week,” said Cross. “I’m starting to get back to my old self now.
“I’m adamant that after winning the World Championship, if we’d had a competition the following weekend I’d have kept that momentum going. But when you’ve got that four-week gap, it’s damaged me.
“I was like starting again and I’ve never experienced that before. The Premier League’s still new for me, but I’m getting back into my routine, playing more and my practice is going well, and I’ll get better.
“It’s probably as crucial a game for me on Thursday against Raymond as it was last week. It’s going to be massive in Berlin and a new experience, and it’s a privilege to be a part of nights like this.
“I’m excited, I’m ready to play Raymond and I think it will be a good game.”
Van Barneveld is bidding to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Simon Whitlock in Newcastle to claim his second win of the campaign.
“I always feel good in Germany and it’s going to be a huge crowd in Berlin,” said the Dutch legend. “I’m really focused on playing the world champion Rob Cross.
“I’ve got three points from the first three weeks, but I want to hopefully get a couple more points tomorrow and I’m confident.”
Cross is the 4/5 favourite to win the match with competition sponsors Unibet, with the draw at 33/10 and van Barneveld at 5/2.
Their match is the fourth of five in tonight’s schedule and the action will get underway just after 7pm with Michael Smith up against Whitlock.
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