Wessel Nijman curtailed Luke Littler’s bid for a third European Tour title of 2024 on the opening day of the NEO.bet Baltic Sea Darts Open, as Ritchie Edhouse stole the show with victory over Nathan Aspinall.

Day One of the year’s sixth PDC European Tour event saw 16 matches take place across two sessions in Kiel on Friday, with Premier League stars Littler and Aspinall among the high-profile casualties.

Littler – a winner in Wieze and Graz earlier this year – was condemned to just his second defeat in 15 European Tour matches by emerging Dutchman Nijman.

The 23-year-old won five of his six matches against Littler on the Winmau Development Tour in 2023, and he continued his remarkable record against the teenager with a landmark 6-3 win at the Wunderino Arena.

“For Luke it’s obviously very tough to play a Premier League night and then go to a European Tour event,” conceded Nijman, who will face Dutch icon Michael van Gerwen in Saturday’s second round.

“For me, this is like being in darts heaven! I took my chances tonight and I’m very happy with the win.

“Playing Luke on the Friday and then Michael on the Saturday – it doesn’t get any bigger, but if I play my own game I know I can make it tough for Michael tomorrow night.”

Despite Nijman’s heroics, Edhouse produced the performance of Friday’s first round, averaging 106.46 to dump out World Matchplay champion Aspinall in resounding fashion.

Baltic Sea Darts Open 2024

Edhouse – one of the form players of 2024 – continued his scintillating form to stun the world number four, converting 121 and 130 checkouts on his way to a 6-2 success.

Germany’s World Cup pairing of Martin Schindler and Gabriel Clemens also suffered early exits on home soil, losing out to Belgian duo Mike De Decker and Andy Baetens respectively.

De Decker reeled off three consecutive legs from 3-3 to account for International Darts Open champion Schindler, while reigning Lakeside champion Baetens denied Clemens in a last-leg shoot-out.

Raymond van Barneveld endured no such trouble however, averaging 99 to kick off his campaign with a crushing 6-1 victory against Sweden’s Daniel Larsson.

The five-time World Champion won the last four legs in 14, 15, 12 and 14 darts to cap off a dominant display, and he will now play Danny Noppert in an all-Dutch affair on Saturday evening.

Gian van Veen will be another Dutchman involved in the second round, after following up a 121 checkout with an 11-darter to defeat impressive debutant Kevin Troppmann 6-4.

Daryl Gurney dumped out UK Open champion Dimitri Van den Bergh in a heavyweight opening round tussle, punishing 14 missed darts at double from the Belgian to close out a 6-3 victory.

Meanwhile, Madars Razma fended off a valiant fightback from Chris Dobey – who recovered from 5-1 down to force a decider – and the Latvian’s reward is a tie against reigning champion Dave Chisnall.

Earlier in the day, James Wade returned to winning ways on the big stage with a 6-2 thumping of Niels Zonneveld, averaging 99 to set up a meeting with Joe Cullen for a place in the last 16.

Jermaine Wattimena averaged 101 to run out a 6-1 winner against Brendan Dolan, while 2023 UK Open champion Andrew Gilding swept aside a profligate Thibault Tricole by the same scoreline.

Sebastian Bialecki compounded Jose de Sousa’s European Tour woes with a deciding-leg victory in Friday’s opener, as Luke Woodhouse produced a 12-darter to edge out Ryan Joyce in a high-quality tie.

Host Nation Qualifiers Franz Roetzsch and Moritz Hilger were also amongst the first-round winners, overcoming Haupai Puha and Matthew Dennant to preserve German hopes in Kiel.

However, Christopher Toonders was unable to replicate the feat of his compatriots, suffering a 6-0 whitewash at the hands of Maik Kuivenhoven, who now sets his sights on fourth seed Rob Cross.

The NEO.bet Baltic Sea Darts Open continues on Saturday, with top seed Chisnall, World Champion Luke Humphries and Van Gerwen all set to enter the fray.

The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide.

2024 NEO.bet Baltic Sea Darts Open

Friday May 10

First Round

Afternoon Session

Sebastian Bialecki 6-5 Jose de Sousa

Maik Kuivenhoven 6-0 Christopher Toonders

Andrew Gilding 6-1 Thibault Tricole

Franz Roetzsch 6-4 Haupai Puha

Moritz Hilger 6-2 Matthew Dennant

Jermaine Wattimena 6-1 Brendan Dolan

Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Ryan Joyce

James Wade 6-2 Niels Zonneveld

Evening Session

Madars Razma 6-5 Chris Dobey

Gian van Veen 6-4 Kevin Troppmann

Daryl Gurney 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh

Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Daniel Larsson

Andy Baetens 6-5 Gabriel Clemens

Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Nathan Aspinall

Mike De Decker 6-3 Martin Schindler

Wessel Nijman 6-3 Luke Littler

Saturday May 11

Second Round

Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)

Josh Rock v Franz Roetzsch

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Daryl Gurney

Ryan Searle v Jermaine Wattimena

Ross Smith v Luke Woodhouse

Damon Heta v Gian van Veen

Joe Cullen v James Wade

Rob Cross v Maik Kuivenhoven

Ricardo Pietreczko v Moritz Hilger

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)

Jonny Clayton v Ritchie Edhouse

Danny Noppert v Raymond van Barneveld

Peter Wright v Andrew Gilding

Luke Humphries v Sebastian Bialecki

Michael van Gerwen v Wessel Nijman

Krzysztof Ratajski v Mike De Decker

Stephen Bunting v Andy Baetens

Dave Chisnall v Madars Razma

Photos credit Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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