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MICHAEL VAN GERWEN led the charge with a breath-taking performance on the opening night of the Unibet European Championship as five MODUS aces won through to the second round with victories in Dortmund on Thursday evening.

Van Gerwen produced a stunning display to see off a tenacious Paul Nicholson, who threatened to cause an upset with back-to-back 12-dart legs to start the match.

The world number one hit back with an 11-darter and went on to average over 110 and add a 170 checkout in an eventual 6-2 success.

Debutant Richard North caused the shock of night as he demolished number four seed Ian White 6-1.

Simon Whitlock averaged over 100 and hit 75% of attempts at doubles to complete a 6-3 triumph over Steve Beaton, which the 2012 European Champion sealed with a 128 checkout.

Joe Cullen reeled off five straight legs to beat Jelle Klaasen after going 2-1 behind, while a 106 finish in a last-leg decider saw Steve West overcome Mervyn King.

There was defeat for Danny Noppert, however, after the Dutchman failed to improve on a 4-2 lead against World Champion Rob Cross – eventually going down 6-4.

Jonny Clayton is in action against James Wilson on Friday afternoon before Thursday evenings winners play their second round ties on Friday night.