This weekend the PDC are treating us to an event dubbed the FA Cup of Darts. That’s right, its time for another major, and the second televised event of the week after the Darts Premier League stopover in Exeter on Thursday, the UK Open.
This event earned its nickname due to its random round by round draws as well as the participation of amateurs among the 160 player field. Like its footballing equivalent, giant-killing has been a feature of the event over the years and hopefully, this year will be no different.
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A preview of the UK Darts Open
No players will be seeded and a random draw is held for each of the following rounds after the conclusion of the third round. As such, this is an event that doesn’t necessarily favour the big names, proof of which can be found in the fact that we have enjoyed 10 different winners in the 17 years that this event has been running, which is quite open by darts standards.
Plus, consider the fact the greatest darter of all time, Phil Taylor only lifted the trophy five times while the pretender to his crown, Michael van Gerwen has only claimed it twice. For the record, Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade have also won it two times, while the other names scratched onto the trophy are that of Roland Scholten, Robert Thornton, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson and Nathan Aspinall, who took the trophy this time last year.
Ignoring the obvious claims of MVG, a case could be made for Nathan Aspinall to reclaim his title, even if he did lose to Peter Wright in the Premier League last night. The Stockport man’s battling spirit is a key element to his game, even if it was Snakebite who came out on top in Exeter. Wright is another who will need no introduction in Minehead this weekend.
One member of the current big three that will contest The Open is world number three Gerwyn Price. Price was playing like the best in the world until last night when his undefeated record, the last in the Darts Premier League, fell after he was soundly and surprising beaten by Glen Durrant. 2020 will surely bring more televised trophies for the Welshman otherwise it will, in all honesty, be deemed a failure given his ability on the arrows, and this could well be the ideal place to get things started for The Iceman.
If not Aspinall or Price then who? Well, all eyes will surely turn to Michael Smith, who desperately needs to break his major tournament duck. If his recent nine-darter is anything to go by then his form couldn’t be in better condition for a deep run at the Open.
Bully Boy is widely regarded as one of the most talented players in the world today and has been the bridesmaid on nine occasions since 2018. This includes second-place finishes at the World Series of Darts Finals, 2019 World Championship, 2019 World Matchplay, the 2020 Darts Masters and this weekend’s Belgian Darts Championship part of the European Tour. Oh, and he beat Mighty Mike 7-4 in the Darts Premier League last night in an effortlessly classy performance.
Glen Durrant is another on the hunt for his first trophy, albeit on the PDC alone. The former BDO world champ only earned his Tour Card two months before his UK Open debut last year but is now a year into life with the PDC and is going well in the Darts Premier League as witnessed by his excellent 7-3 defeat of Gerwyn Price.
Finally, mention must be made of ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries, who last night became the first challenger to win a match in the Darts Premier League when he beat Gary Anderson. Anderson was off throw in his match last night after a wishy-washy season so far. He will need to raise his game significantly if he is to win the Open for a second time having triumphed in 2018. As for Humphries, he will be relishing the opportunity to shine on another major PDC occasion and should not be ruled out.
UK Open Betting Lines
|Michael Van Gerwen||11/10||2/1|
QUICK GLANCE AT UK OPEN DARTS 2020
Venue: Butlin’s Minehead Resort, Minehead
Format: Max of 11, best of 19, 21
Current Champion: Nathan Aspinall
Where To Watch: ITV 4
When To Watch: (1200 GMT)