Less than 24 hours after the PDC pitched up in Exeter for last night’s Darts Premier League, the corporation makes its return to Minehead for the 2022 UK Open.
Known as the FA Cup of Darts, there is a draw after every round so anybody can play anyone else at any time.
The open draw format and three days of two sessions with multiple matches going off on different stages make this one of the most unique and difficult events in professional darts and can provide an opportunity to find a big-priced winner.
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Last year’s tournament was held behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, but it will be a different story this year as the event, which was won in 2021 by James Wade, returns to its spiritual home at the Butlins Resort and will be welcomed by a full crowd.
Titanic Battle For Number One Spot
After battling it out last night in Exeter in the first round, it was Peter Wright that came out on top in his first-round match against Gerwyn Price.
This followed a win for the Iceman over Wright in the International Darts Open last weekend that just about kept his lead at the top of the PDC Order of Merit, with an extra £6,500 more in winnings than the Scot.
However, a victory for Snakebite at Minehead would see Wright top of the rankings for the first time in his career.
Price, who tends to get a warmer welcome here than in other venues, is still to win the UK Open but has twice made the final of this competition.
The Iceman knows that his number one spot is under considerable threat and will be gone by Sunday if he fails to reach the final, regardless of what Snakebite does this weekend.
That outcome would require Snakebite to show the kind of quality he did last night in his first two games and indeed in 2017 when he won this very tournament.
Despite a whitewash defeat to Michael van Gerwen in last night’s Darts Premier League Night Four final, Snakebite is on red form right now, while Price, who himself was sensational in the Darts Premier League a fortnight ago, was very underwhelming last night, conceding five legs in a row to his great rival.
If it is to come down to those two once again, then it’s the Scotsman that is favoured. For this week at least.
bet365 have priced up The Iceman at 7/2, while they are also offering 13/2 on Snakebite.
Elsewhere In The Field
The top 32 players in the PDC Order of Merit all join in the competition in the fourth round, along with the 32 who have come through the previous three rounds.
This includes Jonny Clayton who last night looked like his mind was elsewhere – possibly Minehead – as he was shot down 1-6 by Night Four’s winner Michael van Gerwen.
The Ferret had shown some good form in the Premier League Darts up until this week, but on last night’s form, punters might want to look elsewhere.
If, though, you still fancy Jonny Clayton then bet365 have him at 7/1 to win yet another PDC title.
In three games on Thursday night in Exeter, a near back to his best Michael van Gerwen faced Jonny Clayton, Michael Smith and Peter Wright and only dropped three legs all evening.
Big Priced Machine
Of course, the returning champion James Wade is not to be dismissed.
The Machine has won this event three times but has never experienced Minehead in its full glory, having won the UK Open during the Bolton era in 2008 and 2011, and then again last year with no fans present.
Wade put a couple more points on his Darts Premier League scoreboard last night, reaching the semis, where he lost to Peter Wright. bet365 rate him as a 50/1 shot, which is surely worth an each-way punt.
After all, the world number four was a 40/1 shot last year and won it, before going on to have another decent 12 months, so it is interesting that there is an extra ten points on him this time around.
For more of an outside bet, look beyond the Premier League of Darts participants for a moment and consider the claims of Rob Cross.
After winning last season’s European Championship, Voltage can feel unlikely to have missed out on a place in Darts Premier League.
But the flip side of that is that he should be fresh from not having to travel to Premier League events every Thursday.
This could make him a threat and a deep run in the tourney is definitely not out of the question.
Darts bettors can get 28/1 on the former electrician to win at bet365.
Another stand-out name from the rest of the field is Ryan Searle who actually lives nearby.
Heavy Metal has been threatening to make a breakthrough in a TV major for a while now.
He made the Players Championship final on TV last year where he lost to Peter Wright, who branded him the future of darts immediately after the final.
Luke Humphries, who beat Searle in the opening Players Championship final of this season, reached the final here in 2021 and used this tournament as a springboard to bigger things 12 months ago. Searle is capable of doing something similar this weekend.
Punters looking to back Heavy Metal can enjoy 33/1 with bet365 who are also offering 40/1 on Luke Humphries among their darts betting odds.
2022 UK Open Darts Schedule
Friday March 4
- Fourth Round (Best of 19 legs)
Saturday March 5
- Fifth Round (Best of 19 legs)
- Sixth Round (Best of 19 legs)
Sunday March 6
- Quarter-Finals (Best of 19 legs)
- Semi-Finals (Best of 21 legs)
- Final (Best of 21 legs)
QUICK GLANCE AT THE UK OPEN DARTS
Venue: Butlins Resort, Minehead
Dates: 04 Mar – 06 Mar
Format: Best of 19, 21 legs
Current Champion: James Wade
Where To Watch: Sky Sports Main Event HD & Sky Sports Arena HD
When To Watch: 12:00 & 19:00 UK