Friday 1st March to Sunday 3rd March Live on ITV4
It’s the first weekend in March which means it’s time for the most unpredictable event on the PDC Tour. It’s the 2019 edition of the UK Open.
The PDC like to call it ‘The FA Cup of Darts’, and it’s not a bad comparison.
In a large field, the top professionals are joined by those from lower down the ranking list, players from the secondary Challenge Tour, and some amateurs who gained their spot via £8 qualifiers in Riley’s chain of bars.
An open draw in each round is also similar to the football competition and adds a level of unpredictability.
Importantly, this tournament is also a favourite event amongst the fans. Most of the tickets are only sold as part of an accommodation package in the Butlins resort. Therefore, it tends to attract real darts fans who make a weekend of it.
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Round One. 16 Pub Qualifiers, 16 Challenge Tour Players and players ranked 97-128
Round Two. Winners of Round One joined by players ranked 65-96
Round Three. Winners of Round Two joined by players ranked 33-64
Round Four. Winners of Round Three joined by players ranked 1-32
All the above 128 games will take place across eight stages on Friday, an epic day of darts. This will leave 32 players surviving until Saturday in the hunt for the £100K first prize. An open draw after each round makes it a very hard competition to predict.
Gary Anderson is our defending champion after an eventful renewal last year. You may recall Storm Emma wreaking havoc 12 months ago and the UK Open looked in danger of cancellation. It ultimately went ahead but sadly the 5000 capacity main arena wasn’t used and no fans were allowed on site. It was still an interesting event which rather fell into Gary Anderson’s lap as many of the other big guns were eliminated early.
David Pallett, Robert Owen and Corey Cadby were the other semi-finalists. This should give an idea of how open an event this can be. A deep run is possible with a kind draw, especially if the top dogs are drawn against each other.
Michael van Gerwen goes off at his customary -110 . In such a complicated event we can swerve him. He has been vulnerable here with only two victories.
The problem is who to oppose him with. The obvious answer would appear to lie with the Premier League players but few have shown much consistency so far. Gerwyn Price has arguably performed best but is too tight here at +2000 .
Gary Anderson at +800 is capable of retaining his title but withdrew from the Premier League three weeks ago. His fitness for six games in 48 hours would need to be taken on trust.
Therefore, I think the best strategy is to have some fun and go with a duo who are both triple figure prices but could give us a run for our money.
Chris Dobey reached the Last 16 at the World Championship before posting a 100 average over seven sets in defeat to Gary Anderson.
He has continued that decent form into this year. In the six 128-player PDC Pro-Tour events that have been played, he has achieved a semi-final slot and two last 16 appearances. There was a nine-dart finish in there as well.
He also reaffirmed that a big noisy audience doesn’t bother him when he was a late replacement for Gary Anderson in Week One of the Premier League. He drew 6-6 with Mensur Suljovic in a game he could have won.
At +10000 he could go very well for us. His opponent in the 3rd round will be Darren Beveridge or Luke Woodhouse which is a nice draw.
Danny Noppert will have fond memories of this venue after reaching the semi-finals of the Players Championship in November. He only moved to the PDC in January 2018 and is already into the Top 50 in the rankings. Two semi-final spots at the most recent Pro-Tour events suggest he is coming into form at the right time.
+20000 looks big for a talented player. He’ll start off in Round Three against Mickey Mansell.
Chris Dobey to win +10000
Danny Noppert to win +20000
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