Live and televised PDC Darts action makes its return this Friday when the UK Open rolls into Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena which this week is filling in for Butlins Minehead Resort, the regular venue for the Open.
Often likened to being the FA Cup of darts due to its no seeding format, the UK Open is one of the most easily anticipated tournaments on the PDC calendar and pits a mix of PDC Tour Card Holders and other qualifiers against each other.
That is, of course, before Round Four when the world’s top 32 come into play and the action gears up a notch or two.
Top Two Rivalry
Last year, the world’s top two players – Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price – met in the final with the Dutchman coming out on top.
Can defending champ Michael van Gerwen do the same again?
Highly possible, yes.
Since last year’s final, the pair have switched rankings with Gerwyn Price leapfrogging both Peter Wright and Mighty Mike to become world number one after taking down the World Championships at the Ally Pally back in January.
Nevertheless, our sportsbook slightly favours MVG, making him the favourite at 4/1 ahead of the Iceman’s 21/4.
FA Cup Of Darts
In all, 154 players will be in attendance and, with no seedings and a random draw, everything really is all to play for.
Outside of the top two, Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, Nathan Aspinall, Jonny Clayton and Matchplay champ Dimitri van den Bergh are all names that jump out, but this really is wide open.
Normally by now the Darts Premier League would be in full swing and we would have some kind of pointer as to where best to put our money. But, with such a fractured start to this year’s season, it’s hard to read into any form because there just isn’t any.
After all its been 33 days since Welsh World Cup winner Jonny Clayton lifted his maiden PDC televised title – at this very venue – the 2021 Darts Masters.
What we can say is that you can never rule out Michael van Gerwen who has been darts’ dominant force for the past six or so years.
His main rival for now, and in the years to come, Gerwyn Price – the other half of Wales’ World Cup winning duo – is the game’s other stand out talent right now and will once again be an extremely strong contender.
While the Iceman has never won the UK Open, he did make the final 12 months ago and has to be given due consideration.
Peter Wright is a three-time finalist and one-time UK Open winner here and is available at the nice price of 9/1.
In a week of great players coming out of retirement – Snooker is about to welcome back the legend that is Stephen Hendry – darts is set to once again see Raymond van Barneveld step up to the oche at a televised tournament as he makes his return at the Marshall.
Darts romantics can back the former world champion to make a winning return at 65/1.
The UK Open will be played from Friday 5th – Sunday 7th March, bet on it here.