The first major PDC tournament of the year sees the ‘FA Cup of Darts’ starts in Minehead tomorrow with 147 players, 32 of which are amateur qualifiers lining-up.
The action kicks off tomorrow with a Preliminary Round before the First Round where players ranked 65-115 take part before the Second Round sees the 33-64 rankings enter. Those three rounds all take place in the afternoon session.
There will be a draw for the Third Round following the conclusion of the Second Round. This makes it difficult to predict a winner as there is no clear tournament path for a player to get through and the ties are unpredictable.
Due to the way this tournament is seeded it hasn’t thrown up a winner ranked as number one since 2009 when Phil Taylor beat Colin Osborne. Last years winner Adrian Lewis has been inconsistent but can make it another win in Minehead if he can consistently find his top darts.
Despite there not being a top ranked player in five years it still proves to have pedigree when winning the tournament with Phil Taylor (x3), Robert Thornton, James Wade and Adrian Lewis winning the event.
Some bookmakers are offering four each-way places therefore earning a pay out if your player reaches the semi-finals, which is arguably the best way of getting value away from the favourites, in the likes of Taylor, Michael van Gerwen or Gary Anderson.
With the open draw format it is highly unpredictable and its short format makes the games quick. If a top ranked player goes behind early on they might not find a way back into their matches so expect a few shocks over the weekend.
Here are three selections that are well worth backing plus a massive priced one to keep on your side this season.
Dave Chisnall (28/1) has played well so far in 2015 and is currently unbeaten in the Premier League darts. He has reached the final of major darts tournaments since his switch to the PDC but is yet to win a major. However this year could be his year as he has performed consistently and to a high standard. Its not just his scoring prowess that has seen him perform well but also how well he has done on the doubles, which is just as important as scoring.
Chizzy’s best performance in the tournament came in 2012 when he reached the semi-final before being beaten by eventual winner Robert Thornton. The man from St Helens has reached the final of the Grand Slam of Darts and World Grand Prix so has the calibre to go far in this tournament if the draw is kind to him. At 25/1 he represents good value not just to reach the semi-finals but could go all the way.
Vincent van der Voort (66/1)* may come as a bit of a surprise selection but the Dutchman has form in this tournament after being the runner-up in 2007 after being beaten by countryman Raymond van Barneveld. In two of the last three UK Open’s VDV has faced tricky ties being knocked out by Kim Huybrechts and Christian Kist.
The fast flinger has had a decent start to the 2015 season reaching Quarter Finals in four of his eight tournaments while he was also a runner-up in the second UK Open qualifying event where he lost to Michael van Gerwen. He was also a quarter finalist in the World Championships and if they draw proves kind could be a dark horse for this event.
* Van der Voort is available at 80/1 with Bet Victor and Paddy Power
Terry Jenkins (66/1) was last year’s runner-up after losing 11-1 to Adrian Lewis in the Final. The Bull, like Chisnall, is yet to win a PDC major despite reaching eight finals. He reached the Last 16 in the World Championship playing some magnificent darts.
He hasn’t had the greatest of starts to 2015 after failing to win any of his first three matches in UK Open qualifying events. However the Ledbury thrower can find some form here and is easily one that can go well off little form.
Joe Murnan (500/1) would only be a small stakes play if not just one to watch. He is an up and coming player and is definitely somebody to keep your eye on after impressing in floor events and will enter this tournament in the Second Round. He is ranked 75th in the PDC Order of Merit and is likely to climb higher than that and I for one wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top 32. The 31-year-old impressed in the German Darts Championship where he reached the Quarter Finals where he beat Ian White and Brendan Dolan before losing to Michael van Gerwen.