The European Tour circuit continues on the PDC calendar this weekend and after the roadshow hit Austria last week, it heads back to Germany this weekend for the European Darts Open, the latest leg of the qualifying for the European Championship.
This is another title which Michael van Gerwen will attempt to defend in Leverkusen but as is always the case 47 other players will descend on the German city each looking to dethrone him and benefit their chances of reaching the European Championship.
2019 – Michael van Gerwen
2018 – Michael van Gerwen
2017 – Peter Wright
2016 – Michael van Gerwen
2015 – Robert Thornton
2014 – Peter Wright
2013 – Michael van Gerwen
2012 – Raymond Barneveld
We might not have had many European Tour events last year but the format for these tournaments remains the same as before, which means that the qualifiers meet each other over the course of the play on Friday before the last 32 of the tournament is played over two sessions of action on Saturday, with the last 16 on Sunday afternoon and the quarter finals on Sunday night. They are all the best-of-11 legs with the semi-finals also on Sunday evening. They are the best-of-13 and then the final in the same session is the best-of-15 legs. The draw has been pre-determined and is played in a straight knockout format.
Gerwyn Price was the world number one when the seeds were announced for this tournament and as a result of that he will be the leading light in the top half of the draw. He might not have it all his own way though because the defending champion Michael van Gerwen is also in this half of the draw, as is fellow Premier League star Joe Cullen and the winner of the third European Tour event of the season Luke Humphries. The other seeds are Nathan Aspinall, Brendan Dolan, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Jonny Clayton. This is a lit half of the draw.
If you are a qualifier you probably didn’t want to be in this half of the draw but there are some big names who have not had much luck with the draw. They are Daryl Gurney, Stephen Bunting and Devon Petersen, all of whom are just outside the seeded spots and will need to come through a tough section. Nico Kurz, Kevin Doets and Lukas Wenig are some of the home qualifiers in this half while Mickey Mansell, Rowby-John Rodriguez and Luke Woodhouse are among those out to show they are not making up the numbers.
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The world champion Peter Wright is the highest ranked player in the bottom half of the draw. He has flattered to deceive in recent weeks which should fuel the fire within him but will certainly give encouragement to the other players in this section. James Wade is one of the Premier League stars in this half of the draw while the former World Matchplay winner Dimitri Van den Bergh is in this section. The other seeded players are Jose de Sousa, Rob Cross, Krzysztof Ratajski, Ryan Searle and Damon Heta.
You have lucked out a little if you have qualified for the event and been placed in this half of the draw and some of the big names who have had that stroke of luck include Dave Chisnall, Gabriel Clemens, Ian White and Keane Barry. Martin Schindler is sure to have the home crowds on side this weekend while Martin Lukeman has already made the final of one of these European Tour events this term. Jermaine Wattimena, Cameron Menzies and the young star Josh Rock are others to look out for.
I’ll take a couple of bets from the bottom half of the draw this week. I think that the top half is a bit of a tournament in itself whereas there aren’t too many players who are firing on all cylinders in the bottom half. James Wade would be one but his European Tour record isn’t up to scratch so my main bet this weekend is going to be Krzysztof Ratajski. The Pole lost to Joe Cullen in the last 16 last week and there is no shame in that but I sense he is ready to break out. He has been remarkably consistent on the Players Championship scene this year with a number of last 16 finishes and the odd semi-final. He would have gone much deeper in them had he not lost a run of deciding legs in the last 16. Ratajski has nine averages of more than 100 on the floor this year and if he can take that form to Leverkusen this weekend the draw might well open up for him to go deep here.
I took Keane Barry in the European Tour event before last and he ended up losing to eventual finalist Martin Lukeman in the last 16 which was disappointing but a deciding leg didn’t go his way. I’ll pay to see how well he can go this weekend because the two seeds in his immediate path are Ryan Searle and Damon Heta, both of whom lost in the last 32 last week which could be key. Barry is very much a confidence player and against Krzysztof Kciuk he has the chance to build some in the opening round before he starts running into the seeded players. The main seeds in his half are James Wade, Jose de Sousa and Peter Wright. Wade seems to flatter to receive at these events while the other two are bang out of form. I’ve a feeling someone could come through at a big price and it could well be Barry.
Back K.Ratajski to win European Darts Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back K.Barry to win European Darts Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Betfair (1/2 1-2)
Back him here: