The European Tour continues on the darting calendar this weekend when the Austrian Darts Open takes place in Graz. This is the fourth event on the European Tour and as with all of them will act as part of the qualifying series for the European Championship.
Michael van Gerwen won the first and only staging of this tournament three years ago and he is in the field looking to defend the title but as we’ve seen in the first three events there are a number of challengers looking to dethrone him.
2019 – Michael van Gerwen
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.
The seeds for this tournament have been based on the European Order of Merit last season with so few events so far this term. The halves have been flipped too so the second seed is the highest seed in the top half of the draw. That is Jose de Sousa with the next best seed being Joe Cullen. There are seven other seeds in the draw in the form of Luke Humphries, the winner of the last European Tour event, Damon Heta, Krzysztof Ratajski, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Premier League leader Jonny Clayton and Nathan Aspinall.
16 unseeded players will battle it out on Friday for the right to face one of those seeded players in the last 32 on Saturday. The bigger names among them in the top half include UK Open champion Danny Noppert, home star Mensur Suljovic, former world finalist Jim Williams, Ian White and Ricky Evans. Other notable names include Madars Razma, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Jermaine Wattimena and Danny Jansen who has already won a tour event this term.
OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH 888SPORT AND BET £10 TO GET £30 IN FREE BETS PLUS A £10 CASINO BONUS! PERFECT OFFER TO USE ON THIS TOURNAMENT! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO JOIN. USE CODE 30F. NEW ACCOUNTS ONLY. 18+ T&Cs apply (See image for significant terms). Gamble Aware.
Peter Wright is the top seed in the draw this week. He is in the bottom half of the bracket and could end up facing the defending champion Michael van Gerwen in the semi-final. As with the other half, there will be six other seeded players hoping to stop that from happening. They are Ross Smith, the former world champion Rob Cross, Brendan Dolan, the winner of the Premier League night in Dublin on Thursday in James Wade, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Ryan Searle. This looks a really strong half of the draw.
That is backed up with some of the qualifiers in it. Thibault Tricole was a set away from winning the WDF World Championship at the beginning of the month so he is entitled to fancy his chances this weekend. He beat Cameron Menzies in the semi-final of that event and the Scot is here. Stephen Bunting and Gabriel Clemens are the highest ranked qualifiers in this half of the draw while Steve Beaton, Devon Petersen and Callan Rydz have plenty of class about them and will be hoping to show that this weekend.
I’ll take a bet from both halves of the draw this week. My main bet comes in the top half with the Australian player Damon Heta filling that spot. Heta is in a rich vein of form at the minute. He won Players Championship 5 last month and hasn’t stopped there. He made the semis of PC10 beating Dave Chisnall and Dimitri Van den Bergh along the way as well as the semis of PC12 where Joe Cullen and Jonny Clayton were among his victims. He also made the semi-final of the most recent European Tour event where after beating Raymond van Barneveld and Jonny Clayton he would have been disappointed to lose to Martin Lukeman. Despite that defeat I like the Australian because he looks to have a nice draw if he beats Luke Humphries in the last 16 should they meet. He has shown he can beat anyone and in a week where the Premier League players could be jaded from getting a number of flights someone like Heta could easily take this thing down.
Stephen Bunting is in the other half of the draw and while he has been consistent more than special this season I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a decent run this weekend. He has made a couple of quarter finals on the floor and another bunch of last 16s so while I’m sure he would swap some of those results for a title or a final, he isn’t exactly playing badly. He is actually sat at 20 in the ranking of averages over the course of the Players Championship events this season so he is scoring really well. He has beaten Van den Bergh, Anderson and Cross on the floor this year and twice beaten Clayton so he has nothing to fear and in a half which might just open up he looks a big price.
Back D.Heta to win Austrian Darts Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Boylesports (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back S.Bunting to win Austrian Darts Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfred (1/2 1-2)