The seeded players enter the International Darts Open out in Germany on Saturday when the last 32 of the tournament will be played out across what looks like being two decent sessions of play to open up the European Tour season.
The seeded players will each face one of the winners from the action on Friday so the qualifiers will have had a taste of the surroundings, which with this tournament not being played last season might be relevant. We see the likes of Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen for the first time this weekend here.
The number two seed gets the action started on Saturday afternoon as Jose de Sousa takes on one of the newcomers to the tour in the form of Brian Raman. When they are done Damon Heta meets Daryl Gurney in a match which should be taking place a lot later in the competition. Krzysztof Ratajski will be on the stage third when he meets the young Welshman in Lewy Williams. We are then taken to the interval with another match which should be taking place later in the weekend as Danny Noppert meets Mervyn King.
Brendan Dolan brings us out of the break when he takes on one of the many home players on show on the day in Niko Springer. The last three matches of the afternoon should be excellent viewing as Devon Petersen meets Kim Huybrechts before James Wade takes on Vincent van der Voort. They will meet this time unlike in the World Championship where the Dutchman was forced to pull out with Covid. The afternoon concludes with Nathan Aspinall returning to action against Jeff Smith.
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Two men who are more used to playing in European Tour finals than most meet to open up a stacked evening session with Mensur Suljovic taking on Dimitri Van den Bergh before the entertaining Dirk van Duijvenbode faces off against Nico Kurz for a place in the Sunday action. The defending champion Joe Cullen gets his title defence underway in the third match of the evening when he meets Madars Razma before Michael van Gerwen takes us to the interval with a clash against Keane Barry.
The world number one Gerwyn Price brings us out of the break when he takes on Ritchie Edhouse in a rerun of their World Championship meeting. When they are done it is Price’s Welsh teammate Jonny Clayton who will look to make it through. He meets Krzysztof Kciuk before the two world finalists round off the day. The world champion Peter Wright meets Luke Woodhouse while the man he beat in the final Michael Smith closes out the action against Simon Whitlock.
This isn’t a tournament that I’m going to get too stuck into as we wait for the season to really kick into gear for everyone not just the Premier League players but two prices jump out at me and I’ll have a piece of both of them. The first is the one which rounds off the afternoon session as Jeff Smith takes on Nathan Aspinall. Smith doesn’t have a great record against ‘The Asp’ but it is no secret that the Englishman has had an operation on his throwing arm and this will be his first outing since the World Championship. I don’t know whether he is here to pick up some prize money or whether he is here to compete but either way he’s going to be rusty and Smith will never get a better chance to beat him. We know Smith will finish well here, and when a player is rusty it is the finishing that takes the longest to come back, so if he can just be consistent on his scoring he has a great chance of a 3/1 upset.
The other bet comes in the form of the home man Nico Kurz who at 12/5 looks very good value to see off a stuttering Dirk van Duijvenbode. The Dutchman finished 2021 in average form and he hasn’t exactly kicked off 2022 much better. He lost in the first round of The Masters and has only won three matches in his first four Players Championship events which isn’t exactly inspiring. Kurz isn’t on the tour so he hasn’t played in any of those tournaments but the depth in German darts is improving all the time so the fact he was able to qualify for this speaks volumes of his ability. We’ve seen that on the World Championship stage in the past and with home support behind him I think he’s a huge price to see off the ‘Aubagenius’ here.
Back J.Smith to beat N.Aspinall for a 2/10 stake at 4.00 with Bet365
Back N.Kurz to beat D.van Duijvenbode for a 2/10 stake at 3.40 with Bet365