The penultimate event of the European Tour season takes place this weekend when 48 players head to Belgium for the Belgian Darts Open, a tournament which gives those involved the chance to strengthen their qualifying claims for the European Championship next month.
This is the first staging of this tournament so we are guaranteed a new champion and whoever that is will either give their European Championship qualifying hopes a boost or their seeding in that event a bump up.
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 draw has been flipped this weekend with the second seed the highest one in the top half of the draw. That second seed is Rob Cross this week and if everything goes to the rankings used for the draw then he will meet Damon Heta in the semi-final in this half. There are six other seeds looking to make progress through the draw and they are headed up by the world champion Peter Wright, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Martin Schindler, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Jonny Clayton and Gabriel Clemens.
There are 16 qualifiers who will be looking to make the most of the opportunity that is in front of them this week. Simon Whitlock has already won the World Cup this season and will be looking to add this title to his collection. Mervyn King is another household name in this section while Keane Barry, Danny Baggish, Ryan Meikle, Jeff Smith and Andrew Gilding are other players who are capable of doing some damage.
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.
Michael van Gerwen is the top seed this week and he is in the bottom half of the draw and looking to win another European Tour title from there. He is seeded to meet Nathan Aspinall in the last four but as ever there are six other seeds out to stop that from happening. In this half they are Ryan Searle, Jose de Sousa, Dave Chisnall, Joe Cullen, the UK Open champion Danny Noppert and the former world champion Adrian Lewis.
There are some well-known qualifiers in this half of the draw as well including the former world champion Jelle Klaasen while Kim Huybrechts will be hoping to use the home crowd to his advantage. Andy Baetens is another looking to do that while Madars Razma, Steve West, Ross Smith, Chris Dobey and Steve Beaton will all be looking to enhance their European Championship hopes. Vincent van der Voort and Jamie Hughes are others to catch the eye.
I’ll go with two this weekend with the first of those coming in the form of Dave Chisnall who looks to have a workable draw in a quarter where Ryan Searle, Jose de Sousa and Nathan Aspinall are the other seeds. The first two have been inconsistent for a while now and I’m not convinced Aspinall is at his best either. Chisnall was taken out in the second round of the World Series Finals last week but he was 5-2 up on Joe Cullen and cruising before the crowd mysteriously got involved. He missed a few doubles which is a concern but he shouldn’t have the crowd against him here and Chisnall scored well enough last weekend to suggest he is feeling pretty good about his game. Given his draw he looks a little overpriced to me.
The other player I like this weekend is Andrew Gilding who has already been to the semi-final of a European Tour event this season and is the kind of player who once he gets going on the big stage can really keep his form. He is in a tougher section of the draw with Peter Wright and Dimitri Van den Bergh in his section but Gilding is a heavy scorer and if one or both of those two are off their game then ‘Goldfinger’ can be competitive against them. At 100/1 I’ll pay to see how Gilding goes this weekend.
Back D.Chisnall to win Belgian Darts Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with Unibet (1/2 1-2)
Back A.Gilding to win Belgian Darts Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Bet365 (1/2 1-2)