The penultimate European Tour event of the season takes place this weekend when the Hungarian Darts Trophy takes place which means that there is just this tournament and one more for players to qualify for the European Championship.
Joe Cullen won this tournament a year ago and he will be looking to make a successful defence of the title and enhance his ranking ahead of the European Championship. Plenty of players have bigger fish to fry this week.
2022 – Joe Cullen
2021 – Gerwyn Price
The format for these tournaments remains the same as before, which means that the qualifiers meet in the first round of the event on the Friday while 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 for this tournament which means that the second seed is the leading one in the top half. That makes Damon Heta the leading light in the top half of the draw. If everything goes with the numbers then he will face Luke Humphries in what would be a tasty semi-final. There are six seeds looking to stop that from happening though. The World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall comes here off the back of a run to the final in Amsterdam last weekend. He is one of those seeds while the defending champion Joe Cullen is also in the field. Gerwyn Price is the other man to win this tournament. He is also in this half as are Martin Schindler, Rob Cross and Peter Wright.
We have some big names among the qualifiers in this half of the draw. James Wade is the standout one but we have a couple of former world champions in this section too in Stephen Bunting and Scott Waites. Gian van Veen is a promising youngster in this half of the draw while the likes of Gabriel Clemens, William O’Connor, Brendan Dolan, Luke Woodhouse and Madars Razma are all capable of decent runs. Keane Barry and Nathan Rafferty will be looking to show their worth too.
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The bottom half is where the number one seed is housed this weekend. That player is Dave Chisnall who has become a little all of nothing in the latter part of the season so far. Michael van Gerwen was very much all in Amsterdam last weekend and he’ll be looking for successive titles from this half of the draw. The other six seeded players are Ryan Searle, Jonny Clayton, Danny Noppert, Dirk van Duijvenbode, the world champion Michael Smith and Josh Rock. This looks a tasty half of the draw.
One of the reasons why it looks tasty is because of the quality of the qualifiers. We have the UK Open champion Andrew Gilding in this section as a qualifier as are Daryl Gurney and Jose de Sousa, who clash in the pick of the first round matches. Mike De Decker, Richard Veenstra, Ross Smith and Scott Mitchell are all players who can deliver big performances. Rowby-John Rodriguez, Scott Williams and Jermaine Wattimena are all capable too.
I’ll go for a couple of bets this week, one very much a real fancy and the other an outsider who could take advantage of a draw which might open up. The main fancy is Nathan Aspinall. He was very strong at the back end of last year making the World Grand Prix final and the Grand Slam final and he has already shown he is strong in the back end of 2023 having won the World Matchplay and reached the final of the New Zealand World Series event and the World Series Finals last weekend. Aspinall could run into Gian van Veen in the second round but he beat him on the European Tour two weeks ago and from there I suspect the draw will open up. His form is much better than a 20/1 shot and he’s my main pick this weekend.
I’ll take a bit more of a chance on Luke Woodhouse having a big week. This is a real longshot punt but he will be a favourite to overcome the challenge of Gabor Jagicza in the opening round and then Rob Cross, his second round opponent, missed a bunch of doubles last week which is the sort of thing that lingers. His last 16 challenge would be one of the out of form Peter Wright, Madars Razma or Scott Waites and he wouldn’t be a huge outsider against any of them and from the quarter finals you pays your money and take your choice. Woodhouse is 250/1 to win this tournament but this is a man who has made a Players Championship final this season and could be a huge price if the draw opens up like it often does in these events.
Back N.Aspinall to win Hungarian Darts Trophy (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 21.00 with Coral (1/2 1-2)
Back L.Woodhouse to win Hungarian Darts Trophy (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 251.00 with Boylesports (1/2 1-2)
Back him here: