Van Gerwen looks unstoppable ahead of UK Open
One of the most exciting, fast-paced and unpredictable events on the darting calendar begins on Thursday as the 11th annual UK Open takes place at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.
Over the four days of action in Lancashire there will be numerous shocks and near constant drama in a competition that has famously seen a different runner-up every single year since its first appearance on our television screens back in 2003.
There may have been 11 different runners-up in that time but there have only been five winners, those being Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade, Roland Scholten and last year’s 250/1 shot winner Robert Thornton. The bookies will certainly be surprised if there isn’t a new name on that list come Sunday night though as Michael van Gerwen is the hot favourite to succeed.
It has not been a particularly fruitful tournament for Mighty Mike in the past with his best finish being a last 16 place last year, but so much has changed since he last took to the Bolton stage and it is hard not to back him in every competition he enters.
Having won the Austrian Darts Open at the weekend MVG has won an incredible 10 tournaments already this year and it would be of no surprise to anyone if he were to win 10 more before the year is over. It will not be long before we are in a situation as we were a couple of years ago with Phil Taylor and the tournament favourite is evens or lower such has been the success of MVG so at a best price of 15/8 with William Hill he still looks a pretty good shout.
Of course, Taylor cannot be discounted but few would have confidence in him if he were to come up against van Gerwen and his best chance would probably arise if someone else were to beat the Dutchman, but that is a dubious outcome at best.
If punters are looking for an outsider who might be able to sneak up on the blind side a la Rob Thornton last year and potentially be worth backing each way then the likes of Kim Huybrechts may not be a bad shout at 33/1 with Bet365. The Belgian is capable of beating anyone on his day and qualified third on the UK Open Order of Merit so is in very good form and will not have to play until the third round. Similarly John Part finished an impressive ninth on the Order of Merit and like Huybrechts has won a tournament this year so at 150/1 with YouWin, Darth Maple could well be worth backing each-way.
Often forgotten is that the UK Open is exactly that, an open competition and BDO players will be competing alongside their PDC counterparts. The most dangerous of these will be Stephen Bunting who went into the last Lakeside World Championship as the number one seed. He has a straight forward first round match against Vernon Shepherd and at 66/1 with Bet Victor is also not the worst choice for an each-way punt.
MVG is the clear favourite to win this and is worth backing but the each-way market will also be profitable given the number of unusual finalists in the competition. Pick a dark horse early and there is plenty of money to be won.
• Taylor proves his superiority at UK Open
• Hamilton could just cut the Power
• Barney and Taylor set for UK Open final
• Maximum markets provide quarter-final value
• Klaasen the notable fifth round value
• Newton and Part great value in fourth round
• Chisnall and Painter with main stage potential
• Burnett and Hankey to build on momentum
• More shocks on the cards in UK Open third round
• UK Open opening night: Wade has his work cut out