A hectic September schedule on the PDC Tour has taken its toll on the International Darts Open, with the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross all set to sit out the European Tour 12 event in Riesa, Germany.
Still, that’s great news for punters: we don’t have an odds-on MVG to skew the betting market for starters.
It’s also fantastic news, we suspect, for Peter Wright, who will defend the title he won 12 months ago when defeating Kim Huybrechts in a last-leg shootout. The Scotsman won five of these European Tour events in 2017, and they really have become his bread and butter.
Tournament History & Format
The International Darts Open was first introduced to the PDC European Tour in 2015; since then, there have been three classy winners of the event.
It was back in ’15 that Michael Smith claimed the second European Tour title of his career. Bully Boy, seeded three, saw off Jonny Clayton, Steve Beaton, Terry Jenkins and Ian White, before defeating Benito van de Pas 6-3 in the final.
A year later and it was Mensur Suljovic who bagged his maiden European Tour title. The Austrian took advantage of the absence of Van Gerwen – who withdrew with an ankle injury – to blitz his way to the final, where he met Kim Huybrechts. It was ‘The Gentle’ who came out on top, pipping the Belgian 6-5.
The bridesmaid tag has followed Huybrechts around the International Darts Open; he lost 5-6 in the final to Wright in 2017 too, so he will surely be desperate to go one better this time around.
The format has changed ever so slightly for the 2018 edition. Matches remain the best of 11 legs until the semi-finals, where that is extended to the best of 13, and the final, which will now be a race to eight legs.
The seedings are based on past performance on the PDC ProTour Order of Merit, with the top 16 earning a bye into the second round.
Peter Wright earns top billing as the number one seed, and he is followed in turn by Suljovic, White and Clayton.
Messrs A. Lewis, Whitlock, Cullen and Gurney round out the top eight seeds, with Price, D. Webster, home favourite Max Hopp, Bunting, King, Chisnall, Wattimena and that man, Huybrechts, completing the 16.
A further 18 made their way through the UK qualifiers, with the likes of recent German Darts Championship finalist James Wilson, Players’ Championship 18 finalist Ryan Searle and the talented Aussie Kyle Anderson catching the eye, and Magus Caris and Patrik Kovacs came through the Nordic and Eastern European qualifiers respectively.
The remaining 12 places will go to the South / West and Host Nation qualifiers, with German favourite Martin Schindler hoping to book his place in the first-round draw.
The Betting Favourites
All eyes will be on Peter Wright this week as he seeks to add yet another European Tour title to his collection.
No Van Gerwen, no Anderson, no Cross, no problems for Snakebite, you might think, but a draw that could see him matched with perennial International Darts Open specialist Huybrechts in the third round. Also, either Daryl Gurney or Gerwyn Price in the last eight could pose problems.
In the bottom half of the draw, it is perhaps Mensur Suljovic who holds the most betting appeal. Runner up in the World Matchplay back in July, the Austrian tends to enjoy these European Tour events with victories at the German Darts Masters and the Danish Darts Open in 2018. He is, of course, a former champion in this event too.
The number three seed, Ian White, heads to Germany on the back of a maiden European Tour title win on Sunday. The Diamond geezer won the Dutch Darts Championship; if he can come down from cloud nine in time he could well be a live contender in Riesa. A road to the final that features Dave Chisnall and German sensation Max Hopp or Australia’s finest Simon Whitlock is enough to put canny punters off.
One player who seems to raise his game on continental Europe is Joe Cullen. A former semi-finalist here, the ‘Rock Star’ has also reached the quarters of the European Darts Open in Leverkusen, the European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen, the German Darts Grand Prix and the German Darts Open, as well as the semi-finals of the Austrian Darts Open, in 2018 alone.
Simon Whitlock’s only PDC major triumph came on German soil in the European Championship of 2012, and ‘The Wizard’ is back playing some fine darts with quarter-final appearances at the World Matchplay and the Dutch Darts Championship.
With a tough draw for Peter Wright and a number of out of form players in the second quarter of the top half of the draw, surely the betting value will come from the bottom part of proceedings.
There we find the likes of Suljovic, Cullen and Whitlock up alongside White, Chisnall, Hopp and the ever-dangerous Darren Webster.
Dutching a couple of picks from here is wise, and it is the form of the aforementioned trio on German soil that holds the most appeal.
Best Bets for the International Darts Open 2018:
- Mensur Suljovic to Win (odds to follow)
- Simon Whitlock Each Way (odds to follow)
- Joe Cullen Each Way (odds to follow)
Obviously, whatever darts betting strategy you want to go with, the open field means it’s the perfect time to place a punt on darts.
For more betting tips, click here.