The UK Open, the tournament full of clichés. It’s the “FA Cup” of darts, where “fairytales can happen” and all sorts of other ridiculous clichés that can be spouted over the course of four days. It’s a commentator’s dream, but can be a nightmare for us bettors, unless we tread carefully and know our onions, so to speak.
The reason the UK Open is the “FA Cup of darts” is because of the format. It’s the only tournament where anyone can play anyone. There are no seeds and a draw takes place at the end of each round. It means once the big guns enter, they could face drawn to face each other in their first match. Qualifiers and those at the bottom end of the UK Open Order of Merit (65-96) play in the preliminary and first rounds. Since a lot of these players are unknown to most, it can be hazardous having too many bets or too big a bet. Remember, some of these players will have qualified from their local Rileys, or even through the Speedy Hire qualifiers. It’s the beauty of the tournament, in some respects.
After the first round is over, those 33-64 in the Order of Merit join the draw. Now luckily for us, there are bigger names joining the field at this stage, players that have had TV or perform on a regular basis in the floor tournament, picking up good results along the way. However, since we don’t know who they’ll be facing (as even though the draw is made in advance for round 2, they can still play one of two players), we have a bit of a quandary. But there’s money to be made as long as you’re paying attention to the floor tournaments.
Then the rest of the field enter, your top 32 in the Order of Merit and usually the players that will go on to do well. However, as we’ve mentioned, the open draw means the players you think might do well could easily face each other in round three.
But the nature of the tournament means you usually get an outsider in the final. In recent years we’ve had Gary Mawson, Vincent van der Voort, and Barrie Bates competing in finals. Now, they might not have won, but an each-way backer will have had a nice lift on them, regardless.
The other thing to note about the UK Open is the short format. Best of 11 legs in the early rounds means a lot of big names and favourites can lose quite quickly. If you take a leg or two to find your throw, it can be too late. Plus, if you throw first, all you need to do is hold your throw. Now, in round three when your “favourites” enter, it’s best of 17, so it does give you more of a chance to have one or two “off” legs. But it’s still a short format and many top players have succumbed to defeat at this early stage in the tournament. As is evident from the results, while a lot tournaments might be a hunting ground for Phil Taylor, he isn’t the Superman in the UK Open that he appears to be in so many other tournament.
2003: Phil Taylor beat Shayne Burgess 18-8
2004: Roland Scholten beat John Part 11-6
2005: Phil Taylor beat Mark Walsh 13-7
2006: Raymond van Barneveld beat Barrie Bates 13-7
2007: Raymond van Barneveld beat Vincent van der Voort 16-8
2008: James Wade beat Gary Mawson 11-7
2009: Phil Taylor beat Colin Osborne 11-6
2010: Phil Taylor beat Gary Anderson 11-5
2011: James Wade beat Wes Newton 11-8