2024 UK Open Preview: The 'FA Cup' Of Darts Returns To Minehead

Published on 23 February 2024 at 20:00

It's one of the most popular competitions in the darting calendar, and has been a platform for some of the biggest names in the game to truly make their mark for the very first time. As the 2024 UK Open gets underway next Friday (the 1st of March), here's everything you need to know about an exciting three days ahead at Butlins.


Can anyone follow in the footsteps of 2023 winner Andrew Gilding and win their maiden Major in Minehead and become one of the new big name players in the world of darts?


Like the Grand Prix and Grand Slam each have their own unique premises with the 'double' start and group stage format, the UK Open is always highly anticipated for the unpredictable matchups each iteration brings. The random draw and wide pool of players (158 in total played in last year's event) allows for high-profile matches to take place early on in the field, and boosts an underdog's chances of going the distance, similar to the FA Cup in football, hence the 'FA Cup of Darts' usually attached to the event by fans.


In spite of its unpredictable nature, it's rare to look past the very best in the world to scoop the UK Open trophy every year. In the last 10 years, only former World Youth Champion Corey Cadby and the aforementioned Andrew Gilding have broken through and upset the odds to reach the final of the event outside of more established names like Michael Van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gerywn Price, and Gilding was the only one of the pair to win his final, after Cadby came up short against Gary Anderson.


Speaking of the Flying Scotsman, he will enter from the fourth round as one of the top 32 in the world, and his record-breaking performances at the recent Players Championship events, position the 2018 Champion as a firm favourite. Perhaps the only other player in superior form to Anderson is Ryan Searle: fresh off reaching the final of 3 of the 4 Players Championship floor events, Searle will be looking to finally add that elusive first major to his growing ProTour trophy cabinet. 


Read More: John Henderson Wins World Seniors Dart Championship At Lakeside Tavern



The draw for the first three rounds of the UK Open was made on my Thursday afternoon, and there's a mix of intriguing and tense ties between some of the very best outside of the seeded players, including Luke Littler.


In the first round, two of the WDF's top seeds will clash as Haupai Puha will play former BDO World Champion Jelle Klaasen. Italian debutante Michele Turetta, who has looked impressive on the ProTour so far, will be looking to make an impact against Robert Grundy when the pair meet. 


The reigning WDF World Champion Andy Baetens, who has been a welcome revelation on the floor events so far in 2024, kicks off his tournament campaign in the second round against the winner of Brett Claydon and Thomas Lovely, whilst Jeffrey De Zwaan, who reached the last 16 in 2023, faces a tough test against Jurgen Van Der Welde.


And the stand out tie from round 3 will see former semi-finalist William O'Connor take on a former two time quarter-finalist in Mensur Suljovic,


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on X/Twitter and Instagram)


Image Credit: Darts Actueel on Wikipedia/YouTube


Add comment


There are no comments yet.