An article by The Suit

With the European Tour now firmly established in the PDC calendar it is very rewarding to see Let’s play Knockout Darts well represented in the 3rd event of this new element of the modern day Pro Tour. Five of these European Tour events are to be held, each over 3 days featuring the top 32 PDC players, with qualifiers from Europe, the host nation and the UK, completing the 64 strong lineup.

These events fall halfway between floor tournaments and TV events. Operated by PDC Europe, they have large live audiences, full stage set ups and are similar to The UK Open in terms of timetable and multiple board setup, but on the European Tour all games are best of 11 legs and a seeded bracket draw takes place.

The first 2 events proved very popular, thanks to the maiden stage win of Justin Pipe and then The Power overcoming Chizzy in Berlin’s final, they seem to have really captured the attention of darts fans. In addition many lesser known players have had good runs or notable wins at these events. The ranking points gained are vital and may help many new faces qualify for TV events this year.

So with Event 3 – The European Open, taking place from July 6-9th and being the final qualifying event for the Word Matchplay, all eyes will be on Dusseldorf  in a couple of weeks time. Here’s a look at the Let’s Play Knockout Darts representatives and other interesting names who have plenty at stake.

Robert ‘The Thorn’ Thornton

Following his sensational triumph in the UK Open in June Rob will be looking to consolidate his renaissance and qualify for the World Matchplay in Blackpool. His place amongst the elite in 2013 would be assured and plans for even bigger things may burgeon. Rob will play Maik Langendorf in the opening round, Maik has been around a fair while and was World Soft Tip Champion as long ago as 2005, his recent wins over Jyan Artut and Bernd Roith in the qualifying event show both good form and a strong mind. The Thorn would be well advised to make short work of the Austrian before he settles.

Ian ‘Diamond’ White

A superb start from Ian has included 2 qualifications for the European Tour, although safely in The World Matchplay placings, Ian has bigger fish to fry. The European Open will feature a renewal of Ian’s ongoing battle with Barney. These two, starting last year,  have met on a few occasions and always at important times. Ian has the better record so far with a win in The Grand Slam and a good floor win last year. Barney however is a new animal this year, he gained his first win over Ian in a Pro Tour Final in April and pinched a close floor win last month. So all square and looking like one of the ties of the 1st round.

Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright

Despite a slowish start Peter is currently very close to qualifying for The Matchplay again, this event may prove the difference for him this year. Peter’s last few Pro Tour events have been very positive and he looks to come strong in the 2nd half of the year. His 1st round match against Ronnie Huybrechts is very interesting, many were of the opinion that Ronnie was the better of the two Huybrechts brothers. It will be good to see both play at the same event and Peter will have to watch out for the sibling rivalry!

Young Guns

Both Jamie Lewis & World Youth Champion James Hubbard have qualified here, neither has an easy task with the former tackling Vincent Van de Voort, whilst James  takes on World Finalist Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton. Whilst both are capable of causing upsets, the vital experience of playing huge names on stage in front of vociferous support is the main bonus of these events. Whilst this applies to all outside the top 16 it is especially so for the youth players.

Richie ‘The Prince of Wales’ Burnett

Richie’s return to top flight darts should not be dismissed as others players take the limelight. This is an incredible achievement, back in the top 32 and always in the mix, it will be a tough opening encounter against Andy Jenkins, another player on the road to recapturing former glories. Although Richie’s 2012 has not been as strong as his 2011, we are heading to that time of year again when he has tended to shine!

Mark ‘Mile High’ Hylton

Mark makes his Euro Tour debut here in Dusseldorf and it could not be more appropriate, he has many friends in the local area and has developed a strong European following from his stellar start to PDC darts. The vast majority of Marks’s success has come in the middle to late part of seasons 2010 & 2011. Jelle Klassen will prove a very tough 1st round opponent as he looks to kick start a stuttering career. Recent signs of form from Jelle make this 3rd Red Dragon vs Holland tie an intriguing one.

Scott ‘Cool Hand’ Rand

Like many in their 3rd year Scott has dipped a little of the radar since turning full time professional. However he is still in with a shout of turning the year around and getting started at this event. His tie against Gary Anderson has become even more interesting due to the Scotsman’s vision difficulties. Could Scott even receive a bye into round 2? A class act with a strong mental attitude this could be a great event for Scott, his last effort at short format stage/TV & seeded darts resulted in a semi-final at The Players Championships 2011!

Overall then a superb line up at this event, congratulations to all for qualifying. The Pro Tour events from Crawley this weekend have left us in no doubt as to what those players must do to qualify for the 2nd richest event on the PDC calendar, thus ensuring an absorbing and entertaining European Open with much at stake for almost every player. 

Keep an eye on dartsmad.com for updates and event news!

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