Three Germans, three Belgians, A Russian, a Dutchman, A Swede and seven Englishmen walk into an International Darts Open.
The punchline is that eight players competing in Riesa on Friday evening will be sent packing right away. Eight winners will make it into the weekend, double their money and have a shot at the seeds. Succeeding Gerwyn Price as International Darts Open champion is a long shot – then again, you never know.
The evening’s play begins with Richard North playing in his first European Tour event of the season. ‘Northy’ meets Boris Koltsov who, interestingly, has won both of his first round games in Europe this year. The winner of the tie plays top seed Ian White on Saturday. Following on from that is Steve West, who’ll look to give his 2019 season a kickstart in Riesa. Swede Daniel Larsson stands between him and round two.
Davyd Venken is back on the European Tour scene after a few years away; the Belgian performed well to get through the West/South European qualifiers. His rewards is a meeting with Ritchie Edhouse. We go from Edhouse to Woodhouse after that – if Worcestershire thrower Luke is to play Steve Beaton in round two, he’ll have to overcome German qualifier Manfred Bilderl.
Dream Maker on Hunt for success
Dimitri van den Bergh is a player whose name keeps cropping up in the conversation surrounding world champions of the future. Signs of encouragement are dotted around his 2019 form – a strong UK run here, a few good Players Championship performances there. Winning on stage is part and parcel of being a top player, and while the Dream Maker has a lot of time to achieve those goals, there’s no time like the present. There’s no reason why opponent Adam Hunt, who’s just a year older, shouldn’t feel the same way.
Andy Boulton pops up with a decent European Tour effort from time to time – he even made his way to the semi-finals at the European Matchplay last year. He’ll be looking to bring the X Factor to Riesa, with Steffen Siepmann his first round opponent at the International Darts Open. Then Jelle Klaasen, fresh from some decent Players Championship showings in midweek, faces Joe Murnan. After winning back his Tour Card at Q-School, it’s outings like this that will help steer Murnan clear of a repeat.
Another of the four Belgians at the International Darts Open sees the session to a close. Davy van Baelen and German opponent Ole Luckow both make their European Tour debut in Riesa, with one of the pair due to face reigning European Darts Matchplay champion Joe Cullen in round two.
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International Darts Open schedule
Friday evening session
18:15 Richard North v Boris Koltsov
18:45 Daniel Larsson v Steve West
19:15 Ritchie Edhouse v Davyd Venken
19:45 Manfred Bilderl v Luke Woodhouse
20:15 Adam Hunt v Dimitri Van den Bergh
20:45 Andy Boulton v Steffen Siepmann
21:15 Joe Murnan v Jelle Klaasen
21:45 Davy Van Baelen v Ole Luckow
Author: Ed McCosh