Michael van Gerwen heads a stellar field gathering at the Laszlo Papp Sports Arena in Budapest as the PDC’s elite arrive in Hungary for the first time to slug it out for the Hungarian Darts Trophy which starts on Friday.
The competition, which had been scheduled for 2020, is the first event on the 2021 European Tour and the big guns are in town with world champ Gerwyn Price and recently crowned Matchplay winner Peter Wright joining the likes of MvG and top seed Joe Cullen in pursuit of the £25,000 winner’s cheque.
Green Machine Red-Faced at Win Drought
It’s incredible to think that eight months into 2021 and Michael van Gerwen still hasn’t won a title, but that’s the reality as the deposed world champ and former world No.1 heads to Budapest in terrible form by his sky-high standards.
The Green Machine, who memorably won 25 titles in 2016, has had one or two near-misses – he has reached two Pro Tour finals and the semis at the UK Open – but he’ll be hopeful that a few weeks off coincides with an overdue return to form ahead of a busy autumn and culminating in the world championship at Alexandra Palace.
As one of the 16 seeds in the 48-man field, Van Gerwen doesn’t play his opening match until round two.
Wright Back to His Best
There is no doubt that Peter Wright is the hottest shot on the oche at the moment and will be looking to continue his sizzling form into the next few months.
Snakebite looked unbeatable in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens a month ago when he became just the fifth player to add Matchplay glory to the world championship he won a couple of years ago.
The Scot boasted the three highest averages of the finals – he finished with a 104.37 tournament three-darter, the only man to clear three figures – including a 110-plus in his 17-10 demolition of Van Gerwen in a wonderful semi-final.
He followed that up by landing the honours at Pro Tour event 23, his fifth title of what has become a top-class campaign.
Cross a Danger in Top-Class Field
Wright looks the man to beat in Budapest, though world champion Price is a hard man to ignore and then there’s the Masters and Premier League winner Jonny Clayton, who is enjoying an amazing rise up the rankings.
Jose de Sousa is another player who has suddenly emerged over the past 18 months while the enigmatic but silky Cullen can never be ruled out.
But outsiders can never be ruled out in European Tour events, even though the 16 seeds have a decent advantage by sitting out round one. Devon Petersen, for example, won last year’s German Darts Championship from outside the top 16 and there are a bunch of classy old heads – Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross among them – plus a few riding stars – none better than UK Open finalist Luke Humphries – who are a danger to anyone on their days.