FA Cup of Darts a Knockout Success

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The best players in the world assemble in Milton Keynes for this week's UK Open with 2019 champion Nathan Aspinall undoubtedly one to watch.

Nathan Aspinall

There’s no colourful Butlins crowd this year, but the UK Open remains one of the highlights of the darting calendar and the 2021 event, which starts on Friday, promises to be a cracker. 

Given its knockout open-draw format and the fact there are no seedings for the competition, the tournament is often referred to as the FA Cup of darts. 

There’s something special about the multi-board action and qualifiers from all over the country having the opportunity to lock horns with the biggest names in the game. 

The events kicks-off with 16 Rileys qualifiers, eight Challenge Tour qualifiers, eight Development Tour qualifiers and Tour Card holders ranked 97–128 in the Order of Merit clashing in round one. 

Players ranked 65–96 in the Order of Merit join the 32 winners from the first-round, before chuckers ranked 33–64 enter the fray in round three. Those who make it through the opening trio of games are then joined by the big boys when the world’s top-32 arrowsmiths are added to the action.

Former Champion Aspinall a Value Bet

There have been plenty of shocks and upsets over the years, but when it comes to finding a winner of the event, the cream usually rises to the top. 

Phil Taylor won the UK Open in 2010 and 2013 and since then the crown has been lifted by Michael van Gerwen three times, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson and Nathan Aspinall. 

This tournament holds good memories for 2019 champion Aspinall and at 28/1, the Asp looks worth backing to land his second UK Open crown in Milton Keynes. 

The Stockport man is a quality operator, as he has shown in his relatively short career. The 29-year-old made the final of the Premier League last year and he has reached two World Championship semi-finals in just three visits to Alexandra Palace. 

Decent Draw for Devon, While Ratajski’s Ready

Devon Petersen’s superb form has got him into the world’s top-32 and that will see him enter this event at the fourth-round stage. 

There are only a handful of arrowsmiths performing at a higher level than the South African and if he can replicate that floor form he can outrun odds of 40/1.

Another player that is threatening to make a major impact is Krzysztof Ratajski. The Polish Eagle had been struggling to convert his brilliant floor performances to the TV stage, but that was put to bed when the Warsaw-man made the quarter-finals of the World Championship. 

Ratajski managed wins against Ryan Joyce, Simon Whitlock and Gabriel Clemens at Ally Pally and that should give him plenty of confidence to reproduce his good form in Milton Keynes.

In terms of averages, the 44-year-old is the seventh best performer on tour this term and he looks a nice price at 33/1

Hot Heta Can’t Be Discounted

Finally, Damon Heta has made great strides in his short time on tour and the Aussie could outrun odds of 33/1

The Heat made the quarter-finals of the Player Championship and Grand Slam on his debut year in the PDC and his numbers on the floor suggest he is capable of going even further in major events. 

*All odds correct at time of writing.

An experienced sports journalist, Henry’s knowledge spans across a number of different areas, including darts and snooker.

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