Dartoids World

Column #CM121 UK Open – First Day

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Column CM121
UK Open – First Day

This year I once again travelled to the UK Open – when you use public transport, as I do, it becomes a really time consuming affair.  But when you take an early flight from Germany you will make it in one day.

In Minehead not a lot changed during the Corona years though I heard the prices for housing went up quite a bit.  In the supermarkets I did see cucumbers, tomatos and apples.  So, my breakfast tomato is safe – it is at least here in Minehead (it’s not as bad as German press will lead you to believe).

At Butlin’s, on the other side, some buildings are renovated at the moment – which means the press room and the players’ practice board now can be found in Reds (where in former years the second stage was located).  We all have seen more beautiful press rooms and much brighter ones but as I commute back and forth between the different boards dueing the UK Open it is acceptable.  The second stage now is situated in Studio 36 which has the charm of a sports hall – really different to the intimate atmosphere in Reds.  But a bigger crowd can fit in it – though it is farther away from the Skyline building for all the fans who commute like I do between the boards.  And it is cold outside.  

Everything else was as usual – on the first day most have no overview, I never am sure who plays when where.  But I was lucky and did see Germans Lukas Wenig and Daniel Klose on the second stage and Pascal Rupprecht in the room with the boards 3-8.  It is difficult to plan as the matches have a different length and there is no break between the first three rounds.  And there is another point which makes it difficult – play starts on the main stage an hour later then on the other stages.  But in the evening session of the first day everything relaxes as only one round is played.

Though the already mentioned German players didn’t survive the afternoon they played solid matches.  But there were better performances as well – to be sure those from Jelle Klaasen, Luke Littler and from Richie Burnett who probably makes, with his concentrated suffering expression, his opponents weep (or could hurt them with his footwork!).  It’s Impressive when he starts to smile after a win.  But what won him his first matches was his equally impressive accuracy on his doubles. Also impressive and convincing were Dylan Slevin and Steve Beaton to mention just a couple.  Ricky Evans entertained the crowd with his acting talent – seldom was so much laughed during a darts match.  And he even won it.

After the third round was over on all boards the draw for the fourth round followed and after that a break.

In the evening session it looked even more crowded every where especially in front of boards 3-8 where there was almost no getting through the crowd any longer.  So, I am in privileged position as a photographer and am allowed behind the barrier as long as I don’t obstruct the crowd’s view – but it was not easy to get there.

But my first aim was Studio 36 anyway – where the two World Championship semi-finalists Gabriel Clemens and Dimitri van den Bergh clashed.  This turned out to be to Clemens’ disadvantage as he always runs after his opponent.   Or, one could say, it justified the PDC‘s decision to nominate the Belgian for the Premier League – it would really have been too soon for Clemens.  Then, I moved on to the Main Stage were the 16-year-old amateur qualifier had no chance against Gerwyn Price.  I had a short view on Center Stage but it was still too early for Martin Schindler and Florian Hempel.

For some time, I commuted between the main and the second stage, watched some of the match between Raymond van Barneveld and Rob Cross, in which the Dutchman at first seemed to take control.  But he couldn’t get rid of Cross, who triumphed in the end while van Barneveld really looked frustrated with himself when he left the stage.  I had a short look at the Ross Smith vs. Jonny Clayton match which was quite similar to the Cross/Barneveld match and which was won by Clayton.  Center Stage already completed the last few matches and fewer people were around.  The fans had probably moved over to the, for them, more interesting matches on the main and the second stage.

Only a few were interested in the match between reigning champion Danny Noppert against Jim William which was as close an affair as the matches between Kim Huybrechts and Mike de Decker or Vincent van der Voort and Brendan Dolan – which due to the completely different rhythm of the two players made the matches interesting.  Noppert, Huybrechts and Dylan were the winners and I returned to the press room for the fifth round draw…


  • Charis Mutschler

    Charis Mutschler is from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. Her husband introduced her to the sport by bringing a dartboard into their marriage (or was it to their wedding?), turning her from a librarian by day into a darts fanatic by night. Charis has been writing about the sport for years and is a regular at most PDC majors, from which she provides reports and conducts player interviews. She is bilingual and cultured, with a love for literature, dance, music, cats, and the conservation movement. Charis’ writings about darts and its players often transcend the typical, showcasing her class and distinction, unlike Dartoid and the Old Dart Coach.

    View all posts