The UK Open has a new look and a new home for 2014 as ITV Sport covers one of the PDC’s longest-running tournaments for the first time.
After 10 years at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, the tournament known as the ‘FA Cup of darts’ move to Butlins Minehead Resort in Somerset, with 138 players are set to do battle live in front of ITV cameras across three days of action.
In total, eight separate stages will be in action across the venue simultaneously during the early rounds of the event, featuring a mixture of the biggest stars in darts alongside amateur qualifiers.
This will give plenty of opportunities for lesser known players to cause a few major shocks and surprises from the opening rounds through to the final itself.
The tournament begins on Friday, March 7, with the opening day seeing the preliminary, first and second rounds take place in the afternoon session, featuring professional players ranked from 65 to 96 in the UK Open Order of Merit, alongside the 32 Rileys amateur qualifiers.
The 32 first round winners then progress to the second round, where they join the players ranked from 33-64 in the UK Open Order of Merit.
Then in true FA Cup style, Friday evening sees the top 32 players, headed by the six UK Open Qualifier winners Andy Hamilton, Stephen Bunting, Phil Taylor, Brendan Dolan, Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen, come into the fray alongside the 32 second round winners.
Taylor, the reigning UK Open champion, is drawn with the survivor of the afternoon’s combination of Conan Whitehead, Aden Kirk, Nathan Derry, Jason Mold or Gerwyn Price, who need to win either two or three games just to earn a date with the 16-time World Champion.
Reigning PDC World Champion van Gerwen plays either Hubbard or Batham, while World Championship finalist Peter Wright takes on reigning World Youth Champion Michael Smith and Ronnie Baxter faces world number four Adrian Lewis on the main stage.
Then in another cup tradition, the draws from the fourth round onwards will be made at the venue at the conclusion of the previous round.
Saturday evening sees the fifth round take place as the last 16 do battle for places in Sunday’s final stages, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session.
ITV Sport will broadcast all six sessions across all three days of the 2014 Coral UK Open Finals live from Minehead, the first time the free-to-air channel has covered the event.
ITV takes over coverage of the UK Open in 2014 from Sky Sports, who covered the event since its inception in 2003, after the free-to-air channel signed a three-year deal with the PDC last year to cover four televised events during the annual tour calendar.
Live coverage will be shown on ITV4 and in high-definition on ITV4 HD across the weekend, with each session of play introduced by Matt Smith alongside regular ITV pundits and former PDC professionals Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little.
Stuart Pyke will lead the commentary team alongside ITV darts debutant Jim Proudfoot, who steps in for John Rawling as he is covering the Winter Paralympics for Channel 4.
Pyke and Proudfoot will be joined by Mason and Warriner-Little in the commentary box, while Ned Boulting and Isa Guha conduct the pre and post match interviews with the players, plus provide updates on the matches on the non-televised stages in the early stages of the competition.
ITV4’s coverage starts on Friday at 11.45am and continues every afternoon and evening until Sunday night when the 2014 UK Open winner will be crowned.
Visit the official PDC website for more information, results and statistics about the 2014 UK Open.
Friday 7th March DAY 1: Afternoon Session – Prelim, Round 1 & Round 2 LIVE: 11.45am-5.00pm ITV4 TV Stage: Carl Green 3-5 Lionel Sams (Prelim)
Glenn Spearing 2-5 Antonio Alcinas (R1)
Kevin Taylor 1-5 Arron Monk
Raymond van Barneveld 5-3 Tony Broughton
Kyle Anderson 4-5 Kevin McDine
John Henderson 1-5 Jelle Klaasen (R2)
Keegan Brown 3-5 Mensur Suljovic
Ian White 5-4 Daryl Gurney
Paul Hogan 5-0 John Part DAY 1: Evening Session – Last 64 LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 TV Stage: Peter Wright 9-8 Michael Smith
Ronnie Baxter 5-9 Adrian Lewis
Aden Kirk 9-7 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 9-1 James Hubbard Kevin Dowling 8-9 Stephen Bunting Saturday 8th March DAY 2: Afternoon Session – Last 32 LIVE: 11.45am-5.00pm ITV4 TV Stage: James Wade 9-5 Kim Huybrechts Vincent van der Voort 8-9 Christian Kist Michael van Gerwen 9-5 Andy Hamilton Aden Kirk 9-5 Peter Wright Ronny Huybrechts 8-9 Adrian Lewis DAY 2: Evening Session – Last 16 LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 TV Stage: Brendan Dolan 9-7 Aden Kirk Terry Jenkins 9-8 James Wade Michael van Gerwen 9-4 Mark Webster Adrian Lewis 9-2 Raymond van Barneveld Sunday 9th March DAY 3: Afternoon Session – Quarter Finals LIVE: 12.45pm-5.00pm ITV4 TV Stage: Kevin Painter v Mervyn King
Terry Jenkins v Brendan Dolan
Adrian Lewis v Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen v Ian White DAY 3: Evening Session – Semi Finals & Final LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm ITV4