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PDC Czech Darts Open: Preview

There will be a new name on the Czech Darts Open trophy as Michael van Gerwen chases a fourth European Tour title of the year in Prague this weekend.

Event number six on the PDC's European Tour has seen 48 players gather at the Kralovka Arena in Prague, all with eyes on the £25,000 top prize.

It's the second running of the tournament won last time out by Jamie Hughes in 2019, but as Yozzer failed to qualify this time it means a new champion will be crowned on Sunday night.

Van Gerwen, enjoying a prolific campaign all around Europe, is 3/1 to make it four European Tour (ET) wins in six events, with Jonny Clayton at 4/1 and Gerwyn Price, fresh from an overdue Premier League success, at 5/1. The top 16 seeds begin their campaigns in round two on Saturday.

Price hits form at right time

World number two Price is the top seed in Prague and arrived in the Czech Republic having been able to celebrate a long-awaited win on Thursday night.

Gezzy began the season promisingly, dotting up in Belfast on Night Three of the Premier League in February and two weeks later prevailing at the ET opener in Riesa, Germany.

Since then, however, Price has had limited success, with a hand injury and a string of Premier League flops befalling him before he put that right in Sheffield on Thursday, beating Gary Anderson, Joe Cullen and Van Gerwen to get back in the playoff race.

The Welshman fears no one, but with Van Gerwen and Clayton in the power-packed bottom half of the draw and Premier League heavyweights Peter Wright and James Wade not competing, The Iceman will fancy a run to the final.

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Heta can turn up heat on field

Price can hardly argue with the draw bracket, though there are a couple of potential pitfalls.

No.16 seed Martin Schindler is throwing far better darts than odds of 80/1 imply – they are seeded to meet in round three – while you would never rule out someone as streaky as Cullen, who is 16/1.

But the big noise on the Players Championship tour in 2022 is Australia's Damon Heta, who sits atop that Order of Merit and is 18/1 to win what would be just his third PDC title.

The second of those successes came in Barnsley in February, the highlight of a stunning campaign in which he has reached the semi-finals at least in six of the 15 Pro Tour events he has entered. He was also a semi-finalist at the German Grand Prix.

Mouthwatering ties on cards in bottom half

Some big names are going to be early casualties in the bottom half of the draw, a half decorated with big names.

Van Gerwen is the biggest of all and as a three-time ET winner in 2022, he's clearly going to take some stopping.

His run to the final of Premier League Night 14 in Sheffield – his seventh final appearance of the campaign, more than any of his seven rivals – merely continued a stunning run of form.

But he is still beatable and he's not the only in-form player in the bottom half. Luke Humphries, an ET winner this year, and Dimitri van den Bergh are slated to meet in round three, so too are Jose de Sousa and Jonny Clayton and also Michael Smith and Dirk van Duijvenbode.

For Smith it's been an odd year. Bully Boy, 12/1 this weekend, has had a Premier League return to forget yet only this week has gone back-to-back on the floor, winning hotly-contested Players Championship tournaments in Wigan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Smith's last five matches on Wednesday, culminating in an 8-3 romp over a rejuvenated Callan Rydz, he produced four match averages of 104 and higher.

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