John Henderson returns to the Euro Tour stage (credit:Steve Welsh/PDC)
The PDC’s first venture into the Czech Republic begins in Prague on Friday as the 32 qualifiers collide in Round One of the 2019 Czech Open.
The ninth of 13 live-streamed European Tour events this season will feature 48 players battling it out for the £25,000 title at the PVA Expo Praha.
It is the final event before the cut off for next month’s World Matchplay, with eleven players competing
for the remaining three places at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
A host of those involved in the race for Blackpool look to keep their hopes alive by progressing to Saturday’s Second Round and setting up a meeting with one of the 16 seeds.
Keegan Brown would move into pole position to qualify and oust Kyle Anderson if he were to reach Round Two this weekend, but would then be reliant on other results going in his favour.
The Isle of Wight ace aims to take a significant step towards qualification for the sport’s summer show-piece by overcoming debutant qualifier Ondrej Plsek in the afternoon session.
World Cup finalist William O’Connor requires a run to at least the Quarter-Finals if he is have a chance of securing a Matchplay debut, and the in-form Irishman starts out against Host Nation hopeful Václav Schieferdecker.
Dutch left-hander Ron Meulenkamp and veteran Steve West would need a run to the Semi-Finals to stand a chance of gatecrashing the Winter Gardens, and they open up against Jan Hlaváček and former World Master Mervyn King respectively.
Jamie Hughes, Ted Evetts, Robert Thornton, Brendan Dolan, Justin Pipe, Rowby-John Rodriguez and Madars Razma must win the Czech Open if they are to secure a remarkable last-gasp qualification.
Hughes has been drawn to face World Championship quarter-finalist Devon Petersen, while Evetts will take on last Saturday’s Players Championship event winner Krzysztof Ratajski – who is already assured of a debut spot in the Matchplay.
Multiple major champion Thornton has recaptured some form in recent weeks and aims to maintain that resurgent spell when he meets 2014 Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting in a stand-out evening session tie.
Latvia’s Razma, who hit a nine-darter in last week’s Euro Tour qualifiers, starts out against former major semi-finalist Pipe, while 2011 Grand Prix finalist Dolan takes on top-ranked Czech player Karel Sedlacek – quarter-finalist in this year’s German Grand Prix.
Austrian ace Rodriguez, meanwhile, comes up against the vastly experienced Andrew Gilding in the afternoon session.
Elsewhere, 2018 UK Open finalist Corey Cadby marks his long-awaited Euro Tour debut with a clash against debutant Dutch qualifier Wessel Nijman.
John Henderson is in action against fellow Scotsman William Borland, while another Premier League ‘Contender’ – Chris Dobey – faces Polish qualifier Sebastian Steyer.
Reigning and three-time Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant aims to bounce back from his First Round exit at the Danish Open as he opens up the evening session with a clash against Sweden’s Daniel Larsson.
Danny Noppert, who is already safe of a Matchplay spot, opens up against Switzerland’s Stefan Bellmont, while Netherlands World Cup star Jermaine Wattimena meets UK qualifier Kevin Garcia.
The action gets underway from midday, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
Czech Darts Open 2019 Schedule
All times BST (local time one hour ahead)
Friday June 28
Afternoon Session (12pm-4pm)
Danny Noppert v Stefan Bellmont
Madars Razma v Justin Pipe
Jermaine Wattimena v Kevin Garcia
Karel Sedlacek v Brendan Dolan
Wessel Nijman v Corey Cadby
William Borland v John Henderson
Ondrej Plsek v Keegan Brown
Andrew Gilding v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Evening Session (6.15pm-10.15pm)
Glen Durrant v Daniel Larsson
Mervyn King v Steve West
Vaclav Shieferdecker v William O’Connor
Krzysztof Ratajski v Ted Evetts
Chris Dobey v Sebastian Steyer
Ron Meulenkamp v Jan Hlavacek
Stephen Bunting v Robert Thornton
Jamie Hughes v Devon Petersen