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Littler to enter UK Open on Friday night with MVG, Smith & Humphries

Teenage superstar Luke Littler will enter this year’s UK Open at the fourth-round stage on Friday night as the world’s top 32 enter the fray at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.

The unique multi-board event will see PDC Tour Card Holders compete against Rileys Amateur Qualifiers and players from the Winmau Challenge and Development Tours.

Andrew Gilding begins his defence of the title amongst a star-studded 158-player field on Friday evening’s fourth round which will see world No 1 Luke Humphries and Littler in action.

Andrew Gilding celebrates a famous first televised title (Image: Kieran Cleeves/PDC)
Image: Andrew Gilding celebrates a famous first televised title at last year’s UK Open

Former champions Michael van Gerwen, Nathan Aspinall, Danny Noppert, Peter Wright, James Wade, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld will also enter at the fourth round stage, in what promises to be a blockbuster night.

Gilding stunned Van Gerwen to triumph in last year’s Minehead showpiece, denying the Dutch superstar in a last-leg shoot-out to become the oldest first-time winner of a televised PDC event.

The Suffolk star had previously made his breakthrough at this event in 2015, succumbing to Van Gerwen in an extraordinary semi-final, despite averaging over 108.

“I really don’t know what it is about this tournament that brings the best out of me,” admitted Gilding, who is bidding to become the fourth player to retain the UK Open title, along with Phil Taylor, Van Barneveld and Van Gerwen.

“It was unbelievable last year. I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about my form, so to lift the title was a dream come true.

“It still feels quite unreal. People say to me: ‘Nobody can ever take that away from you’. I’ve still got the trophy sitting next to me in the living room!

“It’s going to be a new experience for me as reigning champion, but hopefully that experience may help me if I get to the later stages.

“I don’t have to cross that hurdle anymore, so in those tight matches, I will have a little bit of extra confidence.”

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Littler benefited from this huge deflection against Rob Cross during Thursday night’s Premier League Darts in Exeter

World Champion Humphries will also be among the headline acts this weekend, as he sets his sights on a fourth consecutive televised ranking title.

The 29-year-old celebrated success on his last visit to Minehead in November, reeling off six straight legs to stun Van Gerwen in a remarkable conclusion to the Players Championship Finals.

Humphries – a UK Open runner-up in 2021 – has won 19 successive televised ranking matches since his quarter-final exit in October’s European Championship, and he’s hungry for further silverware on his Minehead return.

“I want to keep that run going,” declared Humphries, embarking on his seventh UK Open appearance in 2024.

“Obviously the last time I was at Minehead I won the title, so I would love to do the double, and I believe if I continue playing the way I have been, I stand every chance of picking up another major title.

“This tournament was where I made my big breakthrough, and if you look at the trajectory of my career since then, that’s what kick-started my rise, so it holds great memories for me.

“I would love to add this title to my honours list, but I think it’s one of the hardest to win. It’s a really unique tournament with the open draw, but that is what makes it so special.”

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Littler reeled in this 170 finish during Night Four of the Premier League in Newcastle

An open draw will be made live on the main stage for round four, with further draws to be made following each subsequent round.

The action will continue on Saturday, March 2 with the fifth and sixth rounds across two sessions, before the main stage will play host to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Sunday, March 3.

Players 1-32 – Enter in Fourth Round

Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross
Danny Noppert
Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton
Dave Chisnall
Damon Heta
Dirk van Duijvenbode
Joe Cullen
Dimitri Van den Bergh
Chris Dobey
Ross Smith
Stephen Bunting
Ryan Searle
Andrew Gilding
James Wade
Josh Rock
Gabriel Clemens
Martin Schindler
Krzysztof Ratajski
Gary Anderson
Jose de Sousa
Brendan Dolan
Daryl Gurney
Raymond van Barneveld
Luke Littler
Scott Williams
Kim Huybrechts

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Here’s a chance to look at the very best of 17-year-old superstar Littler through this musical montage…

Friday Evening Session (7pm)
Fourth Round
8x Stages, 4 Matches per board

Saturday March 2
Afternoon Session (12.45pm)
Fifth Round
4x Stages, 4 Matches per board

Evening Session (7pm)
Sixth Round
2x Stages, 4 Matches per board

Sunday March 3
Afternoon Session (12.45pm)

Evening Session (1900 GMT7pm)

Prize Fund

Winner: £110,000
Runner-up: £50,000
Semi-finalists: £30,000
Quarter-finalists: £15,000
Last 16: £10,000
Last 32: £5,000
Last 64: £2,500
Last 96: £1,500
Last 128: £1,000
Total: £600,000

Where does the Premier League head next?

Michael Van Gerwen celebrates with the trophy after winning against Gerwyn Price in the final during the Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PDC ..RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Image: Michael van Gerwen is the seven-time Premier League champion

The Premier League continues in Brighton, as league leader Van Gerwen takes on Night Five runner-up Cross in a battle of the former world champions.

Aspinall faces Littler in another eye-catching showdown, Humphries meets Price in a repeat of last year’s World Grand Prix final, while Smith plays Wright.

Fixtures: Night Six, The Brighton Centre on Thursday, March 7

Luke Humphries vs Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross vs Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall vs Luke Littler
Michael Smith vs Peter Wright

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2024 Premier League Darts schedule

Night 6 The Brighton Centre March 7
Night 7 Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham March 14
Night 8 3Arena, Dublin March 21
Night 9 SSE Arena, Belfast March 28
Night 10 AO Arena, Manchester April 4
Night 11 Utilita Arena, Birmingham April 11
Night 12 Rotterdam Ahoy April 18
Night 13 M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool April 25
Night 14 P&J Live, Aberdeen May 2
Night 15 First Direct Arena, Leeds May 9
Night 16 Utilita Arena, Sheffield May 16
Play-Offs The O2, London May 23

Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday, March 7 with The Brighton Centre the next stop on the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, May 23. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW

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