2024 UK Open Preview: Five Players to Keep an Eye on

Get ready for an action-packed weekend as the highly anticipated 2024 Ladbrokes UK Open, often dubbed the FA Cup of Darts, descends upon Butlins Minehead. This premier event not only captivates darting enthusiasts but also showcases the talents of both aspiring amateurs and seasoned PDC professionals. As anticipation reaches a fever pitch, SportsBoom.com presents a preview of the top five players to keep an eye on at the 2024 UK Open.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-02-28

Wade McElwain

9 minutes read

Darts player celebrating

The 2024 Ladbrokes UK Open

The eagerly anticipated 2024 Ladbrokes UK Open, often hailed as the FA Cup of Darts, is set to command the spotlight this weekend at the esteemed Butlins Minehead venue. 


This annual extravaganza not only draws the gaze of fervent darting enthusiasts but also showcases the talents of both amateur hopefuls and seasoned Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) professionals. Commencing on Friday, March 1st, and reaching its climax on Sunday, March 3rd, the tournament promises thrills and surprises aplenty. 


Over the past three instalments, unexpected contenders have risen to claim the coveted title, though this year's event sees the formidable Michael van Gerwen emerge as the prime contender for glory. The Dutch darting maestro, was thwarted in his quest for a fourth UK Open title in the last year’s edition, succumbing to a riveting final against Andrew Gilding, who notably had only recently reclaimed his PDC Tour card in 2021. 


Despite his status as a perennial favourite, van Gerwen faces stiff competition from a field comprising 158 qualified players, rendering the UK Open arguably the most unpredictable professional darts competition on the global stage. 


Reminiscent of football's illustrious FA Cup, the tournament's format ensures an aura of unpredictability as players are drawn against each other randomly after each round, setting the stage for potentially electrifying matchups at any juncture.

Top Five Players to Look out for

As anticipation mounts for the weekend's showdown, SportsBoom.com presents an insightful glimpse into five players poised to make waves at the 2024 UK Open.

Ryan Searle

Fresh off a commendable 2023 season highlighted by a notable World Matchplay quarterfinal run, Ryan Searle emerges as a formidable force on the PDC Pro Tour, poised to make a significant impact at the 2024 UK Open. 


The 36-year-old's consistent performances, including a runner-up finish at Players Championships 1 and 2, losing to Luke Littler and Gary Anderson in the respective finals. However, he got revenge on the Flying Scotsman in the third event signalling a shift in momentum. His form on the Pro Tour gives us a glimpse of his potential to claim his maiden TV title, a trajectory reminiscent of Stephen Bunting's journey before clinching the Masters in February. 


Additionally, bolstering his prospects is the rigorous daily training regimen shared with his close confidant Luke Humphries, the reigning world champion and current world number one. This collaborative effort sets the stage for Searle to emerge as a serious contender, primed to leave his mark on the prestigious UK Open stage.


Given Ryan Searle's standing among the PDC's top 32 players, he will be granted a bye into the fourth round of the competition. As a result, the specifics of his initial opponent will only be determined once the earlier rounds of the competition unfold.



Image credit: PDC

Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson, the sole 'household' name amidst a field of rising stars, emerges as a compelling contender to watch at the 2024 UK Open. 


Despite a relatively lacklustre 2023 season by his esteemed standards, Anderson has unleashed a resurgence in form this year, showcasing some of his finest darts in recent memory. Boasting the highest average on the PDC form guide over the last 200 legs played, with an impressive 102.12, Anderson has enjoyed a solid start to the year on the floor, notably clinching victory at Players Championship 2 with a stellar performance against Ryan Searle. 


Although currently ranked 25th on the PDC Order of Merit, Anderson harbours ambitions of reclaiming his position among the sport's elite. With his sights set on climbing the ranks once more, the 53-year-old Scotsman possesses genuine aspirations of replicating his 2018 triumph and hoisting the illustrious UK Open trophy once again.


Just like Searle, Anderson will also receive a bye into the fourth round of the competition. The identity of his first opponent will only be unveiled on Friday evening as the tournament progresses.



Image credit: PDC

Mike De Decker

With a standout year in 2023, including an impressive fourth-round appearance at the UK Open and debut qualifications for both the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, Belgian darts talent Mike De Decker enters the 2024 UK Open as a player worth keeping an eye on. 


Dubbed "The Real Deal," De Decker has earned recognition as one of the tour's most formidable competitors, boasting an exceptional average of 97.63 over his last 200 professional legs. Additionally, he’s shown his prowess on the scoring front, ranking second in 180s so far this season, behind only Gary Anderson. 


Ascending to a career-best ranking of 39th in the PDC Order of Merit, the 28-year-old is poised for a bright future in the sport, aiming to translate his stellar floor performances onto the televised stage at the UK Open. Given his ranking, De Decker will be granted a bye into the third round, positioning him as the favourite for a potential matchup against either Niels Zonneveld, David Sumner, or Wessel Nijman.


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Image credit: PDC

Leighton Bennett

At just 18 years old, Leighton Bennett has long been heralded as a rising star in the world of darts, reminiscent of Luke Littler's early acclaim even before Littler's PDC debut. Bennett first made waves in 2018 by defeating none other than Phil Taylor at a mere 13 years old during an exhibition event, foreshadowing his prodigious talent. 


While capturing the 2019 BDO World Youth Darts Championships added to his burgeoning reputation, Bennett struggled to leave a mark on the PDC circuit, until now. This year marked a turning point as the Lincoln-born player secured his place in the ranks by clinching a tour card at the UK Q-School, triumphing over Thomas Cromwell in the final on the third day of stage two. 


Making his debut at the 2024 PDC Players Championship series, Bennett wasted no time in making an impact, besting seasoned competitors like Boris Krcmar and Dave Chisnall. His performance reached a pinnacle when he achieved a remarkable nine-dart finish enroute to victory against Lukas Wenig, setting a record as the youngest player to accomplish this feat at the Players Championship series, albeit briefly before Littler reclaimed the title on the same day. Now poised to make his mark on the televised stage, Bennett enters the 2024 UK Open with an air of anticipation, eager to showcase his talent and potentially ignite a new era in darts.


In the opening round, Bennett is set to take on Scott Mitchell, the 2015 Lakeside World Darts Champion. Should he advance beyond this initial challenge, Bennett stands to face either Jason Hogg or Darren Beveridge in the second round, offering a favourable draw as he aims to navigate past Scotty Dog.


Bennett PDC.jpeg

Image credit: PDC

Ashley Coleman

Emerging as one of the 16 amateur qualifiers to advance to the first round of the 2024 UK Open, Ashley Coleman secured his spot in Minehead by clinching victory at the Rileys Norwich event. 


While he may not carry the same level of renown as darts luminaries like Michael van Gerwen or Luke Littler, the 26-year-old has cultivated a significant following of his own, earning the moniker "Prince of Darkness" and regularly appearing on The Darts Referee YouTube channel, boasting over 67,000 subscribers. 


Despite falling short of securing a PDC Tour card at the 2024 UK Q-School, where he showcased an impressive tournament three-dart average of 86.12, Coleman's journey has captured the attention of thousands of viewers who eagerly track his progress. As an underdog on the UK Open stage, Coleman will face formidable opponents in each encounter, but he will undoubtedly enjoy the unwavering support of his extensive social media fan base.


Coleman is set to take on Tim Wolters, the final qualifier for the tournament via the PDC's Order of Merit in the first round. Should he advance past this initial hurdle, Coleman's path could lead to a potential matchup with Ryan Joyce in the third round, provided he navigates through the first two rounds successfully.


Ashley Coleman Image credit TheDartsReferee.jpeg

Image credit: @TheDartsReferee

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.