The opening day of the Uk Open is the greatest day in the darting calendar, in my opinion, and it certainly didn't disappoint yesterday.
World number one Gerwyn Price remains favourite to lift the trophy at 10/3 while reigning champion James Wade is out at 25/1 despite impressing on the opening night.
The top 32 players all received byes into round four so only had to play one match on the opening day, however there were a few high-profile casualties as Rob Cross, Joe Cullen and Luke Humphries were among those eliminated.
Smith steadily improving
After losing out in the World Championship final at the start of the year, Michael Smith has struggled to ignite at the beginning of 2022 but after signs of improvement in Exeter, he managed to back that up with victory over Chris Dobey to make it through to day two of the UK Open.
The relief on Bullyboy's face was clear for all to see as he registered his first two points of the Premier League campaign on Thursday and he followed that up with a 10-7 victory over Chris Dobey on Friday.
We know that Smith has improved immensely in terms of the mental side of his game and as he looks to put a relatively disappointing start to the year behind him, I imagine he'll be pleased with his superior scoring, maximum hitting and overall finishing stats of late.
I'm backing him to coast past Gabriel Clemens at 3/10.
Rydz to progress
It's incredible to think that Callan Rydz only claimed his maiden PDC title in February of 2021 but since then, he has gone on to take the World Championships by storm and capture the attention of many on the circuit as he continues to rise up the rankings.
With an abundance of talent, it was always self-confidence that held the Bedlington ace back but he seems to have found his stride on the big stage and no longer fears anyone in his quest for success.
For so long he struggled to have a presence on the big stage but the more he believes he belongs, the better he seems to be getting and I think that at 8/13, he will come through with ease against Vincent van der Voort.