Darts expands to Slovakia and Czech Republic in 2018

Darts Slovak Open - x-bionic® sphere
Fans and players will be treated to the state-of-the-art x-bionic® sphere as the venue for the inaugural Darts Slovak Open.
Photo: Martina Tomanova

The inaugural Darts Slovak Open will take place from February 23-25 this year, the first ever BDO tournament staged in Slovakia, and registration to both men and women in the senior, pairs and junior draws is still open for players to enter.

Further info is available on the event’s official website dartsslovakopen.sk.

Darts may new to the scene in the Central European nation, but there is certainly a rapidly growing interest in the country as well as neighbouring Czech Republic, which is evident by the vast amount of entries already.

Players from Slovakia, Czech Republic, as well as the UK, Ireland, Austria, Spain and Hungary have put their names down for the tournament in the hope of making history to become the first Darts Slovak Open champions.

It comes after the 2017 Czech Open – one of the BDO’s biggest events – saw over 1000 players register, including the likes of Scott Mitchell, Darryl Fitton, Corrinne Hammond, Trina Gulliver and Tony O’Shea. One of the stories of the 2018 BDO World Championship, German Michael Unterbuchner, even threw the competition’s first-ever nine-darter back in November!

Such is the growth in popularity for darts in the region too, that the 2018 Darts Slovak Open will be held at one of the newest and biggest multifunctional sports complexes in Europe – the x-bionic® sphere in Samorin, which is a short 30 minute drive away from Slovakia’s capital city Bratislava.

Czech Darts Organisation chairman Jan Prikryl (left) and popular commentator from the region Pavel Korda (right) pose with the all-star 2017 Czech Open champions.
Photo: Radek Benes

The state-of-the-art complex (which was Slovakia’s official 2016 Olympics training centre) would certainly appeal to players and fans, as would the accessibility to Bratislava’s airport – flights are currently available from London Stansted, Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Vienna in Austria is the next nearest airport, and is an hour’s drive away, while it is two hours from Budapest, Hungary.

You can view the x-bionic® sphere on their website www.x-bionicsphere.com/en/home.

It’s no secret that darts is expanding rapidly across the globe in both the BDO and PDC, with new players all over the world becoming more and more prominent in the sport.

Krzysztof Ratajski of Poland (which is directly above Slovakia) is a recent prime example, after he claimed the 2017 BDO World Masters trophy.

Other stars in the region – Darius Labanauskas of Lithuania and Latvia’s Madars Razma – have also made a name for themselves, while darts has now even reached South America with Brazilian Diogo Portela proving to be a great potential.

Slovakia and Czech Republic look set to be the next nations to unearth a talent to challenge the best in the game.

The latter country, as it happens, is also going to host the all-star Prague Darts Masters 2018 exhibition event on February 23, and will feature some of the PDC’s top names such as Dutch giants Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld, Australia number one Simon Whitlock and even blast from the past and fan favourite Wayne Mardle – together with some of the Czech Republic’s finest players.

Incredibly, the event at the Kralovka Hall is already sold out to fans, with 2500 tickets bought in just a few days. But, that same week, Prague will be hosting East Europe qualifiers for four European Tour tournaments too.

Further info is available on the event’s official website praguedartsmasters.cz.

With such events in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and other surrounding nations, darts can only get more and more popular in Central and Eastern Europe.

Czech star Karel Sedlacek in action against the Netherlands at the 2017 World Cup of Darts.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

TV broadcaster Nova Sport – who are partnered with darts website www.iam180.sk which is run by Michal Brestovansky – has played a big part in that too, as it has rights to show most Major PDC tournaments, allowing fans to view all of their darting heroes live on a regular basis.

Further work in the region to promote the game is being achieved by popular darts commentator Pavel Korda, who among many things is currently working on the translation and publication of Matt Bozeat’s book ‘Darts Greatest Games: Fifty Finest Matches from the World of Darts’.

While, Czech Darts Organisation chairman Jan Prikryl has done wonders for the sport in his country as well.

Be sure to look out for Slovakian players such as Peter Martin, who’ll be taking part in European Q-School, in future. Frantisek Sulc is another, and perhaps more familiar to handball fans being a former Slovakia international. Sulc, known as the ‘Slovak Gerwyn Price’ thanks to his switch to darts from another sport too, is also involved in the organisation of the Darts Slovak Open.

As for Czech stars, Karel Sedlacek, Frantisek Humpula and David Rosi will join Martin at European Q-School. Sedlacek has played at Lakeside twice, while he partnered Humpula at the 2017 PDC World Cup of Darts, where they managed to take a leg off eventual champions the Netherlands in the first round.

Many thanks to iam180’s Michal Brestovansky for his huge help, research and knowledge.