Tag Archives: Barry Hearn

Tommy Cox – A Darts Great!

I had been recently working on a feature piece for a soon to be relaunched publishing icon. A few days ago I drafted my initial section on Tommy Cox. With today’s dreadful news of Tommy’s untimely death,  it seems appropriate to let it stand alone:

Tommy Cox
Tommy Cox – A Founding Far.
Pic: PDC

Tommy Cox & The WDC/PDC: It is quite possible that without Tommy Cox, and those who formed the WDC, darts would have returned to the pubs and clubs and never again reached the heights we see today. Cox and other founding members were determined to give the best players more TV events, bigger prizes and improve the game. Darts had endured tough times. Due to the outbreak of political correctness with TV/advertising companies wrongly believing the game was out of date and not marketable. The BDO & Olly Croft were happy with a couple of big TV events and did not believe that they ” owed the players a living”. Tommy disagreed.

For the full horrid fallout see Blood on the Carpet (The split in darts) on YouTube –Here

Cox and the players fought the BDO at every turn, ending up the high court. Tommy used his own money, and remortgaged his own house, to ensure the WDC survived. Once the WDC progressed and was stable, Sky TV and Barry Hearn stepped in to take things toward the level we see now. Worldwide PDC darts, hugely successful in Europe and gaining ground in every corner of the globe is the end result. Tommy’s desire that there were enough opportunities for players to thrive and the game to progress seems to have been met in spades. Tommy then spent many years as PDC tournament director. This made sure the events were superbly staged and ran like clockwork.

Thus the professional game was truly born and Tommy Cox was its midwife!

On a personal level, I met Tommy on many occasions, we even had the odd run-in, but, once he worked out that I truly had player’s interest at heart, was hugely helpful and supportive. I admired the way he operated and respected the events he helped make, for players and fans alike, some of the best in the world.

Thank you, Tommy, may you Rest in Peace.

Darts, The Ultimate Premier League.

Premier League darts has been a huge success. The opportunity to see ten of the best players, across a single raucous night, in huge venues has proven an important driver in PDC darts being the showcase for the professional game. Crowds, in the tens of thousands, flock to buy tickets for the biggest professional exhibition/competition.

The founder of the feast. Premier League darts has proven one of Barry's smartest moves.
The founder of the feast. Premier League darts has proven one of Barry’s smartest moves.

There is a healthy debate each year regarding who should be selected to play? Fans have favourites they would love to see in the biggest show. Even supporters of darts’ other code, The BDO, can’t help but wonder how their own players would match up, adding a little spice to the debate.

Discussions regarding how players from differing eras would have done, against the players of today, are commonplace. With modern conditions and advantages would they be able to hold their own or even outdo today’s superstars?

This divides quite nicely into two golden ages. The current, Sky Sports & PDC driven, times and the original 1970/80’s golden age which proved hugely popular and provided many of the templates for the success of today. Players from both eras are held up as icons and whilst some of the debate is, understandably, generational it is not the only factor in deciding who would make an ultimate league.

The skill factor of the players, the simplicity of the game and the intimate and dramatic  nature of the competition, the characters and emotions, or lack of, of  players at any time. These factors explain the popularity of TV Professional darts. The Premier League is about showing all these assets, to the maximum degree, in a single night and over the entire league. With finals night being the ultimate showdown.

With all that in mind, who would make an all time ten man line up, how would the generations match up?  How would the league progress? Who would triumph?

The Line Up.

1 – Phil Taylor: With 16 World Titles and a huge volume of major wins across the generations there is no doubt that Taylor would be the first name on the sheet. His overall skill level is simply unsurpassed and the Premier League distance is just long enough to show it. His competitive, or matchplaying, spirit is also beyond question, winning matches and titles from almost every position and against all types of opposition. The only dip would be the entertainment level, Phil entertains through excellence and offers little more.

cropped-philtaylor-bullet-dart-pic.jpg
The Power would be very keen to prove his prowess.

Skill Factor 10, Matchplay 10, Entertainment 8. Total 28

2 – Eric Bristow: Five World Titles, a ruthless competitor and the founder of the feast in terms of entertainment. A prime Crafty Cockney would be the biggest draw of the event and many would be desperate to see him bestride the event with the cocky brilliance of his pomp.

Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 10, Entertainment 10. Total 28

3 – MVG; A career slam of major titles and one of the driving forces upping the standard in the current era. Able to destroy any opponent MVG would also provide the clearest modern versus classic era battles. Not untouchable especially if dominated.

Skill Factor 10, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 26

4 – Jockey Wilson; Twice World Champion, the totally unpredictable Jockey, would add to the event just by being in it. Yet viewing old footage reveal that he , and other past champions, were capable of 100+ averages even using old equipment. The short format of the these games and  Jockey’s sheer determination would mean shocks, sublime spells and probably defeats as well. Adding great drama, to the proceedings, especially in the Scottish venues!

Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 10. Total 26

5 – John Lowe; World Champion in three separate decades and a multiple winner in all formats. The ultimate example of the classic stylist. Totally unflappable and the first 9 dart TV hero. Lowe would provide huge contrast to some of the modern players. His battle with Taylor would also carry great interest in a contrasting way.

Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 9, Entertainment 7. Total 25

6. John Part: Darth Maple is a three-time World Champ across both codes. In his pomp his fluent style and deadly play would have seen him compete in any era against any opponent. Articulate and interesting when discussing the game, his media savvy may also add to the proceedings.

Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 24

7. Gary Anderson: Double World Champion in an era containing MVG, Taylor & Lewis, to name but three, Gary brings phenomenal darts and differing laid back attitude. I suspect he would relish the opportunity to match with a variety of players from across time. Can have off nights as well which adds to the unpredictability.

The Flying Scotsman - Could the reigning World Champ hold his own with the legendary names?
The Flying Scotsman – Could Gary hold his own with the legendary names?

Skill Factor -10, Matchplay – 8, Entertainment – 8. Total 26

8. Bob Anderson: World Champion and three-time World Master. The Limestone Cowboy has already shown he could compete with the best from both codes across both of darts great eras. With phenomenal professionalism, and will to win, in many ways, Bob is the perfect example of a pro dart player. Reaching the semi’s of the PDC worlds in his late 50’s and winning the League of Legends in 2008 demonstrate his often underestimated ability. The shirts, the point, and the grit would all add the entertainment as well!

Skill Factor – 8, Matchplay – 9, Entertainment 8. Total 24

9. Adrian Lewis: Jackpot is another double World Champ and just like Gary he achieved them back to back. Another in the modern style who hits big scores for fun. But how would they adapt to the matchplay skills of some of the other players in this league? Adrian has been known to go missing or suffer bouts of frustration. I am sure this would not have gone unnoticed by others in the group. When inspired, Ade is a great entertainer with flash shots and a fun, quick-fire style.

Twice World Champion already, could team Lewis pull off another win?

Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 25

9. RVB: Despite 5 world titles I had difficulty putting Raymond into this league. The important elements of entertainment and grit have been lacking  recent times from the Dutchman. Then I remembered the very best of Barney, winning World Titles in both codes, pushing Phil to ever greater heights and the ability to defeat MVG in big games even now!

Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 7. Total 24

10: Dennis Priestley: Despite hot competition, for the final place, it must be The Menace. World Champion in both codes, gritty competitor, revolutionary in the art of switching (18’s in his case). With Phil and Part the only member of the Older guard who has Premier League experience. Loved by all fans.

Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 9, Entertainment 7. Total 24.

Special Guests:

This league would be very competitive and every great show needs interval entertainment ( think Riverdance!). Special guest would be exhibition doubles.

BDO vs PDC “The Entertainers”

Tony O Shea & Daryl Fitton vs Wayne Mardle & Peter Manley.

How Would The Ultimate PL Go?

The above all time league would provide superb nights of drama and high quality competition every week with shocks and maybe even a bit of needle! Ultimately, with every player being in their prime, the last four would be very hard to pick, as would the elimination pairing, but here goes.

Elimination:

The two Johns would bow out at this stage. Lowe at his best was unbelievable consistent and would have battled in every game. I am not sure he would have had quite enough of a 2nd gear when needed. Part may get off to a slow start playing many of those who he idolised. This would see Dennis Priestley survive as he would start strongly although this would fade he would have the points on the board.

Last 4.

The second section of the League would possibly be the most exciting. Most of the big rivalries and cross era clashes would be seen again, this time each would have settled and be aware that elimination was at stake. I would guess that it would come down to the last week with many outcomes still at possible.

Finally though, the combination of skill, ego and sheer determination would see a Semi Finals between Eric Bristow & Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor vs MVG.

League Table:

  • =1 Eric Bristow & Phil Taylor
  • 3rd Gary Anderson
  • 4th MVG
  • 5th Bob Anderson
  • 6th Adrian Lewis
  • 7th RVB
  • 8th Dennis Priestly

Finals Night:

Semi 1: Eric succeeds by getting away well and thoroughly enjoying the massive crowd and atmosphere. Gary would catch fire later but Eric would get home reasonably safely.

Semi 2: A belter this one, MVG would be out of the gate and into the lead early. But the chance of playing Eric on the biggest stage and in front of the biggest crowd would prove a huge inspiration to Phil. “The Power” ups the gears and produces a stunning spell mid-match. MVG can not quite match the sudden burst and Phil wins by a couple.

The Final:

Each man in his absolute pomp, Eric enjoying the benefits of what he built and Phil suffering under the huge pressure that Eric exerted. Phil settling down and out playing Eric mid match. Eric however is less easily worn down and uses every tactic and psychological ploy to knock “The Power” out of his stride.

The last leg decider is certain to be the result.  The chance to be crowned the best ever, head to head, would prove the only inspiration The Crafty Cockney needed.

Winner: Eric “The Crafty Cockney” Bristow.


World Championship Darts and The Lakeside Myth.

The Lakeside. Venue & main sponsor for BDO World Championship Darts.

The Lakeside. Venue & main sponsor for BDO World Championship Darts.

 

With the recent announcement that the BBC will be covering a new darts event, staged by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), and featuring the top 8 players in the world, it can be argued that professional darts is now able to expand and reach a huge audience of both armchair fans and potential new players.
Of course, this news has also lead to much discussion regarding the long-running split in darts, which took place in 1993, and the future of players and events that are staged by The British Darts Organisation (BDO). The main source of concern seems to be the future of the BDO “World Championship” often referred to as The Lakeside.
The event is known as such due to its current venue and the fact that, in order to avoid classing it as a world championship, the PDC, and others, refer to winners of the event post-1993 as being “Lakeside” Champions.

The famous Lakeside stage.

The famous Lakeside stage.

The tournament itself is the continuation of the first darts world championship, held in 1978. The famous trophy is iconic in the sport and contains the names of those, Rees, Lowe Bristow, Wilson, Deller, Anderson, Priestley & Taylor to name a few, who built the game’s popularity over its initial glory period and then through to its current PDC Sky TV incarnation.

The Myth

Over the years the history of the event, the fact that it was the first incarnation, and its more recent venue have become into twinned to create a myth of Lakeside and its importance.
The first edition of, what is regarded as, Darts’ World Championship was actually held in The Heart of the Midlands Club in Nottingham and won by Leighton Rees. The event proved popular and featured an Englishman, Welshman (Rees) a Swede and an American in the semifinals.

1st World Champion. Played at The Heart of The Midlands Club.

1st World Champion. Played at The Heart of The Midlands Club.

The next seven events were held in Jollies Cabaret Club in Stoke on Trent. These events from 1979 until 1985 are regarded by most as darts first golden age. Most great memories of the game from its early TV days are formed here, the battles between Bristow and Lowe, the remarkable Jockey Wilson managing to claim the title against the rock that was Lowe and Kieth Deller managing to defeat all three of them to win his only title, whilst looking like The Milky Bar Kid! These were the kickstart that saw darts boom and created an opportunity for a truly professional game to later emerge.

The games initial great era was built in Jollies in Stoke on Trent.

The games initial great era was built in Jollies in Stoke on Trent.

The event then moved to its new home at The Lakeside Country Club. For the next 8 years, it could claim to be the home of the world darts championship and created some great memories of its own. Jocky’s incredible second win, Bob Anderson finally claiming the ultimate prize and the emergence of two fellows by the name of Taylor and Priestley.

A legend begins.

The Power, 14 world titles have been collected away from Lakeside.

So, from Its start in ’78 till ’93, the World Championship was played eight times at The Lakeside and eight elsewhere. Thus its claim, to be the spiritual home of darts or even The World Championship, is tenuous at best.
From 1994 there have been two rival world championships. Owing to the split between the top players and the BDO who arranged the events until that time. The WDC (later PDC) held their event, featuring all active world champions to that point and most of the top 32 world ranked players, at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, whilst the BDO continued to use Lakeside. Each event is still providing stories and star players today. Over time the PDC retained the better players or attracted more with numerous TV events and higher prize money while the BDO and Lakeside remained substantively the same for the next 22 years.
Thus from 1994 onward, the Lakeside has held what, at best, can be described as a “version” of the World Championship, whilst another is held featuring the majority of the best players. Alternatively, the event could be described as a World Amateur Championship which happens to carry prize money!

The BDO circuit could easily be compared to The Championship, in football, with PDC darts as The Premiership. Lakeside could be similarly compared to the Play-Offs. The main difference being the winners don’t have to accept promotion and can choose to continue playing in and dominating the lower league.

BDO World Champ , Scott Mitchell, chose to remain within the system.

BDO World Champ, Scott Mitchell, chose to remain within the system.

Meanwhile PDC venues have  established their own spiritual homes of professional darts, with The Circus Tavern being the testing ground for the development of an event, and product, that can be deemed fit to be played on Pay For and Free to Air TV, and in front of  tens of thousands of fans, at The Alexendra Palace in London. The Winter Gardens in Blackpool, home of The World Matchplay and The Civic Hall in Wolverhampton for The Grand Slam of Darts, to name but two, have been enthusiastically adopted by darts fans producing superb and unique atmosphere’s of their own. The Euro tour is also producing such venues. Rotterdam & Dortmund are looking likely to become iconic.

Winter Gardens as dart venue

Solutions.

The current situation of the British Darts Organisation raises a genuine concern for the health of the amateur game and the future of two of the most iconic event in darts. The Original World Championship and The (Winmau) World Masters. Both of these are classic events with long-running histories. Where they are held is almost irrelevant, the truth is that they need to be well run and well marketed in order to ensure their continued survival.

The solution seems relatively simple. Forget the myth of Lakeside or any other venue. A world championship should be where the very best players have the opportunity to qualify and compete against each other during a single regular event. Thus the “Original” World Championship Darts Trophy should handed to the PDC in order that they run one professional world championship each year. Both the Classic & Sid Waddell Trophies would be awarded to the winner. In exchange for this, the PDC should support the running of a World “Amateur” Championship. Possibly for the Olly Croft Trophy.

Any player who has won or, possibly, reached the final of either current version should be granted an exemption into a prelim or qualifying round for the next five to ten years (golf manages this pretty well and it may assist in the transition). Other, time-limited exemptions, may be possible after discussions. The result should be one Professional World Championship and other tournaments in which the very best players qualify or have the opportunity to do so.

In exchange for this the PDC should support the running of a World “Amateur” Championship and lend its management and marketing expertise to the BDO, or other organisation, in order to stabilize the situation and ensure that an amateur system, such as currently exists with superleague & county darts, continues to thrive on a strong and secure footing.

The World Masters could then be staged as a single event open to all players amateur and professionals from across the globe, without its recent late-stage seeded format, jointly run and marketed by the two circuits.

Former PDC director Tommy Cox has offered to come out of retirement and help. His experience in directing tournaments all over the globe in ever-changing times could prove a masterstroke. The amateur circuit could include many current popular events and opens and the money earned viewed as expenses.

Without such an accommodation the consequences will be very damaging, the BDO “World Championship” & World Masters may be reduced to streamed or minority channel events, poorly produced, watched by few and cared about by less. The darts product has been superbly built over 40 years, first by the BDO and Olly Croft , then through the PDC via Tommy Cox & Barry Hearn.

It should not be cheapened, risked or demeaned due to pettiness, spite and or incompetence.

Grand Slam of Darts 2015 – A Diamond Damaged and Wolfie for The Premier League?

Beware "The Wolfie"

Beware “Wolfie”. Time for The Premier League?

The early stages, of The Grand Slam of Darts 2015, have shown what those with open eyes have known for a long time. Namely that the BDO is a mix between some very big fish, who can play darts at any level, and a selection of good amateur players who have not yet made the jump to a professional/elite standard.

After the early exchanges and a large dollop of SKY hype “The Power” let slip the mask of casual ease and verbally bashed Andy Fordham and had a swipe or two at the BDO along the way.

Taylor’s anger, although misdirected, has a grain of truth running through it. This edition of The Grand Slam comes at a time when the working relationship between dart’s rival organisations is as good as it has been for a while, which can never be a bad thing. However, the new formula, for making up the field, together with making it a PDC ranking tournament shows up major flaws and unfairness for PDC players.

No one would stand for it in Football!

Premier-League-Logo

Imagine if the same happened in football. The nearest version I could paint would be allowing 8 teams from a different league to play in The Premier League for a couple of match weekends, while leaving mid – lower teams on the sidelines to watch and weep.

So the league table would be badly affected by the fact that a number of teams that would normally play would not even have the opportunity to gain 3 points. The 8 visiting teams would have varying degrees of ability, interest, and motivation, as the points would not count in their own league. This would then throw up a scenario that would ruin the league table’s integrity.

If, for example, the visiting league was the Scottish Premier division it does not take a genius to work out that Celtic, and previously, Rangers and usually one other would be strong sides that would want to do their best. The other five teams however might be weaker, less keen or have their own reasons for fielding weaker teams.

Thus the draw could be hugely significant and have huge effects on the overall league at the end of the season, it may for example cost a team the title itself or a place in the champions league? I am pretty sure this would not be tolerated by any party.

But it is OK in Darts?

This year's GSoD could be a superb event to be associated with for Singha Beer.

This year’s GSoD is proving a superb event, to be associated with, for Singha Beer.

Yet it can be argued that this is exactly what has been done in darts. Vincent Van de Voort openly tweeted his support for BDO players, simply because, they will not threaten his ranking position. Players such as Simon Whitlock, Brendon Dolan, Steven Bunting, Justin Pipe and others have been placed at a huge disadvantage, not only are they not allowed to play, but the format is the only event at which a defeat does not mean an exit, thus the chances for players to settle and earn more are increased.

Damaged Unfairly?

Damaged Unfairly?

For a victim of the second type look no further than Ian White, The Diamond has been on a steady climb through the rankings, for 5 years, and has reached number 8 in the PDC Rankings. He had turned the corner in majors and was looking a strong favourite for a Premier League place and yet another ranking rise this year. However, he was drawn with the equivalent of Celtic/Rangers. Yet he has to play a three-time world champion & world master with almost nothing to lose ( another two games to come, no ranking pressure etc.) Whereas Ian would have known, that not only would defeat be dangerous, to his chances of qualifying, the powers that be & SKY TV may well have used the game as an unofficial audition for The Premier League. If it is close, at the season’s end, SKY may select a different player?

This matter should be corrected immediately and not allowed to happen again. The Grand Slam does not need to be ranked to make it great TV, cross code element and vociferous crowd ensure that every year. BDO players should be delighted to come and play in the GSoD and have always added to the event, many are quality players who also know the value of entertaining the crowd. The event must be restored to the annual bragging rights battle it has always been.

To maximise the new positive relationship between the organisation however another step could, and should, be taken. PDC boss Barry Hearn should negotiate two places in The Premier League for the BDO. One place selected by SKY (within certain limits) and another by the BDO in whatever way they see fit.

Barry Hearn

For 2016 It would be certain to be be Adams ( Sky ) & maybe Waites (BDO Pick) they may not think Duzza (Glen Durrant) should be exposed, too soon, to what can be a tough arena? This still leaves the original 8 PDC places SKY could lose one selection with the top 5 be automatically in and then 3 selections.

Not only would these corrections make the PDC ranking system more balanced, but the Premier League would be enhanced and refreshed as well!

Two Shots for Double Dekker?

PDC Dart player Jan Dekker, exploits ranking system to perfection as UK players disadvantaged.

Double Dekker. Former BDO World Semi Finalist Jan Dekker

Double Dekker. Former BDO World Semi Finalist Jan Dekker

Jan Dekker is a Dutch dart player of considerable talent. He has reached the later stages of the BDO ( British Darts Organisation) Lakeside World Championship on more than one occasion and has shown a strong big game temperament. He has always appeared an intelligent and well-informed person and player. He resisted the calls to run to the full-time professional circuit, after his early success, and returned to finish his education. Over the last couple of years he has again returned to the fore and this year made the decision to play within the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) system.

The PDC system involves a qualifying school, to gain one of 128 tour cards in order to be assured of playing on the Pro Tour events and then a number of tours, of differing levels, to qualify for various major & TV events over the year. Tour cards last for up yo two years but are given annually to those in the top 64 without the need for Q School attendance. Those who fail to get a tour card are ranked on their performance. They can still play some tours and are reserve players for the main Pro Tour events and as such may be able to play almost the entire Pro Tour whilst still being eligible for the lower tier tours as well.

To enable wider international participation, some events/tours have qualifiers in, or near to, their continental locations as well as a UK qualifying event. Therefore International players can choose either method of qualification.

The basic aim of the system is to provide qualification and ranking systems and well as allow new players to make an attempt to get into the elite Tour Card holding echelons of PDC Professional darts and to earn some of the £7 million plus prize fund available. As can be imagined this is incredibly competitive and, as in any sport, requires not only talent but financial backing / earnings, patience and determination.

Having met Jan on a number of occasions during the past few years I was interested to see how his move to the PDC would pan out and thus have kept an eye out for his result, I watched some of his games and assessed his progress as the 2015 season has progressed. As a dart consultant /coach and fan I was also in a position to compare this to the efforts of other, mainly UK, players who were in a similar position at the seasons beginning. Q School in Wigan January 2015.

As well as noting Jan’s relative success, many thought he would not thrive, it became impossible not to notice several flaws in the professional system, Jan was benefiting from, not available to other players.

This was again highlighted when I also looked out for a player that I had admired, for a number of years, and was well thought of elsewhere. Eddie Dootson is an experienced but little known player from the UK. It became impossible not to see how badly the odds were stacked against him.

Now that the floor / qualification season is over these anomalies can be shown in their true light.

No blame or allegation of the players mentioned or their teams is intended or implied. Both are simply attempting to gain the best start to their PDC career within the rules in place.

Q School

Dekker had a moderately successful Q school, although he did not gain one of the Pro Tour cards available, he finished high enough up the ranking table to ensure he would be able to compete in the vast majority of Pro Tour events should he wish to do so. By entering and playing the event he also became entitled to play the second level PDC tour known as The Challenge Tour. In addition to this he would be eligible to play in the qualifiers events for six The UK Open and nine European Tour events. The later of these he could do either via the UK qualifiers, which were open to all associate members, or the European/Home Nation Qualifier for each event. This becomes the first example of Two Shots for Dekker. For the 2015 season he can aim to get a tour card either by reaching the top 64 overall or by winning the challenge tour. At the same time his financial opportunities increase over new tour card holders who cannot compete in the Challenge Tour.

Eddie Dootson had a similar overall Q School experience, although he finished higher up the ranking table and was thus assured of gaining access to every event.

Eddie Dootson Reaches L16 of UK Open 2015

Eddie Dootson Reaches Last 16 of UK Open 2015

UK Open.

With this security net, of his two shots at every aim, Jan Dekker is able to relax and play in the qualifiers for these events. As these events are not seeded and he is a highly experienced international player, this should provide a happy hunting ground. A very average performance by his own standard means he qualifies but only in the lower group. Here however his talent for big game match play comes storming through. Jan reaches the last 16 of his debut PDC major and adds £5000 to his bank account but more importantly to his overall ranking position.

Eddie starts superbly and reaches a semi final and finished in the top group in qualifying finishing in 22nd place. He then goes on to reach the last 16 of his debut major. Superb performance to add £5000 to his qualification winnings.

The Challenge Tour

Dekker has previous experience of the challenge tour so a quiet start, picking up a few hundred pounds on the first weekend, does not put a dent in the proceedings. By weekend two however Jan is in a much better place, this sees him win one event and reaches Semi and Qtr finals over the weekends four competitions. The consistent playing of events on most weekends and constant opportunities for him to improve and adapt are beginning to pay off. Over the next two Challenge Tour weekends things have changed on the Pro Tour and a confident Dekker wins two more events and picks up money / ranking points in three more. He even misses event twelve completely. In total he has picked up almost £7,500 in cash and by winning the order of merit has earned himself a tour card for 2016/17. No Q School for Mr Dekker next year. Achieving this by September removes a lot of pressure.

Eddie does not shine on the challenge tour. having not previous tour experience and having to play at the highest level in other events, it is not surprising that something gives and the Challenge Tour is not a priority.

Pro Tour

His Q school ranking ensures Jan has played in almost every Pro Tour Floor event this year. As for all newer players it has proved a tough baptism. However his talent has come through in stages and he has regularly won through to claim between £250 & £750, with one last 16 appearance earning him £1500. His total from his 19 appearances at Players Championship & UK Open qualifiers was £4750. Whilst respectable for a first season it hardly sets the world on fire with the last 16 being his best performance. Here again though, double shot, Dekker has benefited from the slanted rules. Josh Payne for example has earned over £8,000 from the same 20 Pro Tour events but is struggling to qualify for the World Championships. Dekker will have no such problems even with an overall Pro Tour finish of 73rd place.

Eddie Dootson has an excellent Pro Tour first year. As suspected he is eligible for all events and in the 20 players champs and 6 UK Open Qualifiers he reaches a Semi Final and steadily accumulates ranking money with L64 and L32 places. His earnings, of £5,250 are again higher than Jan’s.

European Tour

Since 2012 The European Tour has altered the balance of the PDC Rankings

Since 2012 The European Tour has altered the balance of the PDC Rankings

These nine events ( there will be ten in 2016) have transformed the PDC rankings. They are superb opportunities for up and coming players who get to them. They are held on stage and give great experience, as well as being the best rewarded stand alone element of the Pro Tour. Each event accepts the top 16 seeds from the appropriate order of merit and then has qualifying places open to players at the UK , European & Host nation qualifiers. Qualifiers receive £1000 for the first round and thus can easily cover expenses and concentrate on getting through a round or two to swell their ranking coffers. Often with at least one game against an opponent not from the top 16. Despite playing in the, relatively, easier qualifying events Jan has only qualified for two of these events. However they have made all the difference. Both events came at the right time in terms of financial / ranking boosts and without them life may well have been much tougher!

The £2500 gained here has meant that Jan is sitting in second spot for the European qualifying places for the World Championships. Despite being 73rd in the Pro Tour Order of Merit he will line up at Ally Pally in December. With his record, on TV, and experience meaning he is an opponent that very few would wish for.

Eddie had to enter the much more difficult UK qualifiers for all these events but still managed to qualify for 2 events and gain an additional £2,000. Despite these efforts he will not qualify for the World Championships via the Pro Tour and unless he can gain a place at the qualifying event his PDC season is complete.

Overall Rankings & Earnings.

As noted earlier the top 64 in the overall rankings gain automatic tour cards for a minimum of one year. To avoid Q School in 2016 a reasonable guess would have been for a player to gain in the region of £17,000 in ranking prize money over the season including the World Professional Championships. It is safe to say that were Dekker a UK player he would have had a solid first season and be planning Q School and then a decision on whether to keep his ranking money for 2016/17 or start again from zero. Due to the above double opportunities though he has one further card to play. The prize money from the World Championships will put Jan into the top 64. If he starts in Rd 1 it will put him into the top 55 and any wins will see him rocket up the table. Thus again the double elimination loophole is working overtime for Jan here. He has gained entry to European Tours via an event not open to all. The funds generated from this have earned him a place at Ally Pally, that is also not open to all, and the accumulation of funds will mean he is rewarded with a place in the elite top 64.

As well as the top 64 place is it safe to say that Jan’s first season has hardly been one of financial struggle against the odds. By early January 2016 he will have been in the PDC system for 12 months. He will have claimed prize money  £30,000+. This is basically for failing to win a tour card and finishing outside the top 70 on the Pro Tour. He will start 2016 with nothing to defend and with every chance of moving further up the rankings, even with another steady year.

Meanwhile Eddie Dootson, despite having matched or bettered Dekker in every ranking arena, will have earned a little over £12,000. He will decide on whether to return to Q School and, if he achieves a tour card, whether to start again or gamble on a lesser amount in the ranking bank.

Whilst acknowledging that it is important for darts to attract players and financial interest from other nations, surely it is time to remove some of the more glaring unfairness from a system that works against highly talented players who, cannot work the system financially or, are simply born in the nation that drives the darts boom!

Barry Hearn

Put simply, it is time for Barry Hearn & Matt Porter at the PDC and Peter Manley & Alan Warriner-Little at the PDPA to stop tweaking the rules, and ranking system, and overhaul it to take account of the changes that their superb success, in creating the modern game, has created. It is clearly time for as level a playing field as possible.