A look at the top 16 players in the PDC in early January 2011 reveals a combination of fondly remembered names, some workmanlike pro’s and a handful of darting titans. January 2017 featured only five surviving players from that top echelon.
The first, and possibly most important, event in the professionalisation of the PDC was the introduction of the Tour Card in January 2011. As in golf the right to play on the main PDC tour now had a value in itself. In addition, the new structure began to reduce the costs of participation and introduce a conformity and familiarity to almost every Pro Tour event.
Twelve months later, during the 2012/3 season, came the introduction of the European Tour. The new model of events were held over a few days, with stage matches, large live crowds and TV or Streaming opportunities. They provided more opportunities for lower ranked players to gain high value experience, increased prize money and improve their chances at major TV events.
Talented, and well backed, newcomers to the PDC benefited hugely from these changes. Former BDO players, and some from alternative backgrounds, have reached the game’s elite in double-quick time and the number of players earning a professional living has increased.
Only Messrs Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld have survived. Yet Phil is about to call it a day and Barney has flirted with decline in recent times. On average there have been six changes to the elite every two years since 2011.
Increases in Pro Tour prize money have not yet completely filtered through. Together with the Challenge Tour breading ground, this could again increase the ability of new players to remain on tour long enough to adapt, improve and establish themselves.
Which familiar faces will survive the next six years?
Author: Callum Harris