The PDC Development Tour returns for the 2019 season, with the darting stars of the future ready to battle it out.
Nathan Aspinall’s UK Open triumph at the weekend was a reminder of the waves of young talent ready to take the PDC by storm. Darting prodigies will have the chance to make their mark on the Development Tour this year, with the first weekend of play taking place on March 9-10. The tour is open to players who are between 16 and 23 years old as of 2 January 2019. It also excludes players who are in the top 32 of the PDC Order of Merit, which means Max Hopp can’t take part.
However, the German is able to participate in the PDC World Youth Championship despite his Order of Merit position. Dimitri van den Bergh, the two-time back-to-back holder, is no longer eligible to compete. A total of 20 PDC Development Tour tournaments will be played this season.
The top two players on the Development Tour Order of Merit at the end of the season will be offered a two-year PDC Tour Card. A spot at the 2020 PDC World Championship will also be granted to the top player. Numbers three through eight on the Order of Merit will be given a free spot at PDC Q-School 2020.
All Development Tour circuit events can be followed live via DartConnect. As of yet, it isn’t clear if any live streams will be available. Dartsnews.com will be reporting on every event. You can read our tournament reports through this link.
Who’s worth watching?
The Development Tour may be the home of future stars. But some current headline-grabbers are also in the mix. One of them is Luke Humphries. The Newbury ace has topped the Order of Merit for the past two seasons. He won five of the 20 events in 2017, and three in 2018. Both led him to the World Championship; at the second attempt he battled past Adam Hunt, Stephen Bunting, Dimitri van den Bergh and defending champion Rob Cross to reach the quarter-finals. ‘Cool Hand Luke’, the world number 55, drew with Gerwyn Price on his Premier League debut. Now 24, this is has last shot at a historic hat-trick.
Jeffrey de Zwaan is another player sure to attract plenty of attention. To date, the young Dutchman has only secured one Development Tour title, back in 2017. But the world number 44 scored a Pro Tour success last season. ‘The Black Cobra’ overcame Michael van Gerwen in two different majors last year – could he take that form into this year’s tour?
Another candidate for success on the youth circuit is Ted Evetts. ‘SuperTed’ has claimed four titles, three of which came last year. The 21-year-old scored his first ever Ally Pally win in December, eventually going down 3-0 to Adrian Lewis in a match where the scoreline belied the pressure Evetts put the two-time world champion under.
Also in the spotlight
Followers are also expecting Geert Nentjes and Bradley Brooks to be prominent on the tour this year. Nentjes’ unerring consistency earned him a Tour Card and a World Championship spot, with the Dutchman taking fourth spot on the Development Tour Order of Merit. Earlier this year, the Dutchman beat Mervyn King 6-0 and struck a nine-darter on the Pro Tour circuit.
Last year, Brooks became the first ever player born in the 21st Century to earn a PDC Tour Card. Now 19 years old, the English prodigy has reached two Pro Tour quarter-finals. The Blackburn youngster hasn’t yet taken a title on this circuit, but has reached two finals. A massively promising youngster, Brooks is widely tipped to do well on the Development Tour this year.
A number of top European talents will be competing for glory in the 20 events, which includes a weekend in Hildesheim. Martin Schindler is one of German’s great hopes and, as last year’s World Youth Championship runner-up, is in the running to go one further this time around. After becoming BDO youth world champion, Justin van Tergouw was labelled a future world champion in the making. His darting growth continues on the circuit this year.
The likes of Ryan Meikle, Niels Zonneveld, Christian Bunse, Jarred Cole, George Killington, Nathan Rafferty, Berry van Peer, Wessel Nijman, Kenny Neyens, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, Harry Ward, Callan Rydz, Mike de Decker, Brian Raman and Mike van Duivenbode will also be competing on the Development Tour. They have all performed well in the past. Given the sheer volume of contestants, there’s always a chance that an unknown player could burst onto the scene.
PDC Development Tour Calendar 2019
|Development Tour 1 & 2||9 March||Wigan|
|Development Tour 3 & 4||10 March||Wigan|
|Development Tour 5 & 6||20 April||Wigan|
|Development Tour 7 & 8||21 April||Wigan|
|Development Tour 9 & 10||8 June||Milton Keynes|
|Development Tour 11 & 12||9 June||Milton Keynes|
|Development Tour 13 & 14||17 August||Hildesheim|
|Development Tour 15 & 16||18 August||Hildesheim|
|Development Tour 17 & 18||2 November||Wigan|
|Development Tour 19 & 20||3 November||Wigan|
Event prize fund, PDC Development Tour 2019
Author: Ed McCosh