After a successful World Cup: The difficult path to becoming a darts professional

Status: 05.01.2023 19:27

Gabriel Clemens’ participation in the semi-finals at the Darts World Cup could trigger a boom in Germany. However, the system of the professional organization is not at all designed for the broad masses to earn their money with the flying arrows.

Anyone who has dealt with darts for the first time due to the success of Gabriel Clemens may have noticed three letters: PDC. This abbreviation stands for Professional Darts Corporation, which is the organizer of all professional tournaments. An organization that was founded 30 years ago. This should create greater financial opportunities for the players.

It also worked with the support of promoter Berry Hearn. Darts is now a global trend sport. But the PDC is not the darts world association. It is a company that is completely profit oriented and does not look out for the good of the masses.

Only 128 professionals

There are only 128 seats for the professional tour. These players are eligible to participate in all tournaments throughout the year. A system well thought out for PDC chairman Matt Porter: “We know that at the moment not even these 128 earn enough money from darts. If we allow more professionals now, we would only increase the number of those who cannot make a living from it.”

Porter estimates that around half of the 128 players can currently finance their livelihood with the flying arrows. However, the prize money structure also favors the top players. Last year, around 15 million euros were played. The winners of the major tournaments alone received around 15 percent.

Battle for the golden ticket

Once a year, everyone has the opportunity to go on the professional tour. In the qualifying school places are played out over several days, so-called tour cards. They are initially valid for two years. That’s how long it takes to get into the top 64 in the world rankings with this golden ticket. If that doesn’t work, the tour card is gone again.

In the coming week the qualifying school for 2023. The game will be played in England and Germany at the same time. The German venue is Kalkar on the Dutch border. A total of 27 tour tickets will be played this year. There should be between ten and 13 in Germany, depending on the number of participants.

Last year went to the German qualifying school Almost 300 players started, together with England there were over 600. Because this time the Corona rules on site are no longer applicable, an increase is expected again. In order to get through there, you need not only playful skills but also a bit of luck.

From celebrity to hobby player

The playing strength of the participants ranges from top class to hobby level. Even prominent darts names have to go to the qualifying school line up From a German point of view, Max Hopp is particularly noticeable. The former European Championship semi-finalist fell out of the top 64 at the end of the season and has therefore lost his right to play. The Englishwoman Fallon Sherrock, who is the only woman to have won World Cup games against men, has been fighting for a tour ticket for years.

In general, there are many who have been on the move from ambitious semi-professionals to tour tickets for a long time. From Germany, for example, Lukas Wenig should be mentioned. He wants to finally fulfill his dream of becoming a professional in the coming week.

In the last year, little used all the opportunities that remain without professional status. He played open qualifiers and was on the second tier Challenge Tour. It mainly takes place in England and the best two of the year also get a tour ticket. Financially, however, it is rather a negative business.

Not everyone takes risks

If little succeeds in making the leap to the professional tour, he would not immediately focus his whole life on darts. “There’s no way I could stop working. I don’t have nearly enough security for that. I don’t think it’s feasible for everyone these days to put everything on one card.”

The statistics prove him right: in the last five years, eight Germans have secured a tour ticket. They lost four again. They could not play enough tournaments for professional or financial reasons.