Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Dutch courage

One thing I briefly touched on in the previous post was the distribution of locations for the European Tour. While I get that Germany is a huge market and breaking it would mean a lot for the PDC, it's surely getting very, very close to the stage where it's oversaturated there and the only way it can continue to grow is if they have a player truly step up to top 20 level (let's not get ahead of ourselves and talk about Premier League level). Germany's never had a player reach even the last 16 of either World Championship (I'd think that someone could do so in the BDO system were they to try right now, but with the PDC throwing as much money at the European Tour as it is right now it'd be financial suicide), or even make it out of the first money round at anything other than the European Championship.

So why exactly do they now have nine European Tour events (as well as the World Cup in terms of hosting events), while the Netherlands, Austria and Gibraltar have one a piece? The Netherlands is surely more deserving of at least having one of the extra two events added this year. Of the 56 spots given to European qualifiers, the Netherlands have hoovered up 31 of them - easily more than half, which is remarkable considering that none of Michael van Gerwen, Jelle Klaasen or Benito van de Pas need to take part in them, and Raymond van Barneveld hasn't taken part in any of them (the one he did qualify for, he did through the UK qualifier). Of the current tentative qualifiers for the European Championship, the Netherlands account for six out of thirty-two, compared to Germany's none, the closest being Martin Schindler, currently missing out on countback. I'd think it'd sell out easily - if they can sell out the Premier League in a matter of minutes, then a European event shouldn't be too much hassle.

It's not like in the two events which have the European qualifiers already that are hosted outside of Germany have been lacking in German qualifiers - Schindler and Eidams made both events, with Blum making the last qualifying round for Austria to join Hopp, Horvath and Puls as those four who missed out at the final hurdle for Gibraltar. So they can certainly get there, but not do much once they do qualify - first event Germans went 0-4, second one they went 3-4 (Marijanovic was somehow eligible for this one), the third one they went 2-4, the fourth one they went 1-4, and in the last one they were 1-2. I wouldn't necessarily expect a winning record - that'd require, as a minimum, every qualifier to make round 2 and have one of them knock out a seed, but it does seem fairly poor, especially when you factor in who their victories collectively came against - Andrew Gilding, Robert Owen, Joe Cullen, Josh Payne, Brian Woods, Zoran Lerchbacher and Callan Rydz.

They can certainly spread things around without unnecessarily halting the German cash cow - moving one to the Netherlands, perhaps moving Gibraltar to the Spanish mainland (and keep the Gibraltar lads eligible for the home qualifier), and have one in Belgium - with Ronny Huybrechts and Dimitri van den Bergh to go along with the seeded Kim Huybrechts, there's certainly enough talent that we know can make a run in one of these things to add to the likes of Mike de Decker, Kenny Neyens, along with others on the Development Tour that could get vital stage experience. How about one in Ireland, now that there isn't the boost those players got from the Grand Prix spots?

I'll likely run a full top 100 of the adjusted rankings following Hamburg, to give everyone an idea of how various players are progressing in the last six months since I listed a full ranking. There's quite a lot of newer players like Peter Jacques, Steve Lennon, Chris Quantock and Richard North to go with the more obvious Rob Cross who have cracked the top 100, as well as Ratajski who will likely move into the top 100 as a result of his qualification for Hamburg.

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