Monday, 16 September 2019

The perfect European Tour

I touched upon this a few posts ago - if the PDC called up the secret TA bunker and said "right, you're organising the European Tour this year", what would you do? Here's what I'd do:


I have assumed a round dozen worth of events, and have tried to set up places which balance commercial viability, expanding the sport and hitting the sport's heartlands. So, without further ado, explanations:

1-4 are your German heartlands. The European Tour's so successful there that I don't think that you can reduce your count beyond that, so I've tried to pick four places that cover the country fairly well. Hildesheim seems like a lock given that the PDC is super well established there, and is easily accessible from the likes of Hannover, Bielefeld, Braunschweig, and it's not that much further from the huge cities of Hamburg and Bremen. Leverkusen I've stuck in as you need something in the Ruhrpott, and right in the middle of Düsseldorf and Köln is as good a place as any but there's dozens of cities that could host one. Munich and Sindelfingen cover the south of the country.

5 is a standard Dutch event. I've labelled it Amsterdam but it could easily be anywhere. Huge darts heritage, will sell tickets. I think that the Netherlands is easily deserving of two, but it's a tight calendar, so for number 6 I've split an event between there and Belgium - I think there's enough players there that it's worthy of a shot at least every other year, then again, I'm sure someone mentioned on Twitter that when they held the European Championship there, it didn't really sell that brilliantly.

7 is Austria, I think it's still worth having a stand alone event. For now at least. Do they have anyone coming through the system that's going to be any good? You've got the phalanx of Rodriguezes, but anyone else is getting fairly old already and if they were going to get good, they'd have done so already.

8 is a rotating Eastern European spot. Prague seemed to go down well, they've announced Budapest for next year, but surely there's the opportunity to go to Poland? I've put Warsaw as a placeholder, but maybe somewhere more to the west of the country like Poznan, Szczecin or Wroclaw might get some of the Berlin or general Brandenburg market - it's pretty accessible on the train. What else could you do? I've put in Zagreb as a speculative one, we've had enough players come from Croatian/general ex-Yugoslav backgrounds come through but play under other flags, maybe there's some diamonds waiting to be unearthed?

9 is similarly a rotating Scandinavian spot - I've stuck down Copenhagen as a logical choice given they have an event there already, but there's enough Swedes that maybe you could try Stockholm as an alternative? Norway maybe not so often, but if some more players can start to come through beyond Dekker, then maybe. Across 8 and 9, you might also look to slot in something in one of the Baltic states - if and when someone other than Labanauskas/Razma starts to develop. Finland's perhaps a bit too distant?

10 basically replaces Gibraltar with an event on the Iberian peninsula, which is something I've recommended for a long time. We've seen de Sousa, Justicia and (on the Challenge Tour) Noguera arrive in the last couple of years to add to the established names, it's time to reward them by moving this event around and opening up the home nation qualifier to Spain/Portugal/Gibraltar combined. There's got to be enough of a combination of domestic fanbase and ex-pats that'd be interested in seeing an event.

11 is a little bit of an odd one. Austria had two events this year. Is it worthy of two? Maybe for now while there's still a few players hanging around that might be able to put up a bit of a fight, but I'd lean towards more often chucking in a fifth German event at Riesa (there's a heck of a lot of people in Sachsen), maybe you could also use this slot for the sort of experimentation in the likes of Riga, Vilnius etc.

12 is the complete wildcard. I've tried to be somewhat sensible with the other 11 spots in assigning them to logical areas, but for the last one, let's go crazy. Who wouldn't go to see an event in Dublin? There are a hell of a lot of players, especially if you use the Tom Kirby/old Grand Prix qualification criteria in that either side of the border is cool, that could come through the domestic qualifier and be a nuisance to tour card holders. Switzerland and Italy have been in the World Cup and are easy to get to from much of Europe (I've highlighted Milan rather than anything further south as beyond there it's probably a bit much to travel overground). Use this spot to go for your random Estonian Open. Find out if there's anything in Luxembourg. Go nuts, it's one experimental event out of twelve, if it doesn't work you can just bin that location off the schedule for years to come.

Thoughts?

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