Stats Analysis: Earnings At Risk

Stats Analysis: Earnings At Risk

Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, takes a look at the amount and percentage of ranking money players will defend between now and the start of the World Championship.

Two years is a long time in darts. At this time in 2016, Phil Taylor had just won the inaugural Champions League, Michael van Gerwen was about to complete an authoritative romp through the year's final TV events, and Rob Cross was still an almost-unknown amateur.

But the world of darts has changed dramatically since then, and all the ranking money earned in the big events of 2016's latter months - the Grand Prix, Grand Slam, European Championship and Players Championship Finals - will begin to drop off.

Players will need to match their earnings in those events from two years ago to retain or improve their positions on the Order of Merit.

For some, this will be a daunting task: Brendan Dolan, the 2016 Grand Slam quarter-finalist, is facing a 31% drop in his ranking earnings unless he can win £34,000 before December.

In order for Van Gerwen to do the same, he will need to win every ranking tournament of the next two months to retain a staggering £391,000, which represents nearly 40% of his lead over world number two Peter Wright.

Some players, such as Benito van de Pas and Alan Norris, will be resigned to falling down the rankings regardless of the quality of their performances in the next few weeks.

Missing out on qualification for the World Grand Prix and being unlikely to qualify for the Grand Slam, having competed in both events two years ago, will unavoidably cost them thousands of pounds.

But for others, the next few months herald only opportunity. Rob Cross, having only gained his tour card in 2017, has no money to defend, and can leap ahead of Wright to become the world number two with a solid autumn campaign.

As for Jonny Clayton, who is defending a miniscule 2.3% of his ranking money before December, a deep run in the Grand Prix or Grand Slam could easily put him inside the top 16 for the first time.

There is always pressure to retain one's ranking position in professional darts, but that pressure is felt most acutely in autumn, when major tournaments sprawl across whole weeks of the calendar and the race to qualify for the World Championship begins.

The successes of 2016 will shortly become ancient history with respect to the Order of Merit, potentially opening the way for a massive shakeup of the rankings.

Follow Christopher Kempf on Twitter through @Ochepedia