But the path to becoming a PDC professional is not that easy. Nevertheless, the basic rule is: everyone has the opportunity to become a darts professional . That's why not only talent , but also hard work and great perseverance are required.
The perfect path to becoming a PDC dart professional
There is a lot of talent, especially in Germany, that is still undiscovered. In contrast to the darts powers from England and the Netherlands, there is still no real scouting system or anything similar in Germany.
For this reason, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has ensured that players can give themselves the opportunity to advance into the PDC even with little money.
For this purpose, the PDC has launched the so-called Q-Schools . That's why around 600 participants fought for a PDC tour card at the Q-Schools in Wigan and Hildesheim in January 2018.
Registration for Q-School
Every dart player aged 16 and over can register at the Q-School. For the British participants there is the tournament in Wigan. The German players and those from many other European countries can take part in the Q-School in Hildesheim.
That sounds very promising at first. Nevertheless, the PDC must ensure that not too many players take part in the Q-School whose talent is not sufficient for the professional circuit.
The PDC charges a one-off registration fee of £400 . An additional £50 is due for the DRA (Darts Regulation Authority). Or to put it more simply: for the PDC arbitration tribunal.
The background is that this amount deters players whose level is not yet sufficient . In addition, the professional association is trying to set the entry fee of around 450 pounds so that all talented players can take part in the Q-School.
Daily winners and finalists receive a PDC tour card
Everyone has the opportunity to become a darts professional. That's why not only talent is required, but also hard work and a lot of perseverance .
The path to the PDC is highly competitive and of course not everyone becomes a darts professional. The European Q-School in Hildesheim takes place once on four days a year .
Only the four winners of these days will receive a tour card . The remaining tour cards are awarded according to the so-called “Qualifying School Order of Merit”.
If you've ever thought about getting one of the coveted tour cards, you'll realize at this point that it will take more than just talent.
With such a tour card it is then possible to play the major PDC tournament series in order to make a name for yourself among the well-known professionals. The Players Championship events should be mentioned here.
Important: The Tourcard is valid for two years !
Alternative routes to the PDC: Challenge and Development Tour
Two other ways to secure a PDC Tourcard are the PDC Challenge and Development Tour. The Challenge Tour has been around since 2013 and is for all the dart players who were unable to secure a tour card at the Q-School .
This also includes BDO players who took part in the Q-School and are banned from the BDO for 6 months . All members of the Professional Dart Player Association (PDPA) who do not have a Tour Card are generally eligible to participate.
Infobox : Since 2018, however, you must have taken part in the Q-School in order to qualify for the Challenge Tour.
The Challenge Tour has its own ranking list, the “Challenge Tour Order of Merit”, in which the second and first place finishers each receive a Pro Tour card from the PDC. Places 3 to 8 receive free participation in the next Q-School. There are a total of 20 tournaments a year on the Challenge Tour.
PDC Development Tour
There has also been the PDC Unicorn Youth Tour since 2011 - now known as the PDC Development Tour. This tour in particular is especially for young players between the ages of 16 and 23 .
The Development Tour also has its own ranking list, the “Development Tour Order of Merit”, in which the second and first place finishers also receive a Pro Tour card at the end.
Here too, players ranked 3rd to 8th can take part in the next Q-School free of charge. The total prize money paid out on the Development Tour has been £190,000 since 2016.
The four tournaments in Germany will be held in Hildesheim. There was also something new this year, as tour winner Luke Humphries received a direct place at the PDC Darts World Championship as a darts professional.
The PDC has also been organizing the World Youth Championship since 2011. The best players from the “Development Tour Order of Merit” as well as other international qualifiers and players under the age of 23 qualify for this.
The winner of the Youth World Championship is rewarded with a starting place at the PDC World Championship and can play together with the finalist at the Grand Slam of Darts the following year.
To what extent do sponsors play an important role for a dart professional?
A sponsor is of great importance, especially at the beginning of a tour in which the winners of the Q-School tour sometimes throughout Europe. That's why it's hardly possible to get into the top 64 of the PDC these days without a well-known sponsor.
The top 64 in the Order of Merit automatically receive a tour card for the following year. A top 64 placement is therefore considered an important milestone on the way to becoming a darts professional.
For this reason, large darts suppliers or betting providers often appear as sponsors . However, there are no limits as to who you will ultimately be sponsored by.
Current example: The German software manufacturer SAP has been sponsoring darts professional Rob “The Voltage” Cross since last year.
The pressure must be taken off by the sponsor
It is important that you do not feel any financial pressure over the duration of the Tourcard, which lasts two years. Above all, a sponsor should relieve the player of this burden.
In addition, a sponsor takes care of the perfect equipment . This is the only way the player can ultimately get a chance on the highly competitive professional circuit as a darts professional.
How much do travel and participation cost?
If you have managed to land a sponsor , your path to the PDC is paved. However, it is important not to be blinded by the sometimes high prize money. There is a specific reason for this. Many players who would like to become darts professionals underestimate the travel costs involved .
Flight, meals and hotel are the largest costs that the players incur during a tour. But only the best in the world receive sufficient financial support from a sponsor. However, many players pay these expenses themselves - and are therefore always under pressure to make money .
Then a simple calculation: With a hotel for two nights, the flight within Europe and the costs for meals, you can easily add up to €250 to €300 .
Of course, these not only have to be played back in, but also increased in order to be able to record a profit . It is therefore important not to be blinded when it comes to prize money in order to calculate accurately.
How much do darts professionals earn?
Overall, it is of course important to know how much a dart professional earns. Or to put it another way: How much do you have to earn to be able to make a living from darts?
Roughly speaking, you can calculate with 1200 pounds per month . So you have to earn 14,400 pounds a year in the Order of Merit in order to actually be able to make a living from darts.
Even then you have to reduce your standard of living enormously , because this is just pure prize money .
Infobox: Costs for flight, accommodation and meals have not yet been deducted.
For any amounts that are much lower than that, you will probably have to deal with another part-time job . If you take a closer look at the PDC's Oder of Merit, it becomes clear that it is necessary to be among the top 100 darts players in the world.
All players outside of this top 100 cannot normally make a living from PDC tournaments - and it is a long way to get to the top 100. Of course, you also regularly see the best dart players on TV.
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Exhibitions for improvement
Nevertheless, there are other ways to top up your pocket money a little. Predominantly well-known players also like to earn their money with the so-called exhibitions (German: exhibition or drama ).
A dart professional is booked by private individuals, companies or other organizers. In this case, the player shows up, plays against amateurs for an hour or two , makes small talk , and disappears again.
Infobox: It is not uncommon for professionals to earn a large portion of their entire income this way.
Earnings of the top 10 in the last two years
Of course, the situation is completely different for the top earners in the PDC. The CVs and earnings of the ten best players in the world in particular read like a script.
These players in particular have managed to earn a lot of money playing darts. You not only managed to become a darts professional, but ultimately also became a top earner . Here you can see the current Order of Merit, i.e. the top 10 in the world:
|1||Michael van Gerwen||£1,562,500|
The Order of Merit is calculated in pounds and applies to the prize money earned over the past two years. Therefore, it can be quickly calculated that a player who has spent five years in the top 10 can definitely be called a millionaire.
However, it is always important to note that the gradient increases from around place 64 onwards . Only the top 64 in the Order of Merit can make a really good living from darts.
What level of training can be expected?
The scope of training in particular is always a much-discussed topic. The reason is that darts still depends a lot on talent - but not only.
A talented darts professional usually spends 2-3 hours a day on the board . For other players, however, darts is like a full-time job. Phil Taylor also spent his day as if darts were a full-time job.
That's why he trained for eight hours a day before big tournaments , which he still describes as a recipe for success today.
What do the professionals place particular emphasis on during training?
In order to become a darts professional and withstand the pressure, the training methods must also be adapted. Your head in particular has to be free in order to be able to achieve your best performance at the right moment. For this reason , mental training also plays a major role .
Many professionals spend several hours a week being trained by trained mental coaches. This is the only way you as a darts professional can react to the enormous pressure in front of thousands of spectators .
Because anyone who has played darts knows how shaky your hand can suddenly become. But no darts professional just fell out of the sky.
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