With the 2020 PDC darts season about to kick off in Milton Keynes tonight with the Masters, dartsweb looks ahead to what will be some of the most interesting talking points.
1. The power struggle at the top
2020 was shaping up to be interesting when it came to the game’s elite after Gerwyn Price’s successes late in 2019, most notably at the Grand Slam, when he raced through the competition to retain the major title he had won a year earlier. But Peter Wright’s World Championship victory earlier this month rocked that even further. It opened up a lot of questions: will MvG be seeking revenge in 2020? Will Wright be like a new player now he has the van Gerwen burden off his shoulders? And will Price build on a successful 2019 to threaten the Dutchman’s grip on world darts even further? And that’s not forgetting the players in the mix, like Michael Smith, who will want to up their game in this new season.
2. Bright new talent
There’s so many great new players coming through the ranks in the PDC, it’s hard to whittle it down to a few that cause the most excitement. There’s more established players like Luke Humphries, who already has 2 World Championship quarter-finals under his belt and Chris Dobey, set to soon appear in the Premier League, as well as people like Callan Rydz, who has won a card through the Challenge Tour and Martijn Kleermaker, who was successful in winning a place on the PDC Pro Tour in Hildesheim. It’s hard work for an up and coming thrower to make their mark on the circuit, especially those completely new to the tour, but all it takes is a few good results on the floor or TV for people to start noticing. And this may well be the year we see one of them make a massive breakthrough.
3. Ashton on a mission
Fans around the world were anxiously following developments in Wigan via Q-School a few weeks ago to see if the ‘Lancashire Rose’ Lisa Ashton could win onto the PDC tour, and despite a nervous wait on the last day of action to see if she had made the cut, the 49-year-old now has 2 years of PDC play to look forward to. It will all be kicking off quickly for the 4-times world champion, with Players Championship 1 and 2 just a week away. It’s hard to predict how it will all go for Ashton, with the adaptation to the PDC circuit a tough one, but if her performances at Q-School, the Challenge Tour and, of course, as the leading light of women’s darts are anything to go, the other 127 tour tard holders are in for a tough 24 months.
4. Last year’s newcomers stepping up
One of the biggest stories of 2019 was Glen Durrant’s successes, with the Middlesbrough man reaching the top 32 within a year and having World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam semi-finals to boast of. He also goes into 2020 knowing, too, he has no prize money to defend, with the PDC having a 2-year ranking system. The pressure may not be completely off however, with expectations on the 3-times world champion high and a 2020 Premier League place ahead, so it will be interesting to see how Duzza gets on. Also, Jamie Hughes and Darius Labanauskas both impressed in 2019, with Hughes winning a European Tour title and Labanauskas capping off his first year as a tour card holder with a World Championship quarter-final. And last but not least, Jose de Sousa rose plenty of eyebrows with his floor successes last season, and has become a fan favourite among many. All 4 are in for an intriguing 2020.
5. Major breakthroughs
There’s a band of players near the game’s elite who will be eyeing up the big TV events as their opportunity for achievement. Michael Smith came close in 2019 to a first major title but couldn’t quite do it, and will be back with a vengeance this year. Dave Chisnall had an impressive season last year and had been mooted as a potential Premier League pick, but wasn’t selected. Perhaps that will drive him on to new heights this year. And Ian White has long been branded as an excellent floor player who just can’t quite cut it on the big stage, but he did make his first PDC major semi-final last year at the Players Championship Finals. Could he go one or even two steps further? All will be ones to look out for.
What are you most looking forward to in 2020? Get in touch via @Dartsweb180.
Image Credits: Sky Sports