European Tour fast-tracks development of emerging stars, says Dan Dawson
Dan Dawson: "What it is doing is it's giving players opportunities to play in front of big crowds on big stages and it fast-tracks their development"
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 23/03/19 9:51am
The 2019 European Tour began on Friday night and as Leverkusen plays host to the first of 13 events, PDC commentator Dan Dawson has highlighted its growing importance to darts' emerging stars.
World No 1 Michael van Gerwen is bidding to defend his European Darts Open crown this weekend, as he eyes up a record-breaking 29th European Tour title.
However, the European Tour also provides great opportunities for a number of lesser profile names. Ian White, Jonny Clayton and Max Hopp enjoyed breakthrough wins on the Euro Tour last year, whilst Ricky Evans, Steve Lennon and William O'Connor also reached landmark finals.
The European Tour was established in 2012 but it has grown beyond all comprehension since then, with £25,000 on offer to the winners of all 13 of this year's tournaments.
It also gives some of darts' younger stars valuable big-stage experience and speaking on the Darts Show podcast, Dan Dawson highlighted the recent success of UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall as evidence of the European Tour's impact.
"It's big stage darts. Not only is it a great tournament in its own right and it's a way of bringing the game to other countries and you've seen how it's grown in Germany massively, but it's really helping the players," said Dawson.
"What it is doing is it's giving players opportunities to play in front of big crowds on big stages and it fast-tracks their development.
"Lots of players used to think it takes you a good couple of years of qualifying for all the TV tournaments and learning how to play your best on the stage, now if you qualify for those Euro Tour events then you're getting so much experience and take Nathan Aspinall for example.
"He didn't have a great deal of major tournament experience but he played a lot on the European Tour and won games, so when he got to the World Championship he was able to go and play incredibly to make the semi-finals and become the UK Open champion just a couple of months later."
Following Gary Anderson's withdrawal from the Premier League due to a back injury, 'The Flying Scotsman' was replaced by nine contenders, made up of local favourites and stars of the future.
The contenders have acquitted themselves impressively this term, with Chris Dobey, Luke Humphries and John Henderson all playing starring roles, but Dawson believes the European Tour has helped facilitate this smooth transition from the Pro Tour to the Premier League stage.
"Yes there are some players who seem naturally gifted to be able to get on the big stage and do the business but you need to give them opportunities to do that."
Dan Dawson on the Euro Tour
"It gives them the opportunity to go and learn how to play on the stage, you can't learn how to do it until you have done it," Dawson added.
"Yes there are some players who seem naturally gifted to be able to get on the big stage and do the business but you need to give them opportunities to do that.
"Look at the contenders idea - I think part of the reason that has been a success is because all of those players that we've put in - they've had opportunities to play in front of sizeable crowds.
"It's a proper wall of noise in these venues in Germany and Austria and they've been able to go up there and they've put on really good shows."
The Premier League heads to the Rotterdam Ahoy for a double dose of tungsten on Wednesday, March 27 & Thursday, March 28. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts