Darts Expert & Columnist
Darts stars should emulate Rory McIlroy with season schedule, says Rod Studd
Last Updated: 12/09/19 12:47pm
Rod Studd believes darts' biggest names should emulate Rory McIlroy as they balance a demanding schedule with the desire for top-level success.
This week, the PDC revealed their schedule for 2020 as the game continues to explode across Europe and beyond, with events from Barnsley to Berlin and the newest city on the circuit Budapest.
With weekly tournaments on the Pro Tour, Challenge Tour and circuits all over the globe, the game now caters for everyone out to make a living, much like the ATP and WTA Tours in tennis and the European, PGA and LPGA Tours in golf.
However, with that relentless schedule comes a challenge with how the best stay fresh to compete for a sport's biggest prizes.
The burgeoning European Tour, the showcase World Series and Premier League, as well the all-important business of ranking points on the Pro Tour, mean that many players are playing back-to-back weeks for months at a time and it has taken its toll on some.
"This is the time where there are a string of big TV tournaments all building up to the World Championships, which is the one," Studd told the latest episode of The Darts Show podcast.
"With the calendar for 2020 announced, there are more than 150 days of darts that doesn't include the World Series dates yet.
"I have said for a few years that the really big players are starting to look at things a bit like golfers.
"Players like Michael [van Gerwen] and Rob [Cross] may decide not to play halfway around the world so close to the bigger events, Rory McIlory aims to get it right for when he needs to get it right - The Masters, The Open, US Open and US PGA.
Recently, Michael van Gerwen has looked jaded, Gary Anderson's injury ruled him out of the Premier League and he opted against the European Tour this year, while Rob Cross admitted his rapid ascent through the game left him exhausted as he played tournaments all over the week.
The balancing act is difficult but with the traditionally busy second half of the season well underway, when some of the biggest prize money in the game's history is being handed out, Sky Sports commentator Studd joined The Darts Show podcast to consider the way forward.
While the top players have the benefit of seedings, many further down the ranks have to fight their way into contention through qualifiers - much in the way golf and tennis professionals have to.
"Rory McIlroy played 21 events on the European and PGA Tour, that is a maximum of 84 days of golf and Van Gerwen has already played 26 events plus 17 nights of the Premier League and goodness knows how many more with 16 events still to come."
Rod Studd on Rory McIlroy
It goes with the territory of being at the height of your professional career and the big names recognise their role in supporting the game at every level, with many playing back-to-back weeks and weekends as the game continues to grow.
"Michael van Gerwen doesn't need to chase the money, the tours are there for the players to earn the money and earn a living but the big players want to win the big tournaments so can afford to look at things a bit differently," Studd added.
"Players have got to start to box a bit clever. You are judged on World Championships and then the Matchplays and that level below the Worlds.
"Winning the major events is what sets you apart. The top stars have got to start looking at things and say 'how many events do I need to play to be right for the World Championship and the big tournaments?'
"Michael knows that he is chasing Raymond's five world championships and then as the years go by, how close can he get to Phil Taylor? It will be interesting to see how he goes about his business."
Download the latest episode of The Darts Show
Phil Taylor, Rod Studd and Fallon Sherrock joined the Darts Show podcast this week to talk tungsten, and Taylor suggested that 13-year-old Leighton Bennett should be part of the Grand Slam line-up.
Rod Studd pondered the new schedule and believes the best in the game may need to look to tennis and golf's top professionals to manage the load and target the biggest prizes.
Women's world No 4 Fallon Sherrock is targeting a place at Alexandra Palace and the World Championship after a season of near misses, while our resident two-time major champion Colin Lloyd believes Joe Cullen's recent title can see him kick on.
It's not long to wait until darts is back on Sky Sports, the World Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday, October 6 at Dublin's Citywest Arena and seven days of coverage continues until the final on Saturday, October 12.