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PDC Darts: What next for Fallon Sherrock?
Last Updated: 31/12/19 2:45pm
After her star turn at Alexandra Palace, Fallon Sherrock will return to something like normality in the coming weeks - and for the Queen of the Palace, that means playing darts and plenty of it.
Sherrock's life has been turned upside down by a history-making run to the third round of the World Championship in north London. Daytime TV, breakfast radio, calls from all over the globe for television appearances have followed, all thanks to her wins over Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic.
Her decision to withdraw from the BDO women's World Championship was breaking news on Tuesday, and brings into sharper focus what she will be doing going forward - and there is plenty for her to focus on.
The 25-year-old arrived at Alexandra Palace a couple of weeks ago as the more unlikely of this year's two female competitors to get the win. Not because the former BDO women's world finalist didn't have the ability, but more because she had the tougher draw in Evetts, while current women's champ Mikuru Suzuki was fancied to get past James Richardson.
Suzuki ran Richardson close, and was a double 16 away from the breakthrough moment, but on Tuesday December 17, Sherrock took her chance. A brilliant 3-1 win over Development Tour winner Evetts before eventual defeat to Chris Dobey set in motion a chain of events that has now made her darts' number one star.
Firstly, she earned a spot at the New York leg of the World Series. On the oche, she followed up with a 3-1 win over world No 11 Mensur Suljovic and an invite to the other five World Series events in Copenhagen, Germany, New Zealand and a double-header in Australia.
A spot as a Premier League 'challenger' is likely to follow after Barry Hearn confirmed last year's 'contenders' concept would be back and exhibition offers are flooding in. It is understood her appearance fee for those has rocketed - it all looks like being a very busy 2020 for the new star of oche.
Her first priority was to have won a first women's world title, but she pulled out of the event on Tuesday to deepen the BDO's problems. The headlines she generated for that decision underline her status.
The BDO's World Championships get underway on Saturday with doubts circling about the organisation's existence. An announcement on Monday that the prize funds had been slashed alongside poor ticket sales mean the event has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Sherrock was due to be a headline act on the opening afternoon, and her absence will be felt. Given her profile now, and with opportunities elsewhere, it felt like a free hit for the sport's latest superstar.
The first prize for the women's event is thought to have been slashed from £20,000 to £8,000, but it won't be about the money for Sherrock in the 16-player field - she earned £25,000 for her Ally Pally heroics.
She had admitted at Ally Pally that her run in the PDC event meant more than anything she had previously done, and was bigger than a BDO world title. The BDO event felt like a free hit for Sherrock, who would have been on every other player's hitlist.
Instead, attention will turn now to what else is in store as the darts world doesn't sleep and a number of other opportunities loom. It is a decision that won't have been taken lightly as Sherrock's management team are among the most respected in the game.
New Year's Day
|The Final||Michael van Gerwen (1) v (7) Peter Wright|
|best of 13 sets|
At any time of breakthrough there will always be questions about the wider impact and in the case of what has transpired over the last two weeks, the immediate questions are about women's darts and the way forward - investment, opportunities and more will have to be addressed.
Sky Sports commentators Rod Studd and Wayne Mardle have insisted that the women's game is the next big growth area for darts, while chairman Barry Hearn was non-committal on how far the PDC would go in supporting a women's tour.
Their focus is on the professional game and depending on what fate awaits the BDO after their World Championships, it may be that Hearn and the PDC offer an avenue into the amateur and women's game and a first step on a road to something more standalone.
For now, the PDC are adamant that the professional game is open to anyone, to them it's a professional - not a men's or women's - tour, regardless of gender, age and nationality. Sherrock's performance and profile over the last fortnight have underlined what an opportunity that presents and numbers are likely to be up, including from an increased amount of female entrants.
Producing it on the World Championship stage is one thing, Sherrock will get the chance to earn a Tour card at Q-School which starts on January 16 in Wigan. Sherrock is already a confirmed entrant in the annual four-day slugfest for the right to win one of 16 two-year Tour cards available.
Should Sherrock fail in her attempt she can opt for the Challenge Tour, a circuit she's already played on, earning just £100 for two wins in 10 events last year and a reminder of how gruelling making your mark can be. There are four events before the end of January where Sherrock will look to prove her worth.
Her wider impact could be felt if another of the female players make their mark. Suzuki, Deta Hedman and Lisa Ashton are among the world's best players, who will all be headed to Q-School.
Ashton fell just short last year, and appearance on the Challenge Tour have been common for some of the best women in the game, but their 'side' of the sport has never had a bigger profile and any success is likely to make national headlines.
However, for all the talk about the wider game, this has been Sherrock's time. Her landmark run at the PDC World Championship has opened doors for her that will likely secure her future for some time to come, but the next few weeks could take it to another level, and this time the world will be watching.
Coverage of the World Darts Championship final gets underway on Sky Sports Darts from 7pm on New Year's Day - if you are out and about follow us @SkySportsDarts for updates, in-play clips and more while our website will track all the action, build-up and fall-out.