Darts Expert & Columnist
Rod Studd discusses the growth of women's darts ahead of Mikuru Suzuki's clash with Phil Taylor
Watch Suzuki's clash against Stoke-on-Trent legend Taylor, the latest in the Darts From Home offering, on Sky Sports Action from 7pm on Thursday
Last Updated: 07/05/20 7:27pm
The meteoric rise of women's darts has presented the game's leading female stars with unprecedented opportunities over recent years - the latest chapter will see women's world champion Mikuru Suzuki locking horns with Phil Taylor in a soft-tip exhibition with the aim of raising money for charity.
Suzuki, nicknamed 'The Miracle', has enjoyed a stunning rise to prominence over the last 18 months, winning back-to-back BDO World Championship titles and pitting her wits against the PDC's elite in the Grand Slam of Darts and the PDC World Championship.
The 38-year-old will now take on legendary 16-time world champion Taylor in a soft-tip clash on the electronic Target Nexus Dartboard, in a bid to raise money for the NHS in the fight against coronavirus - a clash you can see on Sky Sports Action from 7pm on Thursday.
Taylor renewed rivalries against his old adversary Raymond van Barneveld in a soft-tip contest last month, with Van Barneveld running out a 7-6 winner in a thrilling affair.
The pair raised £15,000 for the NHS with bookmakers Paddy Power donating £1,000 per maximum hit and they've pledged to repeat the gesture for Taylor's dust-up against Suzuki, with £200 also set to be donated every time a double is hit at the first attempt.
Sky Sports commentator Rod Studd has been a major advocate for the PDC investing in the women's game and he believes Thursday's contest provides a great opportunity for Suzuki to showcase her credentials and grow the profile of the women's game.
"It is great publicity for Mikuru [Suzuki] and also for women's darts in general," Studd told the Darts Show podcast.
"It will be a similar kind of thing to the Taylor vs Barneveld exhibition game. I'm sure it will be good. The Taylor vs Van Barneveld game was really well put together; it was a fun match and an entertaining watch for people."
Suzuki is no stranger to taking on male counterparts - she produced admirable showings at last year's Grand Slam of Darts and forced James Richardson to a deciding-leg at Alexandra Palace, whilst she's claimed the scalps of several high-profile names on the PDC Asian Tour.
The Japanese sensation was one of two women to star at the recent PDC World Championship, but it was Fallon Sherrock who elevated herself to global stardom by becoming the first woman to triumph at the flagship event since its inception in 1994.
The 25-year-old was subsequently dubbed 'The Queen of the Palace' and she received Premier League and World Series invitations courtesy of her ground-breaking exploits, although Studd believes it's only right that Suzuki is afforded her opportunity in the spotlight.
"We've seen the great work done by Fallon Sherrock, not just in that magical win over Ted Evetts and then Mensur Suljovic, but since then she's been promoting the game and has been involved in a lot of these streaming events and big exhibitions as well, so it can only help that Mikuru is a getting a spot centre stage."
Suzuki and Sherrock are not the only success stories within the women's game over recent months. Four-time women's world champion Lisa Ashton created history of her own in January, becoming the first woman to secure a PDC Tour Card via Qualifying School.
'The Lancashire Rose' has had much of her debut season curtailed due to the coronavirus crisis and there was existing concern about opportunities for the game's leading women due to the uncertainty surrounding the British Darts Organisation.
PDC chief executive Matt Porter recently insisted that women's darts was a 'long-term project' for the PDC and Studd hopes that the elongated hiatus will have a positive impact on the growth of the women's game.
"I feel like a lot of sports and darts in particular - everything is going to feel like a fresh start. It's going to be like starting from square one for all sports really.
I think we're moving in the right direction and I hope we can see further progress.
Rod Studd on the women's game
"A lot of things are going to change about how we do things and how mass gatherings take place and how sports are conducted just simply on medical and health grounds.
"I think it's just a great chance for everyone to start again and press reset. Ignore what has gone before and start again, so I'm hoping that we'll see more progress on women's darts and I'm hoping that the PDC start to put some events on. There has been some news in that direction.
"There's been a lot of talk from Matt Porter - not to say that they are going to put events on but to get more women involved, so I think we're moving in the right direction and I hope we can see further progress."
Coverage of the PDC's Home Tour continues on the Sky Sports app, Rob Cross, Ian White and Dimitri Van den Bergh among the latest names confirmed - available to download now on - iPhone & iPad and Android