A brand new darts tournament was announced for 2020 at Lakeside, following the moving of the BDO World Championships to the O2 in London. Bob Potter OBE, who runs the venue, claims the competition will be held in Easter this year with a large £200,000 combined prize fund and big brands and sponsors are apparently ready to leap at the opportunity to be a part of a return to the home of darts.
The interesting details of this tournament, aside from supposedly having a new format, is the various organisations that will provide players in what would become the only unified tournament other than the Grand Slam. Even though PDC professional players would not be permitted to take part in this tournament, players from the BDO and WDF, both men and women, PDC Challenge Tour, PDC Development Tour and the soft-tip side of the game.
We will have a look at possible players from each system who could feature, but as it is a new format we do not know how many will be picked from each, so we will compile a top five out of the top ranked in their respective codes.
#1. British Darts Organisation
Most of the big names for the new tournament will come from the BDO. World Champion Wayne Warren would be the only man to have that feat out of the field and would be among the favourites to win the new competition and BDO number one Jim Williams would be the favourite to win this new event as he is most probably the best non-professional darts player in the world.
Other big BDO names who would probably take part are Richard 'Flyers' Veenstra and Dave Parletti, who both featured at the PDC Grand Slam and have been top BDO players for a few years now while 'Warby', Mike Warburton, would take the final spot if it were to be five. Warburton is pretty unfamiliar to the big stage but could potentially feature heavily this year in big events.
Of the BDO women, recent tour card winner Lisa Ashton would not compete and Fallon Sherrock is unlikely to return following her PDC fame. We pick Mikuru Suzuki outright as the two-time back-to-back women's world champion which means that would mean the top four would comprise Beau Greaves, Aileen de Graaf, Anastasia Dobromyslova and Deta Hedman, although we have a suspicion that the women won't be broke into BDO and WDF categories and instead a single longer list would replace the two shorter ones meaning other big name women players would also feature.
Possible players (men): Williams, Veenstra, Warren, Warburton, Parletti.
Possible players (women): Greaves, de Graaf, Dobromyslova, Hedman, Suzuki.
#2. World Darts Federation
Most of the World Darts Federation players also compete in the BDO system, so many players cross over in this list. Therefore we will pick the highest ranked players from the WDF not already in the BDO picks. The top ranked of those is Scottish veteran Ross 'The Boss' Montgomery, who famously has struggled to win at Lakeside despite huge capability and following him is World Cup singles winner Darren Herewini, who made his BDO World Championship debut in 2020.
Next up is youngster Brian Raman, who like Herewini made his World Championships debut this year. Unlike Raman it came to a sticky end at the hands of BDO legend Paul Hogan, but he went on to reach the Dutch Open final weeks later. Frenchman Thibault Tricole was one of the major surprises last year but having agonisingly missed out on a tour card in 2020, it is unclear whether he will just wait till next year or play other events in the meantime. Our final pick is the accomplished Belgian Mario Vandenbogaerde, who made in all the way to the semi-finals at the BDO worlds in January, losing to Jim Williams.
While it is unclear that the WDF women would get additional places, we will outline the top five in the WDF other than the women we already covered for BDO picks. Lancashire's Controversial thrower Paula Jacklin is very high in the WDF rankings, so has a good chance to appear in this competitiom, while popular ladies' player Laura Turner and the dangerous Mario O'Brien follow her in the rankings. Two players from down under complete this list as New Zealand's Tina Osborne and Aussie Corrine Hammond, who once reached the BDO Women's final, also feature in the top five.
Possible players (men): Montgomery, Herewini, Raman, Tricole, Vandenbogaerde.
Possible players (women): Jacklin, Turner, O'Brien, Osborne, Hammond.
PDC Challenge Tour
Former BDO World Champion and big name Scott Mitchell currently leads the PDC Challenge Tour list after four events but the battle at the top is very close. Robert Collins is a close second and two more event winners, Matthew Dennant and Jitse Van de Wal are similarly closing in on the top spot.
All four would be pretty likely to feature at the new Lakeside tournament representing the Challenge Tour as four winners and a possible fifth would be Adam Huckvale, who has been the most consistent Challenge Tour competitor not to win an event so far.
However, what must be emphasised is only four events out of twenty-four have been completed and players such as Andrew Gilding, Cameron Menzies, James Hubbard and James Richardson all lie in wait further down the order of merit.
Possible players: Mitchell, Collins, Dennant, Van de Wal, Huckvale.
#3. PDC Development Tour
The PDC Development Tour events have not yet started in 2020, so we will pick the top five from the 2019 rankings excluding players who have since claimed PDC tour cards. Most of the top ranked players in this youth tour are tour card holders, such as Ted Evetts, Luke Humphries and Jeffrey de Zwaan, but some very exciting talents are yet to become professionals and could feature at the Lakeside.
Irish trio Shane McGuirk, Keane Barry (both Republic of Ireland) and Nathan Rafferty (Northern Ireland) are highly exciting young stars and are also the top three ranked players available from this tour. MccGuirk and Rafferty would be big-stage novices, but Keane Barry is the BDO World Youth Champion and has already made his PDC World Championship debut, so would be very dangerous at this event were he to participate.
Two Scottish youngsters finish this list as Greg Ritchie and Andrew Davidson would conclude the top five. Both are yet to make their impact on the biggest stage but like all the highest ranked Development Tour players, it is only a matter of time and many will be a huge part of darts' future.
Possible players: McGuirk, Rafferty, Barry, Ritchie, Davidson.
Even though the new Lakeside tournament will be traditional steel tip darts, there's a whole world of players over in Asia obsessed with the soft-tip side of the game and the best of them could challenge even after switching formats. The soft-tip number one is Boris Krčmar, but he is now a PDC tour card holder so cannot compete in these events.
The first on our list is legend Paul Lim, who is the only player to ever hit a nine darter in the BDO World Championship back in 1990. FB Leung was one of the most important players in getting Hong Kong to the WDF World Cup final and can throw a mean dart, while Royden Lam is a veteran of big stage darts and well capable of hitting big averages.
Leonard Gates from the United States of America is always spoken about very highly in darting circles and after an impressive Q-School where he averaged some big numbers in wins over players like Dave Parletti and fellow countryman Chuck Puleo despite failing to make it through. The last player is a relative unknown, but Taiwan's Pupo Teng Lieh always reaches the latter stages of big soft-tip tournaments.
Possible players: Lim, Leung, Teng Lieh, Lam, Gates.