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Article: Is the PDC Pro-Tour Harder for Brits?

Is the PDC Pro-Tour Harder for Brits?

This year will see the PDC host 9 European Tour events, the highest amount since they were introduced in 2012.  Do these tournaments afford European players an unfair advantage?  Or do British players need to up their game?
On paper, the figures speak for themselves.  For those that aren’t aware, the payout on the European tours far exceeds their British counterpart’s.  Simply qualifying carries a £1,000 cheque, and winners take home £20,000 - double that of the British events.  But this isn’t really the problem.  The problem lies in the fact that European Tour events are indisputably easier to do well in if you’re from mainland Europe.
This is owed to one simple reason. The players on these tours are comprised of entrants from a UK qualifier, a European qualifier and a home nation qualifier.  It sounds fair, and to an extent, it is the best solution available. But whether you like it or not, the European and home nation qualifiers simply aren’t of the same standard compared to that of the UK.  It means that whilst UK-residing players battle it out amongst some of the best in the world, European entrants have somewhat of an easier path towards a guaranteed £1,000 qualifying prize.
This has a huge impact on the PDC Order of Merit, which as you probably know is ordered with reference to the amount of prize money a player has won.  £1,000 might not mean much to the likes of van Gerwen or Phil Taylor, but in the lower echelons of the top 100 or even the top 50, it can have a huge impact.  Ricky Evans, for example, who currently resides at 52nd in the world, would have moved up the order of merit by 7 places if he had qualified for each of the 2014 European tour events.  It’s a tall order, but a markedly shorter one if he had been competing in the European qualifiers.
With that being said, it’s easy to see why they’re segregated.  It would be impractical for those living on the mainland to commute to the UK, or vice versa, for the sake of a qualifying round.  It’s also worth noting that the qualifiers offer more places to UK entrants then European ones, though there are more UK entrants, so that might just be accommodating for volume rather than quality.
Furthermore, the European Tour Events, whilst not televised, are staged in front of a crowd.  It’s possible, I think, that players in these events deserve a higher pay out to compensate for the added pressure that a crowd inevitably brings.
Ultimately, trying to rationalise or excuse the bias is a fruitless task.  The bias exists, whether it’s an inevitable product of geography and "fairness”, there is no denying that it certainly favours some players over others.  Of the 24 players who qualified most frequently for the 8 European Tour Events in 2014, 11 were European.  The disparity speaks for itself: these are great players, of course, but they are not consistently amongst the best in the world.
The problem is amplified further in the long run. Frequent qualification for these events can do wonders for your ranking, which in turn can afford you entry into more and more tournaments.  The result is a dip in quality across PDC events.  We haven’t seen it yet, but if the disparity isn’t resolved, there will doubtless be implications regarding the level of talent in the major tournaments, at the expense of decent British players that haven’t been so lucky with European Tour qualification.
It seems obvious that if you’re going to base a ranking table on the amount of money earned, you have to find a balance in the cash prizes you offer for similar events.  This would surely solve the problem.  

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