Germany represents darts’ largest emerging market. The demand for professional darts on the continent is so strong that the PDC has scheduled nine European Tour events to be held in various German cities in 2017, and is reportedly planning expansion of Premier League Darts to a night in Berlin. While the reception for darts in Germany has been extraordinary, the quality of German professional darters relative to their British and Dutch counterparts has not kept pace with interest in the game. In 29 European Tour events held to date in Germany, only two quarterfinal spots have been filled by home-nation qualifiers. Because the PDC is now broadcasting 10 weekends of darts from Germany, there are more opportunities than ever for German players to make a name for themselves. Of those players, we are likely to see much more of the following seven players.
Allenstein is best known for his uproarious celebration after beating Steve Hine in the 2016 German Darts Championship, but has long attained good results on the BDO circuit, including a last-32 finish at last year’s Winmau World Masters. His three appearances on the European Tour have demonstrated competence, if not excellence. No other player feeds off the energy of his fans as much as does Allenstein, however, and a first-round upset from the young German is always an exciting prospect.
Jyhan Artut has represented Germany in every World Cup of Darts to date, holds the German record PDC stage average, and has made five trips to the Alexandra Palace in the past eight years, forcing Gary Anderson to memorably contest a last leg decider in the 2012 World Championship. But Artut is no longer the force in German darts that he once was. Winless on the European Tour since 2015, Artut qualified for only two German events last year, losing to Ricky Evans and Chris Dobey. Rumor has it that he may be replaced on his national World Cup team by a younger player, perhaps Martin Schindler. Artut has given the darts world a number of exciting moments (including a ridiculous bull-19-bull 119 checkout), but he is being increasingly overshadowed by his younger compatriots.
Eidams nearly pulled off the greatest upset in the history of the World Championship, coming within two legs of eliminating world number 1 Michael van Gerwen. “The Cube” threatened to do it again at the 2016 German Masters, but missed the bull for a 164 finish to raise the roof in Munich. Against players other than van Gerwen, Eidams has met with far less success. After the rematch with MvG, Eidams has only qualified for one other European Tour event since, losing 6-1 to Steve West. Still in his 20s, Eidams’ challenge will be to bring the courage and skill demonstrated against Mighty Mike to matches against lesser opponents.
No German player has the extensive experience of winning on the international stage possessed by the 20-year-old Hopp, who memorably scored a first-round defeat of Mervyn King in the 2015 World Championship. His high averages – Hopp stands above his peers by regularly averaging above 90 – and consistency on the doubles have proven the young darter to be a formidable opponent in any setting. Hopp was a quarterfinalist at the 2016 European Matchplay in Hamburg, in which he came within two legs of eliminating #2 seed Peter Wright, missing a 121 finish that would have forced a decider. That was as close as any German has come to a semifinal, before or since, but the young Max Hopp has demonstrated the potential to advance even further in the long career that stretches out in front of the young man.
Bursting onto the darts scene with a magnificent run to the quarterfinals in the 2016 International Open in Riesa, Horvat switched national allegiances from his native Croatia to join the ranks of German players in 2016. Three consecutive victories over top British players included a last-leg decider break of throw that eliminated Gerwyn Price and a 99 average against top PDC professional Ian White. But since that marvelous weekend, Horvat has been unable to reach the same form. Demolished by Simon Whitlock at his first World Championship, Horvat qualified for the 2017 German Masters only to take a single leg off Michael Smith and average 83. More experience on the European Tour for a player who had only qualified for his fourth event last week will help him bring his A game more often to duels with the seeds.
Roith is something of an elder statesman of German darts. The 57-year old man from Tuebinghen won a tour card in 2012 and made an appearance in that year’s World Cup, but had enjoyed little success in the PDC in recent years. A perpetual contestant in almost every Q School, UK Open Qualifier and host nation European Tour qualifier of the past decade, Roith is nothing if not dedicated. That dedication has begun to pay off in 2017 with two appearances on the European Tour and an assured performance against Stephen Bunting in Saarbrucken.
The teenaged Schindler is perhaps the most exciting young talent in German darts, and has kicked off his PDC career in style by winning £7000 in six European Tour appearances, as well as a last-16 showing at a Players Championship event. The fact that has been beaten by wide margins in many of his Euro Tour matches has not dampened the enthusiasm of darts experts for the solid throw of “The Wall”, and the level of success he has attained thus far augurs well for a bright darting future.
Even if the above players have given little indication of becoming the German Taylor or van Gerwen, recall that German darts is very much in its infancy. With more PDC darts events taking root in Germany, that country’s darts scene is set to explode thanks to its bumper crop of young talent.