Crowd favourite Van Barneveld celebrates (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Raymond van Barneveld insists he will battle to retain his place in the world’s top 16 and enter more tournaments next season if he drops out of the elite bracket.
The five-time World Champion is facing a potentially pivotal period in his career as he bids to avert a sharp fall down the rankings at the end of the year.
Van Barneveld dropped to 14th following the recent Unibet
World Grand Prix and has just two ranking tournaments remaining this season after failing to qualify for both the European Championship and Players Championship Finals.
The 51-year-old also opted out of the final two Players Championship events of the season, meaning he must go deep in both the Grand Slam and World Championship in order to protect his ranking.
“Of course it’s something to think about,” Van Barneveld told Live Darts.
“I have to defend a lot of money (£140,000) in the next two months, if I don’t do well I go out of the top 16 and we have to work hard next year.
“If you drop out of the top 16, you don’t play the Matchplay or the Grand Prix so you have to go back to the ProTours and Euro Tours.
“I hope I can still have a good run in the Worlds and the Grand Slam of Darts because I’ve not qualified for the Euros and the Players Championship Finals.
“It’s all about choices and hopefully next year I’m going to play more.”
Van Barneveld could drop as low as 26th following the World Championship and will head to Alexandra Palace defending £70,000 from his run to the Semi-Finals two years ago.
The popular Dutchman has reached the Semis in four of his last six visits to Ally Pally and admits the sport’s show-piece is already in the front of his mind.
He added: “The Worlds is always different for me. I’ve already started focusing towards the World Championship now.
“I’m doing meditation and already thinking about the World Championship because it’s the big thing in the calendar, no other tournament compares.
“Everyone is sitting in front of their TVs for Christmas and it’s the best thing you can win in darts.
“To avoid Michael [van Gerwen], you don’t want to be number 16 in the world, but if you’re number 15 you’ve got Peter Wright, then Rob Cross and Gary Anderson.
“They’re all brilliant so you have to work hard and hopefully you beat them or you hope someone else will beat them before you.”
Van Barneveld has competed in just 12 ranking events this season and has typically enjoyed his best results in invitational competition, notably winning the World Cup alongside Michael van Gerwen and reaching the final of The Masters.
He suffered a straight sets exit at the hands of Dave Chisnall in the Second Round of the Unibet
World Grand Prix and has revealed problems with his eyesight have hampered his progress.
“I know myself, my eyes are bad at the moment, I was blinking all the time at the Grand Prix and the diabetes are not helping,” added RVB.
“If you’ve got more stress, especially when you play tournaments like in Ireland when the stress factor is huge for a double opener, you can’t focus right.
“It was not my tournament and unfortunately the Grand Prix and Matchplay are ranked events so I’m better off doing well in one of them than playing a World Series final or a Masters final.
“The money is always good but it doesn’t help you on the rankings.
“Normally, when Raymond van Barneveld was at his best, to beat him in a best of five was a handful, to beat him in a best of seven was almost impossible. To beat him in a best of 11, only the best in the world could do that.
“Now, Raymond van Barneveld is winning sometimes 6-5 and sometimes 6-5 to his opponent. It’s always 6-5 and sometimes it makes you think – how on earth?
“Everyone is so good nowadays, they see what kind of money they can earn, the money is perfect in our sport, it can be £10,000 in a floor tournament and everyone is waking up.
“Everyone is fully focused and if you’re doing a lot of exhibitions and travelling, you’re vulnerable.”