The new PDC darts season began in earnest last weekend, and with an action-packed year of floor and big stage events ahead, we pick out a crop of players to keep an eye on.
With over 400 players vying for just 34 Tour Cards at Qualifying School, the demand to join the PDC ranks has never been greater, and thus the standard has never been higher.
No fewer than four nine-darters were achieved in five days in Wigan and the foundations are laid for a batch of new names (and some old ones) to break through, with prize money on the ProTour and European Tour rising to a record £2.5million in 2015.
Here’s our top eight underdogs to look out for this term…
Boulton is the latest product of darting hotbed Stoke-on-Trent and enjoyed a dream start to life at the top level by finishing top of the Q School order of merit with an impressive 20 points.
Having plied his trade in the BDO over the past decade, the 41-year-old has now taken the leap to the big time at the peak of his career and set his stall out by qualifying for his European Tour debut at next month’s German Championship.
A late-bloomer likened to Ian White, Boulton reached the last 16 of the UK Open in 2011 and also appeared in his maiden Lakeside Championship that year, losing out to Robbie Green in round one.
Welsh ace Price enjoyed a whirlwind debut season on the PDC circuit in 2014, culminating in qualification for the World Championship at Alexandra Palace.
A semi-pro Rugby player, Price has now swapped line-outs for checkouts as he pursues his darting dream; he will begin the 2015 campaign in 58th position on the order of merit, but has the power to add with no prize money to defend for the next 12 months.
A heavy scorer who has already taken a series of big-name scalps on the ProTour and European Tour, Price appears to be going from strength-to-strength and is pushing for a place in the TV majors in 2015 via the ProTour rankings.
Hopp is a young man with the weight of an emerging darting nation on his shoulders, but he proved in spells at the World Championship exactly what all the fuss is about.
His win over Mervyn King was his first on the World Championship stage and put his name up in lights back home in Germany – a country with a huge fanbase that is crying out for a player to break into the top echelons of the game.
The naturally-gifted 18-year-old retained his place on the tour courtesy of his run at Ally Pally and now looks to push on and finally fulfil his promise.
Max Hopp of Germany celebrates (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Former Lakeside finalist Norris was the most talked about mover across the darting divide in January, but has already silenced the doubters in emphatic fashion by hitting two nine-darters in his first four days with the PDC.
Norris blitzed his way through Q School on day one, and although he failed to qualify for either of the opening two European Tour events, he sent out a clear message to the rest of the field with his displays in Wigan.
A powerful scorer with a quick-fire action, Norris will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Bunting, who made the move 12 months ago and is now on the brink of a place in the world’s top 16.
Dancing Devon announced his return to the big time by regaining his Tour Card at Q School after a year out of the professional game.
Having recovered from a shoulder injury, the popular South African is now back to the sort of form which saw him reach the last 16 of the 2014 World Championship as he successfully qualified for the first two European Tour events of the season.
A firm fans favourite who thrives off the big stage atmosphere, Petersen undoubtedly has the potential to break into the world’s top 32, but the busy schedule could put a strain on his resources as he plans to travel to and from South Africa up to 20 times this year alone.
Devon Petersen of South Africa celebrates (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)
Wilson bowed out of the BDO at the summit of the rankings and has already adapted to life in the PDC admirably, gaining a two-year Tour Card before qualifying for his European Tour debut at the German Championship.
The Huddersfield marksman bounced back from his shock first round exit at Lakeside with a series of promising performances in Wigan, notably hitting three ton-plus checkouts in defeating Dave Chisnall.
Wilson has both the experience and ability capable of upsetting the big names this year and will be looking to find his feet early on in the campaign in order to reach to as many televised events as possible.
As reigning World Youth champion, Brown is a man who needs no introduction, having announced himself as a star of both present and future following his giant-killings in the Grand Slam and World Championship at the backend of 2014.
The Isle of White youngster continues to juggle darts with his day job at as a medical lab assistant and remains grounded despite his sudden rise to stardom.
A player with a model temperament on and off the oche, Brown knows he has the beating of the world’s top players and can utilise his ruthless scoring game this season in an attempt to become a firm fixture in front of the TV cameras.
Keegan Brown of England celebrates against Adrian Lewis (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Northern Irish star Gurney has shown glimpses of his potential in front of the television cameras the World Grand Prix and World Championship, but is yet to achieve the results which justify his place in the world’s top 50.
The Derry darter is one of the most prolific scorers on the floor circuit and could prove a deadly force if he brushes up on his doubles this season.
The European Tour could hold the key to unlocking Gurney’s potential and act as a bridge-gap between the floor and the major televised stages, as has been the case with a number of players in recent years.