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Euro 2020 | How the 24 nations rank in world darts

Jamie Shaw in Off The Oche 11 Jun 2021
Jonny Clayton holds the Wales flag after winning the Premier League (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The eyes of the sporting world will be on Euro 2020 this summer, but how do the 24 nations rank in darting terms?

The 16th staging of the European Championship runs from June 11 to July 11 across 11 host cities – many of which boast a rich darting heritage.

Many countries across mainland Europe have developed into hotbeds of darts over the past decade, hosting European Tour events and televised majors in front of huge crowds.

Nineteen European countries are represented among the 128 current PDC Tour Card holders, 18 of those were represented by at least one player in the 2021 World Championship.

Based on historic average rankings from various systems including PDC, BDO, WDF, we’ve ranked the 24 competing nations at Euro 2020 based on their darting credentials.

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Euro 2020 teams – Darts rankings

1. England

As the birthplace of darts, it’s no surprise to see England leading the way at the top of the rankings, with its countrymen having delivered more silverware than the other 23 nations combined.

Phil Taylor dominated the sport over three decades, picking up more than 200 titles worldwide, including 16 World Championships and 16 World Matchplays.

Fifty percent of the current top 16 players in the PDC Order of Merit are English as are 46 percent of all current Tour Card holders.

England’s only major football silverware may have come way back in 1966, but they hold a joint record of four PDC World Cups, while four different Englishmen have won the European Darts Championship.

2. Netherlands

The Netherlands first emerged as a major darting force in the late 90s, with Raymond van Barneveld’s Lakeside triumph in 1998 igniting the Dutch darts boom.

Van Barneveld went on to win a further three BDO world titles before joining the PDC in 2006 and forging an iconic rivalry with Phil Taylor which defined the sport until the end of the decade.

Inspired by Barney’s success, rising stars Jelle Klaasen and Michael van Gerwen began to make a name for themselves in the late 2000s, and though it was Klaasen who delivered another BDO world title in 2006, MVG went on to take the mantle as the next top Dutch star.

Van Gerwen has a staggering 56 televised titles to his name, as well as 80 non-televised titles, and was runaway world number one between 2014-2020.

There are currently 16 Dutch PDC Tour Card holders, six of whom are ranked inside the world’s top 32.

Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld (Photo by PDC)

3. Wales

Wales has been producing darts legends since the 70s, with Alan Evans, Leighton Rees, Richie Burnett and Mark Webster having all enjoyed success in the BDO system.

However, Welsh darts has seen a new resurgence over the past 18 months, with Gerwyn Price having claimed six televised titles, notably becoming the first Welsh PDC World Champion in 2021 and taking over as world number one in the process.

Price partnered Jonny Clayton to World Cup glory first the first time in 2020, and Clayton has since gone on to win The Masters and the Premier League in 2021 – breaking new ground for Welsh darts once again.

There may only be five current Welsh Tour Card holders, but Price and Clayton have dominated the major events of late and show no sign of relenting.

4. Scotland

Scotland’s rich darting heritage can be traced began in the early 80s when Jocky Wilson made himself a household name after his World Championship triumph in 1982.

Jocky went on to become a double World Champion seven years later and became renowned for his rivalry with England’s Eric Bristow, inspiring a new generation of Scottish stars in the process.

It would be another eight years before Les Wallace delivered Scotland’s next world title at Lakeside, before Gary Anderson became the nation’s first PDC World Champion in 2015 and successfully retained the title a year later.

Peter Wright added his name to the roster of Scottish World Champions in 2020 and partnered Anderson to World Cup glory the previous year.

The duo have scooped 17 televised titles between them and remain stalwarts of the world’s top eight and are joined by a further five Scots on the PDC circuit at present.

Anderson and Wright won the World Cup in 2019 (PDC)

5. Belgium

Belgian darts began to take flight following the success of Erik Clarys – who famously won the World Masters in 1995 and was a quarter-finalist at Lakeside in 2003.

Few players managed to break onto the scene with much impact in the following years until brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts joined the PDC in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

Kim reached his first major final at the 2012 Players Championship Finals and three years later became the first Belgian to be picked for the Premier League.

Ronny, meanwhile, was a semi-finalist at the 2013 European Championship and often produced his best form in the World Cup alongside his brother, with the pair finishing runners-up in 2013.

However, it’s Dimitri van den Bergh who has etched his name into the history books as the nation’s first PDC major champion courtesy of his remarkable triumph at the 2020 World Matchplay.

The 26-year-old, one of four Belgians currently on the circuit, has also landed a ProTour title, as well as back-to-back World Youth Championships in 2017 and 2018.

6. Germany

The rise in popularity of darts in Germany has proved one of the sport’s biggest success stories over the past decade.

Germany boasts some of the highest average television viewing figures for darts worldwide and hosts the majority of European Tour events, as well as the World Cup, European Championship and a Premier League night in Berlin.

Many have tried and failed in their quest to become Germany’s top tungsten talent, but Max Hopp carried that mantle from a young age and is already somewhat of a veteran at the age of 24.

He made his World Championship debut as a 16-year-old in 2012 and became the first German winner of a PDC ranking event on home soil at the German Open in 2018.

Hopp has since been leapfrogged in the Order of Merit by the prolific Gabriel Clemens – who currently occupies 26th spot and is one of seven Germans on the circuit.

7. Austria

Austria have been placed on the darting map thanks in most part to the success of their top talisman Mensur Suljovic.

Suljovic has been a PDC player since 2007 but began to make real inroads from 2014 onwards, famously winning the Champions League of Darts in 2017 and going on to reach the World Matchplay final on 2018.

Rowby-John Rodriguez has long been regarded as the Austrian number two, partnering Suljovic to the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup of Darts in 2016, 2017 and 2020.

Rowby-John comes from a family littered with darting talent, with Rusty-Jake Rodriguez having won a Development Tour title in 2017 and Roxy-James Rodriguez having featured on the European Tour.

Zoran Lerchbacher and Harald Leitinger join Suljovic as the three current Austrian representatives on the PDC circuit.

8. Poland

Poland may not be vastly represented in the darting circles, but the quality their contingent possesses makes them a nation to look out for in years to come.

Krzysztof Ratajski is undoubtedly the Robert Lewandowski of darts, renowned for his clinical finishing and coolness under pressure.

Ratajski became the first Pole to win a major title at the World Masters in 2017 and is now firmly established among the PDC’s top 16, having picked up seven ranking titles.

Ratajski is joined on the PDC circuit by Krzysztof Kciuk, while 17-year-old Sebastian Bialecki burst onto the scene with a magical nine-darter on his UK Open debut this year.

9. Spain

Spain’s most memorable darting moment came at the 2010 World Cup – coincidentally the same year the Spanish football team delivered World Cup glory in South Africa.

Toni Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez pulled off a stunning 6-5 scalp of England’s Phil Taylor and James Wade in the Second Round and went on to reach the Semi-Finals.

Both Alcinas and Cristo Reyes have appeared in the Last 16 of a PDC World Championship, while Jesús Noguera became the latest Spaniard to earn a Tour Card thanks to his exploits on the Challenge Tour in 2019.

10. Sweden

Sweden were well represented during the early years of the BDO in the 80s, with Stefan Lord reaching the Semi-Finals of the 1981 World Masters and finishing third in the World Championship the following year.

Lord was also a two-time News of the World Champion and was closely followed by Magnus Caris – who enjoyed a lengthy career from 1987-2019, reaching the Semi-Finals at Lakeside in 1994.

Daniel Larsson is currently flying the flag for Sweden as its sole PDC representative and has appeared twice at Ally Pally, while also hitting a nine-darter on the PDC Home Tour in 2020.

11. Russia

Russia have been a dominant force in women’s darts over the past two decades, with Anastasia Dobromyslova blazing the trail.

Dobromyslova claimed glory at Lakeside in 2008, 2012 and 2013 and has made two appearances in the PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

Boris Koltsov has emerged as Russia’s top darting talent in recent years and is the sole Russian Tour Card holder, having won through European Qualifying School in February.

Koltsov picked up a Challenge Tour title in 2019 and partnered Aleksandr Oreshkin to the Quarter-Finals of the PDC World Cup in 2017.

Boris Koltsov celebrates (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

12. Czech Republic

Czech Republic is another nation to have embraced the darts boom in recent years and has witnessed the emergence of a number of exciting prospects.

19-year-old Adam Gawlas reached the final of the World Youth Championship in 2020 and gained a PDC Tour Card for the first time in 2021.

Karel Sedláček, meanwhile, has been a Tour Card holder for the past two seasons, twice appearing at the World Championship and notably reaching the Last 16 of the 2020 Players Championship Finals.

Prague hosted the country’s first-ever PDC ranking event in 2019 with the Czech Open comprising part of the European Tour, and it would be no surprise to see more big events held in the Czech Republic in years to come.

13. Denmark

Denmark led a strong contingent of Scandanavian stars in the early 90s, with the likes of Per Laursen, Per Skau, Troels Rusel and Jann Hoffmann regulars in BDO majors.

Skau featured in six BDO World Championships and was a quarter-finalist at the World Masters in 1991, while Laursen appeared in eight PDC World Championships and is an ever-present in the Danish World Cup team.

Rusel, meanwhile, reached the Quarter-Finals in his sole appearance at Lakeside in 1994 and lost out to Eric Bristow in the Quarter-Finals of the 1989 World Masters.

The next generation of Danish darters are yet to emerge, but as the PDC Nordic & Baltic tour continues to expand, that could provide the perfect platform for Danish darts to flourish once again.

14. Finland

Finland has continued to produce a number of consistent players in recent years, thanks in part to the expansion of the PDC’s Nordic & Baltic circuit.

However, Marko Kantele’s relegation from the PDC tour in 2020 means there are currently no current Finnish PDC professionals.

Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula guided Finland to their best-ever run in a PDC World Cup in 2013 when they reached the Semi-Finals, notably defeating Netherlands along the way.

Kim Viljanen and Kantele have both featured in four PDC World Championships, though neither have been beyond the First Round.

15. Portugal

Portugal is a nation in its darting infancy but being carried forward at a rate of knots by one man – Jose De Sousa.

De Sousa has almost single-handedly put Portugal on the darting map and has etched his name into the sport’s history books over the last 12 months.

He became the first Portuguese player to win a PDC major at the 2020 Grand Slam during an incredible rise which has taken him into the world’s top 16 and a key contender in every event he enters.

That Grand Slam success earned him a debut spot in this year’s Premier League – where he landed a nine-darter and a record tally of 180s on his way to the final, before falling short to Jonny Clayton.

A winner of five PDC ranking titles, De Sousa’s success is hoped to inspire a new generation of tungsten talent in Portugal, with Jose Marques already touted as the next in line.

Marques impressed during his World Cup debut last year and hit a nine-darter at Qualifying School, though he missed out on a Tour Card at his first attempt.

Jose De Sousa (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

16. Croatia

Croatia were finalists at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but their best run in a PDC World Cup of Darts came in 2013 – when they reached the Quarter-Finals.

Robert Marijanović and Dragutin Horvat are both German players of Croatian origin, while Boris Krčmar is the only current Croatian Tour Card holder in the PDC.

Krcmar is a multiple soft-tip World Champion, a version of the sport which takes prominence over steel-tip in Croatia, but he has enjoyed some impressive results since coming through Q School, defeating the likes of Michael Smith on the ProTour.

17. Hungary

Hungary generates consistently high television viewing figures despite not having a single representative on the PDC circuit.

So much so that the PDC announced plans for a first European Tour event in Budapest last year, a move which could inspire a new influx of players from the region.

Nándor Bezzeg is the only Hungarian to have competed in a PDC World Championship, having qualified in 2009, while János Végső, Tamás Alexits, Pál Székely and Patrik Kovács have each pulled on the Hungary shirt at the PDC World Cup in recent years.

18. Turkey

Turkey has hosted a number of BDO ranking tournaments down the years, including the Turkish Open and Turkish Masters, but is still awaiting its own darts star.

Emirhan Kan Gunduz won the Turkish Open in 2019, collecting €2,700 in prize money, while Ümit Uygunsözlü qualified for the BDO World Championship in 2018, losing out in the Preliminary Round.

The 34-year-old also appeared in the 2017 World Trophy, narrowly losing 6-5 to Scott Mitchell in Round One.

19. Italy

Italy may have enjoyed much success on the football front, but they remain a minnow nation when it comes to darts.

Andrea Micheletti, Marco Brentegani, Matteo Dal Monte, Gabriel Rollo, Michel Furlani, Alessio Medaina, Daniele Petri and Stefano Tomassetti have each represented Italy in the World Cup of Darts but are yet to muster a win between them.

Petri looks to represent Italy’s best chance of a breakthrough star as he bids to become their first PDC Tour Card holder and the first Italian to qualify for the World Championship.

20. Switzerland

Switzerland have a clutch of key hopefuls in their quest to emerge as a new hotbed of darts, and the European Tour looks to be the most obvious route for progression.

Stefan Bellmont and Thomas Junghans have both featured on the PDC European Tour in recent years, while Junghans underlined his credentials in 2015 by reaching the Semi-Finals of the BDO World Masters.

That landmark run included victories over the likes of Wesley Harms, Danny Noppert and Jamie Hughes before defeat to eventual champion Glen Durrant.

Switzerland featured in the PDC World Cup in 2017 and 2018, reaching the Last 16 at the second time of asking thanks to Alex Fehlmann and Andy Bless.

21. Ukraine

Ukraine are a relatively unknown quantity in darting terms, with the Ukraine Open and Kiev Masters forming their top two domestic events.

Alexander Mamyka won the Kiev Masters in 2019 and notably reached the Last 16 of the 2018 WDF Europe Cup Singles.

Artem Usyk was runner-up in the 2019 Ukraine Open and a semi-finalist in the 2019 Vilnius Open – a former BDO Cat D event.

Ukraine are yet to feature in the PDC World Cup of Darts.

22. France

France may be football’s reigning World Cup winners but have little to shout about to date when it comes to darts.

With snooker having welcomed its first French professional last year, darts will hope to do so in the coming years, with their hopes firmly placed on Thibault Tricole.

Tricole made his debut in the 2020 BDO World Championship, beating Ross Montgomery 3–2 in the preliminary round to become the first Frenchman to win a match in a World Darts Championship before losing out to Ryan Hogarth in Round One.

Tricole then came agonisingly close to securing a PDC Tour Card at European Qualifying School the following week, missing out on a Tour Card by a single point.

23. Slovakia

The Slovak Open was a popular BDO ranking event between 2018-2020, with Scott Waites, Wesley Harms and Chris Landman claiming the respective titles.

Domestically, however, Slovakia have offered little in terms of darting exports, though they did feature in the inaugural PDC World Cup in 2010.

Peter Martin and Oto Zmelik comprised the pairing which lost 6-3 in the First Round to Republic of Ireland’s Mick McGowan and William O’Connor.

Berkshire-based Martin qualified for the 2013 Austrian Darts Open, where he was due to play Mervyn King, but withdrew from the event as he failed to show up in time, giving King a walkover.

24. North Macedonia

North Macedonia will make their debut appearance in a major tournament at Euro 2020 but are yet to fully embrace the sport of darts.

Saso Maksimovski is the country’s most successful darter with career earnings of €120 from three WDF events.

Perhaps Macedonia’s biggest contribution to darts came from Sid Waddell’s famous quote: “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer… Bristow’s only 27.”