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  • Ryan James Mingay

International Qualifiers to look out for at the 2024 PDC World Championship

By Ryan James Mingay 

The PDC World Championships return to Ally Pally on 15th December 2023, where 96 players will battle it out for the ultimate darting prize and the chance to stake their claim as the best player in the world and for their name to go down in history. First Round players are guaranteed £7,500 and the Seeds are certain to get at least £15,000. £500,000 awaits the winner of the Sid Waddell Trophy.

The aforementioned 96 players are made up of the 32 seeds who are the 32 highest ranked players on the Order of Merit,  the 32 highest ranked on the Pro Tour OOM (excluding the seeds) and 32 International Qualifiers. The International Qualifiers are comprised of big names and relative unknowns , so let’s look at 5 with interesting stories and the ability to stun the big names. 

Wessel Nijman (Netherlands) – Dev Tour Qualifier 

Nijman familiar name to many but not necessarily for the right reasons. Seen by some as a polarising figure , his participation is one of the most controversial. 

The 23 year old from Uitgeest is one of darts most talented prospects but is more well known for his suspension for match fixing at the 2020 MODUS Super Series. Wessel and Kyle Mckinstry were both banned but Wessel escaped with a 5 year ban of which half was suspended whilst Kyle was handed an 8 year ban. Wessel was cooperative from the beginning and readily admitted his involvement in the match fixing of a single game against David Evans. Nijman agreed to help young players combat match fixing and as a result his ban was shortened. 

Nijman has been unfairly vilified by many fans but he hasn’t let that stop him as he has been prolific on the dev tour this year , taking home a total of 3 titles and finishing 3rd on the OOM. A particular highlight was his jaw-dropping 113 average. Wessel has a career high TV average of 83 but looks certain to obliterate that in his World Championship debut. 

His opponent is the Popular Steve Beaton. The 1996 BDO World Champion presents some intriguing talking points for his tie against the young Dutchman. It’s very much a clash of Youth vs Experience but both of them are having career resurgences as Nijman returns from his ban with a point to prove and Beaton looks to remind everyone he’s still got it. The tie looks set to be one of the best clashes of Round One. The winner will face Northern Irelands Daryl Gurney in a wide open section of the draw.

Rusty-Jake Rodriguez- (Austria) Tour card Qualifier 

Sitting in the low 80s of the OOM , Rusty-Jake looked to be heading for a visit to Q school to regain his tour card. His form at the start of the year was poor at best going without a win on the Pro Tour until the 8th Players Championship of the year , he followed that win up with inconsistent runs and never advanced beyond the last 16 of a Players Championship. 

He failed to qualify for any European Tour Events and couldn’t his best form at a time when he desperately needed it. Fortunately for the Filipino/Austrian arrowsmith he found his form at the tail end of the year when he picked up a Development Tour title and blitzed through the tour card holder qualifier to make a return to Ally Pally after he squandered a 2-0 set lead against Chris Dobey in round 2 at the 2022 edition. 

Rusty has a yearly first nine average of 97 but his overall average of 88 is worrying . This is due to his checkout percentage of 36 which is slightly below the level expected of the Austrian. His win percentage of 61% is why he finds himself at risk of losing his tour card. 

Rusty at his best is more than capable of beating the big names and he needs to do this more than ever with the knowledge that only a Quarter Final would ensure his status as a professional is extended for another year. His campaign kicks off against the eccentric Scotsman Cammie Menzies in what should be a fast paced and high scoring affair where the former JDC World Champion will seek to show his often unseen talent on the World stage as a potential clash with Dave Chisnall awaits.

Man-Lok Leung (Hong-Kong)  Asian Tour Qualifier 

At first glance you may be mistaken for assuming that Mickey Mansell will make light work of Man-Lok Leung. After all most people don’t associate Hong Kong with producing much sporting talent whether that’s in darts or not. But Hong Kong has produced a fair few underrated dartists including Former tour card holders Royden Lam and Kai Fan Leung aswell as Lam’s World Cup teammate Scott Mackenzie. Lam and Mackenzie shocked the World with their Quarter Final run at the 2015 World Cup but they haven’t been active in recent years. This meant that Man-Lok became his countries main arrowsmith and he hasn’t looked back since.

The 24 year old appeared in the Bahrain Darts Masters where he challenged Luke Humphries in a close encounter which he ultimately lost 6-3 in a commendable effort. 

He’s been prolific this year taking home 3 titles on the Asian Tour and 2 WDF titles. He is more than capable of hitting ton plus averages and is a steady consistent player. A tough task awaits when he meets World Youth runner up Gian Van Veen for a chance to face the German Giant Gabriel Clemens in round 2. If Man-Lok finds his form early then he could easily take the young Dutchman by surprise and cause a huge upset.

David Cameron (Canada) CDC Tour Canadian Qualifier 

The first ‘Major’ Winner to make this list is the man known as Exaclibur , David Cameron. The Canadian made headlines when his failure to reach round 2 at Lakeside last year led to him entering and subsequently winning the Seniors World Masters with a victory over the 16 time World champion Phil Taylor .

He hasn’t fared too well on the World stage as he lost his first 5 appearances at Lakeside before a maiden victory in 2019. He impressed last year as he battled back from 2 sets and 2 legs down to stun Richie Edhouse but he couldn’t replicate this form again as he lost in the L64. 

His stats have dropped and he is only averaging around 88 for the year but he is much better in TV and is a consistent player who can hit some big 100+ checkouts to go with his solid scoring game. He isn’t the most prolific 180 hitter but usually finds a way to hit a treble and can utilise the 19 and 18 segments. He has at times favoured the tops and tens on his doubles but is a solid checkout hitter on his best form.

He faces a close game with former European Tour Event winner Jamie Hughes. Hughes has been struggling since that win whereas Cameron has revitalised his career and at 54 year old will look to go one further than last year in a wide open tournament where he feels he can go far.

Luke Littler (England) Dev tour qualifier 

Depsite only being 16 years old , Luke Littler is already one of the more known figures In darts. The world youth champion has been one of the biggest prospects around for years and has only been held back by his age. 

After dominating the WDF youth tour and winning numerous senior titles , he finally made his debut on the PDC development tour and he made excellent progress as he took many titles and dominated his competition for large parts of the year. He was one of the favourites for the PDC World Youth Championship and he proved why when he beat Gian Van Veen to crown himself World Champion. The prodigious young Englishman has hit jaw dropping averages and thrives on the TV stage where he is sure to be a crowd favourite. Now he is a tour card holder thanks to his Exploits on the dev tour , he looks to push on further which starts with his Ally Pally appearance.

He faces Former BDO World Champion Christian Kist. Despite having a career resurgence early this year , he has dropped off massively recently. After a Pro Tour final and numerous deep runs his form has taken a nosedive and his averages are very sub par. The crowd will be against him and Littler should capitalise on this and seal a comfortable victory over the Dutchman.

Other Names to look out for this tournament 

Madars Razma enters his first tournament as Seed and starts his campaign off against De Decker or Horvat , the winner could face Doets , Buntz or Michael Smith in a very enticing section for the Latvian as he seeks to solidify his status as a seed before aiming to return to the matchplay and grand prix in 2024.

Jim Williams was unlucky last year in a close to defeat to the German Giant Gabriel Clemens and he will look to go further this year. The welshman should easily beat Guyanas Norman Madhoo before he faces a seed who he is more than capable of dispatching.


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