Five events in the PDC Winter Series start in Coventry on Tuesday and they will provide a welcome return to action for many players.
It’s essentially just a quintet of low-key floor events but they should allow the majority of the main tour to get some much needed match practice.
In addition to the prize money being added to the PDC Order of Merit, a special PDC Winter Series Order of Merit will offer a place in the Grand Slam of Darts for the highest ranked player who hasn’t yet qualified.
Can the Summer Series Provide Any Clues?
There is always the chance of an upset in these floor events, given the short nature of the matches, as well as the number of players involved, but the cream does tend to rise to the top.
Two of the five Summer Series events were won by Michael van Gerwen, and Peter Wright, James Wade and Ryan Joyce took the other three. The beaten finalists were Gerwen Price, Rob Cross, Jose de Sousa, Dave Chisnall and Wright. With the exception of Joyce there are no big prices amongst the other eight finalists so it could pay to play towards the top of the market.
Lack of Match Practice and Recent Form
The previous PDC event was the World Cup of Darts and that means just a handful of Coventry hopefuls will have gained any meaningful match practice.
Prior to that it was the finals of the European Tour, in the shape of the European Championships, so again only the top 32 players on the European Tour Order of Merit were in action.
The likes of Price, De Sousa, Krzysztof Ratajski, Gabriel Clemens and Devon Petersen competed in both of those events and they are likely to be the best tuned for the next five days.
Van Gerwen Back After a Break
Michael Van Gerwen suffered from a trapped nerve in his back during the World Cup and he will not be involved for at least the first part of the PDC Winter Series.
The world number one has said that he now feels better but he has decided to take a few days rest. The Green Machine will travel to Coventry on Thursday at the earliest, which would mean he would miss at least the first three days, but could be involved on Friday and Saturday.
Mensur Suljovic is another big name who has decided he will not play in the event.