This Week In Darts – 24th Of May 2024

BACK IN ACTION

Max Hopp Sets First European Tour Return Since 2022

Max Hopp is preparing his return to the PDC stage. 

On Sunday, Max managed to qualify for the upcoming German Darts Championship, which will be played from August 30th to September 1st in Hildesheim. Hopp defeated Marcel Gomula 6-2 and then went on to blank former Tour Card holder Michael Unterbuchner 6-0. Victories over Lukas Fraulob, Thomas Köhnlein and Oliver Müller followed on his way to qualifying.

Hopp last appeared on the European Tour back in April 2022. 

Niko Springer, Matthias Ehlers and Dragutin Horvat are the other three players who qualified alongside Hopp in the contest. At the same time, Nico Kurz, Nico Blum, Kevin Troppmann and Jan Dückers have all qualified for the European Darts Open at the Host Nation Qualifier. The tournament will be played from Friday, June 21st to Sunday, June 23rd, 2024 in Leverkusen.

PLAYER INSIGHTS

Aspinall Hits Back At Holiday Criticisms

Nathan Aspinall enjoyed some much needed downtime last month, taking a four-day break in Las Vegas with Michael Smith that resulted in the athlete having to withdraw from a European Tour. This has resulted in criticism from fans, but the pro darter isn’t taking this latest backlash lying down.

Aspinall said that he can do what he likes given that he is basically self-employed and is not signed to any sort of commitment. He earns his own money, so it is up to him where and when he decides to play. He also admits he will most likely do it again next year if he ends up playing in the Premier League.

“I stand by the decision. I have had an absolute nightmare over the last two weeks with people criticizing us for going,” said Aspinall. “Listen, you find me a week to go on holiday in my calendar. If so, I will bite your hand off and take that week to go on holiday. We chose to pull out of a Euro Tour to go on holiday to have some downtime. The only time we can go away is by pulling out of events. At the end of the day, I am not on a salary from the PDC – I can do what I want in my own time.” 

“I stand by the decision,” he concludes. “Me and Mike had a fantastic four days away. And I will probably do it again next year if I am in the Premier League. It has not affected anything.”

As someone who is a firm believer in the benefits of a strong work/life balance, I applaud Aspinall for his choice and have no doubt that those four days will work wonders for his game moving forward.

INTERNATIONAL SCENE

The 2024 World Cup Of Darts Has Found Its Spanish Team

The Spanish team for the 2024 World Cup Of Darts has been confirmed. 

Jesús Noguera and José Justicia will represent their country after making it through the Spanish qualifying tournament played last weekend. 

The first final between former World Cup participants Jose Justicia and Toni Alcinas saw Justicia winning the duel 4-3. The other final was also decided in a deciding leg. Jesus Noguera secured a spot on the Spanish team after defeating Angel Pitu 4-3.

For Justicia, it will be his fourth consecutive participation in the World Cup of Darts. In 2021, he formed a team with Noguera, but the duo would end up falling short to South Africa 5-4. The following year, alongside Tony Martinez, the team promptly lost 5-4 to host Germany. A 4-2 defeat against South Africa ensued in 2023. 

The contest is scheduled for June 27th-30th in Frankfurt. 

RECORD SETTERS

Luke Littler Ties Jonny Clayton’s Premier League Record

Luke Littler managed to qualify for the 2024 Premier League Darts playoffs as a league winner.

Aside from a single week of play, Littler spent the entire competition in the top three. After the tenth week of play, ‘The Nuke’ took the top spot from Luke Humphries, who then held the first spot only after the second week of play. Littler then took the lead back a week later and did not relinquish it again.

Littler accumulated as many as 40 points in 16 weeks. As such, he has officially tied the Premier League record of Jonny Clayton, who managed to win the league stage in 2022. Littler currently holds four weekly titles and has won an impressive 23 matches and no less than 183 legs. 

Rounding out the Top 5 in the standings thus far for 2023 are Luke Humphries with 36 points and 21 wins, Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith tied at 29 points and 17 wins apiece and Nathan Aspinall with 15 wins and 25 points.