Well, wasn´t the Premier League originally envisioned to give darts players a platform to play quality opposition throughout the year? If, as you state, the money they intend to pump into the World Championship gets pumped into smaller events, like the PL and some other larger tournaments instead, it might go some way in making the sport more viable. Of course, the non-televised events will need some investment as well. Personally, I was glad when they started with the U21 WC a couple of years ago, it seems that they are taking tentative steps toward further development of the sport.
Those players you stated were valuable to the tour, I agree. Part beating Taylor in 2003 was important in showing that the latter was mortal after all. Still, with all the ongoing professionalisation I can´t help but lament the seeming disappearance of the cult figures from the main stage, like the Count, the Viking, or this legend: [youtube]UGeYrDWOuFw[/youtube]
Yes, but it's over matchplay format and players are happy with their appearance fees and the fact there's no prestige doesn't give much incentive for those to perform, especially since the Premier League's crowds are notorious for very bad behaviour. To continue to develop further they need to invest more in floor events, because there's too many players who cannot handle the stage and throw quality darts on the floor. If they were to support floor tournaments, I think it could only help develop and give lower ranked players a boost in confidence, as well as the financial support they deserve. Everyone needs to start somewhere and not everyone has the money to travel and accommodate themselves over the course of a week, especially with jobs. Q-school is great, but then what? Players need sponsorship and funding in floor events. They're getting rid of the "Youth Tour" and implementing a "Challenger Tour", I believe for those aged 14-25.
The Count and Mardle will return, he's just too happy spewing nonsense in the commentary booth
He's still playing loads of exhibitions. Ronnie Baxter infuriates me. He hit around 16 180's against Painter and the vast majority of which came when he was 3-1 down. The game to beat anyone, but his doubles are shaky and despite being fast, completely rushes into them.
I also miss Bob Anderson, Deller and Harrington. Deller and Harrington couldn't stand one another and had some classic's in the late 90's, early 2000's.