Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, takes a look at the prize money to be defended by the world's top 32 players on the PDC Order of Merit over the next two years.

PDC Order of Merit two-year spread (PDC)

Winning the World Championship has the same impact on a player's Order of Merit total as winning 50 Players Championships or 20 European Tour events, while the runner-up and semi-finalists earn enough to equate to winning other TV tournaments.

But for those who could not capitalise on the ranking opportunity presented at Alexandra Palace, the year ahead presents the challenge of performing in the dozens of smaller events that are the foundation of a player's ranking position, and of matching their achievements two years prior.

So, what do the next six to 12 months have in store?

The £500,000 earned by Peter Wright has bolstered his ranking position in a way that no other tournament can, with the Scot collecting more prize money at Ally Pally than his total ranking earnings between 2018 and 2019, reversing a slow decline across 2019 to lift him up to his highest-ever level of ranking income.

The disappointment of Michael van Gerwen's defeat in the World Championship final is softened by his strengthened Order of Merit position.

He still commands a more than £650,000 lead over Wright on the Order of Merit, owing to the failure of Rob Cross to defend his earnings from the 2017/18 World Championship.

And though he had a banner year on the European Tour in 2018, opportunities for ranking gains will present themselves at this year's UK Open and World Matchplay, the 2018 editions of which yielded only minimal ranking income for van Gerwen due to his twice losing to Jeffrey de Zwaan.

Unless Wright can manage to sweep all the ranking events of 2020, MvG's position as world number one looks to be safe for yet another year.

Gary Anderson (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

It's crunch time for Gary Anderson, who in the next six months has 45% of his Order of Merit total to defend, mostly as a result of having won the 2018 UK Open and World Matchplay.

His performances at the World Championship were encouraging after a year of recuperation from injury, but he will have to quickly reverse his uncharacteristic 2019 losing streak if he is to retain his number six position on the Order of Merit.

Without winning the UK Open title or reaching the final at Minehead in March, he will quickly find himself in danger of slipping out of the top ten by summertime.

Meanwhile, Cross can move on from the pressure of defending his prize money as 2017/18 World Champion.

Having taken a £385,000 hit to his ranking total, Cross has fallen only to the world number four position, and can now more easily fight his way back up toward Price and Wright as he has less than a quarter of his ranking income to defend before the 2020/21 World Championship.

Price is in a similar position, with the £110,000 winner's share of the 2018 Grand Slam being his only significant cash falling out of the Order of Merit in 2020.

Glen Durrant (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Glen Durrant may have suffered the disappointment of a quarter-final loss to Price at the Alexandra Palace, but he may have the next laugh in 2020 as he enjoys another year of accumulating ranking money without having to defend any previous earnings.

If Durrant matches his 2019 earnings in 2020, he will break into the top ten one year from now.

Nathan Aspinall, who won a tour card in 2018, did not burst forth into fame and fortune until he reached his first World Championship semi-final last year; thus he will enjoy the luxury of defending only 7% of his earnings as he climbs further up the rankings. 

Other players with substantial ranking money to defend before the next World Championship are Steve West and Darren Webster.

West's tenuous hold on a top-32 ranking position is dependant on the defence of 51% of his current OoM total by the end of November.

Webster, who has fallen to 26th after a third round finish at the World Championship and could fall much further by July, with 32% of his two-year total at risk owing to a solid spring 2018 campaign on the ProTour.

James Wade and Daryl Gurney, winners of the European Championship and Players Championship Finals respectively in 2018, have most of the year to shore up their rankings position before they strive to defend their six-figure earnings and their places in the PDC's top ten.

Mensur Suljovic and Simon Whitlock, who earned more in 2018 than in 2019, will be on the verge of falling out of the top 16 (and thus not qualifying automatically for several televised tournaments) without at least several finals and semi-finals on the ProTour to replenish their income.

With Aspinall, Luke Humphries and Dimitri Van den Bergh all proving this past December that their previous World Championship exploits were not one-offs, the pressure is greater than ever on a number of veterans to maintain their regular presence on the PDC circuit.

Follow Christopher Kempf on Twitter @Ochepedia