Stats Analysis: Players with highest Order of Merit % at risk in 2024

Danny Noppert (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Ahead of the first ranking events of 2024 in Wigan next week, PDC Stats Analyst Christopher Kempf outlines the players with the most ranking prize money to defend over the next 12 months...

Ranking money to defend in 2024

With £500,000 in his pocket as the reigning World Champion, Luke Humphries will now enjoy a comfortable 'honeymoon' period as world number one.

For a consequence of the enormity of that prize relative to all others in professional darts is that his position at least £350,000 clear of all other players on the Order of Merit will remain nearly unassailable until he defends that income at the end of 2025. 

If Humphries continues on the stunning trajectory of TV ranking triumphs that began with his World Grand Prix title last October, he could become the first player to reach £2,000,000 on the Order of Merit, a level once thought impossible to attain. 

However, even if his form becomes more tepid than torrid in 2024, Humphries has barely more than 20% of his current ranking income to defend in the current year.

If he was to not earn a penny from now until December, he would still have a stronger Order of Merit position than any other player at this moment.

Had Humphries failed to reach the World Championship final earlier this month, Michael van Gerwen would now be the world number one, even in the wake of a disappointing quarter-final loss to Scott Williams on New Year's Day. 

But the hypothetically re-crowned world number one would have had all his work ahead of him in 2024 - and still does as the world number two.

As the winner of the 2022 World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals, Van Gerwen will defend 52% of his Order of Merit income before returning to the Alexandra Palace stage in December, and another £200,000 at the 2025 World Championship. 

Without similar exploits in the year to come, Van Gerwen could potentially drop to his lowest Order of Merit position in more than a decade.

2024 could also be a perilous year for another Dutchman, Danny Noppert - the surprise 2022 UK Open champion and a World Matchplay semi-finalist that same year. 

Those and other winnings amount to 56% of his ranking money to be defended in the next 11 months, the highest percentage of any top 16 player, and if ranking income remains constant across all players, Noppert will drop out of the top 16 sometime this autumn. 

Shoring up his position in the near future will require him to play well above his current 20th best average and 66th best doubles percentage amongst PDC Tour Card Holders.

Luke Littler, of course, is defending £0 in his debut year as a Tour Card Holder, with almost limitless potential to soar into the top 16 and beyond this coming year. 

Apart from the 17-year-old, the player he defeated to become World Youth Champion in November, Gian van Veen, and other players with two-year Tour Cards, 2024 presents great opportunity for Gary Anderson and Ricardo Pietreczko in particular.

Anderson has burned off most of the ranking money which had kept him in the top 16 for more than a decade, but is playing like a top-10 juggernaut again as he defends only 19% of his Order of Merit income in 2024, while Pietreczko has less than £25,000 to be removed from his ledger. 

All other things being equal, Pietreczko is likely too far behind Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler to fight his way on to the German team in time for the World Cup, but is a clear favorite to become a third German top-32 player.

2024 could be the year that many veterans of the PDC circuit - long absent from winners' podiums - bid farewell to their Tour Cards.

Two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis will be left with just £22,500 at the end of the season unless he decides to re-enter ProTour events. 

Mensur Suljovic, an even more recent top ten player, faces a 2024 in which he must defend the majority of his ranking income and avoid another absence from the World Championship. 

Finally, Vincent van der Voort is in grave danger of disappearing from PDC events, and only above-average results in 2024 will enable him to retain his Tour Card. 

His good friend Van Gerwen, once a dynamic young prodigy, could find himself in 2025 as one of the last remaining players to have remained inside the top 64 for at least 15 consecutive years.