Paul Nicholson: Examining the rise of Martin Schindler

Martin Schindler (Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe)

From steward on the European Tour to European Tour champion. Sounds like a fantasy, but in modern day darts, it’s the place where dreams can actually come true. 
A lot of people in the modern era think that darts players are born good and hit immediate success in lots of different ways. For some it doesn’t work that way. 

Some people have to work extra hard to create their own destiny. Just look at Peter Wright. He was a good player in the 90s, but in order to be the champion he craved to be, he had to work hard for another 25 years. 

Maybe that is the lesson that a lot of current PDC professionals are living by if they see themselves falling short of their potential. Patience, hard work, good choices and determination can genuinely take you a long way. 

As for Martin, cast your mind back to his European Tour debut in 2014. He lost 6-3 to Raymond van Barneveld averaging 82.41. 

Not exactly a disastrous debut, but when you think that he had to wait until more than two-years later for his first win after a further three losses, you start to recognise the kind of attitude that Martin has grown into. 

There was a school of thought back then that people like Schindler might perform better outside of Germany as there would be less pressure to perform. This, in a time when no German player had grasped a PDC title of any sort. 

He made the quarter-finals of an event for the first time in June of 2017 in Austria. Thus proving what we thought was true. 

We stuck by that notion for a while, but when Max Hopp won in Saarbrucken in 2018 at the German Darts Open, we had to think differently because home advantage was about to take the German players by the throat. 

When Max, Martin, Gabriel Clemens, Ricardo Pietreczko and others graced the stage thereon, it was like a force of nature and the players had to use that to their advantage. Over time, Martin and the others have used it expertly. 

After Ricardo Pietreczko won the German Darts Championship in 2023, people started to wonder why the top two players in Deutschland weren’t winning PDC titles and if this was going to become some sort of curse.

Yet all the while, Schindler was sticking to his process of hard work, patience and good choices. 

Martin Schindler
Schindler was overcome by emotion following his victory in Riesa

Becoming a father in 2022 may have been the turning point. Since then, he has become a much more vibrant and reliable commodity. 

He has gradually exposed his talents to more and more stressful situations and thrived in a drip feeding manner that has had us darts enthusiasts intrigued and wanting more. 

There were clues along the way. Getting through Q-School in 2017 was the first one. He didn’t want to just be a home nation qualifier who sometimes revelled in German support in places like Düsseldorf or Hildesheim. He wanted more. 

Then, when that Tour Card was lost, he went to retrieve it and didn’t just take it, he forced the world to take him seriously. 

The highlight of that in 2021 was when he had a 123.50 average in a best of 11-leg game, and then we all knew what he was capable of. From that moment on, people have expected more and he's delivered more.

Alongside all of the individual ups and downs, he was a pillar of the German World Cup team, which looked a million euros with him in it. 

His chemistry with Hopp was sulphuric acid strong, and now with Clemens, he still has a tower of talent next to him, but they still haven’t lifted that trophy, even though they are always on home soil these days. 

It was for that reason that people again wondered if he had what it took to lift titles. 

He came close to becoming a World Youth Champion, but was denied by the imperious Dimitri van den Bergh. It seemed at this time that he would be continually eclipsed by the previously mentioned Max Hopp who won that title in 2015. 

Would Martin ever taste success or even be referred to as Germany's best player?

Without rankings proof, people have accused Martin of being just that for sporadic periods over the last few years.

However, when Gabriel Clemens made the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace a little over a year ago, it was Germany that embraced Gabe and Martin was again on the back foot. 

Martin Schindler & Paul Nicholson
Nicholson and Schindler won through Q-School on the same day back in 2017

All this time, have you heard the wee man from Germany gush, splutter, curse or complain? Nein. He again stuck to hard work, patience and good choices. 

Here in 2024, we see further improved focus, fruits of the labour with his close friend Ioannis Selachoglou. 

It is this team that has seen him improve incrementally and turn into a dynamic, dangerous player who is increasingly hard to beat. And, as it turns out, unbeatable in Riesa in April of this year. 

Who would have thought it? The guy who pretty much owns Riesa, the guy that set his personal best average against Schindler in the World Cup in 2022 and the guy who hadn’t lost a Euro Tour final for six years would fall victim to the man who is known as The Wall. 

Stack the bricks against him, tell him he cannot do something and he will just smile at you and then he will walk away and figure it out. 

Maybe it was written in the stars that the International Darts Open would happen this way, but I don’t think so. 

This is the result of years of hard work, improved focus, patience and excellent choices. 

Martin Schindler IS Germany's number one player in everyone’s eyes and the rankings now, so we wonder if he can take further steps.

How will he fare as he becomes the steward of one of the biggest darting nations outside of the UK? 

Now he has a taste for success, I am sure it is easy to say there is more to come, but his journey tells us more than that. He will have to work hard to get more, but he has every physical and mental tool to succeed, and who wouldn’t want him to?