RISING star Chris Aubrey is excited by the prospect of the new PDC Challenge Tour, but is hoping he won’t be eligible to compete in it for very long.
Following the success of the Youth Tour since its inception in 2011 the event has been rebranded to include players aged 14-25, with an increased prize fund and 15 tournaments a year set to make the pathway through to senior darts easier.
Any young players in the top 64 of the PDC Order of Merit are not eligible to compete on the new Challenge Tour, and Aubrey is keen to follow in the footsteps of Arron Monk, Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith and make his mark in the senior game.
“The way they have done it is definitely interesting that’s for sure, because any player in the top 64 now can’t compete in the youth events,” he said.
“I’m expecting a lot more entries into the events now than there were before, and the competition is going to be really tough.
“But hopefully I won’t be in it all that long because I want to be getting into the top 64 myself, because there are a lot of rewards that go with that.
“It gives you a better chance of qualifying for things, and also if you can get in there it means you don’t have to go back to Q-School when your tour card is up.”
With the likes of Monk and van Gerwen no longer eligible to compete some of Aubrey’s toughest opponent have been removed from the equation, but the youngster insisted that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for him to win tournaments.
“A lot of people have said to me that is opens the way up for me, and although it does I don’t think it is necessarily for the best,” he said.
“There are a lot of good players outside the top 64 in the world but over the age of 21 who can come back down into this new tour, and they will give us all a lot of good competition.
“Obviously people like Michael van Gerwen, Arron Monk and James Hubbard, won’t be able to compete any more, but there are plenty of good players out there and it will mix it up a bit.”
Aubrey has stepped up preparations for the new PDC season which begins in February by practicing for three or four hours a day alongside brother Jack Tweddell, as well taking part in smaller tournaments around the country.
“It was hard around the Christmas and the yew year because you have commitments and need to spend time with the family, but since New Year’s Day I have been putting in the hours practicing and I want to do three or four hours a day,” he said.
“I didn’t always do that last year, but I am putting the hours in now.
“I won a tournament in Andover recently and then reached the semis of another at Cheddar the day after, and that is all good for the confidence leading into the new year.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started now.”