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Over the years there have been hundreds of darts players to switch from the BDO to the PDC system, with a minority entering themselves directly into the premiere darting arena through the challenge tour. Today we going to look at those players that enjoyed successful debut years in the PDC. Whether it was a sensational run in major events of consistency on the ProTour.

It was a little difficult to define debut year with players competing in the UK Open and Grand Slam of Darts, so for the purpose of this list, it’s a players first full year on the tour. So without further ado, here are seven of the best to enjoy successful debut years in the PDC.

Our first entry on the list is old favourite Wayne Mardle. Often cited as the great contributor, or simply for that fantastic interview on Dutch TV, Mardle enjoyed an excellent debut year in the PDC.

He reached the last 16 of the World Grand Prix and World Championships, but his biggest success came in Blackpool. ‘Hawaii 501’ reached the final of the 2003 tournament at the Winter Gardens, defeating the likes of Alan Warriner, John Part and Colin Lloyd on route to the final where he would meet old adversary Phil Taylor.

Holding a 97 average in that match, Mardle scored heavier that The Power, but couldn’t convert his chances. Taylor had beaten Mardle at the World Championship six months previous, and repeated the feat winning 18-12 in front of a packed crowd. These days Mardle is a coach and commentator for Sky Sports, and has remained a firm favourite with the fans.


Whilst Manley did play the World Matchplay in 1996 and 1997, his first full year with the PDC came in 1998. The calendar was established by then, and the somewhat controversial Manley, made sure he was to make his mark.

He reached the quarter-final of the World Championships on debut, losing out to eventual finalist Dennis Priestley. ‘One Dart’ would also reach the last eight stage of the World Matchplay, but he best run would come at Ireland’s World Grand Prix.

The debutant would reach the semi-final stage having defeated Keith Deller and the aforementioned Priestley as he set up a tie with Rod Harrington. ‘The Prince of Style’ would pip Manley at the post as he ran out winner 11-8 in the semi, but would eventually lose the final to Phil Taylor


One name that may come as a surprise to you all is the inclusion of Stephen Bunting. After winning the 2014 Lakeside World Championship, Bunting made the switch to the PDC. The expectation was high and the Merseyside star would fulfil, with some sensational performances.

Quarter-final runs at the Grand Slam of Darts and European Championship were preceded by a semi-final appearance at the World Grand Prix, losing out to Michael van Gerwen. ‘The Bullet’ would also reach a World Championship quarter-final on debut, being reduced to tears as he was highly praised by opponent Raymond van Barneveld in the Dutchman’s post-match interview.

Overall, Bunting’s year may not have had a stand-out moment, was a glimmering display of consistency was something that many lacked. Let’s hope Bunting can get back to his brilliant best sometime soon.

While the Aussie had been competing in his home nation for years, and venturing over to the UK for BDO tournaments during the early years of his career, 2010 was the year Simon Whitlock joined the PDC full time.

In his first tournament as a full time professional, Whitlock would make the World Championship final, the Wizard averaged 105 in beating James Wade before winning a tight encounter with Raymond van Barneveld. Ultimately he would lose the final to Phil Taylor, but this would be just the beginning for Whitlock.

After his tremendous World Championship run, he was selected as a Premier League wildcard, finishing second and reaching the play-offs as the tournament reached it’s climax. There would also be World Matchplay and Championship League semi-finals and what was a magical debut season for ‘The Wiz’.

It was a little difficult to categorize Dennis Priestley with his debut being the year following the split. The only tournaments on the calendar at the time was the World Matchplay and World Championships, but how could we ignore the inaugural winner of that famous event.

Following two World Championship victories in the BDO system, Priestley would blitz the opposition to be crowned the first ever WDC World Champion, defeating Phil Taylor 6-1 in the final.

Aside from his big victory, Dennis the Menace would reach the final of the World Matchplay, losing out to America’s Larry Butler in the final. While the calendar was not developed at the time, the dominance in these two tournaments are enough to see Priestley come in at number two, there’s no telling how he would’ve got on in today’s frantic natured calendar, with tournaments practically every weekend.


Coming in just short of number one is 2018 World Champion, Rob Cross. In 2016 Cross competed at the UK Open as a Riley’s amateur qualifier, just under two years later he was champion of the world. Possibly the quickest rise to prominence in darts, but not the best PDC debut season.

The former electrician annihilated idol Phil Taylor in the final, and won a Ally Pally classic in his semi-final meeting with Michael van Gerwen, stunning the world as he won the World Championships in his debut year.

Aside from that astounding victory, Cross reached the semi’s at Minehead’s PC finals and lost out to MvG in the final of the European Championship, but all would be forgotten as he produced one of the most memorable runs in the premiere event to secure World glory, but not quite enough to place number one in our list.

The doyenne of darts, a world champion, and will go down as one of the great of game, in our opinion had the best debut season in PDC history.

In his debut season van Barneveld won not one but two major PDC events, the UK Open and the coveted PDC World Championship, adding to his four world titles from his BDO days. In what would arguably be the greatest final of all time Barney was pushed into a deciding set and then sudden death leg by Phil Taylor with both players averaging over the 100 mark.

Van Barneveld would of course capture the gold and go on to have a wonderful career in the PDC. The groundwork was laid by a UK Open triumph and a final in Las Vegas, but all spotlight belongs to that World Championship final. Outlining the greatest debut year in PDC history.

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