Gabriel Clemens is the first German professional darts player to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. This is not only a sporting success, but also brings a warm shower of money. As a darts professional, financial survival is otherwise difficult.
Gabriel Clemens’ victory against the top seeded Gerwyn Price in the quarterfinals of the Darts World Championship illustrates the two dimensions of darts. Because the victory of the German is not only a great sporting success, but also financially. The Saarlander already has 100,000 British pounds, currently the equivalent of around 111,000 euros. For him, this is not only a bonus, but also the certainty that he can continue his career as a professional player, because the opportunities for earning money in darts are low.
The Professional Darts Corporation pays out around 17 million euros in prize money every year. Price, who was defeated yesterday, has picked up the largest chunk of it in the past two years. He leads the “Order of Merit” with earnings of around 1.3 million euros. The darts world ranking is sorted by the prize money of the past two years. Second place goes to Scottish world champion Peter Wright with 1.27 million euros. Behind it, the sums quickly become smaller. Before the World Cup, Clemens was in 25th place with around 245,000 euros.
“I would say that the top 60 can make a living without scratching the subsistence level,” says Max Hopp. The German professional is currently in 75th place with earnings of 51,000 euros. For players in his region, he tells ran.de, financial survival is getting tough. You can no longer live off the prize money alone, but sponsorship deals that can bring in a million euros a year for top players like Price and Wright are also rare if you don’t belong to the absolute top.
There are also high costs, because the players have to pay for travel and accommodation at the World Series of Darts, which is held worldwide. Anyone who wants to do everything they can to increase their chances of winning prize money is on the move 208 days a year. “Not everyone has sponsors who can cover these costs,” says Hopp. A lot of travel may be necessary, however, because prize money is not guaranteed. Some tournaments are only played with 16 players, others like the UK Open only give money if you reach at least the third round. Even then, there are only around 1100 euros – in the worst case, that’s enough to pay for the trip.
Under these circumstances, the 110,000 euros that Clemens now has as a result of his semi-final entry are above all the certainty that he can continue playing as a professional for at least a few years and does not have to return to his trained job as an industrial mechanic. He gave that up in 2019 in favor of his darts career. So far it has been worth it. Of the 245,000 euros he earned in prize money in 2020 and 2021, travel expenses and of course taxes have to be deducted, but in the end there is still a net income that at least enables a comfortable lifestyle. Clemens also has some sponsors, although it is unknown how much money he earns from this.
A good performance at the world championship also has a snowball effect for Clemens. Because it also moves him up the Order of Merit, his chances of being invited to lucrative invitational tournaments increase. In addition, he can skip the first rounds in some high-paying tournaments, which increases his chances of further and higher prize money. Last but not least, its notoriety is increasing. On the one hand, this affects its advertising effectiveness for sponsors, but on the other hand it also affects private additional income. Companies like to invite top players to events, for example to play against employees. There are already up to 10,000 euros for a single evening.
An advantage of darts: Unlike more physically demanding sports, darts players can be active for longer. Clemens himself, for example, is already 39 years old, which would be biblical in sports such as football, basketball or athletics. Peter Wright, second in the world rankings, is about 52 years old, Jonny Clayton in seventh place is 48 years old. And the legendary Phil Taylor, who won 16 world titles, retired in 2018 at the age of 58.
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