Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld will both be high-profile absentees from next month’s European Championship in Hasselt, Belgium, having missed out on qualification via the European Tour Order of Merit.
The unique qualification criteria for the European Championship is determined purely by the prize money accrued by players across the ten European Tour events throughout the year; therefore world rankings have absolutely no relevance on a player’s ability to qualify.
Adrian Lewis competed in three of the opening four European Tour events of the year; The Dutch Darts Masters, the German Darts Masters and the European Darts Matchplay. Jackpot reached the quarter-finals in Holland, before suffering successive last 16 exits in the following two events.
The two-time world champion earned £7,500 from his three European Tour appearances, but since the European Matchplay in May, Lewis hasn’t competed in any of the remaining events. As a result, Lewis is no longer an automatic seed and must now qualify for any future European Tour events.
The two-time world champion currently sits in 36th position on the European Tour Order of Merit, but as he won’t be competing in the final event in Hildesheim, the former European Championship winner won’t be able to improve upon his ranking, and he’ll subsequently be absent in Hasselt.
Another big-name absentee will be five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, who came agonisingly close to qualifying following his tremendous run to the semi-finals of European Tour Nine in Sindelfingen.
Van Barneveld made his first European Tour appearance for almost a year this weekend, and needed to make the final in order to qualify for the European Championship, where he has reached the semi-finals on three separate occasions.
As Barney is not one of the top 16 European Tour seeds, he was forced to enter the qualifiers for ET9 and ET10, and whilst he sealed his place in Sindelfingen, he was beaten by Hungary’s Janos Vegso in the final stage of qualifying for Hildesheim.
Van Barneveld was unable to enter the qualifiers for the previous two European Tour events in Riesa and Muelheim due to illness, whilst some of the other qualification events took place whilst the Dutchman was competing in the Premier League earlier in the year.
The five-time world champion produced some top quality performances to defeat Scott Dale, Simon Whitlock, James Wilson and Benito van de Pas to reach the last four in Sindelfingen, where he faced Peter Wright. Victory would have guaranteed Barney European Championship qualification, but Wright prevailed 6-2.
As a consequence, the £5,000 accrued by the 49-year-old this weekend was insufficient to seal his place in Hasselt, leaving Van Barneveld in 48th position on the European Tour Order of Merit.
However, Lewis and RvB are not the only big-name absentees for next month’s tournament. Former world champion Steve Beaton won’t be present in Hasselt, after losing to eventual winner Michael van Gerwen in the last 16 at the Glaspalast Arena this weekend.
Beaton failed to qualify for European Tour 10 next month and therefore cannot improve upon his position of 43rd on the European Tour Order of Merit. Brendan Dolan, Kevin Painter and Vincent van der Voort are also currently outside of the top 32, although the trio can rectify matters as they’re all competing in Hildesheim.
Phil Taylor has qualified for the European Championship despite only competing in the solitary European Tour event this year. The 16-time world champion scooped the £25,000 winner’s cheque at the Austrian Darts Open in June, beating the likes of Kim Huybrechts, Stephen Bunting, Kyle Anderson and Michael Smith to clinch the title.
World champion Gary Anderson will also be present in Belgium next month, despite his sporadic participation on the European Tour in 2016. Anderson competed in the first four events of the year, reaching the last 32 once, the last 16 once, before recording two quarter-final appearances.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ currently sits 19th on the Order of Merit and could potentially face one of the top seeds in round-one. Michael van Gerwen will be the top seed in Hasselt, having amassed a staggering £160,000 on the European Tour this year. Mensur Suljovic is projected to be second seed, but incredibly trails the world number one by £103,000.
However, the big story is the reality of Lewis and Van Barneveld both missing out on a televised PDC major, which is both startling and disappointing. Lewis, currently in at world number three, whilst five-time world champion Van Barneveld arguably remains one of the most popular players on the circuit and is ranked just outside the world’s top 10.
It remains to be seen whether the absence of such high-profile stars will prompt a rethink from the PDC on the qualification criteria for the European Championship going forward. Nevertheless, darts fans and the PDC alike will be extremely disappointed to see stars such as Lewis and Van Barneveld missing out on a televised major tournament.