Three-time world champion John Part and former Premier League stars Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton head the list of entrants for next Monday’s PDPA World Championship qualifier at the Arena MK in Milton Keynes.
Part made 22 consecutive World Championship appearances in both the BDO and PDC systems from 1994-2015, but ‘Darth Maple’, now a regular fixture on Sky Sports’ coverage, is bidding to return to the Alexandra Palace in a playing capacity for the first time in three years.
The Canadian, who triumphed in the first ever World Championship held at the Ally Pally in 2008, regained his PDC tour-card at Q-School in January, but he’s only competed sporadically on the Pro Tour circuit this year. Nevertheless, he’ll be hoping to roll back the years in Milton Keynes.
Another high-profile name in danger of missing the cut is 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton. ‘The Hammer’ was beaten by his fellow Stoke star Adrian Lewis at the Alexandra Palace almost six years ago, but he’s endured a difficult few years which has seen him plummet to 63rd in the world.
Hamilton’s former Premier League colleague Wes Newton will also be vying to seal qualification on Monday afternoon. ‘The Warrior’ missed out on last year’s World Championship for the first time since 2005 and is currently ranked 70th on the Order of Merit, therefore failure to qualify could see him relinquish his PDC tour-card.
Welsh star Richie Burnett is another established star set to compete in next week’s qualification event. The 1995 Lakeside world champion has not featured at the Ally Pally since 2014, but he’ll be joined in Milton Keynes by former Lakeside semi-finalist Robbie Green, who is bidding to make his second PDC World Championship appearance.
Elsewhere, two other World Championship finalists set to be battling it out will be Kirk Shepherd and Mark Dudbridge. Shepherd hasn’t appeared at the Ally Pally since 2011, whilst 2005 finalist Mark Dudbridge is aiming to return to the World Championship stage after a four-year hiatus.
Former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson will also be aiming to come through qualification on Monday. ‘The Asset’ regained his tour-card in January and has qualified for this week’s Players Championships Finals, but he faces an ominous first-round assignment in Minehead against world number one Michael van Gerwen.
Former major finalists Mark Walsh, Wayne Jones and Barrie Bates will also be in attendance, along with former World-Youth champions Max Hopp, Arron Monk and James Hubbard. They will also be joined by 2007 World Championship finalist Andy Jenkins and former World Masters finalist Stuart Kellett.
Nine Dutch stars opted to skip the World Championship qualifier in the Netherlands in order to try their luck in Milton Keynes. The Dutch contingent includes Jimmy Hendriks, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Yordi Meeuwisse, Berry van Peer, Ron Meulenkamp, Dick van Dijk, Jeffrey de Graaf and Vincent Kamphuis.
World-Youth finalist Josh Payne is also on the provisional list of entries. The 23-year-old will take on Belgian hotshot Dimitri van den Bergh in the World-Youth Championship final in Minehead on Sunday evening, and victory would confirm his spot at the Ally Pally, but if Van den Bergh triumphs, Payne will be forced to enter Monday’s event.
Kevin Painter is another high-profile star who has entered next week’s qualifier. ‘The Artist’, who lost out to Phil Taylor in a thrilling last-set decider in the 2004 world final, currently occupies the final qualification spot on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, but may have to compete in Milton Keynes depending on events in Minehead this weekend.
Nevertheless, there will be a big-name absentees in Milton Keynes. Nine-time major finalist Terry Jenkins has opted not to enter the qualifier, therefore we could have seen the last of ‘The Raging Bull’ on the big stage, as he will fall outside the world’s top 32 ahead of this year’s competition. The full list of entrants can be viewed below!
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
de Graaf, Jeffrey
de Zwaan, Jeffrey
Nagi, Coni Singh
Rodriguez, Roxy James
Rodriguez, Rusty Jake
Scheffer , Warrick
Tabern Jnr, Alan
Tabern Snr, Alan
van Dijk, Dick
van Duijvenbode, Dirk
van Peer, Berry