The list of high-profile stars departing the BDO in order to compete at this week’s PDC Qualifying School continues, with Jamie Hughes and Darryl Fitton joining the likes of Danny Noppert, Jeff Smith and Tony O’Shea in switching allegiances.
In a change from 2017, the PDC are now staging two separate Qualifying Schools, a UK Qualifying School in Wigan and a European Qualifying School in Hildesheim, Germany – both taking place from 18th-21st January, as over 500 players will bid to secure coveted PDC tour cards.
In addition to this, the PDC have removed entry fees for Players Championship events, UK Open Qualifiers and European Tour events, which is another huge incentive for BDO players who are making the switch.
Glen Durrant, who retained his Lakeside world title last night, confirmed earlier in the week that he would remain a ‘BDO player for life’, but current number three Jamie Hughes becomes the highest ranked BDO player to switch this year. The Tipton ace announced his decision to compete at Q-School on his official Facebook page.
The 31-year-old said: “I have entered Q-School this year. I want to go on record and thank everyone associated with the BDO for their help in the last 5 years and wish them all the best for the future. It is a decision I made with a heavy heart as I’ve met and am best friends with a lot of the people.
“The proudest moment of my life was in Turkey with Glen Durrant, Mark McGeeney and the captain Scott Mitchell when we won 2 gold medals at the World Cup; thanks for being amazing team mates.
“Out of my top 5 moments, 4 are probably with an England shirt on so thank you to all the England Darts officials for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dreams and the players who I have had the pleasure of being named alongside.”
Hughes will also be joined at Q-School by the veteran Stockport duo of Darryl Fitton and Tony O’Shea. O’Shea- a three-time Lakeside runner-up, has competed on the BDO circuit for 22 years, but confirmed his switch last week having failed to qualify for the Lakeside World Championship for the first time since 2001.
‘The Silverback’ will be joined in Wigan by his close-friend Darryl Fitton, who was beaten in the second-round of last week’s tournament by eventual winner Glen Durrant. ‘The Dazzler’ has been part of the BDO furniture since 2002 – winning the Finder Darts Masters in 2009, the World Trophy in 2016 and reaching two World Championship semi-finals.
In an official statement, Fitton claimed: “After 17 years playing the BDO, including 16 World Championship appearances, I have decided to stop playing BDO! One of the reasons is to cut down on the travelling. Who knows ,I may try one more time after this year is over.
“I’m going to try the PDC Q School. I’m looking at the Challenge Tour & UK and European Tour Qualifiers as I have to have up to three months out after my hip replacement. This should cut the traveling down and help me get back to full strength!”
Hughes, Fitton & O’Shea will also be joined by recent Lakeside finalists Danny Noppert and Jeff Smith, who confirmed their departures earlier last week. Lakeside veteran Martin Atkins is another established name poised to switch allegiances in 2018.
Cameron Menzies, who appeared in the Grand Slam of Darts last November, is also rumoured to be attending Q-School. The enigmatic Scot made his Lakeside debut as eighth seed last week, but was reduced to tears after being beaten in the opening-round by Conan Whitehead.
Entries for the 2018 PDC Qualifying Schools close at 2pm on Tuesday January 16th, with over 500 players having confirmed their entries across the two venues. Will there be any further movement in the coming hours?