The 2018 PDC Qualifying Schools came to a dramatic close in Wigan and Hildesheim on Sunday afternoon, after a gruelling four days of qualification. Nevertheless, whilst there was joy for many players, there were also a host of high-profile names who failed to secure coveted PDC Tour Cards.
Simultaneous events were held in the UK and Germany this year to reflect the ongoing growth of the sport, with 33 tour cards on offer to a combined field of over 600 players. There were 23 cards available to those competing at the UK Q-School in Wigan, with a further ten cards awarded to those who triumphed at the inaugural European Q-School.
Over the four days of UK Qualifying School, Corey Cadby, Eddie Dootson, Alan Tabern, Robert Owen, Arron Monk, George Killington, Dawson Murschell and Bradley Brooks were the eight players to claim automatic tour cards.
Meanwhile, Nathan Aspinall, Ross Smith, Terry Temple, Ryan Harrington, Simon Stevenson, Gary Eastwood, John Goldie, Matthew Edgar, Ryan Meikle, Ryan Joyce, Kevin Burness, Tony Newell, Luke Woodhouse, Peter Hudson and Mark Wilson all confirmed their spots on the professional circuit via the Q-School Order of Merit.
Jeffrey de Zwaan, Mario Robbe, Tytus Kanik and Gabriel Clemens all won their tour cards outright at European Q-School, whilst 2017 Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert topped the European Q-School Order of Merit, ahead of Robert Marijanovic, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Vincent Kamphuis, Jose Antonio Justicia Perales and Davy van Baelen.
However, there were a host of established stars who failed to make the cut and therefore will not be featuring on the Pro Tour circuit in 2018. Former world number one Colin Lloyd- a two-time PDC major winner, failed to register a single point over the four days, as his return from a two-year hiatus ended in disappointment.
Ex Premier League ace Wes Newton also failed to regain his tour card. ‘The Warrior’, who competed in the Premier League back in 2013 and 2014 and was ranked as high as 5th in the world, was forced to enter Q-School after slipping to 101st on the PDC Order of Merit, but he’ll be absent from the professional PDC circuit for the first time since 2011.
There was also a sizeable contingent of BDO switchers who missed out on PDC Tour Cards. Danny Noppert claimed his card via the European Q-School Order of Merit, but Jamie Hughes, seeded third at the recent Lakeside World Championship, amassed five points over the four days and finished 76th on the final Order of Merit.
Former Lakeside finalists Tony O’Shea and Jeff Smith also missed the cut. Smith registered four points across the campaign, whilst O’Shea also suffered disappointment, having missed out on qualification for the recent Lakeside World Championship for the first time in 16 years.
O’Shea’s fellow Stockport ace Darryl Fitton also missed out, although ‘The Dazzler’ did not compete in the final two days of action. Fitton is due to undergo a hip operation this year and reports suggest he is happy to compete on the Challenge Tour, as he would be unable to travel to BDO events across Europe.
Cameron Menzies came close to securing a coveted spot on the Pro Tour circuit. The Scot claimed seven points from the opening three days, but suffered an early exit on the final day of action, although the Scottish Open winner will be confident of enjoying a good year on the Challenge Tour circuit.
One of the biggest surprises saw World Masters winner Krzysztof Ratajski narrowly miss out at European Q-School. ‘The Polish Eagle’ impressed on the European Tour circuit in 2017 and triumphed at the World Masters, before competing in the PDC World Championship at the Alexandra Palace.
Brazilian ace Diogo Portela agonisingly missed out by a solitary point in Hildesheim. Portela reached the semi-finals of Sunday’s final event, where he lost out to Vincent Kamphuis in a straight shootout for a tour card. Berry van Peer, who endured a high-profile battle with dartitis at last year’s Grand Slam, also failed to make the cut.
Former Lakeside and World Masters finalist Dean Winstanley was unable to reclaim his place on the PDC circuit after a 12-month absence, but Winstanley was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the final day of action due to family reasons.
Talented Shropshire star David Pallett missed out by just two points, whilst former UK Open finalists Colin Osborne and Barrie Bates were also denied returns to the full-time circuit.
The plethora of established stars to miss out this year underlines the incredible strength in depth throughout the PDC and with the conveyor belt of young talent coming through at a rate of knots, it appears we are witnessing a changing of the guard.
Photo Credit: Getty
UK Qualifying School Tour Card Winners
Day One: Corey Cadby & Eddie Dootson
Day Two: Robert Owen & Alan Tabern
Day Three: Arron Monk & George Killington
Day Four: Dawson Murschell & Bradley Brooks
UK Qualifying School Order of Merit Tour Card Winners
European Qualifying School Tour Card Winners
Day One: Jeffrey de Zwaan
Day Two: Mario Robbe
Day Three: Tytus Kanik
Day Four: Gabriel Clemens
European Qualifying School Order of Merit Tour Card Winners
Dirk van Duijvenbode
Davy van Baelen