Florian Hempel and Jake Jones were the latest two players secure Tour Cards as Final Stage of the 2021 PDC Qualifying School continued on Tuesday afternoon.
German star Hempel stormed through the European event in Niedernhausen courtesy of six successive 6-2 victories, while Jones became the latest Stoke-on-Trent arrowsmith to claim a place on the PDC circuit after prevailing on day three in Milton Keynes.
Hempel, who has previously played handball in Germany’s second division, joined Geert de Vos and Geert Nentjes in coming through the European Qualifying School with a series of dominant displays, which saw him boast a tournament average in excess of 94.
The 30-year-old claimed the scalps of former Tour Card holders Niels Zonneveld, Martin Schindler and John Michael by emphatic 6-2 scorelines, wrapping up victory over Michael in the semi-finals with a sublime 10-darter and a 101 average.
This set up a showdown against emerging Dutchman Luc Peters, who put himself firmly in contention for a Tour Card via the European Order of Merit with six wins on Tuesday afternoon, including a 6-4 success against former top-16 star Benito van de Pas.
However, Hempel stormed into a commanding 4-0 lead in Tuesday’s showpiece, and although the Dutchman reeled off back-to-back legs to threaten the fightback, the former European Tour participant sealed the deal in style, wrapping up proceedings with a magnificent 148 checkout.
“I am so happy!” said Hempel. “I did not expect to be able to win one of the four days and get a direct Tour Card, but the that makes it even better now.
“After my match against Lukas Wenig I started to think that there might be something special to come today. After that I always felt like I was in control of my matches and was that decisive bit better than my opponents.”
In the UK Qualifying School, Stoke-on-Trent scaffolder Jones ensured he will compete on the Pro Tour circuit for the very first time with a series of nerveless performances at the Marshall Arena.
The former Development Tour event finalist recorded deciding-leg victories over the trio of Eddie Lovely, John O’Shea and John Brown, while also overcoming two-time PDC major winner Robert Thornton with a whitewash victory in the last 16.
Jones locked horns with Australia’s Gordon Mathers in a topsy-turvy final, which saw Mathers recover from 3-0 down by reeling off four consecutive legs without reply. However, the Englishman rallied and converted a clinical 72 kill on tops in the decider to fulfil his darting dreams.
“It puts all the practice and all the hard work into perspective really,” said Jones. “It’s a dream come true, I can’t really put it into words. All I thought before coming here was to qualify for the last four days and then it just takes one good day.
“Yesterday was probably a better day than today, I’ve won four games 6-5 and it’s a rollercoaster to be honest. It’s quite remarkable for myself. When I was younger, a lot of people said it was quite promising how I was playing, and I was England number one for three years when I was 14-17.
“It really is nice to come through, I’ve put a lot of effort into this tournament. I love my job but I feel like it’s time now to play darts like I can, and we’ll see in the coming years how we do.”
This year’s Qualifying Schools will draw to a close on Wednesday, with the winners on day four at both the UK and European events securing an automatic Tour card. Elsewhere, a further 13 players in the UK and eight in Europe will claim a place on the circuit via the respective Order of Merits.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld still has work to do in Niedernhausen after suffering a last-leg defeat to Switzerland’s Stefan Bellmont in the opening round, which leaves him sat in fourth position behind Schindler, Zoran Lerchbacher and Boris Koltsov.
Jack Main, Martin Lukeman and Lewis Williams are assured of Tour Cards via the UK Order of Merit, but there are still ten places up for grabs, with Thornton just outside the provisional qualification spots, and Fallon Sherrock, Kevin Painter and Danny Baggish yet to register a point.
Image Credit: PDC Europe
European Qualifying School Final Stage Day Three
Florian Hempel 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Martin Schindler 6-5 Michael Rasztovits
John Michael 6-2 Arsen Ballaj
Rene Eidams 6-4 Jose Justicia
Luc Peters 6-1 Sebastian Bialecki
Benito van de Pas 6-2 Jens Ziegler
Vincent van der Meer 6-4 Boris Koltsov
Kevin Doets 6-2 Jeroen Mioch
Florian Hempel 6-2 Martin Schindler
John Michael 6-1 Rene Eidams
Luc Peters 6-4 Benito van de Pas
Kevin Doets 6-2 Vincent van der Meer
Florian Hempel 6-2 John Michael
Luc Peters 6-4 Kevin Doets
Florian Hempel 6-2 Luc Peters
UK Qualifying School Final Stage Day Three
Jim McEwan 6-0 Jose Marques
Gordon Mathers 6-3 Reece Colley
Jason Hogg 6-0 Andy Jenkins
Lewis Williams 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Jake Jones 6-0 Robert Thornton
John Brown 6-3 Joe Murnan
Jack Main 6-4 Derek Coulson
Martin Thomas 6-5 Martin Lukeman
Gordon Mathers 6-4 Jim McEwan
Lewis Williams 6-2 Jason Hogg
Jake Jones 6-5 John Brown
Martin Thomas 6-4 Jack Main
Gordon Mathers 6-5 Lewis Williams
Jake Jones 6-4 Martin Thomas
Jake Jones 6-5 Gordon Mathers