Simon Whitlock became the latest player to hit an online nine-darter on his way to winning a ‘remote’ knockout tournament featuring other top namesthis weekend.
Former World Championship semi-finalist Whitlock took out his nine-dart finish during a second-round encounter with the in-form Jake Jones. The Australian’s nine-darter and the later final (vs Dobey) were not streamed online due to regulations that come alongside owning a tour card.
Simon had a disappointing time in the newly instituted PDC Home Tour but has acquitted himself well, in remote darts events, since.
‘The Wizard’ came through a field of 128 players in the tournament including Michael Smith and Chris Dobey last Saturday afternoon defeating Chris ‘Hollywood’ Dobey in the final. The event was put together by Australian Danny Kilbane, Dobey had conquered Michael Smith and the dangerous Andy Boulton en route to the final.
Meanwhile, the ‘Aussie Wizard’ removed Joe Murnan, William Borland before clinching victory over Dobey During his earlier encounter, with Englishman Jones, Whitlock hit six 180s in ten legs with two of those coming back-to-back in the final leg, Simon then completed the regulation 141 check-out to become the third big-name player to his a nine-dart finish during the lockdown months.
Unfortunately, neither Whitlock’s nine-darter nor his final against Dobey were allowed to be streamed online due to regulations that come alongside owning a tour card.
In May, Darts World launched its special ‘Lockdown Archive’ also known as ‘Darts World Freemium‘. The archive was set up to help entertain darts fans during these tough times.
Back in April 2018 Gary Anderson featured on our cover. Gary and Michael Smith also gave an interview for the magazine, John Gwynne offered his thoughts on ‘darting around’ Australia and Rob Cross’s (Target) darts were reviewed.
With Gary reaching the final of the PDC Home Tour last night we thought fans might enjoy a look back at his previous success. There are more than 50 issues available, free of charge, by simply clicking here.
Whatever your darting interest, there’ll be something for you!
With a recent change in ownership, Darts World is embarking on a new era in its history and exciting times lie ahead, including some innovative developments that are coming this summer. Make sure you keep up to date at dartsworld.com
In the meantime, enjoy our gift of free content to you by clicking here and signing up: FREEMIUM
The PDC’s model for the growth and professionalisation of elite darts has proven a huge success. Barry Hearn’s major events dominate the global market, the Pro Tour is the gold standard for the professional game and their tier structure is getting better and better every year. But are the UK’s up and coming players getting a raw deal?
For a long time it was obvious, to anyone being honest with themselves, that UK based players had every advantage. Nearly every event here, whether qualifying, tour or TV. We have an ingrained darting culture, strong leagues and a healthy ‘open’ event scene to match.
However, during the past decade, the balance has tipped toward other nationalities, especially those from mainland Europe. This is totally justified and inevitable as the game grows and new markets assert themselves. Yet, it seems it may now be moving to far away from the players of the ‘mother nation’.
The development of region specific tours in Scandinavia and Asia has led to ‘hybrid darters’ being able to zig-zag the globe with the insurance that they can earn ‘bread and butter’ money from their home tour. The best current example of the is Darius Labanauskas. ‘Lucky D’ has progressed on the Pro Tour while retaining a venue (Nordic Tour) where he can maintain the habits of playing long competition days, earning money and most importantly winning!
Johan Engstrom could well be an example of how this can be utilised at the secondary levels. Johnny is a fine player, reaching the later stages of the Winmau World Masters in 2015, and is capable of rising through the PDC ranks. He has the advantage of playing the affiliate tour in his region, the challenge tour and may well have multiple qualifying options for European Tour events. Johan will also be able to select WDF events and plough a second path to major titles and TV events. This has often been easier for European players than UK based PDPA members or associates.
The same may soon be said for the Asian Tour players. Although, due to the travelling etc., it is still a very difficult combination for to attempt.
Looking at, the rapidly expanding field for, Q School events, now being repeated at Challenge Tour level, tells us something. Is there a case for a re-division of the Tour? If so perhaps something like this might work:
Challenge Tour (Events in Multiple Region/Nations)
Regional/National Tours (UK & RoI, Scandi, Asian, Euro, North America & more)
Women’s Tour? (Not my choice, but an option if linked to the others)
Development Tour (under 21)
A number of Tour Cards could then be allocated to the tours on the basis of standard and participation.
Q Schools would then be available to those who had played the affiliated tours (minimum events) and/or reached a specific std.
This is far from a complete structure, or system, but offers a possible solution to some of the issues currently being discussed within the darts community.
WDF – NEW RANKING SYSTEM AND TWO NEW MAJORS FOR 2020
DW Comment – As rumoured it appears that the WDF are attempting to step into the vacuum created by the BDO’s recent calamities. It would however be a positive in the medium to long term. With the more grass-roots / amateur game coming under one umbrella whilst each member nation looks after its own affairs.
The World Darts Federation is delighted to announce our intentions for the 2020 season and a brand new world ranking structure.
The WDF are fully committed to establishing two new major tournaments within the next 12 months.
The first will be a ‘World Masters’ style multi-board event for men, women and youth that will provide the opportunity for players from all member countries to compete, including the winners of every WDF sanctioned event in the calendar year.
We will also be launching an end of season finale in the traditional format of a staged ‘World Championship’ type event, where the top men, women and youth players within our global system have the opportunity to become WDF champions.
The WDF ranking system now includes over 100 events from almost 50 countries in 2020 and is explained in detail below. These include a number of “Gold” events, which will see their champions promoted directly into our new major competitions.
We will also look forward to announcing news of additional staged international events under the WDF banner in the near future.
Further details on the dates, location, prize fund and the full qualification criteria for our new major tournaments will be released as soon as it is available.
Our WDF youth system is also a priority. It will be fully reviewed in the coming weeks and further details of qualification for the majors will be announced.
We would like to emphasise that 2020 will be a transitional year for the World Darts Federation and that no tournament restrictions will be made regarding seeding, format or prize money. A clear structure and definitive rules with regards to the 2021 WDF calendar and the world ranking system, tournament seeding, playing format and prize structure will be issued in due course.
WDF world rankings criteria for 2020
Our ranking structure has been modified with new categories of Gold, Silver and Bronze. Men’s and Women’s events are given the same grading for each event.
Gold events are worth double Silver, which in turn are worth double Bronze.
An additional ‘Platinum’ category has been added for our new major events. As the largest darts tournament in the world in terms of player participation, the Dutch Open has also been awarded ‘Platinum’ points.
The WDF main ranking tables will continue as annual rolling tables and the new points system will be implemented for events in 2020 during this transitional year. The best 10 results (highest points value) per player will count towards their overall ranking and this will be effective on the rolling table immediately.
Tournament grading for 2020 has been transferred from the previous WDF ranking system, based on entries in 2019. All European events previously graded as ‘Major’ or ‘1’ have now been given ‘Silver’ status, with events previously graded as ‘2’ or 3’ given ‘Bronze’. Events outside of Europe are graded by the WDF in cooperation with the respective national governing bodies.
With the valued support of a number of our leading WDF nations, the following events have been upgraded to ‘Gold’ status. They will see their men’s and ladies champions qualify directly into our WDF Championship at the end of the season.
DUTCH OPEN (Platinum Points)
PACIFIC MASTERS (Australia)
CANADA (event TBC)
Gold tournaments will also award places for the top 4 into our ‘Masters’ event. Finalists of Silver and the winners of Bronze events also automatically qualify.
WDF Regional Rankings Tables
Every WDF ranking event in 2020 will also be included in our new regional tables created for both men and women across the world. The best 8 results (highest points value) obtained by a player within the region of their nation will count towards their regional ranking.
(Gold events will be awarded Silver points on the regional tables only).
(England, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)
The 2020 Unicorn Challenge Tour (3) is underway with Nathan Rafferty and Mathew Dennant already through to the later stages. James Richardson showed his true ability with a resounding 5-1 victory over Chas Barstow. ‘Ruthless’ completed his five legs in just 67 darts including a superb 10-dart leg.
Dennant is on a fine run, reaching the semi finals at the time of writing. Rafferty, who seems to be returning to some of his best form, is also currently at the semi final stage. James Hubbard is also looking to get back into contention. The former World Youth Champion also reached the semi’s defeating Boris Koltzov.
Gordon Mathers makes up the final four after a strong run, including defeating Richardson and yesterday winner Rob Collins.
A third different winner, from three events, is assured with neither of yesterdays victors getting past the last 64.
Update- Mathew Dennant claimed the event with a 5-4 win over Nathan in the final.
Lisa Ashton made history by becoming the first woman to win a PDC Tour Card through Qualifying School on Sunday in Wigan.
Four-time BDO Women’s Champion Ashton will compete on the PDC ProTour in 2020 and 2021 after holding on to the final qualification place on the Q School Order of Merit on a landmark day for the sport.
Ashton, who starred in the 2018/19 World Championship, had to endure a nervous wait after going down 5-2 to Justin Smith in her second game of the day resulting in no points being added to her Order of Merit tally.
However, results over the course of the day meant that Ashton’s nine points, the bulk of which were won in her run to the last eight on Day Two, were enough to secure her place on the PDC professional circuit for the first time.
Ashton was one of six players tied on nine points, but she and Darren Penhall held the advantage in number of legs won over the four days to take the final two qualification spots.
“I am so, so happy to finally get my Tour Card,” said Ashton, who missed out by one point at 2019 Q School,
“I was sat there all day with people trying to work out if I had qualified so I just said ‘tell me at the end, I can’t deal with the stress!
“So when I found out I’d done it, that was a great moment”.
“I want to play all the tournaments I can. I’m going to have a damn good go at whoever I play, they need to be ready.
“To come through a field of over 500 men, I couldn’t be any happier.
“But I know I’ve got more in the tank and now I’m going to take my dreams wherever I can.”
A dramatic final day of action in Wigan and Hildesheim saw both UK and European Q Schools reach their climax as 22 players won two-year Tour Cards.
Two-time BDO Champion Scott Waites will compete on the PDC circuit for the first time in 2020 after winning his Tour Card outright on the final day along with Welshman Nick Kenny.
Having struggled on the opening three days of Q School, former Grand Slam winner Waites found his form on the final day, culminating in a 5-0 whitewash of teenage Irish sensation Keane Barry in their Tour Card decider.
“To do this is amazing,” said Waites. “I knew I had to come here today and just win it outright, and I’ve played my game all day.
“Keane is a fantastic player so to beat him 5-0 is amazing, but with a bit of experience he’s going to be an awesome player.
“The time has never been right for me to move over before but now I think it is right to have a go so let’s see what happens.
“I’m going to put a lot of practice in now, this is going to give me the ‘get up and go’ I need.”
Two-time Development Tour winner Kenny will also be a new addition to the PDC circuit after he saved his best performance till last as he averaged 110.5 to defeat Scott Taylor 5-2 in their Tour Card play-off.
Joining Ashton in winning Tour Cards via the UK Q School Order of Merit are 11 players headed up by former World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton.
Junior Darts Corporation Chairman Steve Brown was unable to attend the final day of Q School due to JDC-related commitments in China, but his runs on the first two days were enough to ensure a return to the PDC Tour after a five-year absence.
Brisbane Masters winner Damon Heta was successful in his first Q School appearance and he will be joined on the circuit by fellow-Australian and surprise-package Penhall.
Scottish duo Ryan Murray and William Borland are also new names on tour, along with Wigan’s Martin Atkins.
Adam Hunt, Alan Tabern and Wayne Jones all secured immediate returns after losing their Tour Cards at the end of 2019, while Peter Jacques returns after a one-year absence.
At European Q School Germany’s Steffen Siepmann booked his place on the PDC Tour for the first time by defeating Wesley Harms 5-3 in the Day Four final in Hildesheim.
However, two-time BDO Championship semi-finalist Harms did enough over the four days to earn a PDC Tour Card for the first time.
“It has been a really tough four days,” Harms admitted.
“My goal was to make the quarter-final every time but after I went out in the last 32 on the first day I was worried, but my last day made up for it.
“Everything will be new for me but I am looking forward to playing in the PDC for the first time.”
Harms’ fellow-Dutchmen Derk Telnekes and Martijn Kleermaker also secured Tour Cards for the first time, while Dirk van Duijvenbode won back his card at the first time of asking.
Sweden’s Daniel Larsson, Croatia’s Boris Krcmar and Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk also won Tour Cards for the first time via the European Q School Order of Merit.
The first three days of action saw six players win Tour Cards outright at UK Q School, along with three at European Q School.
All 31 PDC Tour Card winners will get their first taste of the PDC ProTour in 2020 at Players Championships One and Two which will take place at The Barnsley Metrodome from February 8-9.
UK Qualfying School Day Four Last 16 Wayne Jones 5-4 Thomas Lovely Scott Taylor 5-3 Alexander Morrison Stephen Burton 5-0 Darren Johnson Nick Kenny 5-3 Darren Penhall Matthew Dennant 5-0 Wes Newton Keane Barry 5-1 Graham Usher Scott Waites 5-3 Connor Scutt Adam Hunt 5-4 Steve Hine
Last Eight Scott Taylor 5-1 Wayne Jones Nick Kenny 5-1 Stephen Burton Keane Barry 5-2 Matthew Dennant Scott Waites 5-4 Adam Hunt
Last Four Nick Kenny 5-2 Scott Taylor Scott Waites 5-0 Keane Barry
European Qualfying School Day Four Last 16 Steffen Siepmann 5-4 Zoran Lerchbacher Jose Justicia 5-4 Gino Vos Lukasz Sawicki 5-0 Wesley Plaisier Danny van Trijp 5-3 Dennis Nilsson Wesley Harms 5-3 Boris Krcmar Kevin Blomme 5-3 Michael Unterbuchner Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-3 Derk Telnekes Cody Harris 5-0 Daniel Larsson
Quarter-Finals Steffen Siepmann 5-4 Jose Justicia Danny van Trijp 5-4 Lukasz Sawicki Wesley Harms 5-0 Kevin Blomme Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-2 Cody Harris
Semi-Finals Steffen Siepmann 5-1 Danny van Trijp Wesley Harms 5-1 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Aaron Gratton (@ABGratton24) looks at the return of ‘The Hammer’, are we seeing a temporary resurgence or a full blown return?
Barring a ludicrous turn of events on the final day of Q-School, the 2012 World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton is set to win back his PDC tour card.
‘The Hammer’ ended day three of Q-School with 12 points to his name in the Order of Merit, placing him second only behind Ryan Murray (14 points). That total is likely to be more than enough to end the Stoke-on-Trent throwers hiatus from the tour, having lost his card at the end of the 2017 season.
Hamilton has been active on the BDO circuit, with his last match on the other side being a defeat to eventual champion Wayne Warren in the second round of the recent World Championship held at the Indigo at The O2. Overall he has been a limted success within the BDO. He has recorded a nine dart finish as well as qualifying for two world championships. Andy did not dominate, as he once did, and may need to find another gear should he return to the PDC top table.
The 52-year-old was one of those that were vocal in their criticism of the BDO on social media, writing on his Twitter on 15 January in a clear reference to the issue surrounding prize money at the World Championships: “A refreshing change to know what I’m playing for from the start.”
It will be interesting to see whether Hamilton can continue his resurgence on the PDC Tour after showing signs of what he is capable of in the BDO. ‘The Hammer’s main goal in 2020 will almost certainly be a return to the PDC World Championship stage at Alexandra Palace, where he has not competed since suffering a first-round exit in the 2016 edition of the tournament at the hands of Joe Murnan.
Hamilton has vast experience and is fiercely determined. Whether he has the firepower over a full season is another question. It will certainly be a storey worth following during 2020.
Update – Andy Hamilton was defeated 4-5 in the opening rd of the final day. It will be a long day ahead for the Stoke man. He should make it bit its now much more nerve racking.
Aaron Gratton is a writer who has been published in publications as different as Marca and the Huffington Post. He is a darts fan and goes by the name of @ABGratton24 on Twitter!
Gary Blades, Jason Lowe and Harald Leitinger were the first three players to win PDC Tour Cards on Day One of the 2020 PDC Qualifying Schools.
The trio all won a Tour Card for the first time with their successes in Wigan and Hildesheim as over 800 players began their quest to secure spots on the PDC circuit.
Lincoln’s Blades, a 39-year-old planner for Anglian Water, makes his return to the circuit after seeing off Tony Newell 5-1 to win their decider in the UK Qualifying School in Wigan.
Blades had previously competed from 2005-2010 on the PDC circuit – competing in the 2005 and 2007 UK Opens – before stepping away from the top level for eight years.
However, his success in claiming eight victories on Thursday – including a 5-2 win over four-time Women’s World Champion Lisa Ashton – saw him claim a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card.
“I’m feeling like this is a weird dream,” admitted Blades. “I didn’t expected today to happen but it has – I’m surprised and ecstatic.
“I stepped away partly because of work and partly because I wasn’t playing well enough. I had a go last year and did okay, but in the last few months I’ve been playing really well.
“I’ve been consistent all day, which isn’t like me! I’ve hit good scores when I needed to and finishes when I needed to. It’s exciting knowing that when the ProTour starts I’ll be there playing the best players in the world.
“We’ll see what happens in the next two years now. Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross are the perfect examples of what can happen when you start testing yourself and get better, so hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.”
Lowe, a 47-year-old builder from Cradley Heath, will also compete full-time on the circuit for the first time since Tour Cards were introduced in 2011 after he was a 5-1 winner over Steve Brown in their final.
Lowe averaged over 100 in wins over Corey Burton and Andrew Foster, before seeing off recent World Championship qualifier Ritchie Edhouse, former Challenge Tour event winner Peter Jacques and 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.
Lowe previously reached the last 32 as a qualifier at the 2018 UK Open, but had opted out of the 2019 Qualifying School and only decided to enter this year’s event an hour before the entry deadline on Tuesday.
“I’m totally shocked,” said Lowe. “I only entered at the last minute and there’s nobody more shocked than me today – I’ve played well and I’m thrilled.
“I’ve had some fantastic averages but in some matches I’ve missed some doubles and I’ve been lucky in a couple of games, but you need a bit of luck.
“I’ve got to up my game to stand a chance but I’ll put the practice in, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Austria’s Leitinger, 35, edged past Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 in their final in Hildesheim, after the Dutchman missed his chance to claim a Tour Card in their deciding leg.
Leitinger has only previously competed twice in PDC events, in 2011 and 2017, but will now get his chance to become a full-time professional in 2020 and 2021 after securing his status on the PDC circuit.
He won eight games on the day at Halle 39, including defeats of Austrian World Cup representative Zoran Lerchbacher and former World Youth Championship finalist Berry van Peer in deciding legs.
Leitinger also overcame Dutch duo Wesley Harms and Kay Smeets as well as Belgium’s Brian Raman in the latter stages as he progressed to claim a coveted Tour Card.
“Today was my first day at Q School and I’m very happy,” said Leitinger. “It was very hard for me, I had three games which were 5-4.
“It’s a surprise. I’ve been playing mainly [electronic] darts and now I’ll take the chance in steel darts.”
Kleermaker gained valuable ranking points in his bid to claim a PDC Tour Card, while Raman and Croatia’s Boris Krcmar were semi-finalists on Day One of the four-day Qualifying School in Hildesheim.
Fallon Sherrock, who made history as the first woman to win at the William Hill World Darts Championship last month, claimed three wins – including a 5-4 defeat of returning Paul Nicholson – as she won through to the last 64, before losing out to Darryl Pilgrim.
Ashton joined 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta and experienced pair Wayne Jones and Mark Dudbridge in reaching the last 32, while American prospect Danny Lauby joined Andy Hamilton, Robert Collins and Ryan Murray in the last eight.
The 2020 PDC Qualifying School continues on Friday with the second of four days of play, with a further three automatic Tour Cards on offer alongside valuable ranking points for players on the Q School Orders of Merit.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.