EXCLUSIVE: Shake-up for PDC European Tour qualifying system
The PDC is set to alter the qualification system for European Tour events, sources have told Darts News.
Since being established in 2012, the European Tour has taken PDC darts to new horizons. From a five-tournament season at its inception, the Tour has expanded greatly. It was recently announced that the 2020 edition would consist of 13 tournaments, with Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Gibraltar all hosting.
Originally, each event's field consisted of 64 players. In an effort to streamline events and remove the need for a second stage, the figure was reduced to 48. The top 16 from the PDC Pro Tour Order of Merit at a predetermined cut-off date are invited to participate. Each of these players go straight through to the second round as seeds. However, they are required to win their second round match to add to their ranking totals.
European Tour alterations
It has now been revealed that 18 players will automatically enter each event. The PDC Pro Tour's top 16 will be invited as normal, but now the two highest-ranked players from the host country will attend. If one or more players from a host country are among the seeds, then these places shift to the numbers three and possibly numbers four from the host nation. Like the Pro Tour invitees, the two home nation entrants must win their first match to earn ranking money.
The 2020 European Tour season starts at the end of February with the Belgian Darts Championship in Hasselt. PDC Europe has already announced that Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri van den Bergh will compete in this tournament, as a result of the rule change.
The remaining 30 spots are distributed through various qualifying tournaments. PDC Tour Card holders now play in one qualifying tournament, with 24 places on offer. The UK-based and European qualifiers will be played on the Friday before a Players Championship weekend. Invitations to top ranked home-based players come partly at the expense of the Host Nation Qualifier. From now on, two spots will be on offer instead of four.
The three other qualifying tournaments remain unchanged. PDC Nordic & Baltic players compete for one place, as do competitors from Eastern Europe. In addition, there is an Associate Member Qualifier with two spots for players who participated in the European Q-School but not won a Tour Card. Associate Member qualifying events will be played at the same time as Host Nation Qualifiers.