Anyone who senses early on that it could be enough for a great darts career should start looking into the possibilities early on in order to gain a foothold in the PDC circus. The easiest way to take a step towards becoming a dart professional is to secure the so-called Tour Card through the PDC Q-School. Well, “easy” is probably a bit of a loose word, as several hundred dart players who want to fulfill their dream of becoming a dart professional take part in the PDC Q-School. Nevertheless, this tournament is considered the gateway to the PDC for everyone and perhaps also the beginning of a great darts career. In this blog post we will go into the beginnings of Q-School in more detail and explain how the tournament format works.
The PDC Q-School – how it all began
Since 2011 there has been a completely new system in the PDC to enable virtually all players in Germany and Europe to take the first step towards becoming a darts professional. This is done via the so-called Q-School, which exists in Great Britain and in Germany for the remaining European countries.
At the beginning, a system was used in which the top 101 players in the PDC Order of Merit automatically received a tour card. There were also the two finalists of the Women's World Championship at the PDC. The remaining 25 tour cards at the time were played out via the PDC's so-called Q-School. The number of players who qualified via the PDC Order of Merit has now been reduced, meaning that several tour cards are being played.
But what is the Q-School and what is the point of getting a tour card?
The Tourcard allows a player to take part in all major tournaments throughout the year. For example, the respective players have the opportunity to take part in all Players Championship tournaments as well as the UK Open Qualifier tournaments. The prize money ultimately flows into the Order of Merit, which allows a darts professional to move up.
For example, the Q-School takes place on four days in a row in Germany. If a player reaches the semi-finals, they receive a tour card. Over four days, 16 tour cards are played this way. The remaining tour cards are earned by the players who rank behind them in the PDC Q-School Order of Merit. At least that's how it was at the beginning of Q-School. You can read two sections below about how qualification for a Tourcard works today.
How can I register with Q School?
In principle, every player can register with the Q-School. Of course, this ultimately also affects the quality. Many players would certainly like to have the experience of playing in such a tournament without displaying the necessary quality. For this reason, the PDC has decided to introduce a relatively high entry fee in order to discourage such players - after all, the Q-School is already about serious qualifying tournaments.
The entry fee is currently just over 500 euros. If a player actually wins the tour card, he has to do it again
Add a little more than 100 euros. This means that in the end only players who are actually serious about being a professional in darts sign up.
If you would like to watch such a tournament, you also have the chance to follow the PDC Q-School via the DartConnect live stream - or via the official PDC streaming channel .
How does the ranking at the PDC Qualifying School work and who receives a tour card?
Now we come to another important point that will interest many players. How does the ranking work and who currently receives a tour card?
Important for this paragraph: we are limiting ourselves here to which players receive a tour card through Q-School. A few tour tickets are also given to other players outside of Q-School. However, this will not be the focus of this article.
There is a separate Order of Merit for the entire PDC Q-School. In this game, each player gets one point for winning a match. Now we have to look ahead briefly. Some time ago the PDC Q-School was divided into the area in Great Britain and the area in the rest of Europe. However, the starting places or tour cards are distributed differently:
- UK Qualifying Tour: Winner and finalist
- European Qualifying Tour: Winner
The remaining tour cards will ultimately be awarded based on the further Order of Merit of the Q-School tournaments. This means that 12 tour cards will initially be awarded to winners and finalists through the tournaments - the rest according to the Order of Merit.
What are the differences between the European Qualifying Tour and the UK Q School?
Now we have already touched on the changes since 2018 between the UK Q-School and the European Qualifying School. The reason for this is as follows: in order to avoid long journeys, the PDC has decided to set up two locations. One location in Great Britain for the large number of players in the UK and one location in Hildesheim in Germany for the remaining European countries.
- Participants UK-Q-School: All players from Great Britain, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Ireland
- Participants European-Q-School: All players from the remaining European countries
However, players outside of Europe can of course also take part in the tournaments. They can ultimately choose which PDC Q-School they would like to take part in.
In total, over 600 players competed at the tournaments in Wigan and Hildesheim each year to win one of the coveted tour cards, which are valid for two years.
German players at the PDC Q-School – winners and statistics
The level has risen extremely in recent years. Players who play an average below a constant 80 points actually have almost no chance of securing one of the coveted tour cards.
In order to get an impression of the level at which the Pro Tour players are already active, we have created a small overview of the most important statistics of the Q-School. And this clearly shows that there are already semi-professionals at work here who still have significant potential for improvement if they develop strongly:
- 9-Darter : Six nine-darters in Q-School history
- German winners 2020: Steffen Stiepmann (on day 4 in Hildesheim)
- Required average for a tour card: at least 85 over four tournament days
- Winner of the entire Q-School 2020: Dirk van Duijvenbode (with 100 legs won and 18 wins)