Lithuanian Labanauskas seals two-year tour card in Hildesheim
Darius Labanauskas became the first ever Lithuanian to hold a PDC tour card as he defeated Vincent van der Meer on Sunday evening in Hildesheim.
Lithuanian Labanauskas – who conquered five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld on debut at Alexandra Palace in December – was forced to win outright after a difficult few days in Germany, and did just that as he came through the 200-strong field to earn a spot at the 2019 UK Open and a two-year ticket for the PDC’s Pro Tour.
‘Lucky D’ began his campaign with back-to-back 5-2 victories over Henrikh Eggerman and Pavel Jirkal as he ended both’s tour card hopes before denying Sebastian Pohl, Jose de Sousa and Kenny Neyens to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in at European Qualifying School.
A 5-0 whitewashing of Frenchman Thibault Tricole followed as Labanauskas prevailed to the last four – where he produced his best performance of the tournament in seeing off Madars Razma 5-2 with a 96.4 average to book his place in the final.
The 42-year-old clinched glory as he battled back from behind to defeat Vincent van der Meer 5-3 in the final and therefore seal his tour card.
Labanauskas took the opening two legs of the final, only for his Dutch opponent to reel off three in succession to gain a 3-2 advantage. The Lithuanian levelled up proceedings with a 16-darter before punishing multiple squandered darts at double from van der Meer to move on the verge of victory.
A 80 checkout sealed the deal for Labanauskas as he claimed his two-year two card, wrapping up a 5-3 win over 38-year-old van der Meer.
Despite enduring defeat in the final, on a day that saw him conquer the likes of Toon Greebe, Yordi Meeuwisse and Greece’s John Michael, van der Meer will likely secure his tour card courtesy of his position on the European Q-School order of merit.
Latvia’s Madars Razma, Finland’s Marko Kantele, Yordi Meeuwisse, Greece’s John Michael and Portugal’s Jose de Sousa are almost definitely going to join the Dutchman as two-year tour card holders while Maik Kuivenhoven, Michael Rasztovits and Karel Sedlacek also put themselves into contention of gaining a tour card once the entries for the UK Qualifying School are confirmed in just under two weeks time.
That concludes the action in Hildesheim with Niels Zonneveld, Mike van Duivenbode, Christian Bunse and Darius Labanauskas earning automatic tour cards. UK Qualifying School will take place from January 17 with another four automatic tour cards on offer and an additional 22 courtesy of the respective order of merits.