Qualifying School Day One: Blades, Lowe and Leitinger become first-time tour card holders
Gary Blades, Jason Lowe and Austria’s Harald Leitinger clinched their coveted tour cards as the intense slugfest that is PDC Qualifying School commenced in both Wigan and Hildesheim, Germany.
The Robin Park Tennis Centre and Halle 39 hosted Day One simultaneously as over 800 players began their hunt in search of gold dust in a two-year place on the ProTour.
Austria’s Leitinger became the first to triumph in Hildesheim as he survived match darts in defeating the Netherlands’ Martijn Kleermaker to become the third Austrian tour card holder.
THE WINNING MOMENT!
Here’s how Austria’s Harald Leitinger beat Netherlands’ Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 to be the first person to win a PDC Tour Card at European #QSchool2020!
— On The Oche (@OTODarts) January 16, 2020
The 35-year-old came through four last leg deciders throughout the day in Germany as well as overcoming multiple match darts against both Kleermaker and Zoran Lerchbacher.
Leitinger, who had previously competed in PDC events in both 2011 and 2017, whitewashed Peter Hubinger in the first round, before coming through three consecutive deciding leg thrillers against Kenny Neyens, Berry van Peer and the aforementioned Lerchbacher.
The Austrian produced a scintillating 15-darter in the decider against his compatriot, with Lerchbacher squandering multiple attempts at double 16 and a dart at the bull for a 170 checkout in the final leg of the clash.
BDO number one Wesley Harms, Kay Smeets and Brian Raman were all subsequently ousted by the former soft-tip player as he prevailed victorious.
In possibly the strongest Q-School field ever, the first two Tour Cards go to Harald Leitinger and Gary Blades. That's a big surprise.
— Jetze Jan Idsardi (@jetze_jan) January 16, 2020
Having compiled mixed outcomes on the PDC Challenge Tour within the last year or so, Gary Blades secured his return to the professional scene, a somewhat surprising 15 years after making his major debut at the UK Open.
The Lincoln-based ace was in sheer disbelief after comfortably defeating the seasoned professional, Tony Newell, in the decider to seal his two-year tour card in Wigan.
Blades ended three-time world champion Lisa Ashton’s hopes in the fifth round, before brushing aside Dafydd Edwards, Rob Collins and Newell to seal the deal.
Former ProTour semi-finalist Jason Lowe clinched his tour card for the first time, having denied Bristol’s Steve Brown in the decider, whilst averaging 95.8 and pinning four maximums to clinch his hard to come by spot amongst the world’s elite.
Lowe, who had only decided to enter Q School an hour before Tuesday’s deadline, dropped just 14 legs during an emphatic route to success in Wigan, averaging well over the 100 mark against both Andrew Foster and Corey Burton.
The Cradley Heath builder claimed the scalps of recent World Championship qualifier Ritchie Edhouse, former Q School graduate Peter Jacques and 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.
Really enjoyed today @OfficialPDC QS, I won 3 games and beat my good friend @TheAsset180 ….. he was very supportive 👏👏… last 64 I guess is a good start, hope to improve tomorrow 👍@ModusDarts180 @LstyleEurope @DYNASTY_JAPAN @FinanceCastle @ColossusBets
— Fallon Sherrock (@Fsherrock) January 16, 2020
Elsewhere, Fallon Sherrock, who recently formed history in becoming the first women to win at the William Hill World Darts Championship, pulled off an impressive victory over her good friend Paul Nicholson, before departing in the subsequent round against Daryl Pilgrim.
Lisa Ashton progressed furthest out of the ladies in action at the Robin Park Tennis Centre. The reigning World Trophy and World Masters champion defeated the likes of Gary Eastwood and Matt Padgett on her way to the last 32 on Thursday afternoon.
Another three-time world champion in John Part departed in the third round after having defeated Dave Parletti in the previous stages, while two-time world champion Scott Waites exited at his first hurdle.
Recent BDO World Championship runner-up Jim Williams was handed a major blow at the hands of Ritchie Edhouse in round three, as Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung fired in two 107 averages, despite enduring defeat in the fourth round.
Albania’s Arsen Ballaj created an unexpressed slice of his own history in becoming the first from his country to win a match at Q School. He whitewashed Germany’s Bernd Roith in round one in Hildesheim.
PDC Qualifying School will continue from where it left off tomorrow morning as an 800-strong field of aspirant professionals return to their respective venues, hoping to change their lives for the better.
🏴 Gary Blades
🏴 Jason Lowe
🇦🇹 Harald Leitinger
EUROPEAN QUALIFYING SCHOOL
Halle 39, Hildesheim, Germany
Brian Raman 5-2 Tytus Kanik
Franz Roetzsch 5-4 Wesley Plaisier
Kay Smeets 5-3 Thomas Junghans
Harald Leitinger 5-2 Wesley Harms
Karel Sedlacek 5-4 Jeffrey de Graaf
Boris Krcmar 5-4 Dragutin Horvat
Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 Thibault Tricole
Tonny Veenhof 5-3 Derk Telnekens
Brian Raman 5-0 Franz Roetzsch
Harald Leitinger 5-2 Kay Smeets
Boris Krcmar 5-3 Karel Sedlacek
Martijn Kleermaker 5-3 Tonny Veenhof
Harald Leitinger 5-2 Brian Raman
Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 Boris Krcmar
Harald Leitinger 5-4 Martijn Kleermaker
UK QUALIFYING SCHOOL
Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Danny Lauby 5-2 Carl Hamilton
Steve Brown 5-1 Martin Atkins (Wigan)
Jason Lowe 5-2 Peter Jacques
Andy Hamilton 5-4 Adam Hunt
Ryan Murray 5-4 Justin Smith
Tony Newell 5-2 Andy Chalmers
Gary Blades 5-3 Dafydd Edwards
Robert Collins 5-1 Alan Tabern
Steve Brown 5-3 Danny Lauby
Jason Lowe 5-4 Andy Hamilton
Tony Newell 5-3 Ryan Murray
Gary Blades 5-3 Robert Collins
Jason Lowe 5-1 Steve Brown
Gary Blades 5-1 Tony Newell