In the sporting world, January is notorious for football’s circus-like transfer window, but it’s also a time when darts players opt to switch allegiances between the sport’s two rival codes ahead of the new season.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a swanky studio housing Natalie Sawyer or Jim White, or reporters mobbed by fans outside darts players’ houses, but we’ll do our best to keep you up to speed with the latest movers and shakers.
Following the implementation of the new PDC Challenge Tour in 2014, a switch to darts’ most lucrative code is no longer as much of a leap of faith and offers a second-tier system to fall back on for those who don’t make the cut at Qualifying School.
This year’s Q School will take place at the Robin Park Sports Centre in Wigan from January 19-22 and is open to any player over the age of 16.
It will offer four Tour Cards for the semi-finalists (16 in total) on each day, as well as a further quantity (to be confirmed) via the Q-School Order of Merit Table at the conclusion of the event.
Players who fail to secure a Tour Card are entered onto a ranking list, with points awarded for reaching various stages of the competition and a designated amount of additional Tour Cards are distributed to the leading players on the order of merit following day four.
Those who do not make the cut are still permitted to enter UK Open qualifiers, European Tour qualifier and the Grand Slam wildcard qualifying event over the course of the year.
Darts unofficial transfer window closes at 2pm on Monday January 16, coinciding with the close of entries for Q School applicants. More than 250 players have already registered for Q School – you can view the updated list here
The clock is ticking!
BDO to PDC confirmed moves (via Q School) last updated Jan 16:
Latvia’s most successful darting export, Razma has picked up a number of titles across mainland Europe over the past five years, though a disappointing 2016 by his standards swayed his decision to make a fresh start in the PDC ranks.
Razma failed to secure a fourth consecutive Lakeside appearance in 2017, having lost in the Last 16 in his last two visits, and slipped to 29 in the BDO rankings as a result.
The 28-year-old still very much has time on his side and will be aiming to naturally progress on the PDC ProTour should he earn a Tour Card, or otherwise find his feet on the Challenge Tour, as the likes of Jan Dekker has done in recent years.
Razma of Latvia in action (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
A vastly experienced county player and a regular on the BDO circuit, Edwards has thrown his hat into the ring for a first crack at Qualifying School.
He reached the Quarter-Finals of the 2016 England Matchplay, going down 4-1 to Cleveland County team-mate and eventual champion Glen Durrant.
The North East thrower notably featured in the 2015 Winmau World Masters – where he reached the Last 32 before suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Jamie Hughes.
Rumour mill (last updated Jan 16):
After achieving his darting destiny by becoming Lakeside World Champion on Sunday, Durrant is now set for eleventh hour talks with his manager Mac Elkin regarding a proposed switch to the PDC.
Duzza’s move looked to be all but confirmed at the back end of 2016 when he admitted his decision “had been made”, but his desire to honour the trophy at Lakeside next year could potentially lead to a dramatic U-turn.
It is understood his management team are keen for the Teessider to join stablemates Jelle Klaasen, Mensur Suljovic and Kim Huybrechts on the PDC ProTour, but this would mean Durrant would more than likely be required to give up his day job as a housing estate manager in order to compete on the strenuous PDC circuit.
A recent rule change by PDC Chairman Barry Hearn means that the newly-crowned Lakeside Champion is no longer offered a wildcard to join the PDC and must battle through a gruelling 300+ field at Qualifying School in order to earn a two-year Tour Card.
The Teessider proved he has what it takes to cut it at the highest level when he reached the Last 16 of the 2016 Grand Slam on debut, eventually losing 10-7 to an inspired Raymond van Barneveld in Wolverhampton.
Reynolds, 24, enjoyed the best of both worlds in 2016, dominating the PDC Development Tour, while also climbing to fifth in the BDO ranking system.
The Welsh youngster comfortably topped the Development Tour Order of Merit after picking up six titles last season, thus earning a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card and eradicating the need to head to Q School should he opt to make the move.
That means this is likely to be Reynolds’ disappointing First Round exit to Pip Blackwell last week is likely to mark his last Lakeside appearance.
Reynolds’ run to the Semi-Finals of the 2016 BDO World Trophy included memorable wins over Martin Adams and Danny Noppert, proving he has what it takes to cut the mustard on the televised stage.
Dutch ace Noppert has made impressive strides in the BDO ranks within a short space of time, surging to number three in the overall men’s rankings.
The highly-rated 25-year-old was a semi-finalist on home soil in the 2015 Zuiderduin Masters but has found the winning formula in 2016, going on to pick up five titles including the Scottish Open and German Open.
Some outstanding finishing led Noppert to the Last 16 of the Grand Slam last November, in which he defeated Mensur Suljovic and Nathan Aspinall in finishing runner-up in his group before taking Gary Anderson all the way to a deciding leg in the knock-out phase.
Inspired by the success of his fellow countryman, ‘Noppie’ is said to be tempted by a fresh challenge in the PDC, but having finished runner-up on debut at Lakeside last week, he is likely to remain a BDO player for at least another 12 months with the aim of becoming champion at the second time of asking.
Hughes got his first taste of the PDC stage on home soil at the recent Grand Slam, defying the odds to top his group which also included James Wade, Dave Chisnall and James Wilson, before being agonisingly defeated in a last-leg decider by Chris Dobey.
Hughes has been a regular at the business end of major BDO tournaments in recent years, following up his runner-up spot in the 2014 World Masters with a run of the Semi-Finals of the 2016 Lakeside Championship and World Trophy.
The former Zuiderduin Masters champion is currently weighing up his options prior to Monday’s deadline, but is set to remain a BDO player as it stands and could benefit from the absence of Durrant next season.
Dean Winstanley (PDC to BDO)
Former Lakeside and World Masters finalist Winstanley has been blighted by injury problems and a subsequent loss of form over the past 18 months and is said to be considering a move back to the BDO.
His wife Lorraine currently plies her trade on the Women’s circuit, and with ‘Over The Top’ having lost his PDC Tour Card following the 2016 season and decided against a trip to Q School, he may opt to join his partner in a select few BDO events in 2017 as he continues his recovery.