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European Qualifying School 2021: Day One Draw and Live Scores

Six to watch at 2021 PDC Qualifying School

Jamie Shaw in Q School 08 Feb 2021
German ace Nico Kurz (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The darting dream factory is back open for business as more than 650 players pursue a golden ticket at Qualifying School, and we’ve picked out six to watch.

In a change for 2021, the players who lost their Tour Card at the end of last season will be exempt to the Final Stage of Qualifying School, alongside players who finished in the top 16 of the 2020 Challenge Tour and Development Tour Orders of Merit.

A three-day Stage One of PDC Qualifying School will be limited to sufficient players to produce a full round of a maximum of 128 players per venue.

The First Stage will be split across two blocks of three days, with Stage 1A being held from February 8-10 and Stage 1B from February 11-13.

The Final Stage will then take place from February 14-17 – where 128 players will battle it out for the 29 available Tour Cards.

Qualifying School has been the starting point for a number of the sport’s biggest success stories over the past decade, none more so than newly-crowned World Champion Gerwyn Price, who was a rugby player by day when he chanced his arm seven years ago.

A vast array of players from all corners of the world will be aiming to follow in the Welshman’s footsteps, and this year’s Q School looks set to be one of the most fiercely competitive to date.

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Six to watch at 2021 Qualifying School

Matt Campbell 5/4

Canadian ace Campbell is aiming to join his compatriot Jeff Smith on the PDC circuit, having partnered ‘The Silencer’ to the World Cup of Darts Quarter-Finals on his debut last year.

The 31-year-old, who has plied his trade on the CDC circuit, was involved in one of the stand-out matches of the World Championship last month, narrowly losing out to Scott Waites in a sudden death thriller.

A steady scorer and an efficient finisher, Campbell looked at ease on the Ally Pally stage, averaging 95, and will be keen to pick up from where he left off.

Campbell will be heading to European Q School in Germany – where he is well-fancied to press home his quality and become the latest North American to join the tour.

James Richardson 7/4

Richardson is a man who knows just what it takes to come through Q School, having prevailed as an automatic qualifier in both 2011 and 2016, enjoying successful stints on the circuit.

He famously defeated Raymond van Barneveld in the 2012/13 World Championship and went on to reach the Last 16 in 2017/18.

During his eight years on the tour, Richardson was a quarter-finalist on the European Tour and hit a nine-darter in a UK Open qualifier.

The 47-year-old remained active during 2020, winning the Remote Darts League and the inaugural MAD European Championship title belt and finishing runner-up to Joe Murnan in Saturday’s MAD Virtual Open.

Nico Kurz (4/5)

Arguably Germany’s brightest young darting talent, Kurz is among the favourites to come through European Q School and book his place in the big time.

The 24-year-old has experience of beating Gary Anderson in front of 20,000 fans at the 2019 German Masters and reached the Last 32 on his World Championship debut that same year.

Kurz won last year’s German Superleague title to secure a return to Ally Pally – where he defeated Andy Hamilton before losing out to fellow countryman Gabriel Clemens.

Runner-up on the Development Tour last March, Kurz’s game appears to be going from strength to strength and it would be no surprise to see him comfortably claim an automatic Tour Card.

Thibault Tricole (14/1)

Tricole is bidding to become the PDC’s first French professional as he looks to make it third time lucky at European Qualifying School.

He narrowly missed out on a Tour Card by just two points on last year’s Q School Order of Merit, having reached the Last 16 in each of the first two days.

He appeared in the 2020 BDO World Championship and picked up two BDO titles in 2019 – the Greek Open and Torremolinos Open.

Quarter-finalist in last year’s Isle of Man Open, Tricole has been active in various online events since, including the Remote Darts League.

Scott Marsh (16/1)

Marsh has perhaps been renowned more for his soft-tip credentials in the past but has now turned his attention to steel-tip as he aims to become a full-time professional.

He appeared at the Last 96 stage of the UK Open in both 2013 and 2016 and is returning to Q School for only the third time in a decade.

A regular on the Challenge Tour, Marsh was impressive during last year’s Modus Icons Live League, gaining valuable match practice online against the likes of Fallon Sherrock, Martin Adams and David Evans.

He made his Euro Tour debut at the International Open last October, missing four match darts to defeat Jason Lowe in the opening round.

Florian Hempel 20/1

Hempel is another rising star from the darting hotbed of Germany who is out to kick on from his impressive showings on the Euro Tour in recent years.

Hempel was beaten 6-3 by Simon Whitlock in the 2019 Dutch Masters before squandering a 2-0 lead in a 6-3 defeat to Simon Stevenson in the European Matchplay later that year.

His form coming into this event appears to be in fine fettle, having reached the Semi-Finals of the MAD Virtual Open at the weekend, losing out to James Richardson.