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PDC Q School: Max Hopp, Leighton Bennett and John Part advance to final stage

Germany’s Max Hopp and teenage talent Leighton Bennett headlined the list of 16 players to automatically progress to the Final Stage of PDC Qualifying Schools on Wednesday.

Day Three of 2024 PDC Qualifying Schools saw the First Stage action conclude in Milton Keynes and Kalkar, as hundreds of hopefuls continued to battle for the chance to compete on the PDC circuit in 2024-2025.

First Stage, which took place from January 8-10, saw players from across the globe attempting to qualify to compete in the Final Stage, where 31 Tour Cards will be on offer from January 11-14.

Eight players per day progressed from the First Stage at each venue, with the remaining places going to players from a First Stage Order of Merit in each region.

Former World Youth Champion Hopp headlined the eight players to win through European Qualifying School on Wednesday, after recovering from 4-3 down to deny Martijn Dragt in the last 16.

Hopp – a winner of two PDC ranking titles – also edged out Finland’s Marko Kantele in a last-leg shoot-out, having earlier averaged 99 in a 5-1 thumping of Latvia’s World Cup representative Dmitriy Zhukov.

Hopp’s fellow countrymen Kai Gotthardt and Franz Roetzsch also raced through to the last eight on home soil, where they were joined by Dutch duo Davy Proosten and Stefan Schroder.

Denmark’s World Cup star Benjamin Reus also remained in the hunt for a Tour Card after winning through on Day Three, alongside Greek veteran John Michael and impressive Japanese star Ryuta Arihara.

Sweden’s Jeffrey de Graaf – who reached round three at last month’s World Darts Championship – was beaten in the last 16, but he comfortably progressed to the Final Stage via the First Stage Order of Merit.

Former Lakeside champion Jelle Klaasen was among the 83 players to advance via the European First Stage Order of Merit, with New Zealand duo Ben Robb and Haupai Puha also keeping their Tour Card dreams alive.

Germany’s Nico Kurz and Sweden’s World Cup quarter-finalist Oskar Lukasiak will also feature in the Final Stage, which gets underway on Thursday.

Meanwhile, at UK Qualifying School, 18-year-old Bennett automatically advanced to the Final Stage in Milton Keynes, conceding just eight legs in his five matches.

Bennett won through alongside fellow youngster Henry Coates, former Tour Card Holder Scott Taylor and two-time UK Open Qualifier Rhys Griffin on another action-packed day at the Marshall Arena.

Lee Cocks, Tom Lonsdale, Joe Croft and Paul Redfern made up the list of automatic qualifiers on Wednesday, while several star-studded names advanced via the First Stage Order of Merit.

Three-time World Champion John Part celebrated comeback wins over Graham Rackstraw and Darren Barton to reach the last 64 on Wednesday, which was enough to book his spot in the Final Stage.

William Borland – who famously landed a sensational nine-darter at the 2021/22 World Darts Championship – claimed the last qualification spot, as former UK Open semi-finalist Alan Norris also battled through.

2005 World Championship runner-up Mark Dudbridge finished top of the UK First Stage Order of Merit, while American ace Alex Spellman recorded a 12th place finish after landing a trio of ton-plus averages on Tuesday.

Former UK Open finalist Colin Osborne, 2022 World Youth Championship runner-up Nathan Girvan and Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung will also take part in the Final Stage of UK Q School, which will take place over the next four days in Milton Keynes.

A total of 31 PDC Tour Cards will be on offer in Final Stage from January 11-14, with each of the daily winners in the UK and Europe receiving an automatic Tour Card.

The remaining 23 Tour Cards will be allocated to players from the UK and European Q School Final Stage Orders of Merit, with a further 13 Tour Cards on offer via European Q School, while ten players will come through the UK rankings.

Any ties in the respective Q School Orders of Merit will be split as follows based on all match results: Leg Difference, Legs Won, then DartConnect average. If players still cannot be split, a play-off would be organised.

2024 PDC Qualifying Schools

UK Qualifying School
First Stage Day Three - Last 16

Rhys Griffin 5-3 Mark Dudbridge
Joe Croft 5-4 Greg Ritchie
Leighton Bennett 5-2 Adam Paxton
Lee Cocks 5-3 Jacob Gwynne
Tom Lonsdale 5-4 James Huthwaite
Scott Taylor 5-3 Derek Maclean
Henry Coates 5-4 Scott Campbell
Paul Redfern 5-3 Joshua Richardson

2024 European Qualifying School
First Stage Day Three - Last 16

Max Hopp 5-4 Martijn Dragt
Franz Roetzsch 5-0 Mladen Radosavljevic
Davy Proosten 5-4 Christian Goedl
Benjamin Drue Reus 5-2 Michele Turetta
Stefan Schroder 5-4 Jeffrey De Graaf
Ryuta Arihara 5-4 Jeroen Caron
Kai Gotthardt 5-3 Patrick Bulen
John Michael 5-3 Dennie Olde Kalter

Photo Credit: PDC

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