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A brief summary of my visit to the first day of the Q School at Wigan

Q School

Posted: 14.01.11 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

A brief summary of my visit to the first day of the Q School at Wigan

Q School
I went along to the inaugural PDC qualifying school on Thursday and it was a fascinating experience. There were a couple of key reasons for my interest. First of all I wanted to support Andy Relf in his quest to get a tour card for 2011. Andy has been a fantastic supporter of the Darts Performance Centre, he has posted some honest and open articles on the site which I am sure all our members have benefited from. He has also blogged on the site his account of his journey on the PDC tour for everyone to read.
Andy drew “Pecker” Woods yesterday, not a bad draw some may argue bearing in mind the form “Pecker” displayed at Lakeside. However, Woods played brilliantly (first 3 darts were a 180) and Andy did not play to anywhere near the ability he can. “Tomorrow is another day” Andy pragmatically declared after his defeat. You can follow Andy`s progress here.
The second reason for my interest was to investigate the standard of the players taking part and to see how the players coped with the experience and of course how their anxiety levels were as the winning post and at the fulfilment of their dream of a PDC tour card approached. Overall I was very impressed, the standard, especially during the latter stages was of a very high quality. Moreover, the players (and especially the younger guys) did not seem to display any overt levels of anxiety, but I didn`t have any heart monitors attached to any of them mind!
There were several players who stood out for me yesterday and please remember it is impossible to watch 4, 8 or 16 games at the same time so I am only going on the games I watched. Obviously John Henderson and Brian Woods started off well and I wouldn`t be surprised if at least one of them qualified. In fact, I hope they both do. Gary Eastwood is a solid player with a good temperament, he came up against Chizzy but that will not happen again, not for the next few days anyway. Adam Smith-Neale played well, he is a youngster that Andy R played in a qualifier recently, and there is a story to tell about that match one day! However, setting that aside the young lad played very well in the games I watched.
Two more experienced players I didn`t know a lot about, Terry Temple and Richie Corner also impressed me. Terry overcame another exciting young prospect who lives in Portsmouth Mike Gillet. Mike also had a great temperament by the way and he seemed “at home” in the pressure atmosphere of a PDC floor tournament. Anyway, I digress, Terry played brilliantly against Mike but was then beaten by “Chizzy” in the “final”. Richie Corner is another BDO player who told me he was harangued by his pals to enter the Q school. They were right to push him into it, he is a good dart player. He seemed overwhelmed with the exuberant tactics of Peter Hudson (which earned him a ticking off) who seemed to think there were TV cameras present such was his posturing and celebrations every time he hit a double. Peter will of course argue that the desire to win a tour card manifests itself in different ways. Finally one player I have watched a couple of times is Sam Allen. I saw him play in a `classic` against Robert Thornton at a floor event, I think I was the only spectator. Thornton took it 6:5 on the bull after Sam had missed 6 darts at a double.  I really felt for him that day and he is a good player. They can all have a card as far as I am concerned as long as there is still one for Andy Relf!
In summary, it was a fascinating experience, there were some high quality players on show and I was very impressed with the standard especially of the young players coming through. The tournament itself was as slick as ever and my first impression is that it is probably a fair way and at least a start in opening a potential pathway to the PDC professional arena for all players. There is still a long way to go though in that regard, especially when you focus on youngsters trying to get a foothold in the game, but this is a good first step.

Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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