The PDC has always stated they run an open invitation to any player who believes they are good enough to compete in the annual Qualifying School to win a two-year tour card. The event is open to all regardless of ability or sex, but only the best will be rewarded the tour card to compete on the PDC darts circuit.
The system the PDC adopt is fair and works. However, in recent years the PDC has opened the door for female players to compete in the World Darts Championship and the World Series following Fallon Sherrock’s triumphant two round wins at the 2019/20 World Championship. Recently, the PDC staged a Women’s series with monetary prizes on offer and places in the Grand Slam of Darts and World Championships up for grabs.
The ladies haven’t disappointed us, and the PDC should be congratulated for taking these steps to promote the sport not only to women’s darts but also to the sport in general. Fallon winning her place in the 2021 Grand Slam of Darts, posted a second-round match average of 101.55, enough to rival any player in the World.
There is an old saying in sport. You don’t get better unless you compete with the best, and darts is no exception. Any budding darts player might be the best in their local, but they need to play a wider field if they wish to improve. The same is for women’s darts. Being the best female player might be the pinacol of every women’s dart player. However, place them against some of the top men, and some will flounder, but they will get better as a result.
As Trina Gulliver MBE recalls, when the BDO first introduced a Women’s World Championships, they were worried about how the competition would be perceived. She said they were a lot resting on how both Mandy Solomons and herself played as most lady’s darts were not of a high standard. The BDO need not have worried. Both ladies performed well, Trina winning 3-1 to become the first ladies World Champion. Never the less only the final was shown on TV; the previous rounds weren’t.
The PDC’s bold move to bring women’s into a single tournament was probably due to pressure, although many women have tried and failed to win a tour card. Lisa Ashton changed that state in 2019 by becoming the first lady to win though on merit to compete on the PDC darts circuit. Although by her current ranking, it hasn’t been plain sailing. However, the addition of ladies playing in PDC dart tournaments generally from a fans point of view has been favourable.
However, the depth of lady’s darts isn’t as great as the men’s, but the cream is of a standard to compete and win on a combined darts circuit. It, therefore, may be time for the PDC to review the Q-School System and make several places open for ladies only. With less than 1% currently playing on the circuit, it does seem time for review.
A total of 128 players are granted tour cards. After two years, if the players ranking is in the bottom half, i.e., outside the top 64, they automatically lose their tour card and have to return to Q-school along with new hopefuls to win the tour card back. Making a small number available for ladies’ players could be controversial with some plays but could be a better and new bigging for the sport. Time will tell, but if Fallon keeps playing the way she is, the demand to see more ladies’ players on the PDC circuit will be there.
Not everyone will agree, and indeed, the PDC say Q-School is open to all who wish to compete. Trina Gulliver MBE, who competed in the PDC Women’s Series of events after a long absence from the sport, finished eighth but said she, along with the other top seven players, have been given automatic entry into the 2022 PDC Q-School. Trina is also scheduled to play in the World Senior Tour at the Circus Tavern along with the other greats of the sport, Phil Taylor, Martin Adams, John Part, John Lowe, Ted Hankey, Wayne Warren, Keith Deller, Bob Anderson, Richie Burnett, Les Wallace, John Walton, Tony David, Tony O’Shea, Kevin Painter, Terry Jenkins, Darryl Fitton, Robert Thornton, Roland Scholten, Paul Lim, Peter Manley, plus two Seniors Qualifying School winners.
The dates for the 2022 Qualifying School has yet to be confirmed.