British Darts Organisation World No 3 Jamie Hughes has admitted that he will bid for a PDC place with “a heavy heart”.
Yozza spearheads a huge surge to leave the BDO for the PDC alongside big names and former World No 2s Tony O’Shea, Danny Noppert and Jeff Smith.
The PDC are now staging two separate Q School events in Wigan and Hildesheim, Germany – both taking place on Thursday to Sunday - with a record 500 players attempting to secure a lucrative PDC slot.
Despite the new Lakeside champ Glen Durrant’s ‘will he, won’t he’ pantomime throughout the tournament and ending with him staying put at the BDO, there will be a mass exodus of stars leaving for the PDC.
Ex-Lakeside runners-up Noppert, Smith and O’Shea have already confirmed their places and were joined this week by current Hughes and Darryl Fitton.
Hughes becomes the highest-ranked BDO player to switch this year. He admitted: “I have entered Q-School this year. I want to go on record and thank everyone associated with the BDO for their help in the last five years and wish them all the best for the future. It is a decision I made with a heavy heart as I’ve met and am best friends with a lot of the people.
“The proudest moment of my life was in Turkey with Glen Durrant, Mark McGeeney and the captain Scott Mitchell when we won two gold medals at the World Cup; thanks for being amazing team mates.
“Out of my top five moments, four are probably with an England shirt on so thank you to all the England Darts officials for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dreams and the players who I have had the pleasure of being named alongside.”
Hughes will also be joined at Q-School by Stockport duo Fitton and O’Shea. Three-time Lakeside runner-up O’Shea has competed on the BDO circuit for 22 years.
The Silverback will be joined in Wigan by his close-friend Fitton, who was beaten in the second-round of last week’s tournament by eventual winner Durrant.
The Dazzler said: “After 17 years playing the BDO, including 16 World Championship appearances, I have decided to stop playing BDO.
“One of the reasons is to cut down on the travelling. Who knows, I may try one more time after this year is over.
“I’m going to try the PDC Q School. I’m looking at the Challenge Tour and UK and European Tour Qualifiers as I have to have up to three months out after my hip replacement. This should cut the travelling down and help me get back to full strength!”
Scots Cameron Menzies and Jim Walker will be both trying their luck in Q School while former PDC World No 1 Colin Lloyd is making a bid to return to the glory days as is Lakeside veteran Martin Atkins.
Meanwhile legend Raymond van Barneveld has revealed he is learning GERMAN so he can speak to the fastest-growing sector of darts fans.
Barney said: “This whole week and another day next week I am at college to learn German. It’s important for me to be able to speak with my fans in Germany in their own language and do my interviews with German TV in German.”
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)
Photography by Chris Sargeant