5 Feb, 2021
Events

Six members of Target's Elite 1 training and mentoring programme will head to Q School this year, looking to earn themselves a spot on the professional darts circuit.

None of them have yet tasted life on the senior circuit, although all have already competed in various youth and second-tier tours.

Recent Elite 1 graduates Bradley Brooks and Keane Barry are already assured of their places among the 128 Tour Card holders, with World Youth Champion Bradley winning through Q School last year, and Keane earning his spot via his success on the Development Tour.

The format has been revamped this year, making it an even more gruelling process to win a coveted Tour Card. Instead of Q School being contested over four days of action, most players must first win through one of two three-day events (labelled A or B) to progress to the final stage - which is when players who have dropped off the tour, or done well on the Development and Challenge Tour circuits enter the fray.

A total of 29 Tour Cards are up for grabs in Milton Keynes and Niedernhausen, and below we set out who among Elite 1 are looking to win one.

Lewy Williams

Age: 19

Location: Milton Keynes

Stage: Final stage

The Welsh teenager spent a couple of years earning experience in the PDC youth system, and then 2020 saw him take a big step forward. A final on the Challenge Tour, coupled with a victory over Grand Slam Champion Jose de Sousa at the UK Open, started earning him more attention.

The student, who is based in Liverpool, is from the same management stable as Target's Premier League runner-up Nathan Aspinall.

His results on the Development Tour earn him a pass through to the final stage of Q School, which means he can fully focus on the final four days without the stress of dealing with the opening stages.

Jack Vincent

Age: 20

Location: Milton Keynes

Stage: 1A

One of the longest serving members of our Elite 1 set-up, despite only just being out of his teenage years, Jack is yet to fully make his mark in PDC darts. Despite that, Jack has regularly competed in the latter stages of BDO and WDF youth events, and has accrued a good deal of experience.

That may make him one of the better equipped players to come through the first stage of Q School at the Marshall Arena, but winning a Tour Card at the end of the whole process would probably be the most significant victory of his career so far.

Killian Heffernan

Age: 18

Location: Milton Keynes

Stage: 1B

"Top Shot" is one of a number of exciting Irish talents who are currently emerging in darts. A Lakeside Boys' World finalist and part of the successful Irish team to win the WDF Europe Cup, Killian has a pedigree of which to be proud.

While he may have been overshadowed slightly by the incredible achievements of his Target teammate Keane Barry in recent months, Heffernan remains a player of huge potential. It looks likely that the amount of Irish representation is set to increase among the senior PDC ranks, and whether it is this year or further down the line, Killian could well be a part of that.

Nathan Girvan

Age: 18

Location: Milton Keynes

Stage: 1A

The Scottish teenager caught the eye by reaching two Lakeside boys' finals in three years, only losing out to Justin van Tergouw and Target's own Leighton Bennett. Nathan followed that up with his first final on the Development Tour in 2019, although the disjointed nature of the youth circuit in 2020 did not lead to similar success for him.

This will be his first taste of Q School, and there are far more experienced players that have struggled to acclimatise and produce their best. However, if Nathan can settle quickly, he will be a dangerous opponent for anyone.

John Brown

Age: 21

Location: Milton Keynes

Stage: 1A

John's darts managed to do the business at Q School last year, but it was his father Steve who was throwing them at the time. The founder of the Junior Darts Corporation was mainly there to support his son John, ended up borrowing his darts, and then accidentally won himself a place back on the tour.

Now it is time for John to get the job done for himself. This will be the Bristolian's fourth attempt at Q School, and having competed in more than 100 Development and Challenge Tour events, he should actually have the edge in terms of experience over most of his opponents.

Sebastian Bialecki

Age: 17

Location: Niedernhausen

Stage: Final stage

The youngest of our Elite 1 cadre heading to Q School, and the only one to compete in the European branch of it, Sebastian has achieved a lot in the last year.

The teenager from Lodz reached two semi-finals from ten events on the Development Tour in 2020, earning himself a place in the final stage of qualifying.

Bialecki reached the semi-finals of both the big BDO boys' events (the Lakeside and World Masters) and this is his second attempt to step-up to the senior tour. Success would be a major personal achievement, and a significant one for the increasingly powerful daring nation of Poland.

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