• Fri. Feb 26th, 2021

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Raymond van Barneveld retired from the sport following his opening round defeat at the 2020 World Championship; the five-time world champion progressed through the final stage of Qualifying School in Niedernhausen on a dramatic last day of action

Last Updated: 17/02/21 3:33pm

Raymond van Barneveld will return to the professional darting circuit, less than 14 months since retiring from the sport

Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld has regained his PDC Tour Card, just over a year after retiring from darts.

Van Barneveld bowed out from the sport at the 2020 World Darts Championship, succumbing 3-1 to veteran American Darin Young in the first round.

The 53-year-old cut a desolate figure following his departure, but in September last year, he revealed that he was planning a sensational comeback.

Ironically, the Dutchman would have still been in the world’s top 64 had he not relinquished his Tour Card, although this meant he was forced to progress through Qualifying School in Niedernhausen, Germany.

Van Barneveld advanced through to the final stage of Q-School in comprehensive fashion last week, although with just 12 Tour Cards available from a field of 128 players, qualification was no guarantee.

He made an impressive start to the four-day event, reaching the last 16 on the opening day before running into an inspired Martin Schindler, before storming his way through to the semi-finals on day two, with a series of impressive displays.

This put the five-time world champion in pole position to claim one of the eight available Tour Cards via the European Q-School Order of Merit, although a shock first-round defeat to Switzerland’s Stefan Bellmont on day three left his hopes hanging in the balance.

Van Barneveld required a run to the last 16 to guarantee his two-year Tour Card on the fourth and final day, and he duly delivered.

The 53-year-old kicked off proceedings with a whitewash win over Germany’s Daniel Meyer, before battling past former top-16 star Benito van de Pas 6-4 to reach the third round, where he recorded his second whitewash win of the day to dump out his compatriot Willem Mandigers.

Phil Taylor is the only man to have claimed more World Championship titles than Van Barneveld

Phil Taylor is the only man to have claimed more World Championship titles than Van Barneveld

This saw Van Barneveld join the trio of Schindler, Boris Koltsov and Zoran Lerchbacher in confirming their spots via the Qualifying School Order of Merit.

The former Premier League champion also defied a nine-darter from Schindler to prevail in a high-quality last 16 tussle, until he lost out to fellow Dutchman Niels Zonneveld 6-5 in the last eight, to finish his campaign on nine points.

Van Barneveld – the winner of 26 major titles – will now feature in next month’s UK Open, and he will make his return as a PDC Tour Card holder at next week’s inaugural Super Series – taking place from February 25-28 in Bolton.

Watch full coverage of every night of the Premier League on Sky Sports, and stick with us through the year as we bring you the latest darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts

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