Ted Hankey to lead exodus from BDO to PDC, says Barry Hearn
Ted Hankey could be the first of many players to make the switch from BDO to PDC according to darts supremo Barry Hearn.
The 43-year-old made the decision following his semi-final defeat at Lakeside to Christian Kist.
"I'll miss this place but it's time to move on," he said.
BDO world number three Dean Winstanley also heads 160 entries for the 2012 PDC Pro Tour qualifying school.
The second qualifying school will be held from 19 January to 22 January, offering any darts player the chance to win a tour card to compete on the PDC's £5m circuit.
Other entries include former World Masters winner Tony West and his brother Steve, who both competed alongside Winstanley in the Lakeside Championship last week.
PDC tour cards will be awarded to the four semi-finalists from each one-day tournament staged from 19-22 January.
Ranking points will also be allocated for finishing positions in each event, this then forms a ranking list from which further players will receive a tour card.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live earlier Hearn said: "Darts is an exploding sport, there's huge amounts of opportunity, huge amounts of money and there's no surprise these players are making the move."
Fifteen-time world champion Phil Taylor recently urged Hankey to join him on the PDC circuit, saying: "Ted should show some bottle, come over and have a go. We're both Stokies and I want him to come over."
The PDC was first formed in 1992 with just 16 players, there are now over 400.
Hankey is the latest big name player to make the switch, the last one being Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld in 2006, after 15 years on the tour.
The Stoke born player made his debut in the BDO World Championships in 1998, reaching the quarter finals.
His first title came two years later beating Ronnie Baxter 6-0 in the final.
He reached the final again 12 months later, losing to John Walton before winning a second title in 2009 beating Tony O'Shea 7-6.
Hearn predicts that "The Count" will be a big hit.
"He's a big character and he's going to be a big success in the PDC circuit," he said.
"He's got something about him.
"That's the thing about sport these days is that the characters who play the game make it more exciting for the punters to go and watch and of course if they play at the highest level then they're a valuable addition."