The PDC World Darts Championship is the biggest dart competition. This tournament crowns the undisputed world champion of professional darts each year. For darts enthusiasts across the globe, it is the showcase event of the season.
What is the PDC World Darts Championship? The World Darts Championship, commonly known as the Worlds, is the biggest and most prestigious event in the sport of darts. Held annually in December and January at Alexandra Palace in London, the World Darts Championship features the top professional darts players competing for the coveted title of World Champion.
For 19 days every holiday season, darts take center stage with the sporting world’s eyes fixated on London. The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Darts Championship has cemented itself as the most prestigious event in the sport, offering fame, fortune, and the chance for 96 dart-throwing hopefuls to etch their name into history.
History of the World Darts Championship
First held in 1994 after the formation of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), the World Darts Championship boasts a rich history and pedigree in the sport. The tournament succeeded the previous World Championships organized by the British Darts Organisation (BDO), which had been running since 1978. When the PDC split off from the BDO to form an alternate darts circuit, they established their own World Championship as the capstone event.
The inaugural PDC World Championship in 1994 was won by Dennis Priestley, who pocketed the £16,000 top prize. Since then, legendary dart throwers like Phil Taylor, John Part, and Michael van Gerwen have etched their names on the trophy and forever cemented their legacies by virtue of their World Championship triumphs. Taylor, widely considered the greatest darts player ever, amazingly won the World Championship a stunning 14 times.
When the first World Championship under the banner of the newly formed PDC took place in 1994, it instantly gave the breakaway organization credibility and a marquee event to rival the British Darts Organization’s (BDO) existing World Championship. While the BDO initially condemned the PDC as illegitimate, the PDC World Championship quickly matched and then surpassed its counterpart in scale, prize money, and star power.
Tournament Format and Schedule
The World Darts Championship is held at Alexandra Palace in London, affectionately known as the Ally Pally. The total prize money for the tournament is £2.5 million. The champion takes home the Sid Waddell Trophy and £500,000. The runner-up takes home £200,000. There are also incentives for hitting a nine-dart finish and high checkout.
The World Darts Championship features a knockout format starting with a field of 96 players:
- First and second rounds – Best of 5 sets
- Third and fourth rounds – Best of 7 sets
- Quarter-finals – Best of 9 sets
- Semi-finals – Best of 11 sets
- Final – Best of 13 sets
A set is won by the first player to win 3 legs. If a set reaches 2-2, a deciding leg is played to determine the set winner.
The tournament schedule consists of 19 days of play during December and January:
- First & Second Round – Spans 9 days before Christmas
- Third Round – Spans 3 days after Christmas
- Fourth Round – 1 day at the end of December
- Quarter-Finals – 1 day on New Year’s Day
- Semi-finals and Final Round – Spans 2 days after New Year’s Day
How Players Qualify for the PDC World Darts Championship
There are a variety of ways players can earn qualification into the PDC World Darts Championship field:
- The top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit automatically qualify based on rankings are seeded to the second round.
- The highest ranking 32 players from the PDC ProTour Order of Merit rankings are seeded to the first round.
- The final 32 qualifiers earn places through designated PDC international and regional qualifying tournaments are seeded to the first round.
In total, 96 players make up the starting field each year.
Memorable Moments from the PDC World Darts Championship
With its high pressure and high rewards, the PDC World Darts Championship has naturally produced many of darts’ most memorable moments:
- Phil Taylor holds the record with the number of appearances at 25 championships.
- Phil Taylor has the most championship titles at 14.
- Michael Smith holds the record for Most 180s in a tournament at 83 (2022).
- Michael van Gerwen’s title win in 2014 made him the youngest World Champion at age 24.
- 14 nine-darter finishes have been thrown at the World Championship.
- The 2023 final round saw Michael Smith throw a nine-darter against Michael van Gerwen.
The PDC World Darts Championship is no ordinary tournament. This is the proving ground where dart legends are born. The grueling format pushes players to their physical and mental limits, forcing them to dig deep to summon every ounce of skill and determination. Under the glaring lights of the Alexandra Palace, with the roar of the crowd pounding in their ears, this is where the greats show their true colors.
One magical moment, one clutch double or blistering 180, can turn an unknown into an overnight sensation. A deep run here provides unmatched exposure that can launch careers and land lucrative sponsorships. This is every dart player’s chance to seize their moment in the spotlight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the PDC World Darts Championship part of the Triple Crown?
Yes, winning the PDC World Darts Championship, the PDC Premier League Darts, and the PDC World Matchplay is considered the PDC Triple Crown.
Who are some of the best players to never win it?
Nathan Aspinall, Daryl Gurney, Dave Chisnall, and Stephen Bunting are probably the best current players who have never won the World Championship.
How many spectators attend the tournament?
In recent years Alexandra Palace has been selling over 80,000 tickets for each edition of the PDC World Darts Championship.
Who is the oldest player to win the World Championship?
Phil Taylor became the oldest champion when he won his 16th and final world title in 2013 at the age of 52 years.
Where do most of the competitors come from?
The UK has the most representation, but the field also includes top talent from the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Canada, and other countries worldwide.