World Darts Championship, PDC & BDO

darts-wcA big consequence of darts revival following a dismal period in the late 1980’s was the split between the older British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the newer, elite, Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Some fans find it annoying there are two competing organisations but there is one huge bonus that comes from this set up, two back to back world championships for darts lovers to enjoy.

The PDC Championship, runs from the 13th December 2018 to 1st January 2019 sees the world’s top PDC players compete for a prize fund over £1.8 million with £400k for the winner. Last year the Rob Cross won his first ever PDC championship beating the 14 time champion Phil Taylor in his 20th, and last, final, will he do it again, or will Van Gerwen reaffirm his authority? All the action is broadcast on Sky Sports live from Alexandra Palace in London.

Just five days later the BDO World Championships begins at the home of darts, the Lakeside, and runs from 6th to 14th January 2018. The event, shown now on Channel 4, doesn’t carry the prize money (£340k, winner £100k) or celebrity seen at the PDC event but nevertheless witnesses some fantastic darts from world leading players. Whichever event you prefer we’ve got all the best darts deals on this page to help you enhance your winnings at both world championships.

The PDC Championship is played in a sets format, each set has five legs, in effect it is the first player to get to 3 legs wins the set. A leg is won by the first player to throw from 501 to 0 with a double number required to finish the leg (e.g. 32 left requires double 16 to get out).

Players alternate the throw between legs to even out any advantage. The minimum number of darts required to win a leg is 9.  The first player to hit a nine dart finish during the tournament will pocket £20,000 instantly.

The tournament is made up of a preliminary round followed by 6 rounds proper.

Schedule – 13th December 2018 to 1st January 2019

Day Date Afternoon (From 1pm) Evening (From 7pm)
Thursday 14th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Friday 15th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Saturday 16th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Sunday 17th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Monday 18th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Tuesday 19th Dec 3x Preliminary, 1x First
Wednesday 20th Dec 4x First Round
Thursday 21st Dec 4x First Round
Friday 22nd Dec 3x Second Round 3x Second Round
Saturday 23rd Dec
Sunday 24th Dec
Monday 25th Dec
Tuesday 26th Dec 3x Second Round 3x Second Round
Wednesday 27th Dec 3x Second Round 1x Second, 2x Third Round
Thursday 28th Dec 3x Third Round 3x Third Round
Friday 39th Dec 2x Quarter-Finals 2x Quarter-Finals
Saturday 30th Dec
Sunday 31st Dec 2x Semi Finals
Monday 1st Jan Final

About the PDC World Championship

Towards the end of the 1980’s interest in darts began to wane, competition from other live sports, a loss of mainstream TV coverage and the sports image as an unhealthy booze fueled lads event began to damage its popularity.

In 1992 a group of 16 leading players (including all playing BDO world champions at the time) grouped together to form a new organisation with the mission to bring the sport back as a TV spectacle. The new body was initially called the World Darts Council (WDC).

To begin with WDC players played in BDO events sporting their own insignia. The BDO quickly banned this practice and even went as far as to ban WDC players from playing in BDO events.

After a long court battle lasting until 1997 the inevitable split happened with players able to choose which BDO and WDC events they wanted to enter. The WDC was renamed as the Professional Darts Corporation following the split in which it agreed to recognise the WDF as the world darts governing body and the BDO as the governing body in the UK.

The first PDC world championship was held in 1994 broadcast on Sky Sports. In its early days prize monies were lower than the BDO event but by 2002 had overtook the older format. These days the prize money and prestige of the PDC event is significantly greater than the BDO version. In 2018 the prize money for the winner is expected to exceed £400,000 with an overall fund of £1,800,000 for the 72 players involved.

Dennis Priestley won the first ever event in 1994 with Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor as runner up. Phil then went on to win the next eight titles from 1995 to 2002 before Canadian John Part won the world title in 2003. The normal order then resumed as Phil Taylor won the next three (2004-2006) followed by Raymond van Barneveld in 2007, after switching from the BDO, and Part again in 2008.

Phil Taylor was back at the top if the world again in 2009 and 2010, Adrian Lewis won it back to back in 2011 and 2012 before Taylor won the last of his 14 titles in 2013. Since then Michael van Gerwen took the sport by storm winning at just 24 years of age in 2014 before two recent back to back titles from Gary Anderson in 2015 and 2016.  Van Gerwen won the latest battle beating Anderson in the 2017 final.

The PDC world championship has been held at Alexandra Palace, the former home of the BBC in north London, since 2008. Prior to this all world events had been held at Circus Tavern in Purfleet (Essex).  2018 is the 25th incarnation of the competition.

PDC Records and Statistics

Statistic Name Number / Year
Most Titles Phil Taylor 14 (1995-02, 2004-06, 2009-10, 2013)
Most Finals Phil Taylor 19 (1994-07, 2009-10, 2013, 2015, 2017)
First Winner Dennis Priestley 1994
Last Winner Rob Cross 2018 (1st Title)
Current Sponsor William Hill Since 2015
First 9 Dart Finish Raymond van Barneveld 2009
Highest Average Michael van Gerwen 114.05 (2017 Semi-Final)
Longest Unbeaten Phil Taylor 44 Matches
Most Tournament 180’s 708 (2017)
Most Individual 180’s Gary Anderson 71 (2017)
Most Appearances Phil Taylor 25

BDO Darts World Championship

The BDO world championship has been through some dark periods over the last 30 years, thanks in large part to the formation and success of the PDC. Many still see this format as inferior to the PDC event and If you just look at prize money and average player quality this is probably true.

Many true darts fans however prefer the BDO, it is after all the UK’s governing body and it is far more inclusive compared to the PDC event. The PDC event simply couldn’t exist without the BDO, this is where players find their feet and make their mark in the sport. Consequently, the BDO world title event often throws up more surprises compared to its PDC cousin.

Where the PDC event has been largely dominated by Phil Taylor, and a few others, the BDO championship is a far more open affair with 8 different winners in the last ten years. The event doesn’t carry the same prize purse (£300,000 total, £100k for the winner, £35k runner-up) as the PDC version but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun to watch or any less important to the players.

The BDO world championships had been broadcast on the BBC for nearly 40 years, from 1978 to 2016. From 2017 onwards the spectacle remains free to air and is now shown on Channel 4. This makes BDO darts more accessible to average viewers ,compared with the PDC event, with audiences for the final easily exceeding one million people.

BDO Championship Format

Round Best Of (sets) Number Players Prize Money (£)
Preliminary 5 16 2,000
First 5 32 3,250
Second 7 16 4,500
Quarter-Finals 9 8 6,500
Semi-Finals 11 4 15,000
Final 13 2 100,000 / 35,000

The BDO and PDC formats are similar, both are the best of sets events with five legs in each set (the winner of a set is the first to 3 legs). The game is won the player who gets from 501 to 0 first using a double as their last dart. Players alternate first throw to even up the content.

This tournament consists of a preliminary round followed by 5 main rounds.  The BDO event includes women’s and youth matches that are played in parallel, the tables below shows the men’s draw:

Schedule – 6th to 14th January 2018

Day Date Afternoon (From 1pm) Evening (From 5:30pm)
Saturday 6th Jan 2x Preliminary, 1x First 2x Preliminary, 1x First
Sunday 7th Jan 1x Preliminary, 2x First 1x Preliminary, 2x First
Monday 8th Jan 2x Preliminary, 1x First 3x First Round
Tuesday 9th Jan 3x First Round 3x First Round
Wednesday 10th Jan 2x Second Round 3x Second Round
Thursday 11th Jan 1x Second Round 2x Second Round
Friday 12th Jan 2x Quarter-Finals 2x Quarter-Finals
Saturday 13th Jan 2x Semi-Finals
Sunday 14th Jan Final

About the BDO World Championship

The BDO formed in 1973 and is the founder member of the World Darts Federation (WDF) formed three years later in 1976. The body was established by Olly Croft and set down competition rules from the length of the throwing oche to the size, height and format of the dart board.

The BDO World Darts Championship was first played in 1978, held at the Heart of the Midlands Nightclub (Nottingham) it was won by Welshman Leighton Rees who pocketed £3,000 from a total prize fund of £10,500. The following year the event moved to Jollees Cabaret Club (Stoke) where it remained until 1984.

Eric Bristow, the crafty cockney, won his first title in 1980, and he, along with other darts personalities such as Jockey Wilson helped create a bubble around the sport.

The BDO world event was broadcast on the BBC from its inception and it was this coverage, along with some fantastic commentators and personalities that helped the sport become what it is today. In 1983 millions of people watched as a 23-year-old qualifier, Keith Deller from Ipswich, defeated the great Eric Bristow, cementing darts as part of the popular culture of the time.

Phil Taylor won the event in 1990 and then again in 1992 but not even The Power could slow the sliding fortunes of darts at the time. The split of the PDC and the ensuing court battles only served to further damage the fortunes of a sport then famed for its unhealthy image.

For many years, the BDO came to play second fiddle to the PDC Championship although I think it is fair to say in recent years the fortunes and popularity of the BDO event has increased markedly, thanks in some ways to an ever-growing international audience.

In 1987 the BDO World Championship event moved to the Lakeside where it has remained since. The Lakeside is often termed ‘the home of darts’ and can create a special atmosphere that in my opinion the PDC cannot compete with, literally for love nor money. True darts lovers swear by the BDO event, the PDC title is fun to watch but this is where the real darts happens and where you will find the future superstars of the game.

The 2017 title was won by Glen Durrant, the Englishman winning for the first time and 2018 promises to be as open a tournament as ever before. From a betting perspective you are far more likely to pick up a long odds bet to win or place in the BDO event compared to the PDC.

Whichever format you prefer, PDC or BDO, I think it’s fantastic to have two world class events back to back each year, fans of other sports must be jealous.

BDO Records and Statistics

Statistic Name Number / Year
Most Titles Eric Bristow 5 (1980-81, 1984-86)
Most Finals Eric Bristow 10 (1980-81, 1983-87, 1989-91)
First Winner Leighton Rees 1978
Last Winner Glen Durrant 2017
Current Sponsor Lakeside Country Club Since 2004
First 9 Dart Finish Paul Lim 1990
Highest Average Raymond van Barneveld 103.83 (2004 QF)
Youngest Winner Jelle Klaasen 21y 90d (2006)
Oldest Winner Martin Adams 54y 224d (2011)
Most Appearances Martin Adams 24

History of Darts

darts-wc2Darts has seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years not see since the sports heyday in 1980’s. This driven partly by better TV coverage and sponsorship but is also down to the sport has shaking off its boozy, Smokey, lad’s night out image that lingered over darts for many years.  The history of the sport however goes back way further.

The game of darts has been a staple of British and European culture for centuries, ultimately going back to the ages when throwing arrows was a far more serious life and death affair. The sport was first documented by the Greeks whose soldiers would throw spears into upended barrels as a form of entertainment between combat.

Darts as the game we know it today traces its history back to early public taverns from the middle ages onwards. The game was much more rudimentary and basically involved throwing long arrows at a slice of tree trunk fixed to a wall. It has been suggested that the natural growth rings of the trees trunks or masts used as early boards acted as a way of scoring and went on to dictate the concentric formation of the modern board.

Throwing arrows as a game was particularly enjoyed by sailors who are believed to have been responsible for propagating the game throughout the British empire and commonwealth. It is also this association with working class drinking culture that never quite went away from the sport until very recently.

The game became more refined as cork boards replaced tree trunks, the darts themselves became more fit for purpose and paper flights were invented (1898). The 1-20 number system was established in 1896 however by the turn of the 20th century tens, if not hundreds, of forms of the game existed. There were local, sometimes even tavern specific, rules on scoring, board design and throwing distance. A darts player from Manchester could not be said to be playing the same game as a player form the east end of London.

Surprisingly it was as late as 1954 that first National Darts Association was established to bring some uniformity to the game. The BDO was founded in 1973 and the World Darts Federation in 1976 and prior to the PDC split in 1992 the game enjoyed some of its greatest popularity in the 1980’s with live events on the BBC and celebrity players such as Jockey Wilson and Eric Bristow.

The sport of darts has however seen a rejuvenation in the last ten or more years. Heightened interest overseas combined with massive new sponsorship deals, TV revenues, younger players and a younger audience and a cleanup of the games image in general has all helped create a family friendly sport that is almost addictive to watch.

The positioning of the major world title events over the Christmas period and the underlying rivalry between the BDO and PDC only serves to create more interest and intrigue in the wonderful old game of arrows.