The World Darts Championship is the pinnacle event on the BDO (British Darts Organisation) tour and has been running since 1978, making it one of the oldest darts tournaments in the world. From 2020 the event will be hosted at the Indigo at O2, part of the O2 Arena complex in London. Organisers took the decision to move here from the iconic Lakeside Country Club to improve attendances, with the new location providing better transport links and accessibility.
Winning the World Championships is a feat that immortalises dart players and the crowds that attend makes it the most prestigious event on the BDO. The BDO has been able to develop the tournament into more than just a British institution, with fans from across the globe making the trip to the UK in the New Year. Holland in particular has a huge darts following, with Dutch fans ever present across the nine days.
Will There Be a BDO World Championship From 2021?
Following a sustained period of declining viewing and attendance figures for the BDO World Championships, the British Darts Organisation’s commercial division fell into insolvency in July 2020. As a result, BDO Majors such as the World Championship, World Masters and World Trophy have not been scheduled from the second half of 2020 onwards.
The 2020 BDO World Championships, which could be the last ever held, was plagued with financial issues following poor tickets sales. This led to the prize money being slashed from over £350,000 to around £150,000 just days before the tournament was due to be held.
There had been hopes that the BDO could continue as a purely amateur outfit though the organisational failings of the BDO led to the creation of the United Kingdom Darts Association (UKDA) which has secured affiliation with the individual counties responsible for running darts events throughout the country.
About the BDO World Championship
The World Darts Championship takes place throughout the month of January and follows that of the PDC event played over Christmas and the beginning of the new year. The fallout of the BDO to form the PDC has meant that the two tournaments are designed not to clash, although players from one tour will not be able to play the other tour within the same calendar year as part of their rules.
In total there are 32 players that take part in the World Darts Championship proper. These are made up of 24 players that are ranked in accordance with the BDO world rankings and then a series of reginal table qualifiers, regional play off qualifiers and Bridlington playoff qualifiers, battling it out for the remining 8 spots.
The final round of preliminary matches for the 8 players all take place at the main event, being played amongst or before the first round proper. These preliminary round matches are played as the best of 5 sets and can include a wide range of players from numerous countries. Most recently, these have included the likes of Turkey, Sweden, Australia and even the Nation of Brunel.
The matches increase in longevity as the tournament progresses. Each game is best of ‘x’ sets, with a set being played out as best of 3 legs or first to 2, whichever you prefer. The first round starts as best of 5, before working through to best of 7 in the second, best of 9 in the quarter finals, best of 11 in the semi-finals and best of 13 in the final.
What’s pretty unique about the format is that the longer games often see the overall standard and averages improve considerably. As players are able to set about a rhythm over the longer periods, games are often much more competitive and in turn, are much more exciting.
BDO World Darts Championship Match Format by Round
|Round||Best of Sets||First to Sets|
|1st Round||5 sets||3 sets|
|2nd Round||7 sets||4 sets|
|Quarter-finals||9 sets||5 sets|
|Semi-finals||11 sets||6 sets|
|Final||13 sets||7 sets|
Host Venue – Indigo at the O2
London is a huge draw for any sporting event, thanks to the city’s infrastructure and population. The PDC World Championship moved to the capital in 2008 and the BDO did the same for 2020, moving to the Indigo at the O2 which is part of the former Millennium Dome complex in Greenwich.
The maximum capacity of the venue is almost 3000 though this will be reduced to around half that figure during the Darts World Championship to allow for seating.
Lakeside Country Club: 1986 – 2019
The host venue for thirty-three years between 1986 and 2019 was the Lakeside Country Club, based in Frimley Green, which is in Surrey, England. The building is, unsurprisingly, boarded by a lake and was a really nice spot for both dart fans and just general vistors. The Lakeside will very much be remembered as the home of BDO darts due to the venue’s long association with the sport.
The main theatre was a 1,000-seater and offered several vantage points for fans. It was always seen as quite an intimate setting, with the players just a matter of feet away from the fans. One of the more damming stories relating to the location was when a body of a man was found under the frozen lake at Lakeside in 2010, of which the company were fined £85,000 for failing to offer adequate health and safety procedures.
1978 to 1986
There have been two further venues that have held the tournament prior to the Lakeside, and these come in the form of Jollees (1979-1985) and Heart of the Midlands (1978).
The latest prize money originally on offer was a total amount of £354,000. This money was to be split between the men’s and the women’s competition. However, the money was massively weighted in favour of the men’s game, which had a £300,000 pool, with the winner getting £100,000. This compared to a total of £54,000 for the women’s championship, with the winner netting £20,000. Although the men’s prize money had at first been frozen for 2020, the women’s prize pool had been planned to nearly doubled from the £29,000 on offer in 2019.
Following poor ticket sales, the organisers of the 2020 BDO World Championships announced that the total prize fund would be reduced from that advertised before the tournament started with the differences shown in the tables below.
BDO Men’s World Championship 2020 Prize Money Changes
BDO Women’s World Championship 2020 Prize Money Changes
The World Darts Championship is by far the biggest of any tournament on the BDO. To give you an idea, the next biggest is the World Masters with £70,500 up for grabs, before then falling to the World Trophy with £34,000. The Finders Masters is the fourth of the BDO Majors however this was cancelled in 2019 due the tournament failing to find a sponsor. The Chart below shows a comparison of the prize money in these events at the latest running in 2019, with the prize money for the 2018 Finders Masters included.
The comparison between that of the BDO and the PDC is quite staggering in terms of prize money these days. The PDC World Championships has a prize pool of £2.5 million for the 2019/20 season and the winner’s cheque of £500,000 is more than overall prize money that you see in the BDO.
To give you an idea of scope, over the last 2 years on the PDC, the top 32 players in the order of merit have all won £160,000 or more in that period. This is not far off the take home pay for a BDO player if he won all of the Major events (above) in a single year.
The broadcast rights for the tournament are currently held by Eurosport and Quest. Eurosport cover all sessions on their subscription tv service with Quest showing the afternoon sessions and the final on their free to air channel. This current set up will be in place between 2019 and 2021.
Prior to that, the BDO had always been apparent on terrestrial TV. The BBC were proud sponsors of the event for 40 years and with it brought in some impressive viewing figures, peaking at just over 4,000,000 in 1999. But, due to budget cuts and a declining TV audience, the event was finally given the boot by the BBC 2016, before being taken up by Channel 4 in 2017.
Coverage was then split between BT Sport and Channel 4. The contract with BT Sport was the first satellite deal done with the tournament which came about for the 2015 World Championships. As a result, they shared games throughout the week. Below we have the most recent viewing figures for the event.
The finals in the BDO World Darts Championship have varied somewhat in quality over the years. They are often pretty exciting in that a player who’s probably not been in the best of form can cause an upset, much more so than in the PDC.
One that does standout is in the last 10 years no player has managed to average over 100 in the final. In fact, the highest winning average is that of 96.18 when Stephen Bunting won in 2014, who later made the switch to that of the PDC. The lowest winning average in the same time period was Scott Waites, averaging just 86.43 on his way to victory in 2013.
If you compare that to the PDC, there is a big scope in ability. The last 10 finals on that tour have seen 6 of them produce 100+ averages, with the largest being that of Phil Taylor, with a 110.94 average against Raymond van Barneveld in 2009. The lowest winning average was that of Adrian Lewis in 2012, with an average of just 93.06 in his win over Andy Hamilton.
BDO World Championship Finals: 2011 – 2020
|Year||Winner (Average)||Score||Runner Up (Average)|
|2020||Wayne Warren (93.72)||7-4||Jim Williams (94.53)|
|2019||Glen Durrant (95.19)||7-3||Scott Waites (91.38)|
|2018||Glenn Durrant (93.97)||7-6||Mark McGeeney (86.31)|
|2017||Glenn Durrant (93.48)||7-3||Danny Noppert (93.30)|
|2016||Scott Waites (87.54)||7-1||Jeff Smith (84.99)|
|2015||Scott Mitchell (92.61)||7-6||Martin Adams (92.55)|
|2014||Stephen Bunting (96.18)||7-4||Alan Norris (92.19)|
|2013||Scott Waites (86.43)||7-1||Tony O’Shea (81.90)|
|2012||Christian Kist (90.00)||7-5||Tony O’Shea (87.78)|
|2011||Martin Adams (92.13)||7-5||Dean Winstanley (89.08)|
The BDO has been about since 1973 and was founded by that of Olly Croft. The BDO were instrumental in forming a professional tour, that included tournaments all over the UK and also finalising rules of the sport, such as defining the throwing distance for all formats and also heights and dimensions of the dart board itself.
Due to the increase in popularity of darts, the World Championships for the BDO was gaining bigger TV numbers, appearing on both ITV and BBC at the time. Many of the sports sponsors had turned down the chance to carry on investing into the sport though and the top players were becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of prize money and chance to make a living from the sport.
The creation of the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) came about in 1990 in an attempt to improve the image of darts and create a more structured tournament scene for professional players. In total there were 19 players that made the breakaway, including all current and former World Champions that were still playing.
Eventually, the BDO, who had banned all these rebel players from playing in BDO sanctioned events, had to acknowledge that the PDC was now a legitimate governing body for the sport and allowed players to choose between which code they played for.
The first of the BDO World Darts Championships were held in 1978 and hosted at the Heart of the Midlands Club in Nottingham. It was won by a Welsh player, called Leighton Rees, in what would be his only World Championship win. The event lasted just 1 season there, before moving to Jollees at Stoke-on-Trent, before taking up residency t the Lakeside Country Club in 1986, where it remains today.
The most successful player in the tournaments history is that of Eric Bristow. He was able to win 5 World Titles from 1980 to 1986 and also appeared in 5 other finals of which he came runner up. Interestingly, there has only ever been one 9-dart finish at the World Championships, which came about in 1990 by American, Paul Lim.
From 2001 the tournament decided that they were to introduce a women’s World championship to run alongside that of the men’s. The prizemoney is considerably lower at just £29,000, but has created some legendary players nonetheless. Top of the pile has to be that of Trina Gulliver who has won 10 World Titles in total. She famously won the first 7 tournaments, before losing in the final at her 8th attempt to Anastasia Dobromyslova.
In the men’s game, there have been many players that have jumped ship to the PDC after winning the World Championship. These includes players such as John Part, Raymond van Barneveld, Stephen Bunting, Mark Webster and Steve Beaton.
There haven’t been any more successful players in the history of the Worlds than the success seen by the “Crafty Cockney”, Eric Bristow. Winning 5 world titles is a pretty astonishing feat and with it he has become one of the greatest dart players of all time.
Bristow was famed for his laid-back attitude to the game, but also his confidence was one that was unrivalled. He has been able to win pretty much everything in the BDO, including dozens of tournaments held around the world.
He was also one of the founding members of the PDC and many believe that if he had said no the breakaway, there might not have been a PDC in its current form today.
John Lowe & Jocky Wilson
Whilst Bristow was winning pretty much everything in sight around the early eighties, he had two big thorns in his side in the form of John Lowe and Jockey Wilson.
Both were characters in tehri own right, but it was Jockey who was a firm fans favourite, often playing with a cigarette in non-throwing hand or even hanging from his mouth.
Wilson went on to two world titles in 1982 and 1989, beating both John Lowe and Eric Bristow en route to doing so.
John Lowe, a three-time World Champion, was very different to Jockey. He was more methodical and played much slower, but with deadly accuracy.
He went on to win 3 world titles in total, with 5 runner up spots. He beat Bristow once and lost to him a couple of times in what were considered to be the glory days of darts.
Raymond van Barneveld
“Barney” as he is more commonly known, is probably more associated with the PDC these days, but it was in the BDO where he found initial success for darts. He won four world titles in total, from 1998 through to 2005, before then making the switch across to the PDC.
He’s one of several players that have made a hugely successful switch to the PDC in 2006 and from there has won a world title in 2007, with dozens of other tournament wins as well, including the Grand Slam, Premier League and the Desert Classic.