The PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) World Darts Championship is the pinnacle of the sport. It’s often thought of as being the highlight of a player’s career and for some, even qualifying is seen as a pretty impressive feat. The money that is involved make this the richest event in darts and winning it can change a players career in a matter of weeks.
The competition is held annually at the Alexandra Place and has been here since the move from the Circus Tavern came about in 2008. The switch was to allow the tournament to expand and accommodate the ever-increasing popularity in both darts as a sport and the World Championship as a tournament.
PDC World Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner (Seeding)||Runner-Up (Seeding)||Score (Sets)|
|2022/23||Michael Smith (4)||Michael van Gerwen (3)||7-4|
|2021/22||Peter Wright (2)||Michael Smith (9)||7-5|
|2020/21||Gerwyn Price (3)||Gary Anderson (13)||7-3|
|2019/20||Peter Wright (7)||Michael van Gerwen (1)||7-3|
|2018/19||Michael van Gerwen (1)||Michael Smith (10)||7-3|
|2017/18||Rob Cross (20)||Phil Taylor (6)||7-2|
|2016/17||Michael van Gerwen (1)||Gary Anderson (2)||7-3|
|2015/16||Gary Anderson (2)||Adrian Lewis (5)||7-5|
|2014/15||Gary Anderson (4)||Phil Taylor (2)||7-6|
|2013/14||Michael van Gerwen (2)||Peter Wright (16)||7-4|
|2012/13||Phil Taylor (1)||Michael van Gerwen (7)||7-4|
|2011/12||Adrian Lewis (2)||Andy Hamilton (17)||7-3|
|2010/11||Adrian Lewis (5)||Gary Anderson (11)||7-5|
|2009/10||Phil Taylor (1)||Simon Whitlock (-)||7-3|
|2008/09||Phil Taylor (1)||Raymond van Barneveld (2)||7-1|
|2007/08||John Part (11)||Kirk Shepherd (-)||7-2|
|2006/07||Raymond van Barneveld (32)||Phil Taylor (2)||7-6|
|2005/06||Phil Taylor (2)||Peter Manley (5)||7-0|
|2004/05||Phil Taylor (2)||Mark Dudbridge (13)||7-4|
|2003/04||Phil Taylor (1)||Kevin Painter (10)||7-6|
About The World Darts Championship
The World Darts Championship or simply the “Worlds” as it’s more commonly known by, takes place through December and January, with a break over Christmas Day. It usually finishes on or just after New Year’s Day in January and is seen by many to signify the start of the Christmas period, such is the stature of the competition for darts fans.
The tournament proper includes 96 players in total. Players are eligible based on world rankings, with the top 32 players in the PDC Order of Merit taking part with the remaining places made up of the next highest 32 ranked players from the Pro Tour Order of Merit and 32 places from a series of international qualifiers and event wins.
The PDC order of Merit qualifiers will be the 32 seeded players and enter the competition at the second round stage. The Pro Tour Order of Merit and International Qualifiers compete from the first round onwards.
PDC World Championship Qualification
|Route of Entry||Number of Players||Round of Entry|
|PDC Order of Merit (Seeds)||32||Round 2|
|Pro Tour Order of Merit||32||Round 1|
|International Qualifiers||32||Round 1|
Each of the matches is played out as a ‘best of’ number of sets. To win each set a player must win 3 legs. The exception to this is the deciding set on matches outside of the first round which must be won by two clear legs. If the deciding set gets to 5-5 in legs, the match becomes sudden death. The following structure is in place for the tournament proper.
Number of Sets by Round
|Round||Best of Sets||First to Sets|
|1st Round||5 sets||3 sets|
|2nd Round||5 sets||3 sets|
|3rd Round||7 sets||4 sets|
|4th Round||7 sets||4 sets|
|Quarter-finals||9 sets||5 sets|
|Semi-finals||11 sets||6 sets|
|Final||13 sets||7 sets|
The games and number of sets make it the longest format in the PDC. It’s often quite challenging for player given that a large number of tournaments that they play each year are leg based often require a much lower number of legs or sets than that of the World Championships.
Alexandra Palace as the Host Venue
As mentioned previously, the PDC World Championship takes place at the Alexandra Palace, which is in Alexandra Park, London. The tournament has been held here since 2008 after previously being held at the Circus Tavern in Essex, London, from the first event in 1994 until 2007.
The scope and expansion of the tournament has meant that the Alexandra Palace is now one of the most iconic darting venues in the world and as a result, pretty much all sessions for all days are either sold out well in advance or with a few tickets being left for cash turnstiles on the day.
There are a number of rooms at the Alexandra Palace, but the darts is held in the Great Hall, which has a capacity crowd of 8,500. In 2017/18 it was reported that across the 15 days more than 68,000 fans came through the doors.
There have been rumours that the tournament could move once again in order to accommodate more fans. This hasn’t been approved and hasn’t gone down too well with dart fans who love the Palace, but in order for the competition to expand, it would be needed, especially given that more people than ever are trying to get tickets.
There is little doubt that the success of darts on the whole has been partly attributed to that of the TV coverage that Sky Sports has offered. It’s been hosting the PDC World Darts Championship, amongst others, for over 25 years now and has been a huge reason to the increase in popularity of the sport and the availability of it on TV.
Sky Sports’ coverage of darts started in 1993/94 when they were filming the World Championship at the Circus Tavern. Back then, the total prizemoney was £64,000. The growth in the event has now meant that the tournament has a prize pot of £2.5 million, making it by far the most lucrative on the tour. In total, Sky offer over 60 day’s worth of darts a year, which includes other tournaments such as the Premier League, World Matchplay, Grand Slam of Darts, World Grand Prix and World Cup of Darts.
The prizemoney for the 2022/23 tournament was set at £2.5 million, the same as the previous year but some £700,000 more than in 2017/18. The £700,000 increase was the largest single increase for any darts World Championship and even darts as a sport. The winner will take home a cheque worth £500,000. Many are also predicting that in the next 10 years the winners cheque will be around the £1 million mark, which will be a mightily impressive feat given where the sport has come from.
Five years previously, for the 2017/18 World Championships, the prize money was split from the total pot of £1.8 million, which was in itself an increase of £150,000 from the 2016/17 championship. The winner that year, Rob Cross, went home with a cheque for £400,000. At this time this was the highest payout that there had ever been. The first player to take home half a million pounds for winning was Dutchman Michael van Gerwen in 2019.
During the 2022/23 tournament there was also a prize pot of £100,000 for any player able to hit two nine-dart finishes. The player would have received £50,000 with £50,000 split between Cancer Research UK and a prize draw winner.
There was one name that dominated professional darts for three decades, and that was Phil Taylor. He’d won it all and won it all on multiple occasions as well. Whilst his stats in pretty much every tournament he has played in have been impressive, his stats in the World Championships, the pinnacle of the game, are just mind blowing.
He entered 29 World Champions in total and won a staggering 14 of them. He’s been runner up 5 times from his 19 finals, which is an incredible strike rate. To put that into content, the next best on the list is the three-time winner Michael van Gerwen before the two-time winners, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and John Part. It’s likely that Taylor’s record of 14 PDC World Championship titles will never be broken. It’s probably worth noting that he also won two world titles on the BDO tour, before making the switch to the PDC.
Michael van Gerwen holds the record for the highest single game average, with a 114.05 in the 2017 semi-final win over Raymond van Barneveld, resulting in a 6-2 demolition. What was incredible about that match is that van Barneveld’s average was that of 109.34, which is the highest losing average of all time and also the 4th highest average outright of all time as well. It’s widely thought to have been one of the best games of darts televised at the World Championship.
In the same year, van Gerwen was also able to produce the highest tournament average with 106.32 en route to his second world title.
List of PDC World Champions: 1994 – 2023
|Name||Nationality||Titles||Finals||First Tile||Last Title|
|Michael van Gerwen||Dutch||3||5||2014||2019|
|Raymond van Barneveld||Dutch||1||2||2007||2007|
History of the Championships
In the early nineties there was some pretty big unrest amongst the top players in the British Darts Organisation (BDO) regarding money involved in the sport and their payouts from tournaments. Many of the top players and all of the current World Champions that were still playing the game decided to break away from the BDO and form a new organisation, originally the World Darts Corporation, but later changed to the Professional Darts Corporation.
This, in turn, gave the power back to the players and whilst a huge risk at the time, enabled to create their own tournaments and more importantly, sponsorship deals to get more money into the sport. The deal went through in 1994 and by then they had the backing of satellite tv company, Sky Sports who have been at the forefront of the sport and broadcasting of the sport ever since.
The first PDC World Championship took place that very same year and was won by Dennis Priestley, one of the founding members and also one of the figureheads who was part of the split with the BDO.
Throughout the first few years the tournament actually had lower prize money than that of the BDO. It wasn’t until 2002 when the PDC first overtook the BDO, being able to bring a bumper package of £200,000 together, some £76,000 more than the previous year.
Prize money has rocketed in recent years and the first £1million prize pool was announced for the 2010 tournament. The largest prize pool was reached in the 2018/19 tournament, worth £2.5 million, some £2.3 million more than the last BDO World Championship.
The success of the World Darts Championship meant that more people were wanting tickets and by 2007 it was decided that the following season they would utilise the extra space that the Alexandra Palace had to offer, which is where they are still be hosted today.
The calibre of players and the general standard that players are required to be at these days has been another factor to the success of the tournament. The tours are now far apart in terms of standard and to give you an idea of the scope, the BDO only ever had 20 occasions where a player has averaged over 100 in a match. To put that in perspective, Phil Taylor alone has had fifty six 100+ averages in the PDC World Championships.
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor
Phil Taylor is the best darts player of all time. There is no one that is anywhere near the level of success that he has seen and there is a good chance that no one ever will. His 14 PDC World titles looks almost impossible to eclipse given the sheer talent in the sport these days and it’s likely he’s going to remain as the best of the best.
One of his most famous finals came against Raymond van Barneveld in 2009, who at the time was probably his closest rival and even throughout his career. Taylor won the match 7-1 in a bit of a thrashing, but the fact that Taylor averaged 110.94 over best of 13 sets was pretty incredible. To be fair, ‘Barney” played well averaging 102, but was just no match for Taylor’s brilliance.
It’s also worth noting that Taylor managed to win eight World Championships in a row from 1995 through to 2002, before losing in the final to John Part in 2003 and then winning three more in a row after that, taking his tally to 11 from 12, with a runners up spot as well.
At some point in his career he’s won it all. This includes sixteen World Matchplays, eleven World Grand Prix, six Grand Slams, six Premier Leagues, four Championship Leagues, five Desert Classics and so many more.
‘Mighty’ Michael van Gerwen
Van Gerwen is probably the closest thing we have seen to Taylor for a long while. The Dutchman, whilst unlikely to eclipse his World Championship record (although most likely out of the current crop of players) has been pretty relentless in his chase for success.
He’s been able to win multiple majors, including his three World championship tiles, three World Matchplays, six World Grand Prix titles, three Grand Slams and six Premier Leagues, to name just a few. Given that, at the time of writing he is still a relatively young player, it looks like he is going to become one of the greats of the game, even at this stage. Whilst he has played fewer tournaments, he actually holds a better highest match average in the Worlds than Taylor with 114.05 in his semi-final with van Barneveld in 2017, some 3 points higher than Taylors 111.21, such is the calibre of ‘Mighty’ MVG.
Rob ‘Voltage’ Cross
As the sport is so competitive, there haven’t been all that many “Roy of the Rovers’” stories at the World Championships, until Rob Cross burst onto the scene. In 2015 he was playing on the BDO where he failed to qualify for the BDO World Championship.
He made the switch across to the PDC in 2016 and even played as an amateur in the 2016 UK Open, making to the last 32 before being knocked out by Michael van Gerwen. That same year he won 3 challenge tour events, topping the order of merit and gaining a tour card for 2017.
In 2017 he started to find his feet and some consistency in the big time. He finished in the last 16 at the World Matchplay, last 32 of the World Grand Prix, quarter-final of the Grand Slam, runner-up in the European championship and reached the semi-final of the Players Championship.
He entered into the 2017/18 World Championship as 20th seed after a remarkably solid first full year on tour. Wins against Siego Asada, Michael Smith, John Henderson, Dimitri Van den Burgh and Michael van Gerwen in the semi-final, set up a dream final against Phil Taylor, playing in his last professional tournament. He beat Taylor in a dramatic final, 7-2 which propelled Cross to third in the world and an invitation to the 2018 Premier League Darts.