World Darts Championship expanded to 96 players, including two women

Last Updated June 04 2018, 17:53Darts
Are you excited for the PDC World Darts Championship?
Are you excited for the PDC World Darts Championship?

The William Hill World Darts Championship will include 96 competitors and have a record £2.5 million prize fund, including a huge £500,000 to the champion.

The sport's biggest event has seen 72 players in recent years competing in a festival of darts across the Christmas and New Year period, live on Sky Sports, and now the introduction of 24 further qualifiers will also include two female contenders.

Six additional sessions will be added to this year's schedule to accommodate the extra matches, providing greater opportunities for fans to see the World Championship live following the sell-out interest at Alexandra Palace in recent years and a 30 percent increase in Sky Sports’ live coverage to over 110 hours.

Michael van Gerwen sees no reason why women cannot have a chance of winning the title.

Two-time world champion and the biggest name in the game Van Gerwen said: "I think it is a big progression for darts. It is surprising.

"I don't like losing to a woman or anyone, but why wouldn't a woman be as good as a man?

"It will be good, it is a good sign, the prize is growing and the field is growing bigger. It's phenomenal progression.

"It is a good step forward. Why not, why can't women win?"

Current world champion Rob Cross has similar feelings and says that it will move the game forward.

"I think it is going to be amazing," he said. "For the men the averages are higher than what the women are throwing but there is no real reason why that is the case.

"Getting the exposure and doing things like that will bring the women's game on and everyone will want to go and play at the Alexandra Palace.

"There's no reason why they can't throw those averages like the men. It will open the avenues and that is good. The game is only ever going to improve."

The guarantee of women competitors is particularly pertinent given the Professional Darts Corporation's decision to remove walk-on girls in January.

"It is a bit of an experiment, it's a step into the unknown," PDC chairman Barry Hearn admitted.

"It's a long-term project, we are giving them the opportunity. Some of them are good players, but they have got to do it on a consistent basis. I wouldn't have involved them if I was still working with 72 players.

"It has to be a level playing field for everybody and if people rise to the challenge and if they do then good luck to them.

"There's no reason why women can't throw darts as well as men."

Tickets for the 2018/2019 World Championship, which takes take place from December 13-January 1, will go on sale at the end of July, with 90,000 tickets to be available for fans.

Scroll down for schedule, qualifying criteria, format, prize fund, ticket news and reaction

World Darts Championship 2018/19: Daily Schedule

Thursday December 13
Evening Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Friday December 14
Afternoon Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Evening Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Saturday December 15
Afternoon Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Evening Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Sunday December 16
Afternoon Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Evening Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Monday December 17
Evening Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Tuesday December 18
Afternoon Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Evening Session

  • 2x First Round matches
  • 2x Second Round matches

Wednesday December 19
Afternoon Session

  • 3x First Round matches
  • 1x Second Round match

Evening Session

  • 4x Second Round matches

Thursday December 20
Afternoon Session

  • 4x Second Round matches

Evening Session

  • 4x Second Round matches

Friday December 21
Afternoon Session

  • 4x Second Round matches

Evening Session

  • 4x Second Round matches

Saturday December 22
Afternoon Session

  • 3x Third Round matches

Evening Session

  • 3x Third Round matches

Sunday December 23
Afternoon Session

  • 3x Third Round matches

Evening Session

  • 3x Third Round matches

Thursday December 27
Afternoon Session

  • 3x Third Round matches

Evening Session

  • 1x Third Round match
  • 2x Fourth Round matches

Friday December 28
Afternoon Session

  • 3x Fourth Round matches

Evening Session

  • 3x Fourth Round Matches

Saturday December 29
Afternoon Session

  • 2x Quarter-Finals

Evening Session

  • 2x Quarter-Finals

Sunday December 30
Evening Session

  • Semi-Finals

Tuesday January 1
Evening Session

  • Final

World Darts Championship qualifying criteria

Female players will have the opportunity to compete later this year in a UK Qualifier or a Rest of the World Qualifier to claim their spot in the World Championship, where they could emulate previous competitors Gayl King and Anastasia Dobromyslova, with the news following on from Chinese qualifier Momo Zhou’s participation in last weekend’s World Cup of Darts.

The top four players from the 2018 PDC Asian Tour Order of Merit will also compete at Alexandra Palace, along with the leading two players from the PDC Unicorn Development Tour, PDC Nordic & Baltic rankings and the Order of Merit winners from the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour and DartPlayers Australia and EuroAsian Darts Corporation circuits.

In addition, the top ranked American player and top-ranked Canadian player from the Championship Darts Corporation will join the 2018 North American Championship winner in earning a spot at Alexandra Palace.

The World Youth Championship and DPA Oceanic Masters will join knockout events to be held in China, Japan, India, Africa, New Zealand, South America, Germany, Ireland and four qualifiers across Europe ahead of November’s PDPA Qualifier, which is the last chance for professionals to secure one of two places in the World Championship.

Those 32 international qualifiers will join the 32 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers in the first round, with the 32 seeded players from the PDC Order of Merit joining the event in round two.

  • Top 32 from PDC Order of Merit
  • Top 32 from ProTour Order of Merit
  • Plus 32 International Qualifiers:
  • Two PDPA Qualifiers
  • 2018 PDC Asian Tour Top Four
  • 2018 PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion
  • 2018 PDC Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit top two
  • 2018 PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner
  • PDC Nordic & Baltic Top Two
  • EADC Champion
  • Oceanic Masters Champion
  • DPA Order of Merit Winner
  • DPNZ Qualifier
  • German Superleague Champion
  • Central Europe Qualifier
  • South Europe Qualifier
  • West Europe Qualifier
  • East Europe Qualifier
  • PDC China Qualifier
  • Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay Champion
  • North American Championship Winner
  • CDC Top Ranked American Player
  • CDC Top Ranked Canadian Player
  • PDJ Japanese Qualifier
  • African Qualifier
  • South American Qualifier
  • UK Ladies Qualifier
  • Rest of the World Ladies Qualifier
  • Indian Qualifier

World Darts Championship: Prize Fund

  • Winner: £500,000
  • Runner-Up: £200,000
  • Semi-Final: £100,000
  • Quarter-Final: £50,000
  • Fourth Round: £35,000
  • Third Round: £25,000
  • Second Round: £15,000
  • First Round: £7,500
  • TOTAL: £2,500,000

World Darts Championship: Format

  • Final: Best of 13 sets
  • Semi-Final: Best of 11 sets
  • Quarter-Final: Best of nine sets
  • Fourth Round: Best of seven sets
  • Third Round: Best of seven sets
  • Second Round: Best of five sets
  • First Round: Best of five sets

World Darts Championship: Ticket news

Tickets for the 2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship will go on Priority Sale to PDCTV-HD Annual Subscribers on Monday July 23 and on General Sale from Monday July 30. Hospitality Packages will go on sale from Tuesday July 31. Ticket information will be available at www.pdc.tv/tickets.

The PDC have also worked with official ticketing partners SeeTickets to ensure an ethical resale website will be available for fans who have tickets which genuinely cannot be used, with further details to be confirmed in due course.

Reaction

"The William Hill World Darts Championship has become a phenomenon in worldwide sport given its incredible growth in recent years, but this announcement takes the tournament to a whole new level," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.

"The backing of our sponsors William Hill and worldwide broadcasters led by Sky Sports has been matched by the incredible interest from fans who flock to Alexandra Palace every Christmas and watch around the globe.

"The World Championship has grown year-on-year in the decade since our move from the Circus Tavern to Alexandra Palace, which is the perfect home for such a prestigious event.

"Moving to 96 players will not only reward more players from our ProTour, with 32 qualifiers joining the world's top 32 players in securing places in the World Championship, but also gives us the opportunity to expand the international qualifiers.

"Our worldwide growth, in particular through our affiliated tours, has seen greater interest than ever for spots from around the globe as emerging players battle to compete on the biggest stage in darts.

"We also felt that it was important to guarantee two places for female players, which will go to qualifiers from the UK and Rest of the World.

“Combined with the leading professional talents in darts, rising stars from around the world and new faces who win through the qualifiers, this promises to be an incredible tournament and a feast of festive darts for fans either at Ally Pally or watching the tournament later this year.”

Grant Williams, Managing Director of William Hill Online, said: "We're delighted to extend our sponsorship of the World Darts Championship.

"We have a great relationship with Barry Hearn and his team at the PDC and we're thrilled to continue this partnership until at least 2022."

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