The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), formerly known as the World Darts Council (WDC), is a darts organisation which was formed in 1992, after breaking away from the official British Darts Organisation (BDO). Since its inauguration the PDC has established various competitions including the World Professional Darts Championship. The current chairman of the PDC is sports promoter, Barry Hearn.
The PDC was formed as a result of a period of unrest during the late 1980s when a number of British players were dissatisfied by the BDO’s lackadaisical approach to finding sponsors and gaining television coverage. At that point the only televised darts competition was the Embassy World Championship and players were keen to see the image of darts significantly improved.
In 1992 sixteen darts players (including several world champions) formed a rebel faction which aimed to promote sponsorship and coverage of the game. The following year was the last unified Embassy World Championship, after which the WDC decided that they would no longer be a part of BDO competition. The BDO banned all ‘rebel’ players from county competition and refused to let its members play with any player in the WDC.
After attempting to ban its members from participating in any WDC event a costly and protracted court case ensued which resulted in the BDO formally recognising the WDC as a professional organisation and allowing its players to participate in whichever competitions they chose. In return the WDC agreed to recognise the BDO as the governing body for darts in the UK. Another part of the agreement stated that the top sixteen players at the end of each World Championship as well as any British players ranked between 17 and 32 in the BDO Championships were not permitted to enter the other competition in the following year, although this is not always strictly enforced.
Professional darts competitions consist of games of 501, where the winning player is the first to reach zero from 501. Each player takes it in turns to throw three darts, subtracting the total of their score from 501 each time. To finish the game, players must throw a double (so if 36 is left they must throw double 18 to win). Matches are played either as a leg or set format. In ‘leg format’ matches the players compete to win three legs (games) out of a ‘best of five format.’ Set matches are longer as they require players to win the best of five legs to win a set and then to win the best of five sets. The World Championship and Grand Prix tournaments use the set format whereas the World Matchplay and UK Open tournaments consist of leg matches.
True to its ambitions the PDC have succeeded in getting more television coverage of darts in recent years. Major annual competitions include:
The World Championships
This is by far the biggest competition in PDC darts, taking place from December to January each year. Inaugurated in 1994 the competition was held at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, until 2008 when it moved to a new and bigger home at Alexandra Palace.
Blue Square UK Open
Held in Bolton’s Reebok Stadium each June, the UK Open is a three-day event which works on a single elimination basis. 168 players take part in the competition and a draw is held at the end of every round to determine who plays who.
Las Vegas Desert Classic
Formed in 2002, this is an international competition held in Las Vegas each July.
Stan James World Matchplay
Established in 1994, the World Matchplay is an extremely popular event, held in Blackpool’s Winter gardens and fought in a leg (rather than set) format.
Sky Bet World Grand Prix
Held in Dublin every year, this has shorter opening rounds than most tournaments and, unusually, requires players to start and finish on a double. The Grand Prix consists of set format matches.
Whyte and Mackay Premier League Darts
Launched in 2005, the Premier League is held over the course of five months each year, between the eight top British darts players, with matches hosted by various venues across the country. Since its inauguration the premier league has been won by Phil Taylor.
Introduced in 2007 to replace the World Series of Darts, the US Open was designed to encourage more US players to take part in championship darts.
Grand Slam of Darts
A united competition between BDO and PDC players, the Grand Slam was launched in 2007 between players who had reached the final in both the BDO and PDC World Championships.
One of the key players in the emergence of PDC darts, Lowe played in a World Championship tournament for twenty-seven consecutive years. Unbeaten during his reign as England Captain, he is the only player to have been a world champion in three separate decades.
Lowe achieved most of his honours prior to the formation of the PDC but his PDC achievements include:
- World Championship (semi-finalist): 1995, 1996
- World Matchplay (semi-finalist): 1995
- World Grand Prix (semi-finalist: 2001
Eric Bristow MBE
Like Lowe, Eric Bristow was instrumental in forming the PDC and, although he achieved all his championship wins prior to its formation, he is still regarded as a legendary figure in PDC darts. Known as ‘the Crafty Cockney’ Bristow nurtured the talent of Phil Taylor who, for the last fourteen years, has dominated the game. It is thought that if it wasn’t for Bristow’s influence on Taylor he may have won more championships himself in recent years.
Bristow achieved most of his honours prior to the formation of the PDC but in 1997 he was a semi-finalist in the PDC World Championship.
For the last fourteen years Phil Taylor has dominated PDC British and World Competition. Since 1994 he has won eleven World Championships and lost just four (three of those in the Championship finals)
- World Championship: 1995 – 2002, 2004 – 2006
- UK Open: 2003, 2005
- Las Vegas Desert Classic: 2002, 2004, 2005
- Stan James World Matchplay: 1995, 1997, 2000 – 2004, 2006
- Sky Bet World Grand Prix: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006
- Whyte and Mackay Premier League Darts: 2005 – 2008
- US Open: 2007, 2008-06-13
- Grand Slam of Darts: 2007