Every year millions of fans from around the world tune in to watch the best and greatest dart players battle it out in the sport’s most exciting tournaments.
The game of darts has come a long way since its inception. What was once a way to pass time in wartime trenches, and what for many years remained relegated to pubs and bars, the sport is now celebrated by millions of fans who tune in to watch the world best compete in world-renowned tournaments and championships.
But with so many of these competitions broadcast every year, it can be difficult to discern the good from the bad. But, since we love making your life easier just as much as we love talking about darts, we’ve prepared a guide to the biggest darts tournaments in the world.
One PDC To Rule Them All
The PDC is not the only ruling body in the world of darts, but it is the best, by far.
The Professional Darts Corporation, known more commonly as the PDC by fans around the world, is one of the sport’s most eminent authorities and one of its busiest organizational bodies. This is why if you want to know about the biggest tournaments in darts, we have to first talk a bit about the organization behind them.
Established in the early 1990s, the PDC first began as a fledgling offshoot of the British Darts Organisation, which had been the de facto governing body in the world of darts for decades.
However, it didn’t take long before the PDC became the premier darts organization. Today, the much younger PDC boasts the sport’s greatest and most popular events, with the biggest prizes and millions of pounds in revenue.
How has the PDC managed to do such things? Well, by being very smart, efficient, and savvy about the whole business. The PDC has prioritized viewing figures, online presence, social media engagement, to ensure continued and consistent growth for the sport.
The PDC regularly stages tournaments that highlight the best that darts have to offer and attract the biggest audiences.
Here are those events.
Professional Darts Tournaments
PDC World Darts Championship
First held in 1994 under the oversight of the World Darts Council (the WDC would transform into the PDC as we know it today), the PDC World Dart Championship is arguably the single largest professional darts event in the entire world.
Currently, the World Darts Championship is held annually at the world-class Ally Pally, though it was held for many years past at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Essex. A total of 96 players will test their mettle at this prestigious tourney, with 32 seats kept open for the winners of a number of worldwide qualifiers. The other 64 seats are granted to the various seeders of the Pro-Tour Order of Merit.
The current champion is Welshman, Gerwyn Price.
The Betfred World Matchplay, more commonly known simply as the World Matchplay, is one of the oldest tournaments offered by the PDC. It also attracts one of the biggest crowds and viewership numbers of the year.
This 32 participant competition is held in Blackpool’s iconic Empress Ballroom, which has now become synonymous with the highest level of darts play. Half of the 32 seats are reserved for the Order of Merit, with the other half going to winners of the Pro-Tour Order of Merit.
All of the tournaments in this list have their fair share of memorable moments, but few of them have generated as much buzz as the best of the World Matchplay. Who can forget the jaw-dropping 9-darter finish in 2002’s tournament by the one and only Phil Taylor, or the absolutely nail-biting finish of 2013’s World Matchplay semifinal round?
The best darts players of the world consistently show up to this hallowed competition and dazzle us with their skill. So, if you want to see the very best that the sport has to offer, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The current World Matchplay champion is the number 2 player in the world, Peter Wright.
The Boylesports World Grand Prix
The Boylesports World Grand Prix is another exciting yearly darts tournament organized and run by the Professional Darts Corporation.
Younger than the previous tourneys in the list, the PDC World Grand Prix has gone through a number of sponsors, including Paddy Power, Sky Bet, Sky Poker, Bodog, Unibet, etc. The current version of the tournament has been sponsored by Boylesports since the 2019 edition.
The Boylesports World Grand Prix is a 32 player, double-start tournament, where players compete over 7 days for upwards of £450,000 in prize money. This is likely the most prestigious darts tournament played in Irish territory, although the 2021 version was held at the Morningside arena in Leicester city.
The reigning champion of the PDC Boylesports World Grand Prix of darts is none other than Worlds Darts Champion, Gerwyn Price.
Ladbrokes UK Open
The Ladbrokes is one of the larger tournaments organized by the PDC, with a participant pool of 160 players. It is also one of the most exciting (the UK Open Darts tournament had a different runner-up for its first 13 editions) due to the unusual format chosen by its organizers.
The Ladbrokes UK Open is often called the “FA Cup of Darts” by its millions of fans. This is due to the unusual format under which it is played. For example, the UK Open has abolished the usual seeding system. Instead, players draw out of a hat to determine their bracket placements.
Additionally, the first three rounds see participants play best-of-11 legs, with only those who register six wins advancing to the next stage. The following 3 rounds, as well as the quarter-finals, work on best-of-19 legs. Then, the semis and final match use a best-of-21 leg format.
The 2021 UK Open champ is James Wade.
Cazoo European Darts Championship
The PDC European Darts Championship is another young entry to our list, with the first edition held in 2008 to give mainland European players an opportunity to test their mettle against the best of the best the world of darts had to offer.
With the 2021 version of this important tournament, the top 32 players in the European branch of the Order of Merit will battle it out over 6 rounds. Players will get drawn into a fixed bracket with the top qualifier duking it out with the 32nd, while the second qualifier testing his skills against the 31st, and so on.
This competition is one of the most profitable for the winners, with the champion taking home a cool 120,000 pounds. The runner-up takes home 60,000 pounds, the semi-finalists each get 32,000 pounds, and even those who get eliminated in the first two rounds get considerable earnings. Those who leave in the top 16 get 10,000 each, while those who leave during the first round elimination take 6,000 pounds as consolation.
The current champ is Peter Wright, and he will have to defend his title very soon as the next edition of the European Darts Championship will take place in October.
World Cup of Darts
The PDC World Cup of Darts is one of the most unique, interesting, and dynamic tournaments held by the PDC, and it is one of my year-round favorites.
What sets the World Cup of Darts apart from the rest of the PDC tournaments? Well, the World Cup of Darts is a team-based tournament, instead of an individual competition.
Much like the FIFA World Cup, the World Cup of Darts consists of 32 teams, each representing one nation, going against each other to decide which is the best dart-playing country. Each nation is represented by two players, the top-ranked and second-ranked players of the country.
Another detail that set the World Cup of Darts apart from other competitions is that it is one of just a few competitions where players from the rival darts organization, the BDO, were invited to play alongside PDC players.
With BDO disappearing this sadly is no longer a thing but PDC is still home to the best of the best so we are guaranteed a show regardless.
The current World Cup of Darts champion in Scotland.
Players Championship Finals
The Players Championship Finals is another large yearly tournament organized by the PDC. Although initially created as a 32 player tourney, in 2016 it expanded to include 64 participants. As such, the Players Championship Finals is home to some truly exciting moments.
While the first Players Championship Finals was held at the world-renowned Circus Tavern, the event has been held at the Butlins Resort in Minehead since the 2012 edition.
This tournament was conceived as a venue for the top-ranked players of the PDC Pro Tour to showcase their skills and abilities. This means that no draw is carried out to determine seed spots. In fact, the 64 best players of the Order of Merit are automatically qualified for the tournament.
Of note is the fact that the Players Championship Finals is home to two, not one, but two 9 nine-dart finishers. The first, by Alan Norris in the 2016 edition, and the second one, by the legendary Michael van Gerwen in 2019.
Unibet Premier League Darts
The Unibet Premier League Darts is one of the busiest tournaments held by the PDC. It is also one of the most exciting to watch since it only features 10 players, taken from the upper echelons of the PDC circuit.
One of my favorite aspects of this competition is that the qualifying players face each other in a double round-robin style battle. This means that everyone faces everyone else. This drives the level of play you see from round to round through the roof.
Two players are eliminated after the first round, with 4 players eliminated after the second round. Leaving the top 4 players in the world competing to see who is the very best.
The Premier League Darts also has some of the best prize money in the entire PDC tourney roster, with the winner taking home a very respectable 50,000 pounds.
This is the elite spectacle in the world of darts and the reason behind much of the sport’s growth over the last few years.
Grand Slam of Darts
Established in 2007 by the PDC, this is another competition where players from the rival BDO were invited to play alongside PDC stars. There have been a couple of grand finals where the two competing players belonged to different organizational bodies, and it was awesome!
This is one of the most prestigious tournaments since participation is reserved for players who have reached the finals and semifinals of the major PDC tournaments across the year. As such, any player who has qualified multiple times to the Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts is recognized as an elite figure in the sport.
An honorable mention must be awarded to the World Masters as it is one of the longest-running traditions in the sport. The tournament was first established in 1974 by the World Darts Federation. The World Masters used to be the final leg of the BDO’s Grand Slam, but since the BDO dissolved in 2020, the WDF announced the launch of the WDF World Masters, with the 2021 edition being held in the Netherlands.
Some of the sport’s most iconic moments have taken place at the World Masters, such as Michale van Gerwen becoming the youngest titleholder at the age of 17, or Stephen Bunting winning the 2013 edition without dropping a single set!
Even though the World Masters is not a PDC event, if you want to talk about the sport’s biggest tournaments, you have to talk about the World Masters.
Where to Watch PDC Tournaments?
The best place to watch PDC Darts Tournament is directly on https://video.pdc.tv/ But the PDC has also established partnerships with broadcasters all over the world.
For example, in the UK and Ireland the following tournaments are broadcast live on SKY Sports:
World Darts Championship, the Premier League, the World Cup of Darts, the World Matchplay, the World Grand Prix, and the Grand Slam of Darts.
The following events are broadcast in the UK on I4TV:
The Masters, the UK Open, the European Championship, the Players Championship Finals, and the World Series of Darts’ international events, as well as the season-ending World Series of Darts Finals.
If you are in the United States or Canada, these events can be seen on the DAZN streaming service, or through the PDCTV service.