The 2018/19 World Darts Championship is set to have an expanded field of 96 players, with record prize money on offer too. The sport’s continued growth has been recognised by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) in recent years. The pinnacle of world darts expanded to a field of 72 professional players back in 2010 and will grow to 96 this year, with a new pool of international qualifiers expected to get their shot at sporting stardom.
The PDC has also confirmed that a minimum of two female qualifiers will be included in the World Darts Championship this year for the first time ever. Both Anastasia Dobromyslova and Gayl King have qualified in the past, but this will certainly pave the way for putting women’s professional darts into the global spotlight. Chinese pro, Momo Zhou, has also won the right to represent her country at the World Cup of Darts, proving that the ladies can well and truly mix it with the men. This year’s World Championship will feature a women’s qualifier from the UK and a qualifier from the Rest of the World.
Due to the expanded playing field, there will be six additional live sessions for fans to try and get tickets for. The tournament will begin on Thursday 13th December, running through to the final on New Year’s Day as before. The PDC will also have been relieved to hear that William Hill is prepared to continue its sponsorship of the championship until 2022; helping to maintain the tournament’s visibility among the sports bettors that will be seeking the best darts betting tips to profit despite the expanded field and unique prospect of men facing off against female professionals. There are likely to be some lucrative handicap betting markets with the ladies taken on by the bookies to perform on the big stage.
According to PDC chairman, Barry Hearn, the expansion to 96 professionals will “reward more players from [the] ProTour”, consisting of 32 ProTour qualifiers and the world’s “top 32 players”. It will also give the championship “the opportunity to expand the international qualifiers” and help to enhance darts’ exposure on the global stage. The top quarter of professionals on the PDC Asian Tour Order of Merit will gain instant qualification for the World Championship, followed by the top two rising stars on the PDC Unicorn Development Tour. There will also be entrants from the top two of the PDC Nordic and Baltic charts, as well as Order of Merit leaders in the EuroAsian Darts Corporation and DartPlayers Australia tours.
The top darts talent from North America will also be invited to this year’s World Championship. The number-one ranked American and Canadian players will receive entry, followed by the winner of the 2018 North American Championship. It all seems designed to allow all of the world’s best darts players to play together on one extra special stage. Unfortunately, we’ve still got six months to wait until the World Championship, but the World Matchplay is the next big event on the calendar, with more than a week of tightly-contested legs in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. Phil Taylor won last year’s World Matchplay as his final swansong prior to retirement, brushing aside Peter Wright 18-8 in the final to pick up his 16th World Matchplay title and a £115,000 pay cheque.