Darts is a sport in which small missiles are thrown at a circular target ("dartboard") fixed to a wall. Though various boards and rules have been used in the past, the term "darts" usually now refers to a standardised game involving a specific board design and set of rules. As well as being a professional competitive game, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and elsewhere.
Darts in a dartboard
|Highest governing body||WDF|
|Nicknames||throwers, arrows, tungsten, dartsmith|
|First played||approx 1860s United Kingdom |
|Registered players||655 WDF ranked players|
679 PDPA ranked players
|Team members||Team events exist, see World Cup and PDC World Cup of Darts|
|Mixed gender||Separate men's & women's championship although no restrictions on women competing against men.|
|Type||Target sports, Individual sport|
|Equipment||Set of 3 darts, dartboard|
|Glossary||Glossary of darts|
Darts were historically used in warfare in ancient history; skirmishers used darts of varying sizes, similar to miniature javelins. It was the practice of this skill that developed into a game of skill.
Before the First World War, pubs in the United Kingdom had dartboards made from solid blocks of wood, usually elm. They had to be soaked overnight to heal the holes made by the darts, and it was a messy business for the publican, although darts was a popular game.
This changed when a company called Nodor, whose primary business was making modelling clay (which has no odour, hence the name Nodor), started producing clay dartboards in 1923. The clay dartboards never caught on, and Nodor switched to making the traditional elm dartboards that were popular at the time.
Their model of dartboard was not a great success until someone came up with the idea of using the century plant, a type of agave, to make a dartboard. Small bundles of sisal fibres of the same length were bundled together. The bundles were then compressed into a disk and bound with a metal ring. It was an instant success, as the darts did little or no damage to the board—they just parted the fibres when they entered the board; this type of board was more durable and required little maintenance.
Quality dartboards are still made of sisal fibres; less expensive boards are sometimes made of cork or coiled paper. However, several types of sisal fibre are used in dartboards today, originating from East Africa, Brazil, or China. Despite widespread belief that some dartboards are constructed using pig bristles, camel hair, or horse hair, there is no evidence that boards have ever been produced commercially from these materials.
A regulation board is 17 3⁄4 inches (451 mm) in diameter and is divided into 20 radial sections. Each section is separated with metal wire or a thin band of sheet metal. The best dartboards have the thinnest wire, so that the darts have less chance of hitting a wire and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring sections of the board are also normally made of wire, especially on tournament-quality boards. The wire ring on which the numbers are welded can be turned to facilitate even wear of the board. Boards of lesser quality often have the numbers printed directly on the board.
In the late '70s, companies devised and began producing electronic dartboards. These dartboards have electronic scoring computers that are preprogrammed with a wide variety of game types. The board is made of plastic facings with small holes. The holes slant out, allowing the plastic-tipped darts to stick inside. When a dart strikes the board, the section makes contact with a metal plate, telling the computer where the player has thrown. These "soft-tip" darts and automated boards greatly increased the game's popularity in the United States.
Illumination should be arranged to brightly illuminate the dartboard and minimize shadows of thrown darts. The main supply for the illumination should be protected against accidental piercing, or placed away from the board.
The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no triple, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm (9.84 in) across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm (0.157in.). The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and trebles being a quarter of an inch (6.35mm) wide.
There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged, and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.
It is generally said that the standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin, though this is disputed. However, a great many other configurations have been used throughout the years and in different geographical locations. Gamlin's layout was devised to penalise inaccuracy. Although this applies to most of the board, the left-hand side (near the 14 section) is preferred by beginners, for its concentration of larger numbers. Mathematically, removing the rotational symmetry by placing the "20" at the top, there are 19!, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible dartboards. Many different layouts would penalise a player more than the current setup; however, the current setup actually does the job rather efficiently. There have been several mathematical papers published that consider the "optimal" dartboard.
Initially the missiles were simply cut down arrows or crossbow bolts. The first purpose-made darts were manufactured in one piece from wood; wrapped with a strip of lead for weight and fitted with flights made from split turkey feathers. These darts were mainly imported from France and became known as French darts. Metal barrels were patented in 1906 but wood continued to be used into the 1950s. The first metal barrels were made from brass which was relatively cheap and easy to work. The wooden shafts, which were now threaded to fit the tapped barrel, were either fletched as before or designed to take a paper flight. This type of dart continued to be used into the 1970s. When the advantages of using plastic were realised, the shaft and flight became separate entities, although one piece moulded plastic shaft and flights were also available.
Modern darts have four parts: the points, the barrels, the shafts and the flights. The steel points come in 2 common lengths, 32mm and 41mm and are sometimes knurled or coated to improve grip. Others are designed to retract slightly on impact to lessen the chance of bouncing out.
The barrels come in a variety of weights and are usually constructed from brass, silver-nickel, or a tungsten alloy. Brass is cheap but light and therefore brass barrels tend to be very bulky. Tungsten on the other hand, is twice as dense as brass thus a barrel of an equivalent weight could be thirty percent smaller in diameter. Tungsten is very brittle however and so an alloy of between 80 and 95 per cent tungsten is used. The remainder is usually nickel, iron, or copper. Silver-nickel darts offer a compromise between density and cost.
Barrels come in 3 basic shapes: cylindrical, torpedo, or ton. Cylindrical barrels are the same diameter along their entire length and so tend to be long and thin. Their slenderness makes them better for grouping, but because they are long, the centre of gravity is further back. Ton shaped barrels are thin at either end but bulge in the middle. This makes them fatter than a cylindrical barrel of equivalent weight but the centre of gravity is further forward and so theoretically easier to throw. Torpedo shaped barrels are widest at the point end and taper towards the rear. This keeps the weight as far forward as possible but like the ton, gives it a larger diameter than the cylinder.
The shafts are manufactured in various lengths and some are designed to be cut to length. Shafts are generally made from plastics, nylon polymers, or metals such as aluminium and titanium; and can be rigid or flexible. Longer shafts provide greater stability and allow a reduction in flight size which in turn can lead to closer grouping; but they also shift the weight towards the rear causing the dart to tilt backward during flight, requiring a harder, faster throw. A longer shaft will however make the dart less responsive and increase the chance of "wobbling".
The primary purpose of the flight is to produce drag and thus prevent the rear of the dart overtaking the point. It also has an effect on stability by reducing wobble. Modern flights are generally made from plastic, nylon, or foil and are available in a range of shapes and sizes. The three most common shapes in order of size are the standard, the kite, and the smaller pear shape. The less surface area, the less stability but larger flights hamper close grouping. Some manufacturers have sought to solve this by making a flight long and thin but this in turn creates other problems such as changing the dart's centre of gravity. Generally speaking, a heavier dart will require a larger flight.
The choice of barrel, shaft, and flight will depend a great deal on the individual player's throwing style. For competitive purposes, a dart cannot weigh more than 50g including the shaft and flight and cannot exceed a total length of 300mm.
The WDF uses the following standards for play:
Height - the dart board is hung so that the centre of the bulls eye is 5 ft 8 inches (1.73 m) from the floor. This is considered eye-level for a six-foot man.
Distance - the oche (line behind which the thrower must stand) should be 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) from the face of the board. If the face projects outward from the wall, due to the thickness of the board and/or a cabinet in which it is mounted, the oche must be moved back appropriately to maintain the required distance.
The regulations came about due to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world playing at different lengths, with 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) being the compromise length.
The standard dartboard is divided into 20 numbered sections, scoring from 1 to 20 points, by wires running from the small central circle to the outer circular wire. Circular wires within the outer wire subdivide each section into single, double and triple areas. The dartboard featured on the "Indoor League" television show of the 1970s did not feature a triple section, and according to host Fred Trueman during the first episode, this is the traditional Yorkshire board.
Various games can be played (and still are played informally) using the standard dartboard. However, in the official game, any dart landing inside the outer wire scores as follows:
The highest score possible with three darts is 180, commonly known as a "ton 80" (100 points is called a ton), obtained when all three darts land in the triple 20. In the televised game, the referee frequently announces a score of 180 in exuberant style. A "quad" ring appeared briefly between the triple ring and the bull in the 1990s, leading to a potential 240 maximum (three quad-20s), a 210 maximum checkout (Q20-Q20-Bull) and seven dart finishes from a 501 start (five quad-20s, triple-17, bullseye), but was swiftly dropped from professional tournament play after only two years. One make of this board was the Harrows Quadro 240.
Assuming standard scoring, the optimal area to aim for on the dart board in order to maximize the player's score varies significantly based on the player's skill. The skilled player should aim for the centre of the T20, and as the player's skill decreases, their aim moves slightly up and to the left of the T20. At σ = 16.4 mm the best place to aim jumps to the T19. As the player's skill decreases further, the best place to aim curls into the centre of the board, stopping a bit lower than and to the left of the bullseye at σ = 100.
There are many games that can be played on a dartboard, but the term "darts" generally refers to a game in which one player at a time throws three darts per turn. The throwing player must stand so that no portion of his/her feet extends past the leading edge of the oche, but may stand on any other portion and/or lean forward over it if desired.
A game of darts is generally contested between two players, who take turns. The most common objective is to reduce a fixed score, commonly 301 or 501, to zero ("checking out"). The final dart must land in either the bullseye or a double segment in order to win. It is not necessary that all three darts are thrown on the final turn, the game can be finished on any of the three darts. When two teams play, the starting score is sometimes increased to 701 or even 1001; the rules remain the same.
A throw that reduces a player's score below zero, to exactly one, or to zero but not ending with a double is known as "going bust", with the player's score being reset to the value prior to starting the turn, and the remainder of the turn being forfeited.
In some variants (called a "northern bust" in London) only the dart that causes the bust is not counted. That is felt by some to be a purer version of the game, as under the normal rules, as explained above, a player left with a difficult finish, e.g. 5 and one dart remaining will often deliberately "bust" it in order to get back to the easier finish that they had at the start of their go. For example, a player with 20 at the start of their go could miss the double 10 and get a single, miss the double 5 and get a single, leaving them 5 and only one dart remaining. Their best option is to deliberately bust it to get back onto double 10. Under the "northern bust" they would remain on 5.
A darts match is played over a fixed number of games, known as legs. A match may be divided into sets, with each set being contested as over a fixed number of legs.
Although playing straight down from 501 is standard in darts, sometimes a double must be hit to begin scoring, known as "doubling in", with all darts thrown before hitting a double not being counted. The PDC's World Grand Prix uses this format.
The minimum number of thrown darts required to complete a leg of 501 is nine. The most common nine dart finish consists of two 180 maximums followed by a 141 checkout (T20-T19-D12), but there are many other possible ways of achieving the feat. Three 167s (T20-T19-Bull) is considered a pure or perfect nine-dart finish by some players.
There are a number of regional variations on the standard rules and scoring systems.
"Round the clock" is a variation that involves hitting the numbers in sequence, known as "around the world" in Australia and New Zealand. "Jumpers" is a faster variation of Round the Clock believed to have originated amongst the British ex-pat community in Asia.
20 to 1 is a Dutch variation of the "around the world" darts game that differs significantly. This game uses the standard 20 number dartboard with the triple and double rings. In Dutch, it's called "Van 20 naar 1". 20 to 1 is typically played between 2, 3, 4 or 5 players, or 2 teams of max 5 players. The goal of 20 to 1 is to be the first player or team to throw all numbers in consecutive order from 20 to 1 and win the game with the outer or inner bullseye.
"Around the world" is a game whereby each player must hit consecutive numbers on the board in order to proceed to the next round. In a one on one battle, the winner is the person to reach the last number or bullseye. In a team competition, the winner is the first team to reach the last number or bullseye after the round is complete or each member of each team has thrown that specific round.
American Darts is a regional USA variant of the game (most U.S. dart players play the traditional games described above). This style of dart board is most often found in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New York state.
This is played in exactly the same way as a regular game of darts, but using recurve or compound bows to shoot full length arrows from a distance to hit a 60 cm or 90 cm paper target face that looks like a dartboard. These are commercially produced, but usually only in black & white.
A variant of traditional darts played using a blindfold. Often played by people with visual disabilities. Typically a talking electronic dartboard is used to speak the numbers hit, keep score and announce who is throwing next.
Cricket is a widely played darts game involving a race to control and score on numbers between 20 and 15 and the bullseye, by hitting each of these targets for three marks to open or own it for scoring. A hit on the target counts as one mark, while hits in the doubles ring of the target count as two marks in one throw, and on the triples ring as three. Once opened in this manner, until the opponent closes that number with three marks on it of their own, each additional hit by the owner/opener scores points equal to the number of the target (which may also be doubled and tripled, e.g. a triple-20 is worth 60 points). The outer bullseye counts as 25 points, and the inner as 50.
Dartball is a darts game based on the sport of baseball. It is played on a diamond shaped board and has similar scoring to baseball.
Dart golf is a darts game based on the sport of golf and is regulated by the World Dolf Federation (WDFF). It is played on both special golf dartboards and traditional dartboards. Scoring is similar to golf.
This is a regional variant still played in some parts of the East End of London. The board has fewer, larger segments, all numbered either 5, 10, 15 or 20. Players play down from 505 rather than 501, and stand the farthest (9 ft or 2.7 m) away from the board of any mainstream variation.
“Halve it” is a darts game popular in the United Kingdom and parts of North America where competitors try to hit previously agreed targets on a standard dart board. Failure to do so within a single throw (3 darts) results in the player losing half their accumulated score. Any number of players can take part and the game can vary in length depending on the number of targets selected. The game can be tailored to the skill level of the players by selecting easy or difficult targets.
"Killer" is a 'knock-out' game for two or more players (at its best at 4–6 players). Initially, each player throws a dart at the board with their non-dominant hand to obtain their 'number'. No two players can have the same number. Once everyone has a number, each player takes it in turn to get their number five times with their three darts (doubles count twice, and triples three times). Once a person has reached 5, they become a 'killer'. This means they can aim for other peoples numbers, taking a point off for each time they hit (doubles x2, triples x3). If a person gets to zero they are out. A killer can aim for anyone's numbers, even another killer's. Players cannot get more than 5 points. The winner is 'the last man standing'.
Moving Target is a darts game for two or more players in which each round, one player serves as the "setter" to set the target, and each other player is a "scorer" and tries to score points. The role of "setter" rotates from player to player each round. The first player to reach 21 points (or any other predetermined number of points) wins the game. In each round, the setter throws two darts to set the target for the round. The target is equal to either the sum or the difference of the two darts thrown by the setter. Doubles and triples do not count for these two darts. A bullseye thrown by the setter counts for 25. For example, if the setter throws a bullseye and a five, the target is either 30 or 20 (25 + 5 = 30 and 25 – 5 = 20). Once a target has been set, the scorer has three darts to equal the target and score points. Each dart is considered individually. Doubles and triples do count for this dart, so there may be multiple ways to hit the target. A bullseye thrown by the scorer counts for either 25 or 0. A scorer can score between 0 and 9 points per round. If the scorer hits a target number with a single, the scorer gets 1 point. If the scorer hits a target number with a double or a single bullseye, the scorer gets 2 points. If the scorer hits the target number with a triple, the scorer gets 3 points. If the scorer hits the target number with a double-bullseye, this is called a ZARTRON! A player who scores a ZARTRON! gets 3 points and skips their next turn as setter, allowing an opportunity to score again right away.
Shanghai is a darts game of accuracy. Hitting doubles and triples is paramount to victory. This game is played with at least two players. The standard version is played in 7 rounds. In round one players throw their darts aiming for the 1 section, round 2, the 2 section and so on until round 7. Standard scoring is used, and doubles and triples are counted. Only hits on the wedge for that round are counted. The winner is the person who has the most points at the end of seven rounds (1–7); or who scores a Shanghai, which wins win instantly, a Shanghai being throws that hit a triple, a double and single (in any order) of the number that is in play.
Shanghai can also be played for 20 rounds to use all numbers. A Fairer Start for Shanghai: To prevent players from becoming too practiced at shooting for the 1, the number sequence can begin at the number of the dart that lost the throw for the bullseye to determine the starting thrower. For example; Thrower A shoots for the bullseye and hits the 17. Thrower B shoots for the bullseye and hits it. Thrower B then begins the game, starting on the number 17, then 18, 19, 20, 1, 2, 3, etc. through 16 (if no player hits Shanghai).
A reverse form of unscored Cricket, beginning with the bullseye. Once any player has cleared the 17, any players who have not cleared bullseye are eliminated.
Objective is to have the lowest score at the end of the game. Six rounds of darts, the first five are scored at their value (missing the board is 30 points), while the sixth round is one dart that subtracts from the current total.
Objective is to be the first team to reach a score of 150, with only 1-12 counting towards a player's score. Doubles and triples of 1-12 still count, though throws must single in and out. Scoring a bullseye (an ice breaker) will put everyone’s score back to zero. Only three ice breakers can be scored per game.
Of the two professional steel-tip organisations, the British Darts Organisation (BDO), founded 1973, is the older. Its tournaments were often shown on the BBC in the UK. The BDO is a member of the World Darts Federation (WDF) (founded 1976), along with organizations in some 60 other countries worldwide. The BDO originally organised a number of the more prestigious British tournaments with a few notable exceptions such as the News of the World Championship and the national events run under the auspices of the National Darts Association of Great Britain. However, many sponsors were lost and British TV coverage became much reduced by the early nineties.
In 1992 a breakaway organisation was formed, initially known as the World Darts Council (WDC) but shortly after known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The PDC tournaments have a considerable following, although the PDC World Championship attracts lower TV viewing figures than that of the BDO due to the BDO World Championship being free to view on the BBC. However, due to the BBC picking up the inaugural Champions League of Darts set to begin on 24 September 2016, they will no longer be broadcasting the BDO World Championship.
The PDC tournaments often have higher prize money and feature the leading player in the history of the game, 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor. The highly successful BDO player Raymond van Barneveld switched to the PDC and won the PDC World Championship at his first attempt in 2007.
In soft-tip, the World Soft Darts Association serves as a governing body of the sport, with events feature players that play also steel-tip in PDC and BDO events, and other players that compete exclusively in soft-tip events.
The American Darts Organization promulgates rules and standards for amateur league darts and sanctions tournaments in the United States. The American Darts Organization began operation January 1, 1976 with 30 charter member clubs and a membership of 7,500 players. Today, the ADO has a membership that averages 250 clubs on a yearly basis representing roughly 50,000 members.
The BDO and PDC both organise a World Professional Championship. They are held annually over the Christmas/New Year period, with the PDC championship finishing slightly earlier than the BDO tournament. The BDO World Championship has been running since 1978; the PDC World Championship started in 1994.
Both organisations hold other professional tournaments. The BDO organise the World Masters and many Open tournaments. They also organise county darts for their 66 county members in the UK including individual and team events.
The PDC's major tournaments are the World Championship, Premier League, UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and the Grand Slam of Darts. All of these are broadcast live on Sky Sports television in the UK. They also hold PDC Pro Tour events and smaller category events around the UK.
Two Dutch independently organised major tournaments, the International Darts League and the World Darts Trophy introduced a mix of BDO and PDC players in 2006 and 2007. Both organisations allocated rankings to the tournaments, but these two events are now discontinued.
The WDF World Cup for national teams and a singles tournament has been played biennially since 1977. The WDF also organise the Europe Cup.The PDC has their own world cup competition, the PDC World Cup of Darts.
For soft-tip darts, WSDA and DARTSLIVE run THE WORLD, an international tour which serves as the Soft Darts World Championship, with the final tournament referred to as the Grand Final, with the circuit first taking place in 2011. Stages take place mostly in East Asia, with some rounds held in the United States and Europe. Matches during WSDA events are played with both 701 and Cricket during a set, usually with an even amount of both, giving both players throw during both formats, and the final round determined by player choice.
|Year||Winner WPD / BDO||Winner PDC||Women's winner BDO||Women's winner PDC||Winner WSDA|
|1978||Leighton Rees (1)||Not held||Not held||Not held||Not Held|
|1979||John Lowe (1)|
|1980||Eric Bristow (1)|
|1981||Eric Bristow (2)|
|1982||Jocky Wilson (1)|
|1983||Keith Deller (1)|
|1984||Eric Bristow (3)|
|1985||Eric Bristow (4)|
|1986||Eric Bristow (5)|
|1987||John Lowe (2)|
|1988||Bob Anderson (1)|
|1989||Jocky Wilson (2)|
|1990||Phil Taylor (1)|
|1991||Dennis Priestley (1)|
|1992||Phil Taylor (2)|
|1993||John Lowe (3)|
|1994||John Part (1)||Dennis Priestley (2)|
|1995||Richie Burnett (1)||Phil Taylor (3)|
|1996||Steve Beaton (1)||Phil Taylor (4)|
|1997||Les Wallace (1)||Phil Taylor (5)|
|1998||Raymond van Barneveld (1)||Phil Taylor (6)|
|1999||Raymond van Barneveld (2)||Phil Taylor (7)|
|2000||Ted Hankey (1)||Phil Taylor (8)|
|2001||John Walton (1)||Phil Taylor (9)||Trina Gulliver (1)|
|2002||Tony David (1)||Phil Taylor (10)||Trina Gulliver (2)|
|2003||Raymond van Barneveld (3)||John Part (2)||Trina Gulliver (3)|
|2004||Andy Fordham (1)||Phil Taylor (11)||Trina Gulliver (4)|
|2005||Raymond van Barneveld (4)||Phil Taylor (12)||Trina Gulliver (5)|
|2006||Jelle Klaasen (1)||Phil Taylor (13)||Trina Gulliver (6)|
|2007||Martin Adams (1)||Raymond van Barneveld (5)||Trina Gulliver (7)|
|2008||Mark Webster (1)||John Part (3)||Anastasia Dobromyslova (1)|
|2009||Ted Hankey (2)||Phil Taylor (14)||Francis Hoenselaar (1)|
|2010||Martin Adams (2)||Phil Taylor (15)||Trina Gulliver (8)||Stacy Bromberg (1)|
|2011||Martin Adams (3)||Adrian Lewis (1)||Trina Gulliver (9)||Not held||Paul Lim (1)|
|2012||Christian Kist (1)||Adrian Lewis (2)||Anastasia Dobromyslova (2)||Takehiro Suziki (1)|
|2013||Scott Waites (1)||Phil Taylor (16)||Anastasia Dobromyslova (3)||Lourence Ilagan (1)|
|2014||Stephen Bunting (1)||Michael van Gerwen (1)||Lisa Ashton (1)||Boris Krčmar (1)|
|2015||Scott Mitchell (1)||Gary Anderson (1)||Lisa Ashton (2)||Boris Krčmar (2)|
|2016||Scott Waites (2)||Gary Anderson (2)||Trina Gulliver (10)||Boris Krčmar (3)|
|2017||Glen Durrant (1)||Michael van Gerwen (2)||Lisa Ashton (3)||Boris Krčmar (4)|
|2018||Glen Durrant (2)||Rob Cross (1)||Lisa Ashton (4)||Paul Lim (2)|
|2019||Glen Durrant (3)||Michael van Gerwen (3)||Mikuru Suzuki (1)||Royden Lam (1)|
Multiple World Champions
One-Time World Champions
Both the WDF, BDO and PDC each maintain their own rankings lists. These lists are commonly used to determine seedings for various tournaments. The WDF rankings are based on the preceding 12 months performances, the BDO resets all ranking points to zero after the seedings for their world championship have been determined, and the PDC Order of Merit is based on prize money earned over a two-year period.
Darts first appeared on British television in 1962 when Westward Television broadcast the Westward TV Invitational to the south-west of England. 1972 was a big year for darts when ITV started broadcasting the News of the World Championship. Also in 1972 was the start of The Indoor League, which featured a darts tournament, although it was only shown in the Yorkshire Television region in 1972. The Indoor League was shown across Britain on the ITV network from 1973 onwards. Over the next decade, darts coverage expanded with many major tournaments appearing on both ITV and BBC through the 1970s and early 1980s to such as extent about 14 tournaments were covered. In 1978, the World Championships started and were covered by the BBC, the BBC innovated with the split screen showing the throwing of the dart and where it hit the board. However the cancellation of ITV's World of Sport show in 1985 meant they had to cut back on darts coverage but despite this they still showed the MFI World Matchplay and the World Masters until 1988. The BBC also cut back on their coverage after 1988 to such an extent that only one major event was still broadcast on either channel by 1989, the World Championship and this contributed in the split in darts.
With the creation of the WDC/PDC in 1992/93, darts gradually returned to television with Sky Television covering the new organization's World Championship and World Matchplay events from 1994. Sky's coverage continued to increase throughout the 1990s, with more new events added. The PDC's World Championship, Premier League, UK Open, Grand Slam of Darts, World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix are all televised live on Sky. The BDO held on to the contract with the BBC to continue with the BDO World Championship and this was the only tournament shown on free to air television in the UK between 1994 and 2001 apart from the showdown between PDC Champion Phil Taylor and BDO Champion Raymond van Barneveld in 1999 which was shown on ITV, BBC finally began to expand their darts coverage in 2001 when they added the World Masters to their portfolio. However, it wasn't until 2005 that viewers were able to see every dart thrown live at the World Championship. This was the year that BBC introduced interactive coverage on its BBCi service. BBC continued to cover the BDO tournament exclusively until 2012–2013 when ESPN UK started covering the evening sessions while BBC had afternoon session, after the acquisition of ESPN UK by BT Sport, BT dropped the Darts in 2014 but started covering the evening sessions again in 2015. Setanta Sports also televised some BDO events in 2008–2009 and the inaugural League of Legends. Eurosport covered the BDO Finland Open, the BDO British Internationals, the BDO England Open and the BDO British Open in 2006–2007 but dropped coverage of these tournaments however they then returned to Darts in 2013 covering the Winmau World Masters, they have since expanded their coverage to cover the new BDO major the World Trophy from Blackpool and existing tournaments in the BDO such as the 6 Nations, England Open, Scottish Open and Northern Ireland Open.
ITV returned to darts coverage in November 2007, showing the inaugural Grand Slam of Darts — its first major darts tournament coverage in almost twenty years. They continued covering this until 2010 when Sky Sports took over the rights, ITV also showed the European Championship in 2008 and Players Championship since its inception. ITV then increased its coverage in 2013 by signing a deal to cover 4 PDC tournaments per year, the Players Championship, European Championship, UK Open and new tournament the Masters and it was increased to 5 tournaments in 2015 to cover the World Series Finals.
Darts has continued to grow again on television and there now several major tournaments broadcast in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Dutch station, Sport One, DSF in Germany and several other TV stations across the globe also broadcast the PDC events. In Europe, Eurosport broadcast the Lakeside World Championships, BDO World Trophy, and World Masters, having signed a three-year deal in 2018.
In the Netherlands, SBS6 has broadcast the Lakeside (since 1998) and the Dutch Open. They also shown the International Darts League and World Darts Trophy, however they are now defunct. RTL 5 broadcast the Dutch Grand Masters in 2005. Some of these tournaments can also be watched on the internet for free using a live stream, depending on contractual restrictions.
The PDC has also tried to break into the television market in the United States by introducing the World Series of Darts in 2006. It had a $1 million prize to showcase professional darts in the United States. Unfortunately the programme was not a ratings success and was taken from its peak time broadcast slot on ESPN after just a few weeks. The tournament was replaced with a US Open event in 2007 which was screened in the UK on digital television channel Challenge TV, with Nuts TV showing the 2008 tournament.
In places where alcoholic beverages are consumed, English law has long permitted betting only on games of skill, as opposed to games of chance, and then only for small stakes. An apocryphal tale relates that in 1908, Jim Garside, the landlord of the Adelphi Inn, Leeds, England was called before the local magistrates to answer the charge that he had allowed betting on a game of chance, darts, on his premises. Garside asked for the assistance of local champion William "Bigfoot" Annakin who attended as a witness and demonstrated that he could hit any number on the board nominated by the court. Garside was discharged as the magistrates found darts, indeed, to be a game of skill. More recently, in keeping with darts' strong association with pubs and drinking, matches between friends or pub teams are often played for pints of beer.
In the professional game, betting is prominent with many of the big bookmaking companies sponsoring events (particularly within the PDC). William Hill, Unibet, BetVictor, Coral and bwin are all title sponsors of major PDC events.
In the past when Fox Sports broadcast tournaments in the United States, the logos for betting houses such as Ladbrokes were pixelated out and digitally obscured, along with any audible references to them, because of American laws and policies against online gambling; however other US broadcasters usually carry overseas darts tournaments without any edits other than for timing and narrative purposes, and Americans usually cannot visit the sites for betting houses outside of redirection pages.
The 2019 William Hill World Darts Championship was the 26th World Championship organised by the Professional Darts Corporation since it separated from the British Darts Organisation. The event took place at Alexandra Palace in London from 13 December 2018 to 1 January 2019.
In the biggest overhaul since 2006, when 16 extra participants were added, the number of participants increased from 72 to 96. The top 32 from the PDC Order of Merit competed with the 32 highest ranked players on the PDC Pro Tour Order of Merit and 32 qualifiers from around the world, including two female darts players. The tournament length was consequently increased from six to seven rounds, while the preliminary round was dropped. The tournament was played in 28 afternoon and evening sessions (an increase of six sessions over 2018) over the 20-day period with four rest days included for both Christmas and also New Year’s Eve, with 95 matches played.It was the first World Championship without Phil Taylor.
Rob Cross was the defending champion, but lost 4–2 to Luke Humphries in the fourth round.
Michael van Gerwen won his third world title with a 7–3 victory over Michael Smith.Adrian Lewis
Adrian Lewis (born 21 January 1985) is an English professional darts player currently playing in the PDC. Lewis is a two-time PDC World Darts Champion, winning in 2011 and 2012. He is nicknamed Jackpot, as he won $72,000 gambling in Las Vegas in 2005, but he was unable to collect the money as he was 20 years old, below the US legal gambling age of 21.During the early part of his career until 2007, he was a protégé of 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, with whom he practised in their home city Stoke-on-Trent. He made his television debut in 2004, aged 19 at the UK Open.On 2 February 2018, Lewis was suspended by the PDC after an altercation following his win over Jose Justicia at the 2018 UK Open Qualifier 1. Six days later Lewis issued a statement apologising for his actions and announced that he had been fined £3,000 and given a 3-month suspended ban.BDO World Darts Championship
The BDO World Darts Championship is a world championship competition in darts, organised by the British Darts Organisation (BDO). It began in 1978, and was, alongside the World Darts Federation's World Cup of Darts, one of two world championship tournaments until 1993. Since 1994, following a dispute with the BDO and the subsequent fallout, a breakaway group (originally known as the World Darts Council, and now known as the Professional Darts Corporation) stages its own annual PDC World Championship, generally before the BDO version in late December and early January of each year.
The BDO version was first held at the Heart of the Midlands Nightclub in the English city of Nottingham. The following year it moved to the Jollees Cabaret Club, Stoke, where it stayed until 1985. Since 1986, it has been held at the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey.British Darts Organisation
The British Darts Organisation (BDO) is a darts organisation founded on 7 January 1973 by Olly Croft. The BDO is a founder member of the World Darts Federation which was formed in 1976. The BDO is made up of 66 member counties in Britain and organises tournaments for professionals and amateurs.Darts world rankings
Darts World Rankings are a system designed to determine a list of the best darts players in the world based on their performances in tournaments. However, in 1993, a group of former world champions and other high-profile players separated from the British Darts Organisation, meaning there are now two major governing bodies.
Each organisation has its own players, and each has its own ranking system. The ranking systems are used to arrange tournament seedings, which are so arranged, that the number one player in the world will not face the number two player until the final of a tournament, providing they both reach that final.Eric Bristow
Eric John Bristow, (25 April 1957 – 5 April 2018), nicknamed "The Crafty Cockney", was an English professional darts player.
He was ranked World No. 1 by the World Darts Federation a record six times, in 1980 and 81, 1983 to 1985, and in 1990. He was a five-time World Champion, a five-time World Masters Champion and a four-time World Cup singles champion. He won 22 WDF and BDO Major titles and 70 career titles overall. In the 1980s, Bristow's skill and personality helped turn darts into a worldwide spectator sport.
In 1993, Bristow was one of sixteen top players who broke away from the British Darts Organisation to form their own organisation, which became the Professional Darts Corporation.
He retired from competitive darts in 2007 and subsequently worked as a commentator and pundit on Sky Sports darts coverage.Gary Anderson (darts player)
Gary Anderson (born 22 December 1970) is a Scottish professional darts player, currently playing in the Professional Darts Corporation, and a former BDO and WDF world number one. He is a two-time PDC World Champion, having won the title in 2015 and 2016. His nickname is The Flying Scotsman.
Anderson is renowned for his heavy scoring in the game and having one of the smoothest throws. Anderson is a two-time back-to-back PDC World Champion after defeating Adrian Lewis 7–5 in the 2016 final, while he was also a finalist in 2011 and 2017. His other career highlights include winning the International Darts League in 2007, the World Darts Trophy in 2007, the Zuiderduin Masters in 2007 and 2008, the Premier League in 2011 and 2015, the Players Championship Finals in 2014 and the UK Open in 2018 and World Matchplay in 2018 and the Champions League 2018. Between the BDO and PDC, Anderson is a 12 time major winner.James Wade
James Wade (born 6 April 1983 in Aldershot, Hampshire) is an English professional darts player, currently playing in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). He became the youngest player to win a major PDC title at the World Matchplay in 2007, at the age of 24. This record was broken when Michael van Gerwen won the 2012 World Grand Prix at the age of 23.
Since winning the World Matchplay in 2007, Wade has also won the World Grand Prix in 2007 and 2010, the UK Open in 2008 and 2011, the Premier League in 2009, the Championship League in 2010, the Masters in 2014, the European Championship and the World Series of Darts Finals in 2018. Wade has had a career-high ranking of second in the PDC Order of Merit. He has yet to win the PDC World Darts Championship, with the semi finals being his best result.
Wade started his career in the British Darts Organisation (BDO) in 2001 before joining the Professional Dart Corporation (PDC) in 2004. His best performance in a major BDO tournament came at the International Darts League in 2004 and 2007, reaching the quarter finals on both occasions.Michael Smith (darts player)
Michael Smith (born 18 September 1990) is an English professional darts player playing in Professional Darts Corporation events. He is the 2013 PDC Under-21 World Champion and has since won six titles on the PDC Pro Tour. Smith is managed by Tommy Gilmour MBE of Dunvegan Darts and mentored by team mate Scottish darts player Gary Anderson.Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen (Dutch: [ˈmɑikəl vɑn ˈɣɛrʋə(n)]; born 25 April 1989) is a Dutch professional darts player. He is currently ranked number one in the world, having won the PDC World Darts Championship in 2014, 2017, and 2019. He began playing darts at the age of 13. He won the 2006 World Masters and threw a televised nine-dart finish at the 2007 Masters of Darts, becoming the youngest player to do either at age 17. However, after this initial burst onto the darting scene, van Gerwen struggled for consistent form until his breakthrough year in 2012. Improving from world number 38 at the start of 2012 to number four at the beginning of 2013, he won his first major PDC title at the Grand Prix and reached the final at the 2013 World Championship. In 2014, at the age of 24, Van Gerwen became the youngest winner of the PDC World Championship.
After claiming the 2015 Grand Slam of Darts, he completed a set of winning all current major PDC titles at least once during his career. He averaged 123.40, the highest ever recorded in televised darts in a 2016 Premier League match; at one point charting as high as 137. He has dominated darts in recent years, winning 18 tournaments in 2015 and 25 in 2016. Van Gerwen is the second most successful player in PDC history, behind Phil Taylor.PDC Order of Merit
The PDC Order of Merit is a world ranking system used by one of the darts organisations, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Following the 2007 PDC World Darts Championship it superseded a world ranking system based on points being awarded for performances in ranking tournaments.PDC World Darts Championship
The PDC World Darts Championship, known for sponsorship purposes as the William Hill World Darts Championship, organised by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), is one of the two separate World Professional Darts Championships held annually in the sport of darts. The other is the BDO World Darts Championship organised by the British Darts Organisation (BDO). The PDC championship begins in December and ends in January and is held at Alexandra Palace in London. It is the highest profile of the PDC's tournaments, with the winner receiving the Sid Waddell Trophy, named in honour of the darts commentator Sid Waddell, who died in 2012.
The PDC championship began in 1994 as the WDC World Darts Championship as one of the consequences of the split in darts, which saw the World Darts Council break away from the BDO. As a result of the settlement between the BDO and the WDC in 1997, the WDC became the PDC, and players are now free to choose which world championship to enter (but not both in the same year), as long as they meet certain eligibility criteria.
The current PDC champion is Michael van Gerwen. With 14 wins from 25 appearances, Phil Taylor has dominated the competition, last winning it in 2013. Other than Taylor, there have been seven other champions. The other players to win it more than once are Michael van Gerwen (2014, 2017 & 2019), John Part (2003 & 2008), Adrian Lewis (2011 & 2012) and Gary Anderson (2015 & 2016) . The one-time winners are the inaugural champion Dennis Priestley, the Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld (2007), and Rob Cross (2018).Peter Wright (darts player)
Peter Wright (born 10 March 1970) is a Scottish darts player who plays in PDC tournaments. Wright was the runner-up in the 2014 PDC World Darts Championship and is the 2017 UK Open champion. Wright currently resides in Mendham, Suffolk, England and although he was largely brought up in England he chooses to represent the country of his birth.
He is known for his mohawk hairstyle which changes colour each tournament and is made by his wife who is a hairdresser. His nickname is derived from the name of his favourite drink, the Snakebite.Phil Taylor (darts player)
Philip Douglas Taylor (born 13 August 1960) is an English retired professional darts player, nicknamed The Power. He is widely regarded as the greatest darts player of all time, having won 214 professional tournaments, including 85 major titles and a record 16 World Championships. He won eight consecutive World Championships from 1995 to 2002 and reached 14 consecutive finals from 1994 to 2007 (both records).
He won the PDC Player of the Year award six times (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and has twice been nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, in 2006 and 2010, finishing as runner-up in the latter. He was the first person to hit two nine-dart finishes in one match, in the 2010 Premier League Darts final against James Wade. He hit a record 11 televised nine-dart finishes (and 22 overall).
Taylor played in competitions organised by the British Darts Organisation (BDO) until 1993. Amidst growing disenchantment with the BDO, he was among 16 top players who broke away to form their own organisation, the World Darts Council, now known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Just before the final of the 2018 World Championship, Taylor confirmed his retirement from professional darts. He is still active on the exhibition circuit and signed to an equipment deal with Target.Professional Darts Corporation
The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) is a professional darts organisation in the United Kingdom, established in 1992 when a group of leading players split from the British Darts Organisation to form what was initially called the World Darts Council (WDC). Sports promoter Barry Hearn is the PDC chairman.
The PDC developed and holds several championship competitions, including the annual PDC World Darts Championship, the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, UK Open, Premier League, and Grand Slam. It also runs its own world rankings based on players' performances.Raymond van Barneveld
Raymond van Barneveld (born 20 April 1967) is a Dutch professional darts player, currently playing in the Professional Darts Corporation. Nicknamed Barney, he is one of the most successful darts players in history. Van Barneveld is a five-time World Darts Champion (four-time BDO and one-time PDC), a two-time UK Open Champion and a former winner of the Las Vegas Desert Classic, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Premier League. He is also a twice-winner of the World Masters and the World Darts Trophy, and a three-time winner of the International Darts League and the WDF World Cup Singles event.
Also accomplished in pairs competition, van Barneveld has won the PDC World Cup of Darts four times (once with Co Stompé and three times with Michael van Gerwen) and the WDF World Cup Pairs once (with Vincent van der Voort), all whilst representing the Netherlands. He has also won the PDC World Pairs with Roland Scholten.
From January to June 2008, he was the world's number one ranked player. His victory over Phil Taylor in the 2007 PDC World Championship final, added to his four previous BDO World Championships brought him level with Eric Bristow as a five-time world champion; he is one of only three players in darts history to achieve this. He is, along with Michael van Gerwen, one of the most successful Dutch darts players to date, and has had a significant effect in raising the popularity of darts in the Netherlands. He is naturally left-handed but throws darts with his right hand.
In November 2018 van Barneveld announced his intention to retire from darts after the 2020 PDC World Championship.Split in darts
The split in darts refers to an acrimonious dispute between top professional darts players and the game's governing body, the British Darts Organisation (BDO), in 1993. The players were discontented by the game's big decline in television coverage in 1989 and the early 1990s, and by what they saw as the BDO's inability to reverse that decline, culminating in 16 top ranked players, including every previous world champion who was still active, breaking away from the BDO to form their own organisation, the World Darts Council (WDC).
The BDO responded by banning the 16 defectors from all BDO-sanctioned darts events, which included prohibition of remaining BDO affiliated players from even engaging in exhibition matches against any of the defectors. At the BDO's behest, this was endorsed at a World Darts Federation meeting and became a worldwide sanction. A long-running legal battle followed and ended with a Tomlin order in 1997. The BDO recognised the WDC and the right of players to choose which organisation they played for. In return, the WDC recognised the World Darts Federation as the governing body of world darts, the BDO as the governing body of UK darts, and renamed itself the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
The split in the game remains to this day. The BDO and the PDC have separate pools of players and stage their own tournaments. Each holds its own version of the World Professional Darts Championship.World Masters (darts)
The Winmau World Masters is one of the longest running and most prestigious professional darts tournaments, which began in 1974 - even before the current World Professional Championship. The tournament has been sponsored by darts board manufacturer, Winmau for 42–43 years. The World Masters is unusual in darts in that its sets are the best of 3 legs (first to 2) rather than the standard best of 5 legs (first to 3).
It was previously the final leg of the BDO’s Grand Slam title of televised majors, along with the Topic International Darts League, the Bavaria World Darts Trophy and the Lakeside World Professional Championship. However, it is now one of only three major BDO events and is considered to be the second biggest tournament after the World Championship. The champion is prestigiously referred to as the World Master.World Professional Darts Championship
The World Professional Darts Championship is one of the most important tournaments in the darts calendar. Originally held as an annual event between 1978 and 1993, players then broke off into two separate organisations after a controversial split in the game. Each organisation, the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) now organise their own World Championship in January. As a result, there is no longer a unified world champion in the sport.
The BDO have organised their version dating back to 1978, when it was held at the Heart of the Midlands nightclub, Nottingham. The following year it moved to the Jollees Cabaret Club, Stoke, where it stayed until 1985. Since then it has been held at the Lakeside Leisure Complex at Frimley Green, Surrey.
The PDC version started in 1994 after "the split", with a field of players containing all active previous World Champions from the BDO. It was originally staged at Purfleet's Circus Tavern, Essex, before moving to Alexandra Palace, London, for the 2008 World Championship.