Top 5 Most Prestigious Darts Tournaments

Top 5 Most Prestigious Darts Tournaments

PDC Darts Tournaments

In a normal year, darts tournaments are running most weeks meaning there is pretty much always something going on and darts bets to make.

But the game has been running on a bit of a broken and beaten schedule for the past few seasons and it’s easy to lose track of which tourneys are the biggest and most prestigious in the game.

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So, for those new to the sport or for experienced bettors simply looking to refresh here is a quick run-through of the best tournaments that darts has to offer.

With an uncomplicated scoring system and a simple list of rules, darts must be one of the easiest sports to start following. After all, “It’s just fat blokes throwing arrows at a board.”

There really is no need for you to be an expert on all things tungsten to get involved with darts betting as you can pick things up pretty quickly.

Here then are the top 5 most prestigious darts tournaments.

PDC Grand Slam of Darts

PDC Grand Slam Of Darts

The darting highlight of November and the last big tourney before the almighty World Championships are held in December, the PDC Grand Slam of Darts was a darts tournament organised by the Professional Darts Corporation that originally encouraged entries from the British Darts Organisation (BDO). This agreement folded when the BDO collapsed into liquidation in 2020.

Since 2015, the PDC have given this event ranking status. The event is held each year in Wolverhampton, for the most part at Wolverhampton Civic Hall and later, temporarily, at Aldersley Leisure Village. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is the event’s most successful ever player with six wins.

It was actually Stoke-born Taylor that won the first three Grand Slam titles, beating Andy Hamilton, Terry Jenkins, and Scott Waites in the first three ever finals. Michael van Gerwen won this event three times in a row from 2015 through 2017 after which Gerwyn Price won back-to-back titles, the only two so far to be held at Aldersley Leisure Village.

Grand Slam participation is made up of finalists from the PDC’s televised events over a 12 month period. Ten of these places have already been taken and there are only four tournaments – The World Cup of Darts, World Grand Prix, European Championship and World Series of Darts – remaining.

If all 16 places have not been filled from those televised events then winners from the PDC’s European Tour and Players Championship events can receive entry into the Grand Slam. There will also be eight players selected from the PDC Tour Card Holder Qualifiers, plus UK and European Challenge and Development Tour Orders of Merit, as well as two Women’s Series qualifiers.

Venue: Aldersley Leisure Village, Wolverhampton

Format: Best of 9 legs, 19 legs and 31 legs

Current champion: Jose De Sousa (Portugal)

Most successful darter: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (6 wins)

Prize money: £550,000

PDC World Grand Prix

PDC World Grand Prix Darts

The World Grand Prix is a PDC darts tournament that takes place each October in Dublin, Ireland. The event has been held in Ireland since 2000 when it was originally held at the Crosbie Cedars Hotel in Rosslare, County Wexford. A year later, the tournament was moved to the Citywest in Dublin.

When the World Grand Prix was launched in 1998, it was designed to replace the World Pairs tournament, which only lasted for three seasons. The most successful player in this event is, unsurprisingly, Phil Taylor, who claimed this crown a record 11 times. That said, The Power was actually knocked out in round one five times during his career.

Venue: Citywest, Dublin

Format: Best of 3 sets, 5 sets, 11 sets, 13 sets and 15 sets

Current champion: Gerwyn Price (Wales)

Most successful darter: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (11 wins)

Prize money: £450,000

PDC Premier League of Darts

PDC World Darts

The third part of the darts triple crown, the Darts Premier League traditionally gets going in February to help kick the darts season, which begins with the Darts Masters at the end of January. The action takes place weekly until May when the play offs are held at the O2 in London. 

When the tournament was launched in 2005, the event was contested by seven players in a series of fortnightly fixtures. Today, there are ten players involved each year, drawn from the top four players in the PDC Order of Merit plus six wildcard selections.

For the first round, event nights are staged in various venues across the UK and Ireland, plus now there are some European nights too. The players all take on each other over these fixtures with earned points being added to the ten-man table. On Judgment Night (around night nine), the two bottom-based players will be eliminated from the tournament while the remaining eight players attempt to qualify for the London play offs, which take place over the May bank holiday.

There have been six overall winners of the Premier League so far in its history. Phil Taylor has dominated the Premier League, winning six out of the thirteen tournaments he starred in and actually went unbeaten in his first three seasons. Taylor eventually lost to James Wade after 44 matches.

Michael van Gerwen has also won the event multiple times with five wins to his name. James Wade, Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld, Glen Durrant and Jonny Clayton are the other players to lift the Premier League of Darts trophy. 

Venue: Numerous host cities, London play offs

Format: Best of 12, 19 and 21 legs

Current champion: Jonny Clayton (Wales)

Most successful darter: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (6 wins)

Prize money: £825,000

PDC World Matchplay

PDC World Matchplay

Dart’s second-largest event and part of the Darts Triple Crown, the prestigious PDC World Matchplay is held in Blackpool each year in July. This is another event that is famed for the fans who really make it what it is inside the Winter Gardens, its home since its inaugural event in 1994. The tournament itself is built around a legs format and is the third of seven ranking events of the year.

The field is made up of 32 darters, 16 of which are the highest-ranked in the game. These are then joined by 16 unseeded ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers. When the event was first held, it was won by an American darter called Larry ‘The Bald Eagle’ Butler, who won against Dennis Priestley 16–12 in the first-ever final back in 1994. 

In 1997, Phil Taylor won the Matchplay for the first time and would go on to collect a trophy haul of 16 Matchplay titles over his career, some 14 more than Rod Harrington and Michael van Gerwen, who have two wins each. Following The Power’s retirement in 2017, the PDC renamed the Matchplay trophy the Phil Taylor Trophy in honour of the completion’s record-breaking champion. 

Venue: Winter Gardens, Blackpool 

Format: First to 10 legs, 11 legs, 16 legs, 17 legs and 18 legs 

Current champion: Peter Wright (Scotland)

Most successful darter: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (16 wins)

Prize money: £700,000

PDC World Championship

PDC World Championships

The biggest, loudest, messiest and most lucrative darts tournament on earth and one that has established itself as essential British Christmas viewing, the PDC World Championship takes place each year in mid-December and finishes sometime around the new year lasting for around three weeks. 

The action comes from North London’s Alexandra Palace, known lovingly by darts fans as the Ally Pally, which has been home to the tournament since 2008, and basically acts as an inebriated celebration of all things darts at that special time of year. The atmosphere in the crowd is strictly party time but on the oche, fierce rivalries emerge as the world’s best darters slug it out for the biggest prize in the sport.

Around 96 players enter the event in the hope for winning the Sid Waddell Trophy, which is named in honour of the legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell who passed away in 2012.

The tournament is the final leg of the Darts Triple Crown and dates back to 1994 as a result of the split in darts, which saw the eventual emergence of the PDC. The PDC was born out of the World Darts Council following their break from the now defunct BDO.

Over the years, there have been ten different winners of the World Championships including one-time winners Dennis Priestley, Raymond van Barneveld, Rob Cross, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price, who won in 2021. There are also two times winners John Part, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson, plus three times winner Michael van Gerwen.

No one has won this tournament more than the now retired Phil Taylor who, in 25 appearances, took the crown a stunning 14 times, to go with his two alternative world titles.

Venue: Alexandra Palace, London

Format: Best of 5 sets, 7 sets, 9 sets, 11 sets and 13 sets

Current champion: Gerwyn Price (Wales)

Most successful darter: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (14 wins)

Prize money: £2.5 million

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Peter Wright Wins World Matchplay At Winter Gardens

Peter Wright Wins World Matchplay At Winter Gardens

Peter Wright World Matchplay

The reintroduction of darts fans to events has had the desired effect on Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright.

After nearly 18 months without fans, we enjoyed a full house this past week at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool

Not so coincidentally, Wright’s last televised tournament win was back in February 2020 when he took down the Darts Masters immediately off the back of winning his first PDC World Championship.

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Now though, in front of a typically boisterous audience, Snakebite has landed another biggie after he became the World Matchplay champion on Sunday night.

Playing well and averaging high

He did so in magnificent form, playing remarkably and averaging high scores all week before beating Dimitri Van Den Bergh in the final.

He is now just the fifth player in history along with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross to have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay in their career.

But it nearly wasn’t to be.

Famously turning his back on the game for 12 years when he lost at Lakeside to Richie Burnett in 1995, Wright was talked back into the game by his wife Jo – who does his hair before each match – and it was her that he dedicated his win.

She was watching on from the crowd following recent back surgery breaking down in tears after the match.

Last year’s winner, Van Den Bergh lived with the Wrights throughout the first lockdown and the respect was there for all to see. 

The Belgian, who was hoping to become only the fourth player to retain the Matchplay title, is now ranked fourth in the world. Hee credits his former landlord with the progress he has made this past 18 months.

PDC World Championship winners?

Back in June, Wright predicted that he would take down the World Matchplay and the World Championship this season and now he is halfway there.

If he continues to play like this, then no one will be able to get close to the Scotsman and stop him from winning the set, except perhaps Dimitri Van Den Bergh, who is clearly destined for even better things.

bet365 have priced up Snakebite at 5/1 to win the PDC Worlds at the Ally Pally at the beginning of next year and are giving odds of 9/1 on Van Den Bergh lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy instead.

Both of these prices will only thin if these two keep up their good form. Wright could well start that tournament as favourite.

Best two darters in the tourney

The 2020 world champ only dropped 33 legs across all of his matches last week when he beat Danny Noppert 10-3, Joe Cullen 11-5, Michael Smith 17-10 before meeting Michael van Gerwen (4/1 favourite for the World Championships) 17-10.

Then, in the final, he beat the Dream Maker 18-9 in a match where he averaged 105.9 and posted a tournament average of 104.91.

Perhaps Wright’s best performance came in the semi-final against Mighty Mike where he averaged 110.37.

While Wright was a good value for the win, Dimitri Van Den Bergh will reflect on his doubles fails throughout the week that ultimately proved costly.

The Belgian was throwing trebles with ease, having numerous chances to land a nine-darter, but on far too many occasions, he couldn’t close out a leg and repeatedly let Snakebite off the hook.

Van Den Bergh, 27, posted a pretty dismal checkout percentage of 27.27% – Wright’s checkout percentage was 57.06% for contrast – which let down his tourney average of 100.16.

The new Matchplay champion, on the other hand, landed 18 of his 31 doubles and shot ten 180s.

This Matchplay defeat was the first of the Belgian’s career, having won the event last year on his debut in the competition. 

Along the way to his second successive final, he beat Devon Petersen, Dave Chisnall, world number one Gerwyn Price and Krztsztof Ratajski.

He also posted 49 maximums, which is the third highest ever behind Adrian Lewis, who pinned 56 in 2013, and Gary Anderson, who scored 52 in 2018. As things stand, Gerwyn Price still hasn’t made it past the quarter final stage at the World Matchplay but has won the PDC World Championships. bet365 has the Welshman priced up at 9/2 to repeat his Ally Pally win in the World Championships which begin in December.

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Dimitri van den Bergh Wins World Matchplay

Dimitri van den Bergh Wins World Matchplay

Dimitri van den Bergh World Matchplay

Darts has a new star in the making after Dimitri van den Bergh saw off Gary Anderson with minimum fuss 18-10 in the final of the PDC World Matchplay last Sunday.

The 26-year-old Belgian world youth champion, who becomes the first youth winner to pick up a ranking TV title, was making his World Matchplay debut but looked increasingly confident as the week commenced in Milton Keynes.

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Van den Bergh is now the first debutant to win the World Matchplay and the first to make the final since James Wade in 2006. The two time World Youth champion is also celebrating his first senior title of any kind.

Played without a crowd, The Dream Maker continued to dance his way to the oche where, over the week, he saw off the likes of Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen, Adrian Lewis and Glen Durrant until he met two-time world champion Anderson in Sunday’s final.

In the match, the new world number 12 hit a 170 to level at 6-6 before pulling off and leaving The Flying Scotsman in his wake with further finishes from 132 and 124.

Out of form, Anderson had to wait until the 24th leg before he hit his solitary 180 of the contest as he was blown aside by the 200/1 pre-tournament outsider who became the first player from Belgium to win a PDC major.

The 2020 Darts Premier League season will resume for Night Seven on Tuesday, August 25 where Milton Keynes will once again play host.

That is for the next six rounds of fixtures which will all be played on consecutive nights behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena, before the season switches back to Thursday nights from September 17, where play will head out to Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and London.

Dimitri Van den Bergh is not on the list of this year’s Darts Premier League participants but has been swiftly installed as a 33/1 hopeful at bet365 for success at the Ally Pally World Championships this December.

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