The History of World Grand Prix Darts
This year marks 20 years since darts made its way into the World Grand Prix and the world of sports. Since its inception in 1998, the yearly tournament, which originated in Dublin, Ireland, has become world-renowned. Broadcasted on several sports channels, competitors battle their opponents for a chance to leave their marks across the globe.
The skillful game continues to stake its claim in the world of sports, gaining more and more prominence each year. As tournaments come and go, the once unfamiliar game continues to leave its legacy one championship at a time.
Trailblazing a New Era in Sports
The Professional Darts Corporation has become one of the largest known sports organizations in the world. Formerly known as the World Darts Council (WDC), it began with a group of people with a common goal. Dart players and managers came together and decided they would take the sport to new heights. The WDC hosted its first sports event known as the UK Masters in 1992. This later led to a partnership with sports TV giant, Sky Sports. Between 1993 and 1994, the WDC went on to host its next tournament, the World Championship. In 1997, the WDC officially changed its name to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The following year, the World Grand Prix made its television premiere.
As the PDC and darts began to gain more traction in the sports world, changes took place within the organization. The initial location for the tournament was Rochester, Kent, England. However, in summer 2001, the tournament moved to Dublin, Ireland, where competitions would be held long-term. In addition, the original board of directors decided to step down. An entirely new board replaced them. With all the changes, the PDC continues to set the standard and exceed expectations inside and outside of its organization.
Developing A New World of Tournaments and Championships
The Professional Darts Corporation has successfully brought darts to the forefront of sports. At the same time, it has paved the way for contests. The organization has managed to create various tournaments and championships. These events have helped the game of darts to thrive and receive the recognition it deserves.
PDC World Darts Championship
Each year, the organization holds its World Darts Championship, which is also known as the William Hill World Darts Championship. The tournament takes place at Alexandra Palace in London in December and ends in January. It is the most prominent of all the PDC tournaments and the winnings are also prestigious. Winners receive the Sid Waddell trophy, named after the late Sky Sports commentator whose nickname was “the voice of darts.”
The Professional Darts Championship (formerly World Darts Championship) was initially a part of the British Darts Organisation. That is until the “split in darts” dispute occurred. The disagreement between the two organizations began in 1993. This heated conflict resulted in the WDC parting ways with the British Darts Organisation. After settling out of court in 1997, the World Darts Council would officially establish itself as the PDC. This change would also give competitors the freedom to decide which championship they wished to participate in. They would only need to meet the eligibility requirements of the competition.
The UK Open
The UK Open, or the “FA Cup of Darts,” is one of many PDC tournaments. The tournament was first established in England in 2003. The UK Open is an elimination competition that involves 128 players who are competing for a championship title. From 2003 to 2013, the tournament took place during the summer at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, England. A year later, the competition would be permanently set to take place in March at Butlin’s Minehead in Somerset.
However, in 2018, after concern over weather conditions and fan safety, the PDC decided to change the event’s location. The venue decided to hold the tournament “behind closed doors.” A total of 11 competitors withdrew from the competition despite being set to play in three rounds. The 2018 UK Open would alternatively be available to watch on television and via live stream on the organization’s website.
Premier League Darts
Sponsored by Unibet, the Premier League Darts tournament involves the 10 top PDC tournament players. They compete at various venues across Europe. The organization’s Order of Merit ranking system selects four players. Then, there is another selection of six additional players. These players make up the 10 who will compete. The tournament takes place on a weekly basis from February to May each year. Sky Sports first broadcasted the Premier League Darts competition in January 2005.
Sponsorships and Partners
For each category of dart tournament within the PDC, you can find world-renowned sponsors standing behind the event. Since earning its first sponsor, Sky Sports, during the World Championship in the 1990s, the organization has experienced ongoing success. The PDC has continued to receive loyal sponsors and partnerships from some of the biggest brands in the sports world.
Established in April 1991, Sky Sports has become the leading brand in sports television in the United Kingdom and Ireland. From 1993 to 2007, Sky Sports was the only U.K. network to regularly broadcast the PDC Darts tournament. However, British sports network ITV also picked up coverage of Grand Slam Darts, another tournament hosted by the PDC. Sky Sports continues to broadcast live coverage of the PDC World Darts Championship. Other coverage includes the World Matchplay, the World Grand Prix, and the PDC Under-21 World Championship.
Formerly known as Coral, Gala Bingo has been sponsoring the UK Open since 2014. Gala Bingo currently operates under online gambling platform giant, GVC Holdings. Sky Bet and Rileys are also current sponsors of the UK Open.
Betway sponsored Premier League Darts from 2014 until 2017. The company later became the principal sponsors for boxers Carl Froch and George Groves. The promotion was for their epic 2014 Unfinished Business and The Rematch boxing match held at Wembley Stadium. In addition, the sportsbook giant also sponsors a variety of other sports, including football, tennis, boxing, and snooker.
Unibet is among six sponsors representing the PDC Premier League Darts tournament. The online gambling and casino platform also sponsors a variety of tournaments within the darts and horse racing leagues. Unibet recently became a sponsor of Premier League Darts in 2018. The brand, however, has sponsored World Grand Prix Darts since 2016.
2018 World Grand Prix Darts Champion
The 2018 World Grand Prix Darts Winner is Dutchman Michael van Gerwen. Van Gerwen, who also goes by “Mighty Mike,” has been competing for 16 years. He is currently ranked as the number one darts player in the world. Van Gerwen’s playing style has been described as “instinctive and natural,” which allows for a seamless advantage over his opponents. Besides becoming the 2018 World Grand Prix Darts champion, Van Gerwen has quite a few darts tournaments under his belt. These include The Premier League Darts, World Matchplay, UK Open, Grand Slam of Darts, and the European Championship.
The Future of the World Grand Prix Darts
The World Grand Prix Darts has been in constant change over the years. But, it is safe to say it has not been in vain. The organization continues to move forward and has taken with it countless winners, invaluable beginnings, and endless success.
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An energy industry consultant who spends a lot of time on North Sea oil rigs and conducting studies in and around the Arctic Circle. Sean started playing online casino games to compensate for long periods of boredom. In no time he turned from casual player to fan to fanatic and has since made it his mission to study the online casino universe from the players perspective. As a regular participant and contributor to Top Casino Picks, Sean sits in the Top Casino Picks advisory board and oversees our review team.
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