Thousands of dart fans from around the World will descend on London's Alexandra Palace for the annual PDC World Darts Championships this December 15 – January 3, 2023. Also known as the biggest party in London, fans dress up in fancy dress with the hope of featuring on TV. However, for the lucky ones that have managed to purchase a ticket, the party comes second to watching the best dart players in the World as they compete for the first prize of £500,000 and the Sid Waddell World Darts Trophy.
The 96 players include the top 32 seeded players by PDC Order of Merit, a further 32 via the Pro Tour Order of Merit, and 32 International Qualifiers, making the event a truly international affair.
New players will find the full support of the dart fans, and underdogs will find a warm atmosphere cheering them on as they have never experienced in the past. Fans at the venue who are eager to get in the thick of the action will surely find some thrill in betting online with top bookmakers such as bet365 and Unibet, while those watching all over the world may take advantage of live in-play bets that are offered online as the action unfolds.
The initial schedule featured two places for women. Although other places are available to all women to compete, gaining a place via the PDC Order of Merit or Pro Tour involves holding a PDC Tour Card; presently, no women hold a card. The last woman to have held a card was Lisa Ashton. However, she lost her card after two years as her ranking fell below the top 64, meaning she had to return to Q-School to win the card back. Lisa did attend but failed to win or gain enough points to be awarded a tour card.
Over recent years the PDC has made places open to women. These were initially given to the BDO/WDF tanked and winners of the former BDO World Champions. However, following the demise of the BDO, the PDC introduced qualifying events for two women to compete to win their place at the biggest darts event in the World. This proved a successful venture for the PDC as the young Fallon Sherrock went on to win two rounds at the 2020 PDC World Championships, the first woman to win in the male-dominated World Championship sport. Her success sent headlines across the World and prompted former Wimbledon Tennis Champion Billie Jean King and a trailblazer to gain women's prize money of a level as the men to send her congratulations. The PDC had found darts had new fans,and the sport grew vastly as a result.
Building on Fallon's success a full Women's Series was introduced. Women now regularly compete in the PDC staged events, with 24 scheduled for 2023. The PDC Women's Series has also opened doors for the highest ranked to compete in the World Darts Champions, The Grand Slam of Darts, and now a separate PDC Women's World Matchplay, which was first won in 2022 by Fallon Sherrock.
Fallon has been invited to play in non-racking PDC events, including as a contender in the Premier League and the PDC Darts showcase events, the World Series. The latter has seen Fallon travel across the Globe and miss some important Women's Series events. With two places available for the World Championships at stake, Fallon failed to qualify, finishing third in the Women's Series Order of Merit. If Fallon hadn't attended the World Series and played in the Women's Series, she may have made one of the two top spots. The second place went to Beau Greaves, the current WDF Women's World Darts Champion, who is tipped to do well in the PDC World Championships.
The PDC may have expected Fallon to qualify, and will commercial success on their hands and the support they have received, they decided to award Fallon a sport at the 2023 World Championships, stating she had women the PDC Women's Matchplay. However, this has not been welcomed by all players and dart pundits, as her award to the World Championships was seemingly unplanned and effectively took one qualifying place away from the PDC tour card holders. Although mixed views on the awarded sport, Fallon has seen a lot of unwarranted negative comments from all quarters. Wayne Mardle and Laura Turner have expressed their views on Sky Sports. Both say Fallon' hate' comes from jealousy.
Fallon has done tremendously well for women's darts and darts in general. Her skill on the dartboard has earned her the opportunity only others can dream about. The PDC is also forward-thinking and wants to build its brand and the sport. The additional spot the PDC has made for the winner of the Women's Matchplay is welcome by more than not.
Many fans have mixed views of the automatic qualification for women players into the prestige World Championship event. Many won't recall the split between top BDO players to form the World Darts Council (WDC), later becoming the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The early WDC World Championships did feature players from several countries. However, their skill level may not have been as high as others in the UK or the Netherlands at the time. Nevertheless, controversial decisions sometimes need to be made for the greater good of the sport.
Since the PDC was formed and Barry Hearn got involved, darts as a sport have grown. Built on foundations the former BDO and Olly Croft had started, darts needed the skill of a top promotor to develop the sport. With over £15 million in prize money available each year, the PDC has made a foundation for the sport to develop, and it is one of the highest-viewed sports on Sky Sports.