THE Professional Darts Corporation was initially formed as the World Darts Council in January 1992, and is now the leading professional body in the sport with over £7 million in prize money being paid out on its global circuit of tournaments.
The WDC was formed after 16 top professional players, along with managers Dick Allix, Tommy Cox and John Markovic, decided to break away from the British Darts Organisation to take the sport to a new level.
The first WDC event, the UK Masters, took place in October 1992 and the first World Championship was played over the 1993-94 festive period, establishing the partnership with Sky Sports which remains to this day.
The World Matchplay event followed in the summer of 1994, and four years later the World Grand Prix was introduced to the calendar to give three major televised events.
In July 2001, the Board of Directors who had carried the PDC forward since its inception decided to step down in favour of a specialist team, headed by promoter Barry Hearn, who came in as Chairman.
The PDC has built up a reputation as the leading innovator in terms of staging professional darts tournaments and as such is constantly looking towards the future and improving the organisation in every area.
Five ranking tournaments are staged live on Sky Sports each year, broadcasting to a global audience of more than 300 million viewers, and 2005 saw the introduction of the Premier League Darts to great success.
The tournament has grown to become the UK & Ireland’s biggest indoor sporting event, being played across 15 league nights around the country, before the top four players then take part in the Play-Offs, and has expanded to be staged in arenas in front of crowds of up to 10,000 fans across a four-month period.
The PDC’s commitment to spreading professional darts worldwide led to the Las Vegas Desert Classic being introduced to the calendar in 2002 and the arrival of the UK Open in 2003, which included a series of qualifying tournaments for professional players which now form part of the PDC ProTour.
The first professional tournament in China was staged in 2004, and the worldwide development has continued with the inclusion of more international qualifiers taking part in the PDC World Championship – with countries such as Japan, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia represented.
2007 saw the PDC introduce the ground-breaking Grand Slam of Darts competition, which features 32 players who have reached the finals of major PDC and BDO tournaments competing in Wolverhampton.
The PDC also introduced the innovative internet-streamed Championship League Darts in 2008, while the PDC World Cup – a Pairs tournament featuring 24 countries – season-ending Players Championship Finals and The Masters events have also been added to the circuit of major televised events.
The PDC continues to go from strength to strength with its central aim to ensure the sport receives the recognition and respect professional darts deserves, with both the Qualifying School – where players can win Tour Cards to compete on the PDC circuit full-time – and the introduction of the PDC Unicorn Development Tour and World Youth Championship guaranteeing a pathway to the top for aspiring stars.
The PDC also work with affiliated organisations for a number of region circuits worldwide, notably the DPA in Australia, SDC in Scandinavia, and in North America, where each region stages a series of ranking events each year which produces qualifiers for the World Championship.
The expansion of the PDC across Europe led to the introduction in 2012 of the European Tour series of events, which has expanded to nine tournaments in 2015 being held in the UK, Germany, Austria, Gibraltar and the Netherlands which give leading professionals and emerging talents from across the Continent the chance to compete at the top level.
2013 saw the introduction of the World Series of Darts, which began with the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters and Sydney Darts Masters and see the world’s top eight players spreading the professional game worldwide, with events in 2015 being also staged in Yokohama, Perth and Auckland.
PDC Televised Tournaments
World Darts Championship
Premier League Darts
World Grand Prix
Grand Slam of Darts
Players Championship Finals
World Cup of Darts
World Series of Darts Finals
PDC ProTour (European Tour events, Players Championships & UK Open Qualifiers)
PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour (for PDPA Associate Members who did not win a PDC Tour Card)
PDC Unicorn Development Tour (for players aged 16-23)