Professional Darts Corporation


Professional Darts Corporation

The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) is a professional darts organisation, established in the United Kingdom during 1992 which split from the officially-recognised British Darts Organisation. Barry Hearn, a long-time established sports promoter, is its current chairman.

The PDC developed and holds several championship competitions including its own annual World Professional Darts Championship. It also runs its own world rankings based on players' performances. The PDC have various ranking competitions that are held in the annual calendar such as the UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic, World Matchplay and the World Championship held at the Alexandra Palace, London.

History

"See main article: Split in darts"

In the 1980s professional darts in Britain haemorrhaged sponsors and lost most of its television coverage. From 1987 the only televised event was the annual Embassy World Championship. Some of the players felt that not enough was being done by the governing body, the British Darts Organisation to encourage new sponsors into their sport and television coverage should be greater than just one event a year.

As a result, 16 professional players including every previous BDO World Champion who was still active in the game, created their own darts organisation named the World Darts Council (WDC) in January 1992. [ [http://www.planetdarts.tv/page/PDCHistory/0,,10180,00.html History of PDC - created January 1992] ]

consultant to improve the image of the game. The 1993 Embassy World Championship was the last time all the players played in one unified competition. The WDC players wore their new insignia on their sleeves during the tournament but were told to remove them by the BDO [ [http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/westondartsleague/DartsPages/history-darts.htm History of Darts] ] . The WDC players decided that if they were not going to be recognised by the BDO they would no longer play in the Embassy tournament.

The BDO took the step to ban the rebel players from playing in county darts and even threatened to ban any player who participated in exhibition events with WDC players. [ [http://www.theiceman.co.uk/split.htm Alan Warriner web site on darts split] ]

Tomlin order

The BDO banned the break-away players from their events and international matches - they even threatened to ban other BDO players if they held exhibition matches against WDC players. The WDC players took the matter to court in a dispute which accrued large and perhaps unaffordable costs during a protracted legal process. The two bodies reached an out-of-court settlement on June 30, 1997 in the form of a Tomlin order. [ [http://www.bdodarts.com/Section%20L%20-%20World%20Professional%20Championship%20(Men)%20-%20Lakeside.doc Extracts from Tomlin order (see page 13 Word Document)] ]

The BDO recognized the WDC and agreed that all players shall have the freedom of choice as to which open events they wish to play in. The WDC dropped its claim to be a world governing body and renamed itself the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The PDC accepted / recognized the WDF as the governing body for the Sport of Darts worldwide, and the BDO the governing body for darts in the UK. The stated purpose of the agreement was to promote the freedom of individual darts players to participate freely in open competition.

Another condition of this Tomlin order is that the top 16 players, and any Home Country players ranked between 17 and 32 in each year’s BDO Championship, and the top 16 players in each year’s PDC Championship, shall not be permitted to enter the other competition in the immediately following year.

Despite this condition, there were no questions raised about the eligibility of Raymond van Barneveld for the 2007 PDC World Championship. He reached the 2006 BDO final, and within weeks switched to the PDC - the interpretation of the Tomlin order should technically have made him ineligible to play.

There was further controversy following the 2007 BDO World Championship, when Jelle Klaasen announced that he would be switching to the PDC. As a BDO World Champion, he signed a three-year deal in 2006 to return to the Lakeside event. The BDO threatened to take legal action for the breach of contract, [ [http://www.bdodarts.com/JELLEKLAASEN2.htm BDO Statement on Jelle Klaasen's PDC switch] ] but with previous damage and costs incurred by other legal cases it has become less likely that any action will be taken in future with regards to player contracts and the Tomlin Order.

Television coverage

Following the breakaway group's first televised event in 1992 (the "Lada UK Masters" on Anglia Television), satellite broadcaster Sky Sports signed a deal to exclusively cover three PDC tournaments each year. To capitalise on its investment, the channel introduced a number of new techniques to make the coverage more interesting for armchair fans.

Unlike the British Darts Organisation, whose events are covered via the general entertainment BBC Two channel, Sky's dedicated sports channel allowed the PDC matches to be covered in their entirety. Over ten hours per day of live darting action on Sky Sports is not uncommon. The British Darts Organisation's events were more limited to selected matches and highlights, although in recent years the BBC has increased its interactive TV coverage allowing viewers to see many more events live.

Sky television is an advertisement and subscription based channel, and generally after each set a commercial break is taken. Planet Funk's 2000 single "Chase the Sun" is played in the auditorium and it has become a cult track amongst darts fans, who tend to dance along to the tune during the breaks.

Currently Sky Sports broadcasts six tournaments live each year in Great Britain and Ireland. PDC events are also televised in Australia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa and United States.

Cameras

Sky Sports introduced more cameras to cover the sport, and many of these innovations have been copied by other broadcasters.

Unique "flight cams" show the trajectory of the dart through the air in slow motion to sometimes surprising results. A tiny camera would also be inserted into the dartboard itself beside the number 16 - one of the most common doubles - that would show the darts being thrown towards the board. Sky Sports would even go as far as having a "player cam"; a tiny camera was fitted to Dennis Priestley's shirt to capture his view of the action while playing.

Elsewhere, floating video cameras would capture the action of the watching crowds. Crowds would become far more animated and vocal, similar to a football atmosphere whilst holding up humorous placards regarding the players. Some supporters even wear face paint or dress up as their favourite player via their trademark attire or customary nickname.

The players' wives would be focus for the camera also, as they cheered or screeched on their husbands. In January 2005, Sky One commissioned a programme entitled "Darts Players Wives", primarily focusing on the wives and their relationships.

Commentators

John Gwynne and Dave Lanning are the commentators who have covered all PDC events from the inaugural 1992 competition. Contrary to popular belief, long-time BBC darts commentator Sid Waddell did not switch allegiances to Sky until after the 1994 BDO World Championship. He brings his own unique brand of commentary to the game, and is a cult figure amongst darts fans and sport fans alike. Stuart Pyke joined the team in 2003. Other commentators include Nigel Pearson, as well as former players Rod Harrington and five time World Champion Eric Bristow.

Jeff Stelling was the original presenter of Sky Sports' darts coverage, but most of the events are now presented by Sky Sports News broadcaster Dave Clark. In addition, the 2005 Premier League was fronted by Gary Newbon.


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The PDC sought to attract a younger audience of both sexes for darts. Through the years, it was not uncommon to see politicians, musicians, football players, boxers and other sporting personalities attending their events. The British Darts Organisation would subsequently seek to emulate most of these innovations.

Players would enter matches with their own signature theme music whilst flanked by security men and female valets down to the oche. A "big-time" atmosphere was also created by using smoke machines and pyrotechnics during these sometimes elaborate entrances, similar to that used in boxing or wrestling.

At the oche, players would only sip iced water during matches. Though this was intended to further the game's image which had been tarnished by players' reputation for consuming large quantities of alcohol, the water was however required to prevent dehydration. With the many lights and tightly-compressed crowds, temperatures would be measured at over 38 degree Celsius (100 degree fahrenheit) during some games.

Inside the venues, action would be relayed via giant video screens for the large crowds. The BDO now also has video screens, while maintaining their traditional "light boards" of lightbulbs, showing where each dart lands for the benefit of the crowd.

Nicknames

Eric Bristow, the most successful player in the first few years of the World Championship, had his nickname "The Crafty Cockney" emblazoned on the back of his shirt. Very few dart players had their own nicknames until the Professional Darts Corporation circuit made it almost customary for every player to acquire a sobriquet. This was likely to create a new generation of characters with which its audience could identify.

Sky TV commentator Sid Waddell attempted to christen Phil Taylor "The Crafty Potter" - referring to him being both a protegé of Bristow and originating from the Potteries. However, the tag never caught on and it wasn't until a later tournament that he came out to the tune "The Power by Snap!" that his nickname was quite accidentally born.

Jamie Harvey from Scotland became "Bravedart" - a play on words from Mel Gibson's Braveheart film. Sky Sports even filmed vignettes where a kilt wearing Jamie had his face painted blue and ran through woods throwing his darts whilst looking menacing.

As the only player to wear a shirt, tie and waistcoat whilst playing, Rod Harrington's "Prince of Style" tag appeared apt.

Though originally from the BDO circuit, Wayne Mardle is known as "Hawaii Five-O-One" due to his colourful Hawaiian shirts (a play on words on Hawaii Five-O and the starting score in a leg of darts).

Bob Anderson, now living in Clevedon in Somerset, is known as The Limestone Cowboy, after the limestone hills of Wiltshire where Bob used to live, and the fact that he enjoys Country and Western music. This was once taken even further, with Anderson once riding to the stage on a horse.

"For a list of famous players nicknames see: List of darts players nicknames"

Tournaments

The Professional Darts Corporation has continued to increase its annual UK televised tournaments in recent years: The "World Championship", The Premier League, "Las Vegas Desert Classic", "UK Open", "World Grand Prix" and "World Matchplay" are all covered live via Sky Sports. The "US Open" was broadcast on Challenge and the "Grand Slam of Darts" was shown on ITV in 2007. Plans for a Players Championship and Dutch-based event are scheduled to join the televised events in 2007-08.

Most televised tournaments have a different format which can give them their own distinctive or unique character.

World Championship

"See Main Article: PDC World Darts Championship
The World Championship is the biggest of the tournaments, held at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet between 1994 and 2007, beginning in late December and finishing in early January. It boasts the largest prize fund of any darts competition. The championship moved to a bigger venue at Alexandra Palace from 2008.

Phil Taylor has since dominated this tournament reaching the final for the first 14 years between 1994 and 2008. He's won eleven titles and lost just four matches - three finals and one quarter-final. He also won eight successive titles between 1995 and 2002. The PDC World Champions have also shared eight BDO World Championships between them with van Barneveld winning four, Taylor two, and Part and Priestley one each. These are usually added to each player's haul when describing their achievements hence Taylor is a 13-time champion, van Barneveld 5, Part 3, and Priestley 2.

Previous Winners (1994-2008)
11 Phil Taylor (1995-2002, 2004-2006)
2 John Part (2003, 2008)
1 Dennis Priestley (1994)
1 Raymond van Barneveld (2007)

Blue Square UK Open

"See Main Article: UK Open (darts)
Held each year in June at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, the "UK Open" is played over three days with 168 players in a single elimination tournament. After each round a draw is held where there is no protection for seeded players. This has earned it the nickname "The FA Cup of darts".

Previous Winners (2003-2008)

2 Phil Taylor (2003, 2005)
2 Raymond van Barneveld (2006, 2007)
1 Roland Scholten (2004)
1 James Wade (2008)

Las Vegas Desert Classic

"See Main Article: Las Vegas Desert Classic
The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada is the setting for the "Las Vegas Desert Classic" each July. It furthers the PDC's aim to develop a world darts circuit.

Previous Winners (2002-2008)
4 Phil Taylor (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008)
1 Peter Manley (2003)
1 John Part (2006)
1 Raymond van Barneveld (2007)

tan James World Matchplay

"See Main Article: World Matchplay (darts)
Crowds exceeding 2,000 in number assemble at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool each July to follow the "World Matchplay". Matches are contested over legs rather than sets, presenting the prospect of some surprising results and upsets.

Previous Winners (1994-2008)
9 Phil Taylor (1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008)
2 Rod Harrington (1998, 1999)
1 Larry Butler (1994)
1 Peter Evison (1996)
1 Colin Lloyd (2005)
1 James Wade (2007)

ky Poker World Grand Prix

"See Main Article: World Grand Prix (darts)
The SkyBet World Grand Prix replaced the World Pairs event in 1998. Its original venue was the Casino Rooms in Rochester, Kent until 2000, before moving in 2001 to its current home at the CityWest Hotel in Dublin.

This tournament has shorter opening rounds and players must commence and finish each leg on a double including the option of the bull, which is a format not used in any other major televised event.

Previous Winners (1998-2007)
7 Phil Taylor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006)
1 Alan Warriner (2001)
1 Colin Lloyd (2004)
1 James Wade (2007)

Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts

"See Main Article: Premier League Darts
In 2005, Sky Sports launched the "Premier League Darts" television programme. For five months, eight of the biggest names from the PDC circuit compete in a league table, with matches held across the country at different venues.

Previous Winners
4 - Phil Taylor (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

US Open

"See Main Article: US Open Darts
The US Open is a new tournament introduced in 2007 to replace the "World Series of Darts". The World Series ran for just one year (2006) and offered an aspirational prize of $1 million if an American player won the tournament. However, 15 of the 16 players crashed out in the first round. Low television ratings on prime-time ESPN led to a switch to mid-afternoon on ESPN2 and the tournament was never renewed. [ [http://www.bullseyenews.com/news2604-04.html World Series of Darts ratings (Bullseye News)] ]

The US Open was the first PDC tournament shown on a different channel to Sky in the UK. Challenge broadcast the first US Open on May 19-20 and Phil Taylor took the title to add his World Series victory from 2006. The 2008 tournament was broadcast on Nuts TV.

Previous Winners
2 - Phil Taylor (2007, 2008)

Grand Slam of Darts

"See Main Article: Grand Slam of Darts
Introduced in 2007, the Grand Slam was the first tournament staged in the UK to feature players from the two different organisations, the PDC and BDO. Players who had reached the finals of each organisations major tournaments for the previous two years were invited to compete in the Grand Slam. It was broadcast exclusivley live on ITV for 9 days from the Wolverhampton Civic Hall (incidentally the same venue is hosting the tournament again in 2008), ITV's first darts tournament since pulling the plug on darts coverage in 1988.

Previous Winners
1 - Phil Taylor (2007)

Other tournaments and contests

PDC Pro Tour

The PDC Pro Tour is a series of non-televised tournaments staged over the course of one-day. The prize fund is between £20,000 and £25,000 for each tournament and features up to 32 boards in action on an arena floor, hence their nickname "floor tournament". With shorter matches and the floor set up, a different kind of pressure applies compared to televised events and a different set of results can be produced. For instance, Barrie Bates was the PDC Floor Player of the Year in 2006 with Colin Lloyd and Mick McGowan also nominated - none of whom won a major during the year. The 2008 calendar features 25 Players Championship and 8 UK Open Regional Finals.

Champion versus Champion

There have been two "head-to-head matches", bringing both respective world champions together in non-affiliated contests.

Billed as the "Match Of The Century", Phil Taylor beat Raymond van Barneveld 21-10 at Wembley Conference Centre on November 7, 1999, to be unofficially crowned the first ever undisputed World Champion.

In a further "Head-to-Head", on 21 November 2004 at the Circus Tavern, via the first ever darts Pay-Per-View on Sky Box Office, Phil Taylor once again prevailed after his opponent Andy Fordham had to retire during the match due to dehydration.

The immense heat took its toll on the 30-stone (420 lbs/191 kg) Fordham. Phil Taylor was leading the match 5-2 in sets before it was unexpectedly abandoned.

Promotion versus Promotion

Taking place at the ExpoCenter in Hengelo, The Netherlands, starting February 7, 2005, the "Masters of Darts" event brought four top players from both darts circuits together for the first major tournament confrontation since the two organisations separated.

The players were split into two groups, sharing it with only members of their affiliated organisation. Each player then vied against all players from the opposition, with one point awarded for winning a match. Following conclusion of the format, the winner of each respective group played the runner-up at the semi-final stage.

The Professional Darts Corporation pool consisted of Colin Lloyd, Wayne Mardle, Roland Scholten and Phil Taylor; whilst for the British Darts Organisation it was Tony David, Andy Fordham, Co Stompé and Raymond van Barneveld.

In a rematch of their unfinished 2004 head-to-head clash, Phil Taylor beat Andy Fordham convincingly in the final, 7-1, to be crowned the first Master of Darts. While beating Raymond van Barneveld (BDO World Champion at the time) 4-0 and 5-2 along the way, the undefeated Taylor only lost 5 sets during the entire tournament.

This event was broadcast to viewers in The Netherlands via RTL 5. Surprisingly, no British broadcaster had agreed television coverage of this unique event. The tournament was not held in 2006, however it returned in February 2007 as a Netherlands versus England encounter with five players from each country. Originally announced with a mixture of PDC and BDO players, the BDO players had all switched to the PDC by the time the event began.

BDO tournaments in the Netherlands

Following the 1997 Tomlin order, players were now free to participate in both PDC and BDO events (with the exception of the World Championships). However, few who took the opportunities to do so - the players themselves had grown accustomed to the split and rarely crossed the "divide".

The 2006 Dutch Open however, saw a controversy surrounding less well-known PDC players at a BDO tournament which may have eventually helped ease the rift. The tournament organisers, NDB, disqualified PDC players Tomas Seyler in the last 64 and Erik Clarys in the last 32 who were due to face Mervyn King and Niels de Ruiter respectively. An NDB statement said that "according to the rules of the WDF that exist for many years, players from the PDC who participate in live televised events aren't allowed to participate in WDF tournaments."

This was not the case and it led to the WDF being forced to release a statement on May 30, 2006 which explained that their rules had been mis-interpreted and they do not set eligibility rules for players in individual tournaments. [ [http://www.dartswdf.com/aa_darts/newsarchives/newsarchmay2006.html World Darts Federation Statement on player eligibility] ] Subsequently for the 2007 Dutch Open, the rules were amended so that only players who were eligible to play in the BDO World Championship and World Masters would be allowed to enter.

SBS6 secured an agreement with the BDO to invite 5 PDC players to each of its two televised tournaments, the International Darts League and the World Darts Trophy, between 2006 and 2010. [ [http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2054995854 Agreement regarding PDC players in Dutch Tournaments] ] The popularity of Raymond van Barneveldin his own country possibly contributed to the decision by the Dutch organisers to invite the PDC players.

The two tournaments in 2006 were both won by PDC players - Barneveld took the IDL and Taylor won the WDT and the number of PDC players was increased for the 2007 events, which were both won by BDO/WDF player Gary Anderson.

PDC Hall of Fame

In 2005, the PDC introduced a Hall of Fame similar to other sports to recognise individuals with noteworthy contributions to darts.

The first two inductees were Eric Bristow and John Lowe, great rivals throughout the eighties and early nineties. In fact, at least one of two managed to reach the World Championship Final each year during the 1980s, with three being played against each other.

Hall of Fame inductees are now announced at the PDC Awards dinner - which was held for the first time on January 9, 2007.

PDC Hall of Fame inductees

2005 Eric Bristow, five-times World's Champion and key player in formation of PDC.
2005 John Lowe, three-time World's Champion - in three different decades.
2006 Freddie Williams [ [http://www.dartplayers.org/Client-Domains/freddiewilliams/profile.htm Freddie Williams web site profile] ] , a caller/scorer/referee who officiated at darts tournaments for 35 years before retiring in 2006, aged 69.
2007 [ [http://www.planetdarts.tv/page/LatestDetail/0,,10180~962663,00.html 2007 PDC Awards winners] ] Phil Jones, the Master of Ceremonies since the inception of PDC tournaments broadcast on Sky Sports before retiring after the 2007 World Championship.
2007 John Raby, owner of JR Darts a major supporter of PDC darts including tournament sponsorship.
2008 Dave Lanning, darts commentator for Sky Sports since the first PDC tournament they broadcast.
2008 Sid Waddell, darts commentator on PDC tournaments for Sky Sports since 1994.

References

ee also

*British Darts Organisation
*World Darts Federation
*List of Professional Dart Players

External links

* [http://www.planetdarts.co.uk/ Professional Darts Corporation Ltd.] - Official site
* [http://www.matchroomsport.com/sportMain.asp?sport=2 Matchroom Sport] - Official site

Players

Officials
* [http://www.russbray.co.uk/ Russ Bray]

Commentators
* [http://stuartpyke.com/ Stuart Pyke]
* [http://www.sidwaddell.com/ Sid Waddell]


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