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Majors in Darts – The never ending debate

Majors in Darts – The never ending debate

By James Nolan

The never ending debate continues. For what feels like an eternity, darts fanatics and legends alike have been debating which PDC tournaments are actually considered majors.

But which tournaments should be known as ‘majors’?

Opinions have been firmly divided on the matter. Various sources will have you believe that every tournament that graces our television screens should be considered a major. However, ex player and current Sky Sports commentator, Wayne Mardle believes a golf and tennis like approach should be taken when determining which events are majors.

Deeming every event a major not only demeans the prestige of the true big catches on the PDC calendar, but it overexposes fans to the term, resutling in a loss of that special aura that surrounds the venues of the most important darting battlegrounds.

As such, I have compiled a list of five long running PDC tournaments that have every right to be recognised as the majors of PDC darts.

1. William Hill World Darts Championship

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Founded: 1994

Current Venue: Alexandra Palace, London

Prize fund: 1,650,000 pounds

Winners share: 350,000 pounds

Beginning with the most obvious placement on the list, the William Hill World Darts Championship is the flagship event on the annual PDC darts calendar.

The traffic ticketing sites experience as a result of the plethoras of darts fans around the globe attempting to seize tickets to the Ally Pally is solely enough to suggest the magnitude of the event.

However, on the oche itself, the World Championship is the event all the heavyweights of the sport desire to claim. The competitve nature of the tournament intensifies with each passing, so much to the extent that world number one, Michael van Gerwen has not claimed the title since 2014, while the 16 time world champion, Phil Taylor has not experienced Ally Pally triumph since 2013.

The festivities surrounding the event brings out the best in the players and fans alike, as the supporters dawn countless varities of fancy dress for each session over the holiday period.

The World Championship has truly earned its reputation as the pinnacle of tournament darts.

2. BetVictor World Matchplay

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Founded: 1994

Venue: Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Prize fund: 450,000 pounds

Winners share: 100,000 pounds

In a similiar vein to the World Champinship, the World Matchplay and the festivities surrounding the seaside town of Blackpool bring the best out of both the players and fans. For many players, the Matchplay is their favourite event, often being perceived as the biggest party of the summer in darting terms.

The Winter Gardens, the home to the tournament since its inception in 1994, carries much tradition and the compact layout of the Empress Ballroom makes the tournament’s atmosphere that bit more special.

Much like the World Championship, the Matchplay has been dominated by Phil Taylor, who has 15 titles to his name. In spite of this, with the improving standard of the PDC Pro Tour, the qualifiers are more dangerous than ever to the seeds, meaning there is no longer such thing as a straightforward first round tie.

The Matchplay has well and truly earned its spot as one of the PDC’s premier events.

3. Unibet World Grand Prix

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Founded: 1998

Venue: Citywest Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

Prize fund: 400,000 pounds

Winners Share: 100,000 pounds

Perhaps best known for its unique double in, double out format, the World Grand Prix has brought us a high degree of excitement down the years.

Despite giving the players a headache, the format adds intrigue to the event and opens the door for major upsets, engaging the fans in a manner like no other tournament on the PDC calendar.

Taking place annually in the Citywest suburb of Dublin City, the stage has witnessed some breathtaking moments. The first televised double start nine dart finish performed by the native Brendan Dolan, and the two nine darters struck by Robert Thornton and James Wade in the same match are moments that will constantly be revisited in the darting archives for decades to come.

The Emerald Isle event makes the grade as a major in world darts.

4. Singha Beer Grand Slam of Darts

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Founded: 2007

Venue: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

Prize Fund: 400,000 pounds

Winners Share: 100,000 pounds

Boasting a unique format of its own, the addition of eight BDO players has thrown up some mouth watering ties since the Grand Slam’s creation nine years ago.

A combination of group and knockout formats, the tournament sees top PDC players mix it up with the various qualifiers and BDO stars in the group, before the top two in each of the eight groups advance to the last 16 knockout round.

This brings added intrigue, and indeed surprises to the table. To this day, long standing darts fans still clamour for a showdown between the greatest of all time, Phil “The Power” Taylor and BDO stalwart, Martin “Wolfie” Adams.

Also, any claims of the BDO’s supposed inferiority to the PDC have been wavered since reigning Lakeside World Champion, Scott Waites’ victory over James Wade in the final of the 2010 edition.

As of 2015, the Grand Slam has received a boost of additional importance, with the event becoming a ranking event for PDC players.

5. Coral UK Open

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Founded: 2003

Venue: Butlins, Minehead

Prize Fund: 300,000 pounds

Winners Share: 60,000 pounds

Formerly covered by Sky Sports, the now ITV 4 production, commonly known as the FA Cup of Darts, takes its place as the fifth and final major in the darting year.

The tournament claims ownership to its own broad qualifiying criteria. Six qualifier events held throughout the month of February determine the 96 pro qualifiers, while the 32 amateur participants are decided by a series of Riley’s qualifiers throughout the UK.

The random draw right from the first round complements giant killings, deep runs from unexpected and sometimes unknown quantities and perhaps even a surprise champion at the end of it all.

Even the amateur qualifiers have experienced successes in the tournament down the years, fending off the challenges of some of the game’s big guns. Notable examples include Gary Mawson’s scalp of Raymond van Barneveld on route to the 2008 final, and Tony Ayres’ run to the semi finals after defeating James Wade in the last eight.

It is moments like these that make the UK Open the special tournament that it is, cementing its status of one of the PDC’s major events.

Which events do you believe should be known as ‘the majors’ in PDC Darts? Feel free to express your views in the comments section or on Twitter.