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. 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 nine months later and the first World Championship was played over the 1993-94 festive period, establishing the partnership with Sky Sports which remains to this day. 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 feature eight top players facing each other twice in a league format over 14 league nights around the country, with the top four then taking part in the Play-Offs, and has expanded to be staged in the country’s biggest arenas in front of crowds 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 Croatia, the Philippines, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia represented in the 2012 tournament. 2007 saw the PDC introduce the ground-breaking Grand Slam of Darts competition, which features 32 players who have reached the final of major PDC and BDO tournaments competing in Wolverhampton.
The continued expansion of the PDC led to an announcement that prize money from 2009 onwards will be above £5 million, and the innovative internet-streamed Championship League Darts was launched in the autumn of 2008. The PDC World Cup, a Pairs tournament featuring 24 countries, was first held in 2010 and won by the Netherlands, with England taking the 2012 title as the tournament moved to Germany. 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 Youth Tour and World Youth Championship guaranteeing a pathway to the top for aspiring stars.
The expansion of the PDC across Europe has led to the introduction in 2012 of the European Tour series of events, which sees five tournaments, each worth £82,100, held in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to give leading professionals and emerging talents from across the Continent the chance to compete at the top level. 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.