PDC World Darts Championship: Women will feature in expanded 2019 field
£2.5m prize fund on offer with the winner claiming a huge £500,000 to go with the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 04/06/18 7:04pm
The World Darts Championship will have at least two female qualifiers after the PDC announced an expanded field of 96 and record prize money for the 2018/19 tournament.
As the sport's growth continues, the biggest development for the tournament since its move to London's Alexandra Palace a decade ago has been announced and the biggest event of the season gets ever larger.
Having expanded to 72 players in 2010 it will rise to 96 for this year's event and the introduction of 24 further qualifiers will see additional professionals joining an expanded group of international qualifiers.
Female players have always been afforded the same chance as the men with no boundaries set on qualification, but now at least two of the 96 spots will go to women following the introduction of a UK and a Rest of the World Qualifier.
Gayl King and Anastasia Dobromyslova have previously featured in the Championship, while China's Momo Zhou won the country's qualifier to feature in the World Cup of Darts at the weekend.
Our worldwide growth, in particular through our affiliated tours, has seen greater interest than ever for spots from around the globe as emerging players battle to compete on the biggest stage in darts.
We also felt that it was important to guarantee two places for female players, which will go to qualifiers from the UK and Rest of the World.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn
Rob Cross will be defending his title after memorably crowning his debut appearance at the event with victory over Phil Taylor in the final, and with the expanded field the party will be bigger than ever.
An extra six sessions have been introduced giving more fans the opportunity to watch the sport's best in action and this year's event will begin on Thursday, December 13 through to the traditional New Year's Day Final.
Title sponsors William Hill have also extended their commitment to darts' flagship tournament with a contract to further their support of the World Championship until 2022 and 90,000 tickets will go on sale at the end of July.
"The William Hill World Darts Championship has become a phenomenon in worldwide sport given its incredible growth in recent years, but this announcement takes the tournament to a whole new level," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
"The backing of our sponsors William Hill and worldwide broadcasters led by Sky Sports has been matched by the incredible interest from fans who flock to Alexandra Palace every Christmas and watch around the globe.
"The World Championship has grown year on year in the decade since our move from the Circus Tavern to Alexandra Palace, which is the perfect home for such a prestigious event.
"Moving to 96 players will not only reward more players from our ProTour, with 32 qualifiers joining the world's top 32 players in securing places in the World Championship, but also gives us the opportunity to expand the international qualifiers.
"Combined with the leading professional talents in darts, rising stars from around the world and new faces who win through the qualifiers, this promises to be an incredible tournament and a feast of festive darts for fans either at Ally Pally or watching the tournament later this year."
2019 World Darts Championship - Prize Fund
The top four players from the 2018 PDC Asian Tour Order of Merit will also compete at Alexandra Palace, along with the leading two players from the PDC Unicorn Development Tour, PDC Nordic & Baltic rankings and the Order of Merit winners from the DartPlayers Australia and EuroAsian Darts Corporation circuits.
In addition, the top-ranked American player and top-ranked Canadian player from the Championship Darts Corporation will join the 2018 North American Championship winner in earning a spot at Alexandra Palace.
The World Youth Championship and DPA Oceanic Masters will join knockout events to be held in China, Japan, India, Africa, New Zealand, South America, Germany, Ireland and four qualifiers across Europe ahead of November's PDPA Qualifier, which is the last chance for professionals to secure one of two places in the World Championship.
Those 32 international qualifiers will join the 32 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers in the first round, with the 32 seeded players from the PDC Order of Merit joining the event in round two.
Sky Sports will once again be the place to follow the 2019 World Darts Championship with all 16 days of action live from December 13 - January 1 and our social channels for more coverage than ever before
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Darts is back on your screens on Sky Sports in July for the World Matchplay - nine days of tungsten from Blackpool get under way on Saturday, July 21 and will run through to the final on Sunday, July 29