PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship expands for 2018 tournament
Barry Hearn: "This tournament has grown in stature since being introduced and is a brilliant opportunity for players to make their name ."
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 25/07/18 5:03pm
The PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship is set to expand to 96 players with a total prize fund of £60,000 this year.
It was confirmed last month that the PDC World Championship would expand to a field of 96 players with a record-breaking prize fund of £2.5m, and this expansion has been mirrored at youth level.
There will be an additional 32 places available in this year's tournament and the PDC have confirmed that £10,000 has been added to the prize fund for this year's World Youth Championship.
There will be 72 qualification spots available via the PDC Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit, along with any age-qualified players currently inside the top 32 on the main PDC Order of Merit.
They will be joined by 24 international qualifiers from across the globe, who will compete in the early rounds of the competition at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan on Monday, November 5.
The first round will comprise a group stage featuring 32 groups of three players, and the winners of each group will progress to the last 32, which becomes a knockout format from that point onwards.
Darts updates straight to your phone
How to receive all the latest darts news straight to your mobile
The final will then take place at the Butlin's Minehead Resort between the semi-finals and final of the Players Championship Finals, on Sunday, November 25.
The winner will be assured of qualification for the 2018/2019 World Championship later this year, and both finalists will also be rewarded with a spot in the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts.
Belgium World Cup star Dimitri van den Bergh will return to defend his title, after 'The Dream-Maker' defeated Josh Payne in last year's final.
"It's wonderful that we can expand the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship and this is a huge boost for young players around the world."
Barry Hearn on the World Youth Championship expansion
Canada's Dawson Murschell has qualified as the best-performing eligible player at the recent North American Championship, while 2016 World Youth champion Corey Cadby, finalist at this year's UK Open, has also qualified via the DPA rankings.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn claimed: "It's wonderful that we can expand the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship and this is a huge boost for young players around the world.
"This tournament has grown in stature since being introduced in 2010-11 and is a brilliant opportunity for players to make their name - with Michael Smith being the obvious example of a former World Youth Champion who is now winning titles at the highest level.
"Not only does our expanded field reward more players who compete on the PDC Unicorn Development Tour throughout the year, but it also enables us to provide further chances for qualifiers worldwide," he added.
Unicorn Darts managing director Edward Lowy said: "Supporting the future of darts has been in our DNA for over 80 years and we are delighted and proud to be working with the PDC on expanding the Development Tour and World Youth Championship to help develop the darting stars of tomorrow.
"You only need to look at how Dimitri Van den Bergh has developed since winning last year to see how important this tournament is."
Keep up to date with the latest on skysports.com/darts
We will have news, previews, live blogs, reports and expert analysis from The World Matchplay in Blackpool. On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsDarts to join in the conversation.
Join us for further coverage of the World Matchplay on Wednesday, July 25 at 7pm on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event. The darts will run through to the final on Sunday, July 29.