PDC Pro Tour
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The PDC Pro Tour is a series of non-televised darts tournaments organised by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). They comprise Professional Dart Players Association (PDPA) Players Championships and UK Open qualifiers.
Players Championships, originally known as PDPA Players Championships, are organised by the Professional Dart Players Association (PDPA) and have increased in number in recent years. They are known as "floor tournaments", because they usually feature 16 darts boards in close proximity on an arena floor where the tournament is played in the space of a day. Televised events differ by having just one main board on a stage with the audience and cameras situated around it.
Eligibility for these events are usually restricted to PDPA members only, however tournaments held outside of the United Kingdom often allow entry to non-PDPA members who are residents of the country staging the tournament. Some overseas players from the BDO take the opportunity of playing in PDC Players Championships in their home countries.
Order of Merit
During 2007, the PDC and PDPA added further importance to Players Championships by changing qualification criteria for major televised events. A separate Players Championship Order of Merit was introduced which calculates players earnings for these tournaments only each calendar year. The players who won the most money (without qualifying automatically via the PDC Order of Merit) were awarded qualifying places at major tournaments, such as the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and World Championship.
Previously, a sudden-death knockout qualifying tournament decided the players which meant players could miss out on tournaments because of unlucky matches or unlucky draws. The World Championship, however, still maintains an additional qualifying tournament - from which Kirk Shepherd emerged and went on to reach the world final itself in 2008. This was dropped for the 2010 running of the event, however it was reinstated for 2011.
PDPA members must enter events through the PDC's online entry system, while non-PDPA members must enter through the local organiser for the relevant event. The entry fee for all Players Championships is £100 for Tour Card holders.
In addition, seedings for Players Championship events are determined by a one-year rolling Players Championship Order of Merit, consisting of prize money won in Players Championships over the 12 months before that event. The top 32 players in the Order of Merit that have entered the tournament are seeded.
All UK Players Championship events have a 128-player draw.
All non-UK Players Championship events consist of no more than 256 players, with all Tour Card holders that have entered the event starting at the last 128 stage.
If fewer than 128 players enter a Players Championship event, byes are awarded to players in order of their seeding. For example, if there is one bye, the number 1 seed will receive a bye into the last 64.
Pro Tour Card
From 2011, the PDC Pro Tour operates a Tour Card system. 128 players are granted Tour Cards, which enables them to participate in all Players Championships and UK Open Qualifiers.
The 2011 Tour Cards were awarded to:
- 101 players from the PDC Order of Merit after the 2011 World Championship
- 2 finalists from the 2010 PDC Women's World Championship
- 25 qualifiers from a four-day Qualifying School in Wigan (4 semi-finalists from each day, plus the top 9 players from the Q School Order of Merit)
Tour Cards were also offered to the four semi-finalists from the 2011 BDO World Championship, although none of the players took up the offer.
From 2012 onwards, the PDC will award Tour Cards to:
- Top 64 players from the PDC Order of Merit after the World Championship (having competed in at least ten events)
- Tour Card holders from previous year's Qualifying School
- Tour card holders from previous year's invitations (BDO World Championship & World Youth Championship)
- 4 semi-finalists from the 2012 BDO World Championship
- 2 finalists from the 2012 World Youth Championship
- At least 16 qualifiers from a four-day Qualifying School (more places will be awarded via this method if not all the above spaces are filled)
UK Open Regional Finals/Qualifiers
The UK Open is a major tournament which takes place at Bolton's Reebok Stadium each year in June. Prior to the televised event, there are eight UK Open Qualifiers (originally named Regional Finals), where the prize money won is collated into a UK Open Order of Merit table which determines 96 qualifiers for the UK Open finals in Bolton.
The tournaments are organised in a similar fashion to the Players Championships in that 32 boards are in operation for a non-televised "floor tournament", completed inside one day. During the 2007-08 UK Open, sponsors Blue Square streamed live coverage of these Regional Finals on the internet.
From 2011 onwards, the UK Open Qualifiers were held on four double-header weekends instead of being held on eight Sundays.
Until the 2010 UK Open, a player must have competed in at least three Qualifiers before being able to qualify for the televised stages. From 2011 onwards, this was reduced to two Qualifiers.
Until 2007-08, the tournaments were open to all darts players, which meant that players from both darts organisations, the PDC and the BDO were able to compete. They are now restricted to PDPA members only.
The prize money for PDC Pro Tour events has increased steadily over the years. Prize money is awarded to all players who reach at least the last 64 of a Pro Tour event. In the past, Players Championships held outside of Europe awarded less prize money than those held in the United Kingdom or Europe.
In 2011, all Players Championship events and UK Open qualifiers awarded £34,600 each, but from 2013 on Players Championship events awarded £50,000.
Up to 2013 on the Pro Tour, there was also a rolling jackpot for nine-dart finishes. £500 (Players Championship events) / £400 (UK Open qualifiers) per event is reserved for any player who hits a nine-dart finish, with the money rolling over to the next event if the feat is not achieved. If more than one player hits a nine-darter in an event, the jackpot is shared.
Prize funds for Pro Tour events over the years:
|Year||Winner||Runner-Up||Semi-Finalists||Quarter-Finalists||Last 16||Last 32||Last 64||Total|
- "Example prize fund for Ireland Players Championship". dartsdatabase.co.uk. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "Order of Merit Explanation". PDC. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "Players Championship Prize Funds boosted". PDC. Retrieved 7 April 2013.