What Is The WDF World Darts Championship 2023?

By Ian John
November 27, 2023
WDF World Darts Championship

Some of the more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there is a big Darts World Championship on the horizon.

A quick look at the latest darts betting at bet365 Sport reveals that the build up to the PDC World Darts Championship is already well underway.

However, this week sees the start of another Darts World Championship event. This being the less familiar WDF World Championship.

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So what is the WDF? What does it stand for and who is playing in it, and why?

Let’s take a look at the history of this relative newcomer onto the professional darts scene.

Who is the WDF?

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The WDF is the World Darts Federation. It was formed in 1974 and has run tournaments for its member nations, for both male and female players, ever since.

Originally, the organisation held events alongside the British Darts Organisation (BDO) but when the PDC was formed in 1993/94, the WDF didn’t recognise new group and continued to work alongside the BDO.

That situation continued for many years, until the BDO collapsed as an organisation in 2020.

With nobody to fill that void left by the BDO, the WDF stepped in to say that they planned to launch the WDF World Championship and WDF World Masters, both former flagship tournaments of the BDO.

However, a large number of former BDO players made the move to the PDC after the collapse of the BDO in 2020, which has meant that the quality of the men’s tournament has been watered down still further.

However, the WDF Women’s tournament continues to attract a much greater number of the world’s best players with World Number 1 Beau Greaves seeking to defend the title she won when the WDF World Championship was held for the first time last year.

Neil Duff won the men’s WDF World Championship last year, with Thibault Tricole runner up.

The total prize pool for the men’s tournament in 2022 was £200,000 with the winner taking home £50,000 and the runner up £25,000. The women’s event prize pool was £87,500 with the winner taking home £25,000.

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Who plays in the WDF?

Given the exodus of former BDO players who left for the PDC when the BDO collapsed in September 2020, there are nowhere near as many familiar players playing in the WDF World Championship.

That and the continued expansion of the PDC World Championship means that the WDF event is very much the ‘second tier’ of darts.

As such, the men’s tournament does not have too many famous players competing in it, with the most famous players being the former BDO World Champion and current WDF third seed Jelle Klaasen.

Klaasen had been a member of the PDC, but a lack of form saw him resign his PDC card and elect to play on the WDF tour.

Former PDC semi-finalist Jamie Lewis is another playing in the WDF World Championship, while a number of other players in the draw have appeared in bigger PDC events in the past, or also features in former BDO World Championship tournaments.

Belgian Andy Baetens is the current top seed in the WDF, with current World Champion Neil Duff of Northern Ireland second and Jelle Klaasen third.

Who Do The Bookmakers Think Will Win?

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A look at the outright winner odds with bet365 Sport reveals that they have priced up some of the main contenders in the WDF World Championship as follows:

Men’s Tournament

  • Andy Baetens – 9/2 favourite
  • Leonard Gates – 8/1
  • Chris Landman – 10/1
  • Wesley Plaisier – 11/1
  • Sebastian Bialecki – 14/1
  • Liam Maendl-Lawrence -, Gary Stone, Neil Duff, Jamie Lewis – 16/1
  • Jelle Klaasen – 18/1
  • Danny Lauby, Jarno Bottenberg – 20/1
  • James Hurrell – 22/1
  • James Richardson – 25/1
  • 28/1 bar

Women’s Tournament

  • Beau Greaves – 1/5 fav
  • Lisa Ashton – 13/2
  • Aileen De Graaf – 12/1
  • Rhian O’Sullivan – 22/1
  • Anza Ziljstra, Deta Hedman, Wendy Harper, Lorraine Winstanley – 50/1
  • 66/1 bar

World Darts Federation World Championship Details

  • Date – 2nd December to 10th December 2023
  • Venue – Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green
  • Format – Sets

Tournament Format – Men

  • Last 48 – Best of 3 sets
  • Last 32 – Best of 5 sets
  • Last 16 – Best of 5 sets
  • Quarter Finals – Best of 7 sets
  • Semi Finals – Best of 9 sets
  • Final – Best of 11 sets

Tournament Format – Women

  • Last 24 – Best of 3 sets
  • Last 16 – best of 3 sets
  • Quarter Finals – Best of 3 sets
  • Semi Finals – Best of 5 sets
  • Final – Best of 7 sets

The men and women’s tournaments take place at the same time with matches from both tournaments played in each of the daily sessions throughout the tournament.

WDF World Darts Championship
Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

How Come Darts Isn’t Governed By Just One Body?

That is a very good question and the truth of the matter is that there have always been different organisations overseeing darts across the globe, but the pivotal moment in the game’s history came with the Darts rebels split from the BDO back in 1993/94.

Back then, darts was a dwindling presence on TV screens and was falling out of favour with viewers, sponsors and TV companies. So much so, that the number of televised darts tournaments each year was dropping down to all-time low levels.

With snooker enjoying a surge in popularity, many of the top stars at the BDO felt that the organisation wasn’t doing enough to raise the profile of darts and to get the sport back on TV and in front of the fans. Thus increasing its popularity and visibility and as a result, attractive to sponsors.

After talks between the BDO and the players broke down in October 1993 (reportedly a somewhat brutal process that only served to further alienate the two parties), the 16 top players in the BDO left the organisation and formed their own World Darts Council (WDC).  

Swiftly, the BDO president Olly Croft banned the 16 players from all BDO worldwide events immediately.

Those players were:-

  • Phil Taylor
  • Dennis Priestley
  • Rod Harrington
  • John Lowe
  • Alan Warriner
  • Eric Bristow
  • Jocky Wilson
  • Bob Anderson
  • Peter Evison
  • Jamie Harvey
  • Ritchie Gardner
  • Cliff Lazarenko
  • Kevin Spiolek
  • Keith Deller
  • Mike Gregory
  • Chris Johns
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The WDC held its first World Championship in 1994 after finding sponsorship with new broadcaster Sky Sports and after a four-year legal battle, the Tomlin Order saw the BDO Lift the ban on the WDC and formerly recognise the organisation. In return, the WDC would change its name from the World Darts Council to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

From then on, the BDO and PDC held their own World Championship events from their own pool of players but over time, as the PDC grew in popularity and attracted a greater number of sponsors and tournaments, the top players from the BDO would migrate into the PDC.

By 2019, the BDO was in severe financial trouble and in 2020, the organisation folded. The WDF took on the two major events of the BDO, the Masters and World Championship and ran their own versions of those events in 2022.

However, after the BDO folded in 2020, a number of the top BDO players left the organisation and joined the PDC.

The split in golf remains – with women players and male players not permitted to play in both World Championship events in a single year.

However, the PDC is by far the stronger and most financially appealing option which attracts by far the greater number of top players.

However, as a warm up for the big event late in December, the WDF World Darts Championship should provide darts fans with some outstanding betting action!

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