The field of international qualifiers for the 2018 World Darts Championship has been confirmed, with a total of 24 set to compete at the biggest tournament in world darts at the Alexandra Palace from December 14th-January 1st.
The 24 international qualifiers will join the top 32 players from the PDC’s Order of Merit at the culmination of November’s Players Championship Finals, along with 16 qualifiers from the one-year Pro Tour Order of Merit- which makes up the 72-man field.
This year’s international qualifiers have featured a greater reach than ever, with knockout events throughout Europe being accompanied by regional qualifying events, including two qualifiers in Asia and a new South and Central America Qualifier.
World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski is one of the international qualifiers set to make his Ally Pally debut later this year. ‘The Polish Eagle’ has enjoyed a fine year on the European Tour and clinched his maiden major TV title in the BDO back in September-defeating Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant en route to glory.
Ratajski lost out in the semi-finals of the Eastern Europe World Championship qualifier last month, but with Eastern Europe identified as a potential development area for the PDC, the Polish ace will become the second Eastern European qualifier to compete at this year’s World Championship, alongside Croatia’s Alan Ljubic.
In addition, Canadian star Jeff Smith will also make his PDC World Championship debut this year, having qualified by virtue of being the highest ranked player on the National Darts Federation of Canada Order of Merit.
Smith has previously featured at the PDC World Cup of Darts and on the PDC Pro Tour, but he is also a regular fixture on the BDO circuit. He was crowned World Cup singles champion earlier this month, whilst he was runner-up in the 2016 BDO World Championship, losing out to Scott Waites in the final.
Other international qualifiers include New Zealand’s Cody Harris, who has featured in this year’s World Series, as well as Australian star Gordon Mathers and Japan’s Seigo Asada- another man who has previously featured at the BDO World Championship.
Ireland’s William O’Connor will make his Alexandra Palace debut after winning the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay earlier this month, whilst American ace Willard Bruguier sealed his spot back in July- when he won the inaugural North American Darts Championship in Las Vegas.
Singapore veteran Paul Lim will make his tenth PDC World Championship appearance in December. Lim, who landed a nine-dart finish in the 1990 World Championship, led Singapore to the World Cup of Darts quarter-finals earlier this month, defeating the Scottish duo of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright en route.
The legendary 63-year-old confirmed his qualification just last week; after coming through a gruelling South & West Asia Qualifier. Meanwhile, the North & East Asia Qualifier is to be held on October 28th, which also sees the DPA Oceanic Masters take place in Australia.
South African star Devon Petersen will make his fifth Alexandra Palace appearance later this year. ‘The African Warrior’, who reached the last 16 of the 2014 World Championship, had his qualification confirmed after being the highest placed African on the PDC Order of Merit.
Elsewhere, Diogo Portela will become the first Brazilian to compete at the PDC World Championship, whilst Finland’s Kim Viljanen has already qualified via the PDC Nordic and Baltic Order of Merit, with a second qualifier from the final rankings set to be confirmed on November 5th.
The Southern Europe Qualifier, Central Europe Qualifier, Chinese Qualifier, Russian Qualifier and German Qualifier are yet to take place, whilst the World Youth Champion and the PDC Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit leader will also be offered qualification spots.
The final places will be confirmed at the PDPA Qualifier on Monday November 27, where two players will secure coveted spots at Alexandra Palace.
Should the Development Tour Order of Merit winner or World Youth Champion have already qualified through a different route, further places will be available at the PDPA Qualifier.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn said: “As the global landscape of professional darts continues to evolve, it’s important that we take into account developments in different territories to ensure that our World Championship is completely representative.”
“This year has seen the introduction of a South and Central American Qualifier and a more structured approach to our Asian Qualifiers, alongside continued growth throughout Europe.
“We will have over 20 countries represented on the oche at the William Hill World Darts Championship, as well as a wider global reach than ever off the oche with a record number of worldwide television partners broadcasting the event.”
The 2018 William Hill World Darts Championship will be held from December 14th-January 1st at Alexandra Palace, and broadcast live on Sky Sports, as world number one Michael van Gerwen aims to retain his title and secure World Championship glory for a third time.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship
Seigo Asada (Japan) – PDJ Japanese Qualifier
Willard Bruguier (USA) – North American Championship Winner
Cody Harris (New Zealand) – DPNZ Qualifier
Paul Lim (Singapore) – South & West Asia Qualifier
Alan Ljubic (Croatia) – East Europe Qualifier
Gordon Mathers (Australia) – DPA Order of Merit Winner
William O’Connor (Ireland) – Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay Champion
Devon Petersen (South Africa) – Highest placed African on PDC Order of Merit
Diogo Portela (Brazil) – South & Central American Qualifier
Krzysztof Ratajski (Poland) – Highest placed Eastern European on PDC Order of Merit
Jeff Smith (Canada) – NDFC Number One
Kim Viljanen (Finland) – PDCNB Qualifier
To be completed:
October 21 – Southern Europe Qualifier
October 22 – Russian Qualifier
October 28 – DPA Oceanic Masters, North & East Asia Qualifier
November 5 – Final PDCNB ranking event (second player qualifies alongside Kim Viljanen), final PDC Unicorn Development Tour events (DT Order of Merit winner qualifies), Chinese Qualifier
November 18 – German Qualifier
November 19 – Central Europe Qualifier
November 26 – PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final (winner qualifies)
November 27 – PDPA Qualifier (two players qualify)