People are only just realising why WDF World Darts Championship are not BDO

The British Darts Organisation, or BDO, was the original darting body.

Started in 1973 by Olly Croft, they hosted their World Championships, known in its early days as 'the Embassy'- after its sponsor, at Lakeside in 1986 up until 2019.

Raymond van Barneveld, John Part and Phil Taylor, all of whom have won the PDC’s world title, were once sat atop the mantle of the BDO. Barney won the title four times, a number only bested by the late, great Eric Bristow.

The tournament has always been one that darts fans cherish and one stuffed with history, so why will there be no BDO World Championships this year at Lakeside?

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The glory years of the BDO, with Bristow, Jocky Wilson, John Lowe and Bobby George, were interrupted in 1993 when the split in darts shook the foundations of the darting world.

Players felt as though they didn’t have enough time on the tele, nor sufficient rights to money, and so, led by Phil Taylor, 16 players, including every BDO champion bar Leighton Rees, made the move to form their own organisation.

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That organisation was the WDC, which has since become the PDC we see on our screens nowadays. With the help of Barry Hearn, the PDC has taken off- the money is here, and there are televised events aplenty.

Those players endured a battle to form this ‘rebel’ establishment, and it has evidently paid off, but the BDO, though ever-present in what some would say, the shadow of the PDC, continued their championships at Lakeside all the while.

Another sucker punch to the organisation was Barney’s switch to the PDC in 2006. It left a sour taste in the BDO’s mouth as he had won four titles from 1998 to 2005. After being bested by Jelle Klaasen in the 2006 final, he sought to challenge the stars like Taylor, whom he never had the chance to play.

The BDO’s biggest star departing signalled to all that, in essence, the true pedestal in darts was the PDC, and the best of the best compete for their world title.

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This marked a true decline for the BDO, which saw its world finals averages dwarfed by the PDC, and its popularity squashed. The tournament still ran up until 2020, when the slow bleeding that those who left it started eventually saw the organisation die.

It had been wafting around for some time before the 2020 liquidation, but the reality was that the BDO could not compete, both financially and commercially. Eventually, it was declared bankrupt in June 2020.

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So what happened to their world championships? The WDF saw an opportunity here and intervened. They're nothing new. They’ve staged the WDF World Cup since 1977 alongside a plethora of other events all over the globe and were formed in 1974 in a bid to bring darts to the world, following its boom.

When the BDO went under, the WDF revived Lakeside, a tournament near and dear to the hearts of those who attend it every year. The WDF already held events year-round, alongside a ranking system, which saw them fit to take over where the BDO had left off.

They staged their debut championship in 2022 amid issues relating to the pandemic but were able to produce a prize fund of £300,000, with Neil Duff, the eventual men’s champion, claiming £50,000 of that, and the phenomenal Beau Greaves taking home £25,000.

Greaves will defend her title this year, as darts returns to Lakeside under the WDF name. She is proof that this venue and tournament are well and truly alive.

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