To me Darts is a wonderful sport, an enjoyable game that is great to take part in and even better to watch, both whilst having a beer or 3 with mates! But there’s a lot to it behind the scenes which has kept darting fanatics arguing for years now.
There are two organisations that essentially run the sport of professional darts, firstly the British Darts Organisation (BDO) who have been in operation since 1973, and secondly the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) which was formed in 1992 by a group of 16 players (including all former World Champions still playing). It isn’t hard to find plenty of articles written about the split in professional darts, so I won’t go into detail about the reasons of the split.
The thing is, fans are just as split as the organisations are. The BDO is very traditional, very old school, as are a large number of its fans. The PDC however, is loud, brash and very publicity-heavy thanks to the chairman Barry Hearn. There is also a gulf in talent, which has been apparent recently with both organisations running their World Championships within the last 2 months. PDC players are the best in the world, they have the higher averages, the better scores, the more competitive games, and a lot more 9 dart finishes than the BDO have.
Speaking of 9 dart finishes, that is perfection for a darts player. Only in Darts & Snooker (there may be more) can an athlete achieve perfection, there is no better than a 147 clearance in Snooker or a 9 dart finish in Darts. It cannot be beaten, cannot be outdone, and is a special moment for anyone who achieves it.
It’s a regular occurrence to see players perform well in the BDO, then a short while later make the jump over to the PDC, where the money is. Of course, the money is a massive difference between the two. Firstly there’s more televised (and therefore highly prized) tournaments within the PDC throughout the year, but the World Championship prize fund really highlights the gulf. This past weekend Steve Bunting won the BDO Worlds, pocketing a cool £100k. Not an amount to be sniffed at I know, but compare that to the £250k prize fund that PDC World Champion Michael Van Gerwen took home on New Years Day and you see where the difference is.
Fans of the BDO can often be found complaining about the noise of the PDC events, that there’s no respect for the players when they’re throwing, and the players are arrogant. However these same fans will also be seen talking about top BDO players in the sense that they are “good enough to make the step up to the PDC”. The BDO is great for entry level darts, but when you look at the bigger picture, the PDC is the best darts to watch & be a part of. The atmosphere at the events is electric, the players are of the highest quality, and it’s encouraged that you go there and have a bloody good time!
I have all the time in the world for BDO darts, I will gladly watch it on the rare occasion it makes it on to the tv, but it doesn’t compare to the big leagues of the PDC. Maybe in some eyes it does, but to me, and thousands of other dart fanatics, (to paraphrase Jim Bowen) you can’t beat a bit of PDC!