PDC World Youth Championship - Everything You Need To Know

PDC World Youth Championship – Everything There Is To Know

Many young boys and girls will have been inspired to pick up a set of darts for the first time after watching Luke Littler at the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship. But what is the premier event for young players to compete in and how can you become a world youth champion?

The PDC World Youth Championship is the leading tournament in youth darts, and in this blog we will go through everything you need to know about the competition. From previous winners and memorable moments to how to qualify and the tournament’s format, here is your guide to the PDC Youth Championship.

What is the PDC World Youth Championship?

Arron Monk 2011 PDC Youth

Arron Monk (left) was the inaugural winner of the PDC World Youth Championship after beating Michael van Gerwen in the final

The PDC World Youth Darts Championship is an annual tournament organised by the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) and is regarded as the most prestigious youth event in the world of darts. Open to players aged between 16 and 23, the competition was established in late 2010. The 64-player field for the inaugural darts world youth championship was played down to a final, which was then held at Alexandra Palace, in London at the start of 2011. England’s Arron Monk defeated Michael van Gerwen, of the Netherlands, 6-4 in the final to be crowned the first winner of the PDC Youth World Championship.

Since 2015, the PDC youth final has been staged at Butlin’s Minehead every November and televised live on ITV during their coverage of the Players Championship Finals. The 2023 edition featured 96 players and had a total prize fund of £60,000. Another England vs the Netherlands final saw Luke Littler prevail 6-4 against Gian van Veen to pocket the £10,000 top prize.

What does the Youth PDC do for young players?

The PDC youth competition has proven to be a successful breeding ground for many of the rising stars in darts over the years. With the final of the premier youth tournament being played on a big stage and in front of the television cameras, it provides a platform for up-and-coming players to showcase their skills in front of a much larger audience.

Along with the £10,000 top prize for winning the darts youth championship, the champion also receives a spot in the PDC World Darts Championship. The two finalists also qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts the following year, which is another major event that starts off with a round-robin, so the players are guaranteed at least three games on TV.

Even for players who have not won the title, playing youth championship darts gives them exposure and the experience of playing on the professional stage. Michael van Gerwen was a runner-up in the first two years of the competition, in 2011 and 2012, and has gone on to forge a legendary career at the top level, winning multiple senior world titles along with every single active PDC major on the calendar. Former winners of the World Youth Championship have gone on to become successful professionals too, including Michael Smith, Luke Humphries and Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Tournament Format

PDC World Youth Championship

The PDC World Youth Championship is played down to the final in a venue away from the TV cameras

The format for the PDC World Youth Championship is set to undergo some changes in 2024, with the field increasing from 96 to 128 players. The 128-player field will be split into 32 groups of four players and starts off with a round-robin phase, with each group match played over the best of nine legs. The 32 seeds will be determined first by the PDC Order of Merit followed by the final Development Tour rankings.

The top two players from each group will advance to the knockout stage, which is played over a slightly longer format over the best of 11 legs. The 2024 tournament will be played down to the final in Wigan on October 14, with the decider to take place at Butlin’s Minehead on November 24.

How to qualify

Any current PDC tour card holder who fits the age criteria (aged 23 or under and 16 or over on January 4, 2024) receives an automatic entry into the 2024 PDC World Youth Championship and will be seeded for the group stages. A minimum of 16 invited international players will also feature in the tournament, with the 2023 edition having included players from Mongolia, Japan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa and America.

The remaining places in the tournament will be taken from the PDC youth order of merit after the last Development Tour event of the season has been played on October 13. The majority of the field will come from the Development Tour rankings, which is the most common path for players to earn a spot and also rewards those who have performed well during the season in the PDC’s youth tour.

The Development Tour is a series of events put on by the PDC each year which are open to players who are aged 23 or under and 16 or over on January 4 of that year. Players who are ranked in the top 32 of the PDC Order of Merit on the cut-off date of an event are not eligible, whilst players who turn 16 during the year can enter events from the date of their 16th birthday.

Youth PDC Success Stories

Josh Rock World Youth 2022

Josh Rock set a new record average in a PDC World Youth Championship final with 104.13 in 2022

The PDC World Youth Championship has had its fair share of memorable moments even in its still relatively short existence on the darts calendar. In 2015, Germany’s Max Hopp became the first player outside of the UK to win the tournament, edging past Nathan Aspinall 6-5 in the decider.

The following year Australia’s Corey Cadby made more history as the first non-European winner, whilst Dimitri Van den Bergh wrote his name in the record books as the first two-time champion and first player to win back-to-back titles with a pair of victories in 2017 and 2018.

In 2022, Josh Rock added Northern Ireland to the roll of honour and in impressive fashion, setting a new record average in a final of 104.13 in his 6-1 win over Nathan Girvan. Another record was set in 2023 when Luke Littler, at the age of 16, became the youngest ever winner of the tournament. Less than six weeks later, Littler was contesting the final of the PDC World Darts Championship, and as the youngest ever finalist, as he continued to break new ground at such a young age.

The Road To Greatness

The PDC World Youth Championship provides a great opportunity for young players and in its short history has helped to create many success stories in the sport. Former champions Michael Smith and Luke Humphries have gone on to reach the summit in the pro game, winning the PDC World Darts Championship and climbing to the top of the world rankings.

Tournaments like the PDC World Youth Championship are important for growing the sport, so an increase in the field in 2024 to 128 players is a welcome move as it gives more youngsters the opportunity to compete for the grandest prize in youth darts.

The landscape of the darting world continues to change, with new formats and new tournaments being introduced to the calendar. Keep an eye on the Darts Corner blog for more news and information about the darts world.

Pictures: PDC

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