PDC Las Vegas Desert Classic
The PDC staged the Las Vegas Desert Classic between 2002 and 2009, always been held in Las Vegas, starting at the MGM Grand and moving down the strip to the Mandaly Bay in 2006. The tournament was retired in 2010 and replaced by the Tropicana World Series. However, the world series is not televised.
Almost everything about the tournament changed over the years as the PDC tried to find the right blend to satisfy both a US and UK audience including setting times to suit UK audiences due to the lack of interest in the US. Games were broadcast live to the UK in the evening meaning a morning start in Vegas. For the program to go out at 7pm in the UK, an 11am start time is required.
The format also changed with various experiments leading to a legs race with deciding leg. In 2002 it was straight knockout in sets. 2003 saw a group stage, leading to quarter finals played in legs. From 2004 onwards it's went back to straight knockout. 2004 & 2005 was in sets right through. 2006 was legs in round one and then sets to the final. While 2007 - 2009 were in legs throughout the tournament.
The tournament didn't have a sponsor until 2006 when PartyPoker became involved. They sponsored it for 4 years between 2006 and 2009. It was always broadcast on Sky TV.
Phil Taylor won the trophy 5 times - 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008 & 2009. Every time he reached the final he won it. Peter Manley (2003), John Part (2006) and Raymond van Barneveld 2007) are the other winners.
2008 qualifying was based on the PDC Order of Merit where the top 12 were guaranteed qualification. The other 20 places were awarded to 16 players who came through the qualifying rounds with 4 more places awarded to the top US and Canadian players. There is always a qualifying tournament which often covers 2 to 4 days. It usually attracted 200+ players all vying for a place in the tv stages.
The prize fund grew over the years - in 2002 it was $100,000 and by 2007 had risen to £126,400, with the winner getting £20,000.