PDC World Matchplay
The PDC's World Matchplay has been staged since 1994 and was sponsored by Stan James between 2000 & 2010, one of the longest PDC sponsorship deals. Previous sponsors include Proton Cars and Websters. For 2011 the event has a new sponsor in SkyBet - Sky TV have broadcast every year to date.
It has always been staged in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. It is generally considered the next most prestigious title after the World Championships and one that all darts players covet.
James Wade won the title in 2007, beating Terry Jenkins 18-7 in the final after himself losing out to Phil Taylor 18-11 in the 2006 final. American Larry Butler was the first winner back in 1994, beaing Dennis Priestley 16-12 in the final. Priestley was actually the losing finalist in the first 3 events.
To date Phil Taylor has lifted the trophy 13 times, including 5 consecutive years between 2000 and 2004. Rod Harrington is the only other player to successfully defend the trophy, doing so in 1998 and 1999. The only other winners are Peter Evison in 1996 and Colin Lloyd in 2005.
The format of the tournament is a legs race and the winner must win by two clear legs.
Prior to "the darts split" the tournament was known as the MFI World Matchplay, run by the BDO. Although not directly related it was effectively the predecessor of the PDC version and ran for several years during the 1980's. John Lowe and Eric Bristow were both winners and the 1984 tournament was the setting for the first ever televised 9-dart finish. John Lowe hit the perfect game on ITV against Keith Deller. It took place at The Fulcrum Centre in Slough and Lowe received a record £102,000 for his efforts.