Changing Rolls? WDF Chief On The Spot

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Will the World Masters be held in 2023?

That is the question on the lips of everyone with a WDF persuasion and as we head towards the summer months the answer still remains unclear.

It was an important year of progress for the WDF’s two flagship events in 2022, with the organization hosting its first World Championships and World Masters post Covid-19 pandemic.

An announcement just before Christmas that the World Championships was moving slots in the calendar, from April to December, meant a clash of dates with the World Masters.

When a field of close to 600 players descended on De Bonte Wever, in Assen, in December last year, it marked the return of the longest-running major in world darts.

It was the 47th staging of the World Masters, and for the first time the tournament was being held outside of the UK, but talks regarding this year’s event are ongoing.

Nick Rolls

Nick Rolls, the WDF’s secretary general, said: “Earlier this year, I mentioned that the WDF were working towards a deadline of March 31 to decide whether the World Masters would go ahead in 2023 or not.

“We have been, and still remain, in a number of exciting conversations that would allow us to secure the long-term future of the World Masters in the way we have with the WDF World Championships.

“It is important to keep those conversations ongoing for as long as possible because we want to do all that we can to ensure that every possibility is explored for the benefit of our players and member nations.

“That said, we also know that radio silence is not helpful for the players and federations around the world that support our tournaments and it’s for that reason that we are setting a firm decision deadline at the end of June that will be adhered to.”

Looking beyond the new self-imposed deadline of June 30, free weeks in the calendar for the second half of 2023 that would not clash with any existing WDF events are few and far between.

A potential October 25-28 slot would clash not only with the PDC’s European Championship, but perhaps more importantly with the final weekend of their Challenge Tour season which would potentially rule out a number of players.

One thing we do know is that the WDF are not afraid to push the dates of their most important events back if it will benefit them in the long run. You could say it is short term pain for long term gain.

While moving the Lakeside to an early December slot means it will have been 20 months between World Championships, it is hoped that the new dates will attract more interest and generate more ticket sales.

Perhaps another 20-month hiatus would work for the World Masters as well. Skipping this year entirely and holding the next one in June 2024 would give the WDF a full 12 months of build up and planning from now, but would also see their two biggest tournaments spaced out more evenly across the calendar.

One decision that will also need to be made is the format for whenever the next World Masters is held. Much was made of the switch from the popular sets (best of three legs per set) to straight leg play.

Rolls said earlier this year: “Our general feeling was that was the way the players had played throughout the year to get to the World Masters.

“Albeit in the World Championships you could argue that we play sets in that, so why don’t we change that to legs as well?

“I think the World Championships it just had that bit more about having sets in it whereas the World Masters we felt everybody’s played legs all the way through the year.

“That’s why we went with it. We got feedback in both ways and a lot of people said they quite enjoyed the legs.

“One or two people actually said they liked it because that’s what they’ve been used to playing for the last year to 18 months.

“My gut feeling is that we’ll stick with legs for the next World Masters, but it’s not only me that makes the decisions so never say never. It’s one we can review and change if we want to.” 

—ENDS—

Originally published in Darts World Magazine Issue (583)

Alex Moss is a co-host of The Weekly Dartscast

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