The World Masters is one of the longest-running tournaments in professional darts history (credit:British Darts Organisation)
A number of the BDO’s top-ranked players could be set to boycott the 2019 World Masters amid changes to the qualifying criteria.
The BDO announced last month that the prestigious major, which has been an annual fixture since 1974, will be held at The Circus Tavern in Purfleet for the next three years.
Further changes have been implemented to the structure of the competition, with all players now starting out from the floor stages as opposed to the top 16 men and top four ladies having previously being seeded automatically into the live finals.
All players in the men’s and ladies World Masters qualifiers are also now required to pay £20 in entry fees.
In addition, the tournament has been rebranded the One80 L-style World Masters after Winmau recently ended their 45-year association with the BDO.
Live Darts understands that several of the current Men’s top 16 are yet to confirm their entry for the World Masters ahead of the October 11 deadline and could skip the event entirely in response to the change in qualifying criteria.
It is also understood that a petition against the removal of seedings was signed by a number of top players during last month’s Swedish Open.
Complex scheduling is said to be another contributing factor towards the potential boycott, with the Men’s qualifiers taking place at Grays Civic Hall on October 23 and the Ladies qualifiers running on October 24.
The qualifiers for the 2020 BDO World Championship are scheduled to take place at the same venue on October 28, following on from the World Masters in Purfleet from October 25-27.
Wesley Harms currently tops the Men’s BDO rankings ahead of World Trophy winner Jim Williams and Richard Veenstra.
Reigning World Masters champion Adam Smith-Neale is ranked number ten, with former PDC world finalist Andy Hamilton up to 12th and two-time Lakeside Champion Scott Waites occupying 16th spot.