World Masters 2021 becomes latest WDF major to be postponed

The 2021 World Masters has become the latest WDF major to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Masters was due to be held in Assen in the Netherlands for the first time from December 2-5, but has now been postponed until December 2022.

The WDF has cited Covid restrictions as the cause of the postponement for the second successive year.

In July, it was announced that the Dutch Open, due to take place in September, had been postponed until February 2022.

WDF President Bill Hatter said: “During these difficult times, the WDF Promotions team, with the help of the NDB, have made every effort to facilitate this new tournament for the benefit of our nations and their players.

“But for an event on the scale of the WDF World Masters to be truly viable, it needs to be accessible to the majority of our 72 member countries.

“With just three months to go until the event and different restrictions in place for travelling worldwide, and restrictions around events being held in the Netherlands, we have been left with no option but to cancel the World Masters event for 2021.”

The news casts fresh doubt over the inaugural WDF World Championship, which is due to take place at Lakeside in January.

The 2022 WDF Lakeside World Championship will feature 48 men and 24 women, while the Semi-Finals and final of the Youth event will also be played on stage.

The WDF remains hopeful of staging the World Open and the Lakeside World Championship play-offs from December 4-5 in Assen, but are yet to finalise any arrangements.

All players that have already qualified, or subsequently qualify for the World Masters in 2021 under the current criteria, will have their invitations deferred to 2022, however there will be no provisional rankings cut off for World Masters qualification on October 4, as previously stated.

“Having ensured that everything was in place both commercially and logistically for the 2021 World Masters, it is extremely frustrating for all concerned that we are unable to run the event as planned in December due to ongoing restrictions,” said WDF Chief Development Officer Richard Ashdown.

“The support of the WDF member nations has been integral to our progress and our objectives remain for the continued development of the ranking system and the promotion of the major tournaments.

“We look forward to what is sure to be a spectacular return to Lakeside for the WDF World Championships in January, followed by what we all hope will be a full calendar year of ranking events worldwide, leading up to the new World Masters in December 2022.”

The World Masters was last staged as a BDO major in 2019, with Ireland’s John O’Shea claiming the men’s title at the Circus Tavern and Lisa Ashton securing the women’s crown.

After the collapse of the BDO in September 2020, the World Darts Federation announced plans to launch the historic event – which was first held in 1974.