THE field of international qualifiers for the 2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship has been confirmed, with greater worldwide coverage than ever ahead of this year's tournament.
A total of 24 international qualifiers will compete amongst a 72-player field in the sport's biggest tournament at Alexandra Palace from December 14-January 1.
They join the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit following November's Players Championship Finals as well as 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit.
This year's international qualifiers have featured a greater reach than ever, with Europe-wide knockouts accompanied by regional qualifying events including two qualifiers in Asia and a new South and Central America Qualifier.
"As the global landscape of professional darts continues to evolve, it's important that we take into account developments in different territories to ensure that our World Championship is completely representative," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
"This year has seen the introduction of a South and Central American Qualifier and a more structured approach to our Asian Qualifiers, alongside continued growth throughout Europe.
"We will have over 20 countries represented on the oche at the William Hill World Darts Championship, as well as a wider global reach than ever off the oche with a record number of worldwide television partners broadcasting the event."
Following the progress in Eastern Europe as a potential development area for the PDC, a second Eastern European Qualifier will compete at Alexandra Palace, meaning that Krzysztof Ratajski, as the top-ranked Eastern European on the ProTour Order of Merit, makes his debut.
In addition, Canadian player Jeff Smith, the NDFC number one who has previously played in the World Cup of Darts and on the PDC ProTour, will make his first Alexandra Palace appearance.
The international qualifiers which have already been completed have seen New Zealand's Cody Harris, Australia's Gordon Mathers, America's Willard Bruguier, Japan's Seigo Asada, Croatia's Alan Ljubic and Ireland's William O'Connor secure their World Championship debuts.
Finland's Kim Viljanen has already qualified from the PDCNB Order of Merit, with a second qualifier from the final rankings to be confirmed on November 5.
Singapore's Paul Lim won the South & West Asia Qualifier recently, with the North & East Asia Qualifier to be held on October 28, which also sees the DPA Oceanic Masters take place in Australia.
The Southern Europe Qualifier, Central Europe Qualifier, Chinese Qualifier, Russian Qualifier and German Qualifier have also still to take place, with further places on offer for the PDC Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit and World Youth Champion.
The final places will be confirmed at the PDPA Qualifier on Monday November 27, where two players will secure spots at Alexandra Palace.
Should the Development Tour Order of Merit winner or World Youth Champion have already qualified through a different route, further places will be available at the PDPA Qualifier.
The 2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship will be held from December 14-January 1 at Alexandra Palace, and broadcast live on Sky Sports. For information about tickets, Hospitality Packages or Thomas Cook Sport Breaks, CLICK HERE.
2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship
Seigo Asada (Japan) - PDJ Japanese Qualifier
Willard Bruguier (USA) - North American Championship Winner
Cody Harris (New Zealand) - DPNZ Qualifier
Paul Lim (Singapore) - South & West Asia Qualifier
Alan Ljubic (Croatia) - East Europe Qualifier
Gordon Mathers (Australia) - DPA Order of Merit Winner
William O'Connor (Ireland) - Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay Champion
Devon Petersen (South Africa) - Highest placed African on PDC Order of Merit
Diogo Portela (Brazil) - South & Central American Qualifier
Krzysztof Ratajski (Poland) - Highest placed Eastern European on PDC Order of Merit
Jeff Smith (Canada) - NDFC Number One
Kim Viljanen (Finland) - PDCNB Qualifier
To be completed:
October 21 - Southern Europe Qualifier
October 22 - Russian Qualifier
October 28 - DPA Oceanic Masters, North & East Asia Qualifier
November 5 - Final PDCNB ranking event (second player qualifies alongside Kim Viljanen), final PDC Unicorn Development Tour events (DT Order of Merit winner qualifies), Chinese Qualifier
November 18 - German Qualifier
November 19 - Central Europe Qualifier
November 26 - PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final (winner qualifies)
November 27 - PDPA Qualifier (two players qualify)