Background and qualification
Michael van Gerwen
, the number one seed, was the reigning and defending champion, prior to the tournament.
The 2018 PDC World Darts Championship is the 25th World Darts Championship to be organised by the Professional Darts Corporation; and the tenth to be held at Alexandra Palace, London. It was held between 14 December 2017 and 1 January 2018, the culmination of the 2017 Professional Darts Corporation season. 72 players competed in the championship; with the 32 highest ranked players on the PDC Order of Merit being seeded, and the next sixteen highest ranked players from the 2017 PDC Pro Tour Order of Merit and the top eight ranked players from a number of international and invitational qualifiers also going straight into the first round. The remaining sixteen international and invitational qualifiers competed in a preliminary round.
Michael van Gerwen, the winner of the 2014 and 2017 championships, was top of the two-year PDC Order of Merit and number one seed going into the tournament. The tournament was to be the last for Phil Taylor, who had won the PDC World Championship fourteen times previously, most recently in 2013. As well as van Gerwen and Taylor, three other previous PDC world champions qualified as seeds, two-time champions Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis, and 2007 champion Raymond van Barneveld.
The top seeds below van Gerwen were 2017 UK Open winner Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, 2017 World Grand Prix winner Daryl Gurney and 2017 Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljović. Rob Cross, the runner-up at the 2017 European Championship, made his World Championship debut as the 20th seed.
Richard North, in his debut year, was the highest ranked non-seed on the 2017 PDC Pro Tour Order of Merit. As well as North, three other qualifiers through the Pro Tour made their debut, Peter Jacques, Steve Lennon and Martin Schindler. The list of qualifiers also included the 2017 Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and the 2004 runner-up Kevin Painter.
Amongst the international and invitational qualification tournaments there was, for the first time, a South and Central American Qualifier. The majority of tournaments were the same as had been for the previous championship, but there was no longer a Philippines Championship. Gordon Mathers was the first player to qualify for the Championships, having finished top of the Dartplayers Australia rankings. The top two players on the Nordic & Baltic rankings also qualified, as did the winners of the fifteen international qualifiers, including the 2017 PDC World Youth Championship.
The final four qualification places were announced on 19 October, with places being given to the highest ranked Eastern European, Krzysztof Ratajski, the National Darts Federation of Canada number one Jeff Smith, the highest ranked African, Devon Petersen, and the then-undetermined 2017 Development Tour winner, Luke Humphries. The sudden announcement of these places, and the granting of them to Ratajski, who had declined an invitation to the rival 2018 BDO World Darts Championship before failing to qualify through the 2017 PDC Pro Tour Order of Merit; and Jeff Smith, who had failed to qualify for the BDO World Darts Championship and not played a single PDC event in the previous year, were criticized by some, with ITV4 pundit and tour card holder Paul Nicholson saying he had written to the Professional Darts Players Association to seek clarification over the placings.
The final three placings were determined by the PDPA qualifier held at Arena MK on 27 November, with Ted Evetts securing a first round place by winning the tournament, and runner-up Brendan Dolan and third-place playoff winner Jamie Lewis both qualifying to the preliminary round. The third place had become available as the 2017 PDC World Youth Championship, which carries a qualification place, was won by Dimitri Van den Bergh, who qualified through the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
15 of the international and invitational qualifiers were making their PDC World Championship debuts, Seigo Asada, Willard Bruguier, Ted Evetts, Cody Harris, Luke Humphries, Kai Fan Leung, Alan Ljubić, Gordon Mathers, Kenny Neyens, William O'Connor, Diogo Portela, Krzysztof Ratajski, Bernie Smith, Jeff Smith, and Zong Xiao Chen. Portela was the first ever Brazilian to qualify for the World Championships.
- ^ Per the PDC Order of Merit Rules, invited players shall be placed in to either the Preliminary or First Round draws for the event based on their position in the Order of Merit (if applicable). If insufficient players hold a position of the Order of Merit, the PDC will select which players are placed in to which round at the discretion of its board of Directors.