The Year Of The Dragon

Welsh wonder Jonny Clayton triumphed in the BoyleSports World Grand Prix, producing a remarkable doubling display in a 5-1 win over Gerwyn Price in Leicester on Saturday. In what is proving to be a remarkable year, for Welsh darts, The Ferret added another of the PDC’s major crowns to the Premier League that he captured earlier in 2021.

Clayton scooped the £110,000 top prize and a first televised ranking title by shattering Price’s hopes of retaining the double-start title with one of the best performances of his career.

Clayton – who partnered Price to World Cup glory in 2020 and has since won The Masters and the Premier League – finished 170, 164, 152 and 110 before sealing glory with a 116 checkout. Price holds the World No.1 positions and is the PDC’s reigning World Champion

He also started with 63% of his darts at a double – compared to Price’s 40% on the night – and averaged 94 for both the final and the tournament as he impressively scooped the title.

“It’s what dreams are made of,” admitted Clayton, who moves up to seventh on the PDC Order of Merit.

“We all play to win a big major, it’s my first ranked major and I’m over the moon, chuffed to bits. It’s been a long week, but to play the world number one and beat him is fantastic.

“I’m lost for words. To win this and play really, really well is a tick in my box and I’m going to smile for a couple of weeks!

“I came out of the blocks quicker than Gezzy. The respect I’ve got for Gerwyn is second to none, he’s a fantastic player and a fantastic guy, and the crowd tonight let us play. We both enjoyed it.

“He’s smashed me the last six or seven times so it’s nice to have one back on him. My starting was fantastic, so I think I kept my pressure onto Gezzy and that was the difference.”

Price had begun the final with an opening 160 score and won the first leg with a 14-darter, but could do little to prevent Clayton winning the next three – including a 12-dart leg – to snatch the opening set.

A fine second set saw Clayton move 2-0 up before Price followed an 11-darter with double ten to level, only for the Pontyberem ace to take the decider in 14 darts.

The third set saw the standard rise again, with Price once more winning the opener only to see Clayton take out 170 and 164 for back-to-back 12-darters as he moved 2-0 up.

Price finished 72 to level, but the deciding leg once again went the way of Clayton as a 13-darter gave him a huge three-set lead.

Clayton also opened up a 2-0 cushion in set four, but Price finished double ten in the next two to level and capitalised on a missed bull from his opponent to steal the set on tops and pull back to 3-1 in the game.

Clayton capitalised when Price missed his opening three darts at a double in the first two legs of the fifth set, as double eight and a 12-darter pushed him ahead.

Four missed finishing doubles from Clayton allowed Price to take the third leg, but a 110 checkout gave the Premier League champion a fourth set.

Clayton broke in the opening leg of set six, and took out a sensational 152 checkout – after also opening with a 152 score in his second visit of the leg – to move 2-0 up and to the brink of glory.

Price finished 102 to hit back in leg three, but Clayton quickly ended any hopes of a fightback as a fifth ton-plus checkout of the final, with a 116 combination, completed a glorious win.

“He was too strong for me today,” admitted Price. “He didn’t miss a double early on to get off, I missed a couple but he was phenomenal.

“I did have a chance but I didn’t take them a couple of times and he was winning the big moments. He was starting off a lot better than me.

“Apart from the first game that’s the best I’ve played in the tournament and that’s a testament to Jonny. He was by far the better player on the night, but I’ll get him next time.

“I had a great final and I appreciate the crowd for letting us play.”

2021 BoyleSports World Grand Prix

Saturday October 9

Final 

Jonny Clayton 5-1 Gerwyn Price 

Set Scores: 3-1, 3-2, 3-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-1

——ENDS—–

Image: L Lustig (PDC)

The World Grand Prix: A Celebration

The PDC’s only event that is not ‘straight start’ 501, The World Grand Prix, is unique and, as a result, is beloved by many. Combined with its Dublin* home, and history of early-round shocks, the double start format ensures that there is always something to talk about and that the atmosphere is different to that of the other major events.

Despite these distinct features, there are very few names on the Trophy itself. Phil Taylor collected 11 titles, during his dominant spells, yet even he was unable to put together a run of more than three in a row. Other than The Power only MVG has managed more than two crowns. 

Yet the array of those who have reached the final is perhaps the best measure of the reason the WGP still holds a fascination.

Shayne Burgess, Roland Scholten, Harrington, Warriner, Part and Barney all featured early on, but it’s players like Brendan Dolan and Dave Chisnall, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Merv King’s comeback run that demonstrate how the event can change lives and secure careers.

Other players have broken through or grabbed attention at the WGP. John Henderson gave perhaps the best examples of his huge talent, prior to the recent World Cup, with his run in 2011 and his later defeat of MVG (in his pomp). Mark Hylton reached the Qtr finals during the same time, Richard North also grabbed the spotlight.

The event being staged away from the usual UK venues, but without the logistical stresses and strains of complex travel, and with a pair of Pro Tours attached, lent the event a different nature to the other majors. Newly qualified players had time to settle and enjoy the experience often staying with a group of their peers for some of the time.

As one may expect the hospitality and friendly nature of Dublin and Ireland also plays a role. Returning players often met the same fans, friends, staff and officials for many years in succession. Familiarity breeds relaxation and comfortable players often produce their best.

This year is particularly difficult to predict and we may see shocks aplenty or none at all. Only two players have ever retained the title, MVG is returning to form. Wright has begun to develop a method of producing his best at the biggest events and Price is looking devastating in ranking events.

So, seeds falling everywhere or business as usual? At the WGP neither would be a surprise.

Roll of Honour

1998 Phil Taylor def Rod Harrington 13-8

1999 Phil Taylor def Shayne Burgess 6-1

2000 Phil Taylor def Shayne Burgess 6-1

2001 Alan Warriner def Roland Scholten 8-2

2002 Phil Taylor def John Part 7-3

2003 Phil Taylor def John Part 7-2

2004 Colin Lloyd def Alan Warriner 7-3

2005 Phil Taylor def Colin Lloyd 7-1

2006 Phil Taylor def Terry Jenkins 7-4

2007 James Wade def Terry Jenkins 6-3

2008 Phil Taylor def Raymond van Barneveld 6-2

2009 Phil Taylor def Raymond van Barneveld 6-3

2010 James Wade def Adrian Lewis 6-2

2011 Phil Taylor def Brendan Dolan 6-3

2012 Michael van Gerwen def Mervyn King 6-4

2013 Phil Taylor def Dave Chisnall 6-0

2014 Michael van Gerwen def James Wade 5-3

2015 Robert Thornton def Michael van Gerwen 5-4

2016 Michael van Gerwen def Gary Anderson 5-2

2017 Daryl Gurney def Simon Whitlock 5-4

2018 Michael van Gerwen def Peter Wright 5-2

2019 Michael van Gerwen def Dave Chisnall 5-2

2020 Gerwyn Price def Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-2

2021 ?

—–ENDS—-

AIM Adjuster with additional material from JR Lott
Lead Image: Lawrence Lustig (PDC)

* The WGPs of 2020 and 2021 have been held at the Morningside Arena in Leister due to Covid-19 complications

Snapshot Review: Winmau Pro Line 25g.

A sjort and snappy look at the tungsten part of the Winmau Pro-Line range. The range seems to seek to provide high end but usable products without the player premium.

  • Product: Steel Tip darts
  • Brand: Winmau
  • Model: Pro-Line 25g
  • Material: 90% Tungsten
  • Variation: Black Onyx Coated
  • RRP: £34.90

General:

An excellent tapered dart with a high level ringed grip. The Pro-Line are a non player dart in a classic tapered shape made distinctive by a black onyx coating.

Image 5
Grab a set of Winmau Pro Line

As is the case across the board Pro line are simply packaged with three barrels, a Winmau point protector and a complimentary set up. The Prism Force Flight & Stem set is premium quality and coloured to match.

Specs:

  • Length: 50.8mm
  • Width: 6.7mm (Widest)
  • Material: 90% Tungstem (Black Onyx Coated)
  • Point: Black Steel (Standard)
  • Grip: Ring Cut (Fine) Double Spaced Pattern.

Player Quotes:

” There is something of the RVB style in these but more aggressive grip”

” Very nice balance and the Onyx seems to make the grip more comfortable even with a strong grip”

” Very good dart for a mid barrel thrower”

Debbie Downers:

Although these look a simple dart they are a bit more complex than first glance suggests. The grip pattern and the deep cut grooves near, the stem end, seemed to limit the areas that the dart can be effectively held. The simpler your grip and throw the better.

Variations:

Pro Line is a major Winmau range of high-quality non player items to cover almost all your darting needs. There are shirts, hoodies, bags and many other ‘Pro Line’ ranges. Unusually the darts themselves are available in both odd and even weights from 21-26g. This is a superb touch for those discovering their ideal weight or those thinking of tweeking. They are a superb place to start.

Set Ups:

AIM: tested two different weights (22 and 25g) with the original Prism Force set ups and found them to be very effective for a direct thrower. switching to a tweenie stem and a thinner flight allowed more arc to the flight and a very relaxed, almost dropping, technique proved very effective indeed.

A brief test with a moulded flight system did not seem to suit this model and was soon abandoned.

Durability:

The grip style and the Onyx covering seem to go well together and after 50 or so legs there was little sign of use. As with all coatings there will be wear and tear but this may actually be a positive as it will soften the feel of the dart. The aggressive grip and solid build leads to some flight and stem damage but this is well within the normal range. With traditional flight and stem sets this will not prove a burden.

Snapshot:

AIM: testers liked this dart and, for the price, all agreed it was well worth a try. It is simple and once you have located your grip zone Pro Line do not require a lot of getting used to.

If you have a simple throw and a perhaps a relaxed ‘dropping throw’ somewhat like Barney or even a ‘mid career’ Taylor then you may like to eperiment with these.

£34 (Plus postage, order here) for a 90% coated dart with this design and finish quality is very good value and with the selection available you would struggle to go wrong with Pro Line.


Pro line can be ordered from Red Dragon Online here

Payne Moves To Red Dragon

Red Dragon are not resting on their laurels or letting the grass grow under their feet. Instead it seems they are trying to identify talent that they can develop and improve. In doing so they seem interested in a group of players who could be classed as a lost generation. Another such player has just been announced:

JOSH PAYNE, Darts’ Hot-Stepper, joins Red Dragon darts on a 5-year deal that sees him join darts coolest brand until 2026.

Fighting hard from a very young age Josh made steady progress on the World’s toughest stage at the PDC where the young, charismatic player has already amassed a great level of experience and several wins in the professional game. 

Earning his PDC Tour Card back in 2013, Josh finished in the top 2 of the Youth Tour and has retained his place on the PDC Pro Tour ever since.

Payne, a multiple event winner on all the tours that the PDC offers, Development, Challenge and Pro is one of the game’s best young talents.

Speaking with Red Dragon about his recent signing, Josh said, “I’m very excited to start this next stage of my career with Red Dragon. I have spoken with the development team and their attention to detail is amazing, I really think I can kick on in my career now, like many of the top Red Dragon players that have developed over the years”.

Josh’s new deal will see him working with Red Dragon until at least 2026 and Simon Hall, Marketing Director for Red Dragon added,

“We are so happy to add Josh to our brand as he is not only a fantastic person but a super darts player with great ambition who has proven he has what it takes to win. With our technical and mechanical expertise, we’ll be doing everything we can to help Josh reach his potential.”

There is little doubt that Josh has the ability to resurrect his top flight career. Often a change in routine, personnel and a general reset can assist and its possible that Harrows was almost too comfortable for Josh. What remains to be seen is whether Red Dragon can add those extra ingredients and whether the young man is willing to make the changes needed?
—–ENDS—–
Lead Image: Red Dragon

The Myth Of Adding Gramms

​NO this is not another article on the dangers of obesity, nor is it a guide to healthy eating for darts players. Instead, we’re taking a look at one of the most popular techniques adopted by players who seek to improve their game or restore former glories.

Over the past decade, AIM has encountered a number of professional players who have either endured a tough spell or who think that they need to add something to their game in order to improve their performance at the higher levels of the game. Almost all of them have flirted, at minimum, with increasing the weight of their arrows. When asked they all repeat the same mantras: “It will increase my consistency, I need to add some stability” “A little extra weight will help me increase my doubles percentage” or “As I have gotten older I feel I need more solidity” Personally, we blame Phil Taylor!

The Power made a quantum leap late in his career by adding at least 2 grams to his standard weight. But those who cite Phil’s incredible effort forget the most important part of the change. Taylor not only changed weight but also transformed the shape of his arrows and his entire setup. Instead of a heavily gripped parallel barrel, he adopted a bomb shape similar to that of John Lowe.

Using the Stoke legend’s remarkable reconstruction as an excuse to go from, say, 20 to 23/24g, for no reason other than hope, is doomed to failure. Players who have achieved great success with 18-21g darts suddenly seem to think that adding multiple grams will improve their consistency and remove some of the small errors that have crept into their game. Often we find that this is merely a way to avoid tackling actual problems. Such issues can be technical or psychological but are rarely solved with such a blunt tool as weight.

We do not oppose change; indeed equipment assessment is a very early part of working with any new player. We have found that subtle changes in grip, flight shape, and even point type can assist players or add a small percentage to their performance. But we always ask: What is the perceived problem? What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? How will you measure its success?

Older players may find that the sensitivity in their fingers has dulled and thus they may benefit from increasing the grip on their barrel. Elite players may benefit from using older darts in floor events and brand new sets on stage, or the other way around. Newcomers to the game should experiment with various weights and styles during practice and then play matches with the darts that feel most comfortable.

Dennis gently moved up, from 13g to 17g, throughout his storied career.



Like all rules or guidelines, there are exceptions. If you use a very light dart (12-17g) you may find that adding small amounts adjusts for natural changes in muscle elasticity due to age. Dennis Priestley (Above) gradually increased the weight of his darts, from around 13g, over more than a decade, to 17g. Wayne Warren added two grams in the months before his World Championship win; his form had dipped severely over the previous 6 months, although this was prompted by a wrist injury.

So, before you take the easy option and ‘blame your tools’, try smaller steps first. Make any changes one at a time and give every change a fair opportunity, in all conditions, to succeed or fail.

Our experience of working with highly talented players has shown that subtle grip changes, minimal profile adjustments, and working on confidence and relaxation are far more effective than dramatic weight gain. Again, in darts, as in life.

—–ENDS—–
Article originally appears in Darts World Magazine (Issue 574) order yours now!

Diamonds, Gold and Tungsten: Peter’s Perfect Combo

AIM were asked to contribute a few thoughts toward this very good overview of why Peter Wright’s eye catching new model had proved such an instant success:

Peter Wright credits his resurgent performances to a small addition of one of his favourite dart models. The new World Matchplay champion has credited the addition of a gold coating to his Euro 11 Element diamond gripped barrel. 

Fellow dart professional Josh Payne, himself a Pro Tour winner, suggested the change during a recent practice session. Although it was merely a suggestion as to improving the darts cosmetic appeal. Peter was taken with the idea and even made a DIY version with some gold paint! 

Soon enough the folk at Red Dragon, Peter’s darts manufacture/sponsor, had found a better method of adding a coating to the production process and the initial prototypes were made and it’s fair to say that they have done OK so far!

No, you may think to yourself that ‘just a colour change’ can’t make all that difference. However, history, tech, and analysis would suggest it may well well have been the final piece of the jigsaw. Did we ask our team why and how?

The Wright Hybrid:

One of Darts World’s Coaching Corner members has long argued that the diamond fusion grip offered by Red Dragon (on their Element range) could be close to the perfect grip.

” The surface provided by Diamond fusion and the player’s fingers is absolutely ideal for a smooth release or ‘launch’. The only downside is that for many, it needs to be worn in. Peter has had high-level success with a very worn set of ‘Diamond’ gripped darts that became the Melbourne Special Edition.”

Our contributor thinks it’s possible that adding the gold coating has softened the grip, or at least its feel, much earlier in the darts life. Thus it has become the perfect hybrid for Peter’s priorities. The feel is similar to that worn diamond, the base model is one he has huge success with (Euro 11) and the look matches Peter’s need for a dash of flamboyance.

Psychological:

Darts World’s product tester and contributor Joe Reid feels that the psychological element plays a big role in Peter’s decisions. 

” Peter has said in the past that part of his frequent changing of equipment is to keep his focus. He said that using the same set he becomes lazy. I feel that the coating could be a psychological change. The dart will have a familiar feel but with a big enough change to ensure that he adjusts and re focuses in order to use them”

Strive for perfection, achieve excellence:

Accuracy ‘Supercoach’ Steve Feeney suggests that its a combination of that heightened sense of feel that Peter clearly possesses with a ceaseless quest to achieve even the tiniest improvement:

 “As well as the visual aspects that we’ve seen Peter work on, he has a heightened sense of feel. Players such as Peter can feel or sense every minute change or fraction of a gram difference. Feel is so important to Peter, the dart must feel perfect and if it does not he will continue to strive for perfection.”

“We know from all sports and other research that striving toward perfection can lead to excellence.”

Historical:

Our testers at AIM180 reminded us that this is not the first time player has recaptured their best by adding gold to their tools. Their analyst said:

” In the very late 1980s, John Lowe started to use a gold-coated dart. He said publically that he was delighted with it as it gave him all the advantages of tungsten – with the weight and density – but the feel was more reminiscent of the brass darts from his very early day. This hybrid suited Lowey perfectly and enjoyed great success with them. A surprise World title in 1993 and some remarkable efforts against Taylor et al. in the PDC years.” It’s noticeable that he never went back or altered anything else during the rest of his pro career.

Peter’s Preference:

Over the years it’s clear that Peter has had a preference for the design used in the Snakebite Euro 11 Element PC-20 Gold. Initially, it was a standard ring gripped dart, similar to MVG’s, later the element grip was added. There followed a string of models such as the Mamba and Viper designs that were variations on the theme.

Despite the runaway success of his World Championship winning design, it was clear that Peter could, not shake his instinct for the Euro 11 design. Indeed Wright had smashed the average record on the Pro Tour with a set only weeks before winning that World title with a different design. Finally, has he found the perfect version of his preferred weapons?

Perhaps we should leave the final word to Joe Reid:

“The gold perhaps reflect that he is a champion, and that, for Peter, it gives that extra confidence boost, evident from his Matchplay success”

—–ENDS—–

Article originally appeared at dartsworld.com
Images: Red Dragon Design​

Not ‘just a Virage’ – A snapshot look at superb value dart

We couldn’t help but notice the latest ‘Deal of the Week’ from Red Dragon. The Virage rang a bell and we looked back through some testing reports done a little while ago. We came across some notes that had not been made into a review at the time. We have tidied them into a snapshot for anyone considering parting with their hard-earned:

Dimensions:

Red Dragon Virage 21g. (Also available in 22 and 23g)
Material – 90% Tungsten.
Finish – Bronze/Natural
Langth & Width – 50.8 mm 6.2mm

Open The Box:

Virage comes simply presented in Red Dragon retail packaging. The three barrels, in this case 21g, are coupled with Nitrotech stems in black and a bronze-colored set of hardcore flights. The points are standard silver stainless steel.

The supplied setup works well and is stable for newer players whilst firm enough to allow for direct throwers to benefit. An interesting alternative proved to be an in-between stem and a smaller std shape flight.

Testers Views:

The general approach was that Virage is a very good dart. If you are a straight barrel fan then these could be for you. The coating is excellent, combining the natural look & feel but with the subtle colouring that stands off the board.

“Imagine a ‘Bristow Barrel’ with a little more feel to the grip. The switch in grip, after the name blank, is handy for rear grippers who like purchase for the thumb or fingers.”

“The slightly shaped lower 2/3 of the barrel has additional grip compared to the usual ring grooves….. Very handy if you like to rest the dart rather than grip it.”

“The rounded nose is halfway between a full nose cone and a snub or bullnose. It works really well and is comfortable while assisting in grouping and limits the damage from deflections”.

Snapshot:

All-round this is an excellent dart. 90% and a silica style coating for the current offer price of less than £25!

More details of the Virage offer and order here

—–ENDS—–

Original appeared here at Darts World

Original Column appears in Darts World 575 OUT NOW

Larry Butler: When The Eagle Landed

NOMINATING  a TV major winner, who returned to reach the final of the Winmau World Masters twenty-one years later, as an ‘Unsung Hero’ may seem a bit of a stretch, but the label can certainly be applied to the USA’s Larry Butler.

An ‘Immortal’ on the other hand, seems fair enough, The Bald Eagle, now 63-years-of-age, and back playing after a severe heart attack laid him low in 2018, has a remarkable winning record and longevity that can only be matched, perhaps, by Paul Lim. 

Butler first appeared on the steel tip scene in 1992 qualifying for the BDO World Championships in the year made immortal by the Taylor – Gregory final. That year’s field was immensely strong and the American lost out to Dennis Priestley.

These were tough times for the sport, with declining TV coverage and the newly formed WDC (PDC) struggling to gain momentum. The Ohio man retreated to the US and concentrated on soft-tip – claiming back-to-back (Bullshooter) World titles in ‘92 and ‘93 – only to return  to the UK as part of the PDC’s inaugural World Championship in 1994 and was very unfortunate to be eliminated, in the group stage, on leg difference. 

Within months Dayton’s tungsten titan was to write himself into the darts history books at the inauguration of another PDC flagship event, the World Matchplay.

The unheralded Butler made it through the first two rounds with relative ease, but his defeat of Jocky Wilson in the Qtr-finals the signal that he was a serious threat for the title. Wilson was playing well enough to have removed Alan Warriner-Little and Peter Evison in his previous two matches and yet Butler saw ‘the wee man’ off with relative ease.

Shayne Burgess also failed to halt the US thrower in the semi-final, with Butler narrowly missing a 9-darter along the way, there was only one man who could prevent him from lifting that famous trophy. That man was, however, Dennis Priestley.


Now, if they were being honest, a final match-up between these two would not have been the promoters’ or the TV people’s choice. Watch it today however and it’s a belter. Two serious and careful men, at or near the top of their game, giving a demonstration of methodical darts at its best. The nerves are on display from the very start as each man knows that the other can not be given an inch.

Despite missed doubles and Butler breaking in leg three, The Menace hit back with a 124 finish to keep things all square. Priestley then produced a spell of increased scoring power and edged into a 7-3 lead. Surely the debutant would falter?

Remarkably Butler hit back with five legs on the spin and moved into the lead. For the only time I can remember the commentary team admitted that Dennis had become rushed and was struggling to refind his successful rhythm. After 20 legs had been played Larry was ahead 11-9 and had won 8 from the last 10 legs played.

At 13-11, the pivotal moment came. Butler had gone off the boil and Dennis was swiftly down to a finish. With only one leg between them surely the more experienced man would come through? Yet, it was he who faltered. The Menace missed nine darts to take the leg and Butler produced a superb single dart, at an obscured double eight, to extend his lead and within a very few minutes he had claimed the two additional legs needed and the title was his by 16 to 12!

Tragically, for the US player at least, the game of darts was at such a low ebb that there was no Professional Tour to sustain a North American player at that time meaning that trying to earn a living, by travelling to Europe for the few TV events, was unsustainable and slowly but surely Butler drifted away from the top of the PDC game. A return to soft-tip saw him crowned World Champion for the third time in 1997 but other highlights were few and far between.

After those lean years, what is now known as the Pro Tour began to develop in earnest and a now 50+-year-old Butler made an attempt at it in 2008/9. Although he made only a minor impact he did record a 9-darter during a PDC event in Las Vegas and reached a quarter-final.

What was not noticed by UK darts officianadoes however was that Butler had started winning again in America. His record in the American Darts Organisation (ADO) events was outstanding, even more so for a ‘senior’ player. In 2010/11 he scored over a dozen event wins and seemed never far away from any U.S title he contested.

Over the next few years, he became, along with Paul Lim, what can be described as a hybrid darts professional: Soft-tip or steel tip, domestic or international, regardless of code. A real “have darts will travel” journeyman. Suddenly, the winning habit and all the work and ‘practice’ he was getting came together again. The Bald Eagle returned to the mainstream in a big way.

2015 had started quietly as Butler, along with Darin Young, represented the USA in the PDC’s World Cup of Darts. He returned to the USA and picked up the winning habit again immediately before returning to the UK where he produced a run of results few would have believed in advance.

First Butler stormed through the BDO field to qualify for one of their places in the PDC’s Grand Slam of Darts (Yes, a PDC World Matchplay Champion qualified for BDO spot!) his last three wins were over Glen Durrant, Wayne Warren and Scott Waites. 

Brimming with confidence he then took his place at the Winmau World Masters where he again defeated Waites and added Scott Mitchell and the scalps Martin Adams. Playing from the last 272, reached the final. This time Durrant denied him the full fairytale. But it was not over for the now 55-year-old.

Two days later Butler bagged the English leg of the ADO World Masters before moving on to Turkey and claiming a Quarterfinal spot in the WDF World Cup and the Turkish leg of the ADO Masters series. 

Returning to England to take up his Grand Slam place (possibly a little tired!) he did not progress from his initial group. Incredibly, he was still not finished, he returned home to claim three titles in a row before taking his place in the (BDO) World Championships at the Lakeside for the first time since 1992, reaching the last 16.

Although his 2015/16 efforts were noted at the time, they were not given the attention due. The Bald Eagle was flying between various continents while switching between codes, formats, or even types of darts. He was winning everywhere, against any class of opposition, it was a stunning run that should be credited as a blueprint for (particularly non-UK) players in the modern era.

Although Larry’s form stayed at a very high level in the US and some soft tip events, the demands on his older constitution saw a decline in major and TV results after 2016. Disaster struck when he suffered a heart attack after returning to Ohio following the World Cup in 2018. Fortunately, after multiple operations he made a full recovery and was back playing by the Autumn of that year.

Although not quite back to winning ways the remarkable 63-year-old  was still reaching qtrs, semis and finals up until the spring of 2020 when Covid-19  forced him to rest his arrows once more. Almost beyond even Butler’s superhuman efforts he was back and reaching the semi-final of the Cherry bomb event in Florida last month!

It would be a pleasure to see a healthy Butler back at his best and perhaps in the UK for a Matchplay or World Seniors welcome and acknowledgment of his huge contribution to all forms of our game.

Could the Butler do it, again?

—–ENDS—–

@JRLott2

A Golden Matchplay: Sunshine, A Stirring defence and Peter’s New darts

The ingredients that lead to a memorable sporting event are many fold. The three mentioned in the title played their part in a tearful Peter Wright claiming the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay, on Sunday night, ending Dimitri Van den Bergh’s hopes of back-to-back titles with a sensational 18-9 triumph in Blackpool.
 
World number two Wright had lost in the Winter Gardens final four years ago, but this time lifted the trophy named in honour of his conqueror in 2017 – Phil Taylor – to cap a memorable tournament.
 
Wright had won through to the final with a stunning defeat of Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals, and treated a capacity Winter Gardens crowd to another superb performance in the final:

“That one was for Jo [Wright’s wife],”said an emotional Wright. “She’s been through a lot over the last year or so, but she insisted she would be here for the final.

“I’ve backed up what I said to everyone a month back. “A lot of players have commentated saying I should leave the talking to my darts and that’s what I’ve done.

“I used to watch the World Matchplay as a kid and now my name is on the trophy forever and that’s special.

“It was amazing to lift that trophy in front of this amazing crowd. “As soon as I walked on, the crowd were behind me and it was a real goosebumps moment, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.”
 
Wright averaged 105.90 in the final and claimed a £150,000 prize, denying Van den Bergh – who spent three months living with his opponent during lockdown in 2020 – the chance to become only the fourth player to retain the title
 
Wright was clinical in punishing early Van den Bergh misses to open up leads of 3-0 and 4-1, before reeling off four straight legs – including breaks of throw in 11 and 12 darts – to move 8-2 up.
 
Van den Bergh stepped in following five uncharacteristic misses from his rival in leg 11, and produced a 12-darter to reduce the gap to 8-4.
 
Wright, though, restored his cushion with a 13-dart leg and produced a ten-darter to move 10-4 up and close in on glory.
 
Van den Bergh rallied, finishing 87, 96 and 84 in winning four of the next six to pull back to 12-8, only for an 11-darter from Wright to halt his momentum.
 
The Scot then took out 62 to lead 14-8 and punished misses from the reigning champion in the next two legs as he edged clear.


After Wright then took out 84 on the bull to create a 17-8 cushion, Van den Bergh landed the game’s only ton-plus checkout of 105, but it proved to be only a consolation as Wright sealed the deal with a 13-dart leg on double nine.
 
Van den Bergh picked up £70,000 as runner-up following a stout defense of his title, which included a victory over World Champion Gerwyn Price and a second-round record 14 180s in his defeat of Dave Chisnall.

The popular Belgian remained upbeat despite a frustrating final, with his run on his Winter Gardens debut seeing him become just the second player in the tournament’s history to reach the final in his first two World Matchplay appearances.

“Every game I’ve played, I’ve dug deep and played my best but tonight Peter was just outstanding,” said Van den Bergh.
“Of course it was a disappointment [to lose] but I can say that I gave everything and never gave up.

“I said to Peter that I’ll be back stronger. I’m number five in the world and I’m only 27, so I’ve got time on my side.”

2021 Betfred World Matchplay Final
Sunday July 25
Peter Wright 18-9 Dimitri Van den Bergh
—–ENDS—–

Lead Image: PDC (L Lustig)

Mark Webster: Diamond SE

​A new mark Webster dart always serves to remind us just how good Mark is and what he managed to contribute to the game at such an early stage. Webby was Lakeside World Champion and twice third in the PDC version and provided a welcome contrast to the perception of dart players.

Mark Webster’s weapons of choice have undergone a radical reformation over the past few years. The 2008 World Champion began his career using a very simple tungsten barrel with a snub nose and a few grooves on the lower sections. His latest weapons are about as far away as you can get. Winmau have leveraged much of their technical know-how into this elegant but unfussy dart.

General:

This latest edition has just been released, for the 2021 collection, by Marks’ longtime manufacture. Two sections of ‘black diamond’ grip have been added to the dart on either side of the lightly grooved centre section. This addition has transformed the dart.

Open the Box:

The three, 90%, tungsten barrels come tucked into a branded point protector and a colour coordinated set – up of Vectra stems (3) and Prism Alpha flights. Black steel points are supplied and fitted.

Testing feedback:

The difference, from previous Webster signature models, is remarkable. The revamp gives the appearance of real muscle while retaining their precision instrument performance. The ‘black diamond’ grip sections give almost every type of thrower a way to get the most out of them. You can even use the two sections as a guide of where not to hold them! The simple barrel design still does its no-fuss job but the new grip zones seem to add assured confidence that was not there previously.

Set-Up & Durability:

We have always found the diamond range to be exceptionally durable and, for some players, the more worn in they are the better they’re liked. With the supplied set up Mark’s dart suits most conventional throwers. Rear holders added more tapered stems and a smaller sized std flight to get a less direct flight path.

Snapshot:

The Mark Webster (2021) signature dart is a premium dart with a no-nonsense look and feel. There are no unnecessary cosmetics and, as a result, the dart is as reliable as it is impressive. They can be used to great effect by a wide cross-section of throwers although we expect that they will prove exceptionally popular with methodical players who like to power score and not mess about. At around £55 they are good value and slightly less than some premier models.

Marks: 9/10

The marks ranged from 8.5 to 9.5 for functionality, looks, performance, and value. 9/10 seems a fair result for this excellent addition to the 2021 player market.

——–ENDS——-
Originally published in Darts World Magazine (573)

Testing by: AIM:180 Ltd​

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