Category Archives: Articles & Features

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​

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)

Three Degrees Of James Wade – The Machine Claims Third UK Open

In any sport to play successfully though three different eras is unusual, to play through three of the best in the history of your chosen field and still be winning major titles is quite remarkable. Yet The Machine has done just that:

JAMES WADE landed his third Ladbrokes UK Open title in Milton Keynes on Sunday, defeating Luke Humphries 11-5 in the final. Almost 13 years on from his first UK Open title, Wade’s success sees him join Phil Taylor in winning televised PDC titles across three decades.

In addition, the £100,000 winner’s prize sees him move up to fourth in the PDC Order of Merit, overtaking Rob Cross as the highest-ranked Englishman.

Now a winner of ten televised ranking titles, Wade expanded his impressive trophy haul with a first UK Open crown since 2011 thanks to a weekend of consistent performances at the Marshall Arena.

His first TV success since November 2018 was secured with a typically clinical display in the final against Humphries, who knocked out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in the semis with a brilliant display but was unable to repeat the feat in the decider.

Experience won the day as Wade – who averaged 102.52 and was on target with 41% of his checkout attempts – made the former World Youth Champion pay for 20 missed doubles.

“To win TV titles across three decades is something I’m very proud of,” said Wade. “I’m enjoying it again, I think I’ve reinvented myself.


“I’m very happy to be in the world of darts, it’s a great place to be when you’re winning.

“I’m here to provide stability for my son and winning these allows me to do that”.

“Luke is quality, he’s a gentleman and he showed his quality in the way he dismantled Michael [van Gerwen] in the semi-finals.”


In reaching the final Wade was at his unflappable best in defeating world number one Gerwyn Price 11-6 in the semi-finals, having produced a 10-8 comeback win over Simon Whitlock in the afternoon’s quarter-finals.

Wade’s route to the title began with a scare from Ryan Joyce in round four as he came through a last-leg decider, before defeating Cross and Germany’s Gabriel Clemens in rounds five and six on Saturday.

Despite coming up short in his first televised final, two-time World Youth Champion Humphries continued his progression and produced a sensational 107.41 average in his 11-5 semi-final win over Van Gerwen.

Humphries, who edged out Dave Chisnall 10-9 in the quarter-finals, pockets the £40,000 runners-up prize moves up eight places to 33rd on the PDC Order of Merit. The 26-year-old reflected:

“It’s been an incredible weekend for me, an emotional weekend,”
“To reach a TV final is the most unbelievable feeling. I think James is the best player in the world under pressure and he showed it in that game.

“I’m here to achieve big things in darts and this run puts me in good stead going forward.

“I want to be playing the best players week-in, week-out. I know I’ve got the game to do it. Tonight it wasn’t my night, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”

The Ladbrokes UK Open reached its climax on Sunday after 151 players competed in the tournament’s opening day on Friday.

South Africa’s Devon Petersen reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015, while Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski made it to the last eight for the first time before losing to Van Gerwen.

2021 Ladbrokes UK Open
Sunday March 7

Afternoon Session

Quarter-Finals
James Wade 10-8 Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price 10-9 Devon Petersen
Luke Humphries 10-9 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Krzysztof Ratajski
Evening Session

Semi-Finals
James Wade 11-6 Gerwyn Price
Luke Humphries 11-5 Michael van Gerwen

Final
James Wade 11-5 Luke Humphries

—–ENDS——

Picture: L Lustig (PDC)

Beaton Eases Past The Power’s Record.

Steve Beaton is preparing for his thirtieth World Championship taking the record from Phil Taylor. Both are currently sat on 29 events each. The remarkable ‘Bronzed Adonis’ made his television debut as far back as 1984 and collected his BDO World Championship title in 1996.

Beaton played ten times at The Lakeside and will soon reach twenty consecutive PDC World Darts Championships when he takes to the Alexandra Palace stage. The PDC Championships has not proven a happy hunting ground for Steve but 2020 saw him match his best ever run, reaching the last 16, at the Ally Pally.

The 56 year old Southam thrower has reached almost every peak in the game and has had the longest top flight career of any professional. He is still ranked in the World’s top 32 and has reached multiple Pro Tour Qtr Finals in 2020. He will play in the this years opening session (Dec 15th) against the talented Brazilian Diogo Portella.

The Bronzed Adonis.

Should Steve manage to lift the crown he would be the oldest player to claim the title as well as, by some distance, the longest gap between debut and title winner. It would also be his first PDC major title. Despite his storied career he is yet to lift a PDC major trophy and has had to be content with a multitude of semi final places.

During his BDO days captured many of the games most famed events. In addition to his world title he claimed the World Masters and the British Open and Pentathlon titles. In addition Steve represented England on many occasions, winning both European and World Cups!


World ChampionShips 2020: Draw Highlights.

In this bizarre year, the highlights of the darting calendar seem to come thick and fast. The latest is today’s draw for the William Hill World Championships. With the reduced crowd and a qualification process severely affected by Covid-19, this could be one of the most unpredictable events for many years.

Many of the seeds could be in for a tough time right from their first round. They will meet experienced players, from all systems, many of whom will find they have fewer disadvantages than usual. In addition, they will have already ‘played themselves in’ in what looks to be one of the best first rounds the championship has seen.

Ally Pally is a difficult place to play and it’s especially hard for the lesser experienced or those not used to the biggest events. The stage is huge, the crowd is normally raucous and bigger than most will have played in front of. In addition, the processes behind the scenes, the TV and media requirements mean that often qualifiers or lower-ranked players are overwhelmed or slow to start.

2020 is going to be different. There will be only a small crowd and their merriment will be heavily restricted. Although this may make the place feel even more cavernous. The fact that they will have already had a chance to get used to this may prove very valuable. Another factor is the sheer talent, quality, and experience of those who will play in round one.

Here are a few highlights that could lead to bigger tests for the biggest names:

Could Scott dominate another stage? (image: Winmau)

Perhaps the most intriguing draws, of the big names, is the challenge that may face Nathan Aspinall. Aspinall will play either Canadian Matt Campbell or double World champion Scott Waites. Campbell is lesser-known but is seriously capable and has recorded impressive averages while being difficult to shake off. Matt slightly underperformed last year making his debut but that experience may help. Waites could be a serious dark horse at the Ally Pally. Although it’s taken ‘Too Hotty‘ a little while to adapt, to the rigors of the PDC, he is a big stage and big-game player. The small, but no doubt excited, crowd will suit him and he has begun to find his feet after some decent Pro Tour efforts. This could be a cruncher of a first-round and The Asp will have to be very prepared for a tough opener.

Chris Dobey will face the winner of Jeff Smith vs Keane Barry. Smith is a former World Cup Singles Champion and Lakeside finalist. ‘The Silencer‘ has had an excellent 2020, especially considering he has often had a tougher time than most traveling back and forth to Canada. But Jeff will first have to deal with one of the games hottest prospects. Barry, a former World youth champ, has begun to adapt to the senior game and is tipped for major success in the coming years. Dobey is going to have a tough time will either player.

The ‘German Giant‘ is due to meet either ‘The Hammer‘ or the ‘Man with No Name‘. Andy Hamilton returns to Ally Pally after a spell with the BDO and conquering his demons over the past couple of years. But he is hugely experienced, exerts a lot of pressure, and will not fold regardless of his opponent. Sebastien Kurz has the technical and temperamental potential to have a superb career. He has a certain style and likability that may endear him to the crowd/viewers if he can relax and play his own game then perhaps he can set up a huge all-German clash with Gabriel Clemens in round 2. Either way, keep an eye hear for a truly titanic pair of matches.

Big names could be in for a tough start at Ally Pally 2020 (PIC; LAWRENCE LUSTIG)

Jamie Hughes could also be in for a tough encounter. Either Lisa Ashton or Adam Hunt will be relieved to progress and may relax and play to their full potential in their second game. Hunt is a fine player who is yet to really show what he can do. Part of a group of Northeast players to have come through over recent years Hunt is currently in the shadow of Ryan Joyce, Chris Dobey, and, of course, Glen Durrant, but that may well play to his advantage. Ashton has had a remarkable year.’The Lancashire Rose‘ gained her tour card through Q School, becoming the first female player to do so, and has gained regular wins on the Pro Tour. Lisa is yet to really demonstrate her talent on TV, but she has had some experience on the Ally Pally stage and may well feel more at home. Jamie will be coming from a cold start whereas his opponent will be confident and familiar.

Another big name with a tough start is likely to be Adrian Lewis. ‘Jackpot‘ will play the winner of Damon Heta and Danny Baggish. Both of these guys could trouble Ade if they play close to their potential. Heta is the breakthrough player of the last couple of years. Damon has totally committed to a career in pro darts. He moved to the UK with his family and even with no experience and the Covid-19 issues, he has managed to claim a Pro Tour event and is beginning to find his feet in the majors. Baggish however will be no walkover, he debuted well at Ally Pally this year and seems to have kept busy during a virtual US shutdown of live darts. Lewis seems also to be through the worst of his slump and is heading in the right direction. This section of the draw should be thoroughly enjoyable.

So, as always Ally Pally is looking like a seriously competitive and entertaining couple of weeks. That’s without mentioning many of the biggest names. Players like Paul Lim, Nick Kenny, and Jason Lowe could also make waves before we even reach the entry of the world top 32!

2020/21 William Hill World Darts Championship
Draw Bracket – Second Round Onwards

(1) Michael van Gerwen v Ryan Murray/Lourence Ilagan
(32) Ricky Evans v Mickey Mansell/Haupai Puha
(16) Joe Cullen v Wayne Jones/Ciaran Teehan
(17) Jonny Clayton v John Henderson/Marko Kantele
(8) Dave Chisnall v Keegan Brown/Ryan Meikle
(25) Danny Noppert v Martijn Kleermaker/Cameron Carolissen
(9) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Luke Humphries/Paul Lim
(24) Jermaine Wattimena v Derk Telnekes/Nick Kenny
(4) Michael Smith v Jason Lowe/Dmitriy Gorbunov
(29) Devon Petersen v Steve Lennon/Daniel Larsson
(13) Gary Anderson v Madars Razma/Toru Suzuki
(20) Mensur Suljovic v Maik Kuivenhoven/Matthew Edgar
(5) Rob Cross v Dirk van Duijvenbode/Bradley Brooks
(28) Jamie Hughes v Adam Hunt/Lisa Ashton
(12) Glen Durrant v Steve Beaton/Diogo Portela
(21) Adrian Lewis v Damon Heta/Danny Baggish
(2) Peter Wright v Steve West/Amit Gilitwala
(31) Gabriel Clemens v Andy Hamilton/Nico Kurz
(15) Krzysztof Ratajski v Ryan Joyce/Karel Sedlacek
(18) Simon Whitlock v Darius Labanauskas/Chengan Liu
(7) James Wade v Callan Rydz/James Bailey
(26) Stephen Bunting v Andy Boulton/Deta Hedman
(10) Ian White v Kim Huybrechts/Di Zhuang
(23) Jeffrey de Zwaan v Ryan Searle/Danny Lauby
(3) Gerwyn Price v Luke Woodhouse/Jamie Lewis
(30) Brendan Dolan v Mike De Decker/Edward Foulkes
(14) Jose de Sousa v Ross Smith/David Evans
(19) Mervyn King v Max Hopp/Gordon Mathers
(6) Nathan Aspinall v Scott Waites/Matt Campbell
(27) Vincent van der Voort v Ron Meulenkamp/Boris Krcmar
(11) Daryl Gurney v William O’Connor/Niels Zonneveld
(22) Chris Dobey v Jeff Smith/Keane Barry


The Return of The King

The sight of once-great players slipping down the rankings, toward an inevitable spell on the ‘Legends’ circuit, is one of the sadder sights in professional sport and has been becoming more common in darts. Merv King is one of the few to arrest that decline and, last weekend, put it into full reverse.

The King, as he is known, has been in the news more for taking on delivery work for Amazon, during the Covid-19 pandemic, than tackling darts elite in recent times. Merv slipped out of the world’s top sixteen during 2016 and has battled ever since to retain a place in the higher reaches of the PDC rankings. But King has refused to follow others, including Colin Lloyd and Mark Webster, down the path into retirement.

Instead, he has battled all comers and worked hard to regain his best form. In addition, the plateau in the performance of the elite seems to have allowed King to close the gap to the leading pack at the age of 54. This weekend saw him reach a major TV final for the first time since 2014. His nail biting defeat to Michael Van Gerwen) was his first ranking TV final since the World Grand Prix of 2012 (coincidentally marking the rise of MVG).

Happy days: King in action at the Players Championship Finals (Pic: L Lustig)

Between the two bookends was firstly a steady decline followed by a determined rearguard action. King is one of the game’s hardest workers, willing to spend hours “pounding the board”, both in non-event practice and while prepping for a match. Indeed, it was not rare to arrive at major venue hours early only to find a selection of Kings flights scattered around the practice room from his earlier session.

In addition, to old fashioned hard work, King has worked with his manufacturer to improve his distinctive signature dart. The current iteration looks almost identical to his old design except they appear to have a new grip between the curved sections. Quite a few older players claim a desensitizing of the fingers requires more grip as they reach the later stage of their career. King’s unique style of dart makes this very difficult to add so credit should go to Winmau for resolving this. Merv also has a strong understanding of the game and his own throw-in particular he is especially keen on the ‘pick up’ of each dart being easily and exactly replicable.

During a career spanning a quarter of a century, King has reached world finals and claimed victory in the World Masters as well as multiple semi and final appearances in the PDC, he has also endured a spell as the pantomime villain of the game. His efforts at the Players Championship Finals give him a chance of an Indian summer at the highest level, back in the top 20 and with a good chance of returning to the elite top 16 could The King reign again with a first PDC major title?


Paul Lim – A Global Legend

Merely weeks after this article appeared, in Darts World Magazine, Paul Lim claimed his place at the 2020 PDC World Championships. Perhaps, there is still more left to be written:

Paul Lim may perfectly symbolize the future of darts. The legendary ‘Singapore Slinger’, now 66, is certainly the ultimate Hybrid darter. He has played big-time darts for almost forty years and been successful in every arena and format the game has offered. 

His overall significance to the sport may outweigh any of his individual achievements, although there are so many it’s hard to be certain. Target’s ‘Legend’ has triumphed in the BDO as well as in the PDC, he has twice been a world champion in soft tip darts, almost twenty years and two different codes separated his 1996 and 2017 triumphs.  

In between these individual efforts, Paul has represented four different nations in World Cups and team events. Dart’s World would not bet against him reappearing, and succeeding, in the remote darts realm. 

Lim burst onto the professional scene by winning the Australian Grand Masters in 1983, over the next half dozen years Lim made a plethora of quarter and semi-final appearances in major steel tip events, including the World Cup Singles and World Matchplay, across the globe. Then in 1990 Lim wrote his name indelibly in darts history. 

John Lowe had hit the first TV perfect leg a few years before. Yet, none had been hit since until Lim stepped up to the Lakeside oche. Nine sublime darts later the Singapore ace hit a plumb double twelve to complete the first World Championship ‘Nine’! A brief look on YouTube shows just how clean and controlled his effort was. Lim was now an icon in the game. 

BBC Sport - Darts - Paul Lim's nine-dart finish in 1990
Lim on his way to the first World Championship ‘9’.

Sadly, Paul’s great moment coincided with a decline in the TV popularity of steel tip darts, especially in the UK. Lim continued to play the biggest events but could not sustain himself with that alone. In an effort to boost his career and earning potential he combined his steel tip efforts with North American soft-tip tournament. Again, his efforts paid off in a major way.  

In 1996 Lim claimed his first World title. His victory in the Bull Shooter soft–tip championships confirmed that he could play at an elite level in either format, something he has continued to the present day. 

During the following years Lim became what in other sports would be considered a’ journeyman pro’ he played the major events in both formats. In addition, he demonstrated he could play in any company. From 1994 Lim played within the PDC system and competed with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley. 

For most of this period Lim was based in either the USA Japan or his native Singapore. However, by the 2000s Paul was no longer reaching the later stages or collecting serious prize money and a great career looked to be winding down. Then something remarkable happened, in 2011 soft tip darts underwent a major makeover and guess who became its instant poster boy! 

As part of a re-packaging, of the machine based soft tip game, a $1,000,000 World Championship was held in Hong Kong. In a field packed full of soft-tip super stars, and steel tip icons, Lim came through to claim the title aged 57 (something about that number Wayne Warren?). 

In a remarkable piece of happenstance, the PDC arranged a commercial tie-up with the new DartsLive organisation, which Lim was already dominating, an extended an invitation to their champion to play the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally! The following year he qualified again via the  Dartslive route. 

By now Paul had completely mastered the art of playing hybrid darts. He seemed focused on soft-tip in Asia and still crossed back and forth to play PDC events including World Cups. His gentlemanly demeanor and iconic status ensured he became a firm favourite with the fans. But Lim was not merely a performing seal and not yet finished with creating moments of darting drama. 

Paul Lim - Home | Facebook

In 2017 Singapore pulled of one of the biggest shocks seen in the PDC’s World Cup of darts, when they defeated Scotland’s crack team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. They went on to defeat Spain in round-two and reach the Qtrs finals. The very next year Lim created a moment of almost perfect sporting nostalgia, the opponent/ Why Gary Anderson of course. 

The 2018 World Championship saw Lim roll back the years and defeat former World Champion Mark Webster. His last 16 game featured a remarkable moment. Lim seemed to be tired and started slowly, before suddenly producing six perfect darts. The crowd realised what could be happening, his opponent, Anderson, knew what was happening, but could it? Could lightning strike twice nearly thirty years apart? 

Paul Lim, 63 years old was about to complete a phenomenal legacy of global, multi format, multi code and multi era darting glory. The perfect bookend to a remarkable journey! 

The first two darts found their targets and with a near hysterical crowd Lim went to release the 9th dart. In a highly unusual moment, there was a very faint twitch and the dart missed the double twelve bed. The disappointment was universal, Anderson looked almost as crestfallen as Paul! Despite the miss Paul was lauded around  the globe and the reminder of his remarkable career.  

Just in case you think the story is over, think again! In 2018 the PDC launched their Asian (Steel tip) tour and yes, you guessed it the first Tai Pai weekend saw one player reach the final of event one and then win event two. That player? Paul Lim. 


Update: Despite the huge disruption to the 2020 season, caused by the Corona virus, Paul qualified for the World Championship by claiming the Hong Kong qualifying event. He again caused an upset by defeating two time qtr finalist Luke Humphries, in the first round, before bowing out to Dimitri Van den Bergh.


JR Lott writes a Lott! Follow him @JRLott2 

Unsung Heroes – Tony Brown

For the revamped darts world debut edition we needed a special player, who has not had the credit they deserve, a follower suggested Tony Brown. We were then delighted when his daughter popped up in enthusiastic support.

Tony claimed the first Dart World KO Cup in Oldham during 1977 and retained it the following year. It seems fitting that Darts World acknowledged him in the first of their new editions (Issue 570)!

​MEMORIES, good days, bad days. They’ll be with me always.” The famous lyrics of ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’, the biggest No.1 hit of 1977. It was the year that Abba dominated the music charts. Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Björn were the biggest smash. But, in sporting terms, a new hero was born.

In a smoky, stuffy studio in Leeds, the now legendary Indoor League uncovered a winning star in Tony Brown. It was the stuff of arrows folklore. TV commentating gurus Dave Lanning and Sid Waddell calling the shots and producing a show fronted by Fred Trueman. This show had a notably northern, working-class focus, and featured pub games such as darts, bar billiards, shove ha’penny, skittles, and arm-wrestling. Trueman anchored the program with a pint of bitter and his pipe to hand, and signed off each week with his catchphrase, “Ah’ll sithee”. In that year of ’77, Brown saw ‘em all off as the Indoor League champion…and a fabulous career was off and running.

Born in Dover just as World War II was in its last throes of bitter battle, Brown was the original bridesmaid of the board, so close but so far to glory in a glittering period in the limelight. Not surprisingly in an era of huge characters with the likes of Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Alan Evans, Jocky Wilson, and Leighton Rees, that he didn’t manage to steal the biggest headlines. But he got very near to. Now, 75, Brown made a huge contribution in dart’s first glorious era. In the late 70s and early 80s, he competed with the greats of the time and often vested them. Tony claimed the first darts World KO Cup in Oldham during 1977, it was a tough event with county play-off s producing half the last 16 who then played off against an invited eight ‘star’ names.

As you can see from the June 1979 Darts World story Brown defeated John Lowe in that first final, remarkably retaining his title the following year. On an individual level, Brown claimed the Indoor League and British Open titles in 1977 and ’79 respectively. He was placed third in the World Championships in 1979 and 1980 as well as being World Masters Runner up in the former. Darting contemporary Linda Duffy remembers him fondly stating:

“What a great player, too often overshadowed by Eric and John.”


Unusually, it was in multiplayer or Team events where Brown really showed his real talent. Winning the World Pairs, Europe Cup, and World Cup as part of a very strong England team. But, in no way was Brown a weaker member of such an illustrious outfit. He won the Europe Cup singles event and was third in the World Cup equivalent.

Tony Brown collecting another winner’s cheque

Brown could also entertain, according to Doug McCarthy he was one of only two players who could stand at the oche with a dart in each hand, throw them simultaneously and get them both within the treble ring. A useful pub party piece not doubt! Brown was one of the founders, along with Dave Whitcombe and Lowey, of the PDPA and as such played a role in the establishment of the WDC/PDC that plays such a strong role in the modern game. After stepping back from the playing circuit in the mid80s Tony reappeared 25 years later, then aged 64, in the Dover Darts League singles. He reached the semi-finals, losing to the eventual winner.

Tony was also spotted, according to many darting archives, making a one-off appearance in the PDC in 2010 at the Australian Players Championship, however, this may be an urban myth. His daughter assures us that her father did not feature in such an event. She should know, after all, she has been with her dad in many great darting moments including the lovely one of the ‘Darts Family Brown’ featured in our 92nd Issue in July 1980.

The darts family Brown from Darts World 570



Kelly admits:
“I am still Kelly Brown, the baby in the photo (above) except I’m now 40! “My dad is now a grandad to six and a great grandad to one. He lives in Dover and has a lovely partner, Carol.

“His favourite player now is Michael Smith because his style and natural ability remind him of how he used to play. “Until recently he played in the local league but does not play any darts now.

“It’s really great to be able to read about my dad’s darts history as I was only a baby at the time so have no memories of my own. It’s good to see him recognised for his talent.”

In a sport littered by legends, Brown is right up there with the greatest, just a tad more unsung than those giants. He wasn’t quite, as Abba stated, Winner, Takes It All.

But he won our hearts and respect.

——ENDS——
Featured images: Darts World 570
Body text image: Darts World archive​

The Immortals – Eric Bristow – How Good Was ‘The Crafty Cockney’?

Darts’ favourite son would have been 63 years old this year. One of the founders of our feast, and easily the game’s most intriguing character, Eric is remembered for many different things, by differing generations. But it should never be forgotten that he really could play!

Eric Bristow Passes Away | PDC
Eric accepts adulation (Pic: L Lustig)

Along the wall in my ‘darts space’ are a few framed photos on prominent display. Each features a player who has made a contribution to the  game or offers an interesting lesson for the players that visit.

We were recently visited by a very senior figure in the darts business. As the conversation flowed our guest happened to glance at the ‘Hall of Fame’ and asked why each player was there. We soon arrived at the largest photo; this signed early 1980’s shot, of The Crafty Cockney, signifies the invention, and perfection, of the player package.

To my great surprise, the reply came “Yes, but was he really that good?”. I gave the short version of Eric’s ability but was absolutely amazed that the question was asked. But as time passes, new generations have naturally come to the game in the era of The Power, Fordham, Hankey and MVG. Their view of those who built the platform, for today’s icons, is similar to how we might look back at black and
white footage of golfers, tennis stars or footballers.

But it will not stand that they, and Eric especially, should simply merge in with a group of dimly remembered figures. By almost every measure Eric ranks as one of the top three players to have played the professional game, and there is a very strong case for him to be the most important:

The Big One

The Crafty Cockney, starting when only 23 years old, won five world championships, in seven years, including two back-to-backs and a hattrick. It is often forgotten that he also reached another five finals. Every win was over a top-five player and every loss was to a darting titan. During this entire period, there was only one World Championship, and it featured every top professional in the field. The format
was also very short in the early rounds.

Eric Bristow - Mastercaller.com
5 World Titles, in a unified field. Only ‘The Power’ claimed more

There is no one, other than Phil Taylor, who gets close to Eric’s effort. After Barney joined the PDC in 2007 you could make a case for the field being similarly strong to those from pre-1994. ‘The Power’ claimed only three World titles over the next decade.

The Full House

The second greatest event during this era was the World Masters. It was incredibly difficult to win, being unseeded and played from floor to stage. Eric won his first Masters at the age of 20 and claimed a total of five between 1977 and 1984. No player, from any era, has gotten close to this. Bob Anderson’s three in a row was outstanding and, perhaps, the closest there will ever be. Eric also claimed back-to-back News of the World events, one of only three to do so, and the World Cup singles crown four times on the bounce. Neither Phil nor MVG managed to add the World Cup Singles to their lists.

In addition, Eric won multiple versions of the Matchplay (British and World), The Grand Masters, Golden Arrows and every other major/TV event available to him. Even after his glory years he picked up a World Pair title (PDC) to go with his earlier WDF version. All-in-all Eric collected a total of over thirty ‘major’ events, in a day when there were far fewer, and with a united field of the highest quality.

Performance Level:

With the modern obsession with averages the fact that current players hit 100+ averages at a stroll is often used to belittle those who have gone before. This, however, is both false and unfair. Eric hit what he needed to hit to subdue his opponent and win the match. His 103+ to defeat Jocky Wilson in the 1983 World Cup final and his 101 to defeat Kieth Deller in the 1983 Masters (final again!) were remarkable at the time and would stand up in many finals today. The Crafty Cockney recorded a 105+ vs Alan Glazier earlier in 1983; this remained unbeaten until Phil Taylor claimed a 107+ eight year later.

Two matches that demonstrate Eric’s ability are the final of the World Masters in 1984 and the World Championship Final of 1985. They display his sheer talent and his matchplay and psychology skills in perfect harmony. Deller was defeated as much by psychology as by scoring, whereas Lowe was battered into submission with a blizzard of 180’s in the early stages. (Check them out on You Tube!)

As a final point it should be remembered that as well as the natural advance of any skill over time, the equipment and technology improvements that have been made since 1983 have been dramatic. Darts, stems and flights but especially boards and professionalism, have developed massively. The scoring areas of modern boards (especially in the PDC) are considerably larger and no longer surrounded by rounded wires, staples and other such obstacles. Combined with the conditions, security of income and volume of opportunities to play top-level darts, the modern player has a big advantage.

If we grant Eric even 10 percent, for these handicaps, his performance level would move up to around 115+. This would put him straight into the top three of all time! (Add in his usual determination to be the best and who knows?)

The Complete Package:

In addition to Eric’s remarkable ability, and phenomenal winning record, it should not be forgotten that true ‘oche legends’ are not only remembered for their scoring, or finishing, alone. They are remembered for a mix of their sporting prowess, on-stage image, off-stage personality and what they bring to, and leave for, their sport. Bristow brought us an unmatched package of skill, unrivalled competitiveness, pomp, aggression, flair and humour.

Eric Bristow created the template for the professional dart player. He also went out and sold it to the world. It is very hard to think of any other player, past or present, who can compete on those terms.

Yes, The Crafty Cockney really was that good, please don’t forget it!


Words: J.R. Lott (Article originally appeared on Darts Planet TV in April 2020)

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