Category Archives: Board Room News

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

Board Room News – Spring 2021

A society and darts are making swift progress toward some form of normality need only to look at the activity emanating from darts’ boardrooms, and head muckety-muck’s offices. New ranges are being prepared, production plans are being laid down and opinions are being sought from almost every corner. Perhaps the most obvious indicator comes in what we term ‘the transfer market’.

Talent signing:

The snapping up of new talent or those who may have made a step change during 2020, in addition the retention of ‘brand assets’ seems a weekly event currently. As good as new. Usually, when football fans hear these words it means upcoming disappointment in the next transfer window. However, the extension of Jonny Clayton’s contract could indeed be the equivalent of signing a major winner. The popular Welshman represents a tribute to Red Dragon’s ability to nurture ‘homegrown’ talent and maximize its potential. Gary Anderson extending his arrangements with Unicorn, for a further five years, seems to confirm a steady as she goes approach from the grand old lady of darts.

Management Capital:

The management sector has seen the likes of Adam Gawlas join TSMC whilst Micheal Smith has joined the reassuring arms of Darting Promotions. Whilst others are shedding players or holding their horses, the West Midlands area is fast becoming a stronghold in this area of the darts ecosystem. TSMC has a phenomenal group of major winning talent (see cover story) and along with Darting Promotions are seeing the rewards from a player-centred approach.

On a Mission:

Mission darts have stepped up their player involvement. Since their launch in 2019 Mission had seemed to concentrate on reproducing popular models and focusing heavily on what could be described as premium generic ranges. Late in 2020, they seemed to switch approach and move into the player-endorsed equipment market. Wayne Mardle gave them a star name/ ambassador and the signature of breakthrough star Alan Soutar may signify a new boldness. The Boardroom team will be keeping a close eye on the insurgent brand.

Broadcast News:

MODUS has stepped forward again to initiate a new innovative series of live darts events. Their ‘Live League’ is full of star names and performances are beginning to match. Fallon Sherrock, Martin Adams, Richie Burnett and our own Colin Osborne make regular appearances and seem to be relishing new opportunities. When, in 1995, Barry Hearn talked of 250 hours a year of TV darts many mocked the bold pronouncement. Across all platforms even that figure now seems almost derisory. As he steps into retirement even ‘Uncle Barry’ might be impressed.

Thank you, sir.


—–ENDS—–

Featured Image: Barry Hearn (PDC)
Original article appeared in Issue 574 of Darts World magazine.
Grab your copy (subscription or back issues bundle) here

Herewini Weapons

WORLD CUP winners don’t grow on trees​. In darts, as in any sport, they highly rare and possess a combination of talent and toughness that sees them perform with distiction on many other occasions. Darren Herewini claimed the WDF’s World Cup singles in 2019. Like all of us his momentum has since been arrested by Covid and related issues. The tide may however be turning for the New Zealand thrower as Winmau launched his signature barrel last week.

NEW ZEALAND star and World Cup singles winner Darren Herewini has designed his latest barrel to suit his technically perfect and modern throw. The mesmeric Maori has captured many fans with his exciting and flamboyant style, many have been awaiting his signature darts with anticipation.

First Impressions:

Darren has gone for a dual-grip front weighted style that he feels helps him get the smoothest trajectory to the board. They look to be almost a hybrid of classic design barrels from the past. The darts feel long in the hand with a stronger grip at the rear which is reminiscent of Bob Anderson, the stem join has no blank similar to Wez Newton and is and soft control at the front with wide-spaced grooves, this area looks more a tribute to Rees or Lowe.

The bronze-coloured onyx coating is an underestimated finish that has proven successful at every level and in a variety of designs. The colour contrasts against both board and wires but does not glare or catch the eye in between darts.

Open the Box:

To complement the bronzed dart Winmau has selected short Prism stems and flights in black and black/grey. Mounted in the Winmau point protector and the usual retail packaging the overall impression is of high quality and intriguing item.

Available online from reddragondarts.com

Dimensions:

The 24g edition are 50.8mm in length with a maximum width of 6.8mm. The barrel is 90% tungsten and coated in bronzed coloured onyx.

It will be interesting to see how Darren returns to competition after the lockdown and if he can resume his career with at least some momentum remaining. His new weapons and a chance to defend/regain his World Cup singles title and then perhaps seek more majors and even a PDC career.

Will he go on to emulate previous winners such as eric Bristow or Raymond Van Barneveld? Darren may instead reflect the efforts of his immediate predessessors Jim Williams and Jeff Smith who, although not reaching the starry heights, both reached World finals and are enjoying fine careers.

In the meantime, we shall have to satisfy ourselves with a full review of his new darts. Our testers are very impressed and can’t wait to give them a full workout.

——ENDS—— ​

Red Dragon Player Launch 2021

​Red Dragon has fired the final shot in the annual ‘Launch Season’ for the major darts brands. Using the World Championships, and their ability to launch later than mainly retail brands, as a launchpad. This will enable them to take full advantage of producing a fourth World Champion in the last two years!

The Welsh company has long been an innovator within the darts industry and they have again blindsided many rivals with the short timeline for the debut of Peter Wright’s latest model (The World Champion SE tapered) which was available for pre-order within 3 days of makings its Ally Pally debut. 

Today’s fuller launch includes player and RD branded dart models and well as a range of new accessories for those hoping to get back to normal darts in 2021. Darts World asked us to react to the live launch earlier this month:

“And the New, Champion of the Wooooorld….”

Gerwyn Price – Blue Ice

A variation on Gerwen’s signature darts which might temp those who like a classic shape but feel the need for more grip.

” There is something of a classic underpinning to these. But with a seriously muscular looking exterior!”

“If you fancied @Gezzyprice‘s dart but wanted more grip these could be the one…”

Meanwhile the former champion still packs a commercial punch

Three new versions of Peter’s World Championship winning dart hit the stand today, shop here:

The Torpedo, The Diamond, and The Tapered.

These were a real surprise, there has been no great advance in this shaped dart outside of Phil Taylor’s for a long time.

“Clever use of one of the classic barrel shapes given a new lease of life. Adding @snakebitewright flair & @reddragondarts grip tech gives the best of both worlds”.

​ You have to love this idea, two of Red Dragon’s best moments of recent years combined in one set of arrows. Diamond fusion grip is outstanding.

“ Combining the outstanding Diamon Fusion grip with the original design of the World Championship SE could prove a masterstroke.” 

Again the fusion of two such popular and successful Peter Wright elements is a seriously smart move.

” These set folk talking when Peter gave it a debut at Ally Pally, it looks a great combination of his popular PL15 and the title-winning SE”

“Many will have to try this version, just so tempting……”

Red Dragon’s other Big Guns:

Johnny’s Be Good!

With Clayton winning events in each of the last four years and now claiming a huge title with Gerwyn Price it will be interesting to see if he kicks on again.


” The Clayton dart is a really effective design, this edition really improves its styling….”

” Jonny’s dart could suit a wide variety of payer, perhaps they may be tempted now?”

Wes Harms 2021

“ This is a really distinguished take on a pedigree dart. A wide range of throwers can get benefit from them……”

“The even, consistent grip offers great continuity and ease of use”

Jamie Hughes SE

“Jamie’s dart is a variation on a legendary barrel but with finer cut grip below the ID blank. But, with the SE grip, there is even less fuss than usual!”

“Simplicity can be beautiful”

Scott Baker – The Mod (Diamond)

“ Scott’s 21st-century Priestley style dart has been a long time in the making. But, with the Element 6 style diamond grip we can’t wait to get our hand on a set for test purposes”.

There was plenty more action over at Red Dragon over the course of the day. More dart models, clothing and accessories have been released over the past few hours. You can browse and buy the 2021 range here.



We will be looking, with our friends at Darts World, at the non-player and premium lines separately. Keep an eye on our social media or over at dartsworld.com

Winmau Launch 2020/21

Being last, of the major brands, to launch their new range is a tradition at Winmau. Their retail pedigree means that they synchronise the launch in order to provide their retail channels with maximum new products for the Christmas and January peaks.

This year sees the Welsh firm lead from the front with a selection of products from their lead player Michael Van Gerwen before moving on to their other marquee names:

Vantage:

This premium model is clearly inspired by MVGs general barrel design but given the premium touches they ensure a great first impression. They have also eliminated some of the less popular features of Michael’s standard dart.

Vantage feature sections of a ‘VA’ shaped grip and gold plated highlights. The black and green styling of the Adrenalin model is adopted again for this striking variation on the MVG theme.

Assault:

This looks a more traditional dart but with MVG grip locations and branding. The onyx coating is gain present but paired with non coated bands and deep cut grooves to give an impression of a very aggressive grip.

The MVG green, black and silver styling with plenty of branding points ensures that, although a different style of dart, Assault willlook part of the family.

New weights have been added to Adrenalin, Ambition and Absolute models. All in all the MVG range goes from strength to strength.

Joe Cullen:

Joe has got to off to a nice start with Winmau and they look like a good match. His recent form is nicely timed for his signature dart launch and these are a definite forward development.

The front and rear sections are similar to his usual model but the gentle scallop in the mid section adds an element of element of exactitude not previously obvious. The Red and black colour scheme coordinates with much of Joe’s branding. Overall it’s a more subtle and less aggressive model. A sign of maturing confidence?

Mark Webster (Diamond):

These look a nice development of Webby’s second signature dart. Two new sections of Winmau’s unique diamond fusion grip have been added. This may increase the range of players willing to give this classic shaped dart a try. It’s striking looking and could suit any type of throw.

Merv King:

Even the most optimistic at Winmau would not have expected these to be launched at quite such a peak of interest in The King! Merv’s superb run to the final of the Players Championship Finals has given his profile a huge boost.

It is not shock that the shape of this new edition is the classic Bamboo pattern that has proved so successful for its most famed user. However the added grip within the curved sections looks a technical masterstroke. Taking an old tech dart and making it look both new and modern is a fine effort.

Ted Hankey:

A couple of years back Ted finally added some real grip to his signature shaped dart. The black and red styling also helped introduce the dart to a wider audience. The latest edition celebrates 20 years since The Cou ta inaugural World Championship and the gold section seems appropriate. With a fine ring grip and black onyx coated front area a very striking edition is compete.

There are new and revamped models for Scott Mitchell, Jeff Smith, Willie O Conner and Steve Brown as well as another adaptation of the evergreen Steve Beaton design.

Non Player Ranges:

The excellent Sicario range has been expanded and it is good to see the cluster grip given more opportunity. Fury, Electra and Zinati have been added to the catalogue and bring a dash of simplicity, colour and style respectively.

A select group of accessories brought the launch to a close. A funky pocket flight store and additions to the Pro Line range of premium accessories in the form of a board surround and cabinet.

This is a very strong launch for Winmau. 2020 may have been a terrible year for many but the signing of MVG and then the return to form of King have bookended an excellent performance. They have moved from a legacy brand, who looked jaded and old, to the sharpest and most focused of the leading darts brands.

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Checkout Winmau.com for the full range.

BoardRoom News: Player Beware.

Boardroom News would like to make players aware of a disturbing new habit within certain sectors of our business. All aspiring tour/professional players should view any sponsorship offer with close scrutiny and even a little skepticism.  

The more unscrupulous element of our industry is approaching players who may just have reached the second rank or be approaching the level where they may get attention from the bigger names. These players are then offered a form of equipment only sponsorship deal, that may prove attractive at that point in their career. 

Plenty of branded accessories, clothing, or other items are offered, thus the deal looks attractive and may be tempting. But there may be another element to such offers. On more than one occasion recently players have been offered a very limited barrel deal, 2-6 sets of their own darts, on a very short-term basis. 

Closer scrutiny leads us to believe that there may be a subtle attempt to obtain intellectual property (IP) rights via the back door. Player’s designs or even those of the company that manufactured an original dart can be copied and then re used after the new player’s deal has expired. 

It would be difficult for one brand to claim infringement if the new company could show the product was designed and marketed for another player. The player finds themselves without an equipment supplier and having to purchase their own designed/labeled darts within a year, while the company gains a sought-after design for minimal cost. 

A recent example went like this: Player A, who used a ‘legendary player’ barrel, was offered such a deal out of the blue. A design was then produced which was a copy of the original (with a couple of cosmetic changes). The prospective sponsor was very keen to ensure both soft tip and steel were included, even though the player had no interest in the soft tip arena.  

However, the player was only experimenting with that barrel and requested that the design was changed to his preferred style and shape. The deal was instantly withdrawn and further discussion refused. 

AIM: has seen the written details of this process and is deeply concerned. We have witnessed a second, although less clear cut, example, and a third is ongoing. 

Whilst we value the benefits of sponsorship and accept that differing levels ensure more players benefit, and more models are made, we feel that players must be fully aware of the motives and possibilities behind these ‘sponsorships’.  

We strongly suggest that any such sudden unexplained offer is looked over by an independent third party who can provide an objective assessment of any such ‘small print’.  

Unexplained laughs? Check Your flies. Unexplained Offers? Check the clauses!


Words: JR Lott (Originally appeared in Darts World Magazine 571)

Boardroom News: Unicorn Opens 2021 Launch Season.

The Boardroom recently previewed ‘Launch Season’ for the darts industry and what it might mean for players, customers, and the companies themselves. It seems Unicorn will be the first to break cover with at least part of their 2021 product launch coming on September 4th.

The ‘grand old man‘ of darts brands is trying to achieve two ends with this move. They will be first out of the traps and, somewhat like at an audition, first or last are thought to stick in the mind of the judges (in this case the buying public). With the success of Dimitri van den Bergh at the Matchplay, they will look to capitalise on a huge boost of brand awareness.

Image

In addition, it appears that Unicorn may have shrewdly chosen to coincide some, or all, of their launch with the upsurge in darting activity, and television coverage, that September seems to be bringing. This also applies to some European and Global markets.

The social media teaser that was dropped out yesterday does not give much away, other than the model that may be getting additions and or a revamp.

A side benefit of launch season, and this lockdown, is that room needs to be made for new stock. This leads to clearance offers both direct from manufacturers and their retail stockists. Keep an eye at for a review of some of the best bargains for those not driven by the latest fashion.


Originally for Darts World Magazine/ dartsworld.com August 2020