Category Archives: The Immortals

Paul Lim – A Global Legacy

Merely weeks after this article appeared, in Darts World Magazine, Paul Lim claimed his place at the 2020 PDC World Championships. Perhaps there is another chapter 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. 

Paul Lim | Target Darts
The Legend: Paul Lim ( Image Target Darts)

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.


JR Lott writes a Lott! Follow him @JRLott2 

The Immortals – Bob Anderson, A Limestone Legacy.

In 1986 a fourth member joined Eric, John, and Jocky at darts’ top table. Although no one claimed there was ‘a new sheriff in town’, there certainly was a cowboy and a limestone one at that. 

Bob Anderson didn’t quite fit the mold of a professional dart player. Tall, lean, and quite athletic in build, the former javelin thrower had been making waves in the sport since claiming the 1983 British Open. Even this was preceded by a fine run to the last 16 of the World Masters as far back as 1979. 

The World Masters - A three time winner.
A Master at Work – Bob with The World Masters trophy (Pic: Steve Dazsko)

In 1986 he claimed his first ‘major’ TV title and began a run that would see him claim a unique hattrick of Winmau World Masters titles. A new character and a major talent had been added to the darts mix. 

The guys over at dartsdatabase.com recently crunched the numbers and Bob’s averages from the mid-80s to 1990 stand out, ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ often topped the leagues. 

More important than averages, or mere statistics, was Bob’s style, manner, and talent. His finger-pointing, gunslinger mannerisms, and a more aggressive approach ensured that high-level drama and entertainment were ever-present when Bob was on stage. 

The new ‘Musketeer’ did not merely contribute titles. He added a dash of flair and individualism by bringing his love of country music to the stage. Tasseled shirts, bright red trousers, and a variety of overall ‘looks’ combined superbly with the ‘Cowboy’ moniker. Could it be that Peter Wright has simply taken this to its logical extreme? 

Very few players can claim to have straddled three eras competitively, but Anderson can claim at least that many. His late 1970s forays were followed by taking on the big three in their heyday, as darts moved into the 90s Bob was tackling Taylor and Priestley in their prime and continued to do so until the 2008 World Championships (PDC). From John Lowe in 1979 to Jelle Klaasen and Colin Lloyd in the 2000s the Limestone Cowboy went one-on-one with them all. 

From a starring role in darts first golden era, Champion of Champions in 1990, to one of the WDC 16 who founded the modern professional game (and found themselves banned from playing as a result). Bob played a strong role in helping to promote the new organisation, even agreeing to ‘walk on’ with a horse for the World championships. It’s fair to say that Anderson’s career mirrors the history of modern darts. 

He was not however some sort of honorary figurehead! Throughout the 90s and into the next decade Bob fought with, and challenged, the very best of two full eras of PDC giants. In both 2004 & 5, by now in his late 50s, he underlined just how good he was with two tremendous World Championship semi-final runs.  

Bob Anderson - Swindon's world darts champion 1988 | SwindonWeb

For many, it’s the 1988 Bob that sticks in the memory. The Clevedon man enjoyed a purple patch winning six major trophies, in twelve months and captured that elusive World title with an overall performance that would have graced The Lakeside stage in any era. The Limestone Cowboy had cemented his legacy. 


Words: JR Lott ( A version of this piece appeared in Darts World Magazine (571) Sept/Oct 2020)

Featured Pics: Steve Daszko

More about Bob or perhaps book an exhibition? Here.

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)