2019’s German Darts Open produced several superb performances, Nathan Aspinall improved his onstage average personal best by over three and a half points. RVB went back to basics with his darts and recaptured some stage form, whilst Steve Beaton, with as smooth a 9 darter as you will ever see, reminded everyone that his remarkable career was far from over.
Much of the social media and commentary chatter centred around the latest set of unreal statistics from MVG. Official PDC statistician and DartsWorld contributor Christopher Kemph (@ochepedia) summed it up simply:
“23 consecutive wins in Euro Tour last-leg deciders, 24 consecutive wins in Pro Tour finals and 26 consecutive wins in Pro Tour best-of-13 and best-of 15 matches. It just goes on and on…”
In all professional sports, the greatest players seem to hit purple patches. This can be due to their own standards increasing, the opposition becoming intimidated or a little of both. Think Rafa Nadal at the French Open, Ed Moses over the 400m hurdles or Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’. This set us thinking what other tremendous winning streaks have been witnessed in darts?
In PDC ranking events both MVG & Phil Taylor have recorded 8 consecutive tournament wins. In 2016 Micheal claimed The World Matchplay, 3 Euro Tour events and then 4 Pro Tours, hitting two 9 darters along the way! During a phenomenal run in 2009, ‘The Power’ also claimed 8 back-to-back ranking titles. After winning that years’ World Championship Taylor won 6 Pro Tour events in a row, during that run he added the Players Championship Finals. Incredibly this winning streak came in the middle of a run of 20 consecutive appearances in ranking finals!
Richard Ashdown dropped us a reminder of the efforts of John Walton. John’s 2001 run to the BDO World Title included defeats of Merv King in the last 16 and Mark Puso. The final two legs of the former and the first 14 vs Pusa ensured a consecutive run of 16 legs in-a-row, surely difficult to improve on given the formats available.
On the floor, or non-televised, the best the DW team can recall is a run of 21 consecutive legs over 4 matches. Mark Hylton came from 0-2 down to defeat Dylan Duo 6-2 before defeating MVG and Ronnie Baxter 6-0. In his fourth match, he took a 3-0 lead vs Dennis Ovens before ‘The Heat’ got his name on the scoreboard. Hylton went on to reach the semi-final.
I am sure must be many axamples of such runs being put together, but that fail to get noticed. A Midlands / Staffs league player reported to me that one player had gone almost two complete season unbeaten, only being, finally, defeated by hospitalisation!
Drop us a line if you have any notable examples of outstanding runs of performance.
A.I.M: Produced this Top 5 for Darts World Magazine a couple of months ago. Many of the deals discovered are still available!
Darts World has noticed that the costs, especially player and premium, of darts have increased substantially over the past few years. Increased and improved cosmetics, together with some technical innovations, can be blamed for some of this. But, the increased popularity and worldwide expansion of darts seem to be resulting in a golf or tennis like spiralling of some equipment costs.
Less than five years ago very few sets of darts would cost more than £50 and the vast majority were between £20 & £35. These often included accessories such as a case and or spare flight & stem setups. Today, a brief look at any of the major sellers reveals thirty or forty different models with an RRP of over £60 with a handful of models on or around the £100 mark.
Does all this mean that darts is becoming a rich pursuit for those with more disposable cash? Can the average young person still get a decent start and does all this extra cash actually make much difference?
Darts World asked A.I.M: to look into the best value darts available and to put them through their paces. We set them a maximum of £25 per set and asked them to assess quality, performance, value, and accessibility. Here is the first summary of what they found;
These are a lovely dart for the £15 cost. The 22g model is 48mm x 7.2mm (widest) and has a slight taper from the front to rear. There is a small blank near the stem and the grip is what could be described as an original Bob Anderson style grip but slightly more aggressive. They have a slight front weight but still, feel well balanced. Almost indistinguishable from the McKicks Alan Glazier darts.
The darts come with nothing but a point protector in order to keep the costs, and postage fees, at an absolute minimum. They were popular with all our testers and all standards. Even our elite player was very impressed. The ‘Pro-Style’ compared well with other models even those of higher cost. The tungsten content will be at least 80% and may be higher.
These are a serious bargain. Originally £55+ they represent the combination of high-quality tungsten and a diamond fusion grip. Winmau seems to have abandoned this grip style and thus you can now pick up some serious bargains.
These have a great deal in common with John Lowe or Andy Fordham shape darts. The extra grip near the nose can be handy. They are 90% tungsten and measure 40.6mm x 7.7mm. The diamond grip was very popular and will be missed by some serious players. However, after a while, it can rub the other darts into looking shabby and wears itself down.
In short, these are a premium dart for a one-off price. I doubt these will last long. Well worth a try or even to get yourself an extra set if you use them already.
These are a very good value, 90% tungsten dart. They have a lot in common with Unicorn (Taylor) Phase 1. The black barrels with natural highlights are a popular look and have a touch of the Noir range about them. A very grippy dart that is not chunky in the hard or over-complex in design. Various weights are available with 22g and 24g being the most popular. With Darts Corner moving their priorities to Mission darts these may not be around forever as the Designa badge may fade away.
These are available in the clearance section of dartscorner.com and may not be for very long at this price. This model became Jelle’s signature shape and style for quite a few years and during his most successful PDC spell.
90 % Tungsten, superbly designed and engineered to be a superb combination of aerodynamics and style. 42mm long x 7mm (at the widest) they are highly individual and you might wish to try before you buy! Although badged as 22g this is misleading the barrel weight is only 20.4g.
Two of our testers loved these and one has kept them! However, our third player could not get used to them at all. It seems that ‘The Cobra’ is a bit Marmite!
You don’t get many classic player darts for under £20. However, V180 makes a small range, all of which are pitched at a great price. Perhaps the best of these is the Tabern dart. These could be made by Target, Alan’s old sponsor, they are a classic style ring grip dart. Only Alan’s 21g edition is available. They are a little over 47mm x 6mm wide they feel very well balanced and are 90% tungsten.
Our players thought that these were a lovely dart. The only downside was that they are not as heavily gripped as some current models. Our more traditional testers were fond of these darts, whereas our younger player, seem to find them over delicate and harder to control.
It can be seen from the above, that despite the recent increases in the cost of premium products, high-quality darts can be sourced. A little creativity and patience can result in darts of the same very high standard for a lot less of your hard earned.
Raymond van Barneveld kann eine der Hauptrollen in der Geschichte der PDC-WM für sich beanspruchen. Sein Finalsieg im „Spiel der Spiele“ bei der WM 2007, seine fantastischen 9-Darter – Barney hat dem Dartsport einige legendäre Momente beschert. Darüber hinaus verleiht seine Fan-Base, die „Barney Army“, jeder Veranstaltung eine besondere Atmosphäre. Raymonds Anteil am Aufbau und der Weiterentwicklung des Dartsports ist unbestritten und sein Ruf als Darts-Legende schon zu aktiven Zeiten gefestigt.
Er ist einer von nur drei Darts-Profis, die mindestens fünfmal eine Weltmeisterschaft gewinnen konnten. Eric Bristow (5) und Phil Taylor (16) heißen die beiden anderen Mitglieder in diesem erlauchten Club. Der mittlerweile 52-jährige Barney steht vor seiner letzten WM-Teilnahme und kann sich während des Turniers einer riesigen Aufmerksamkeit sicher sein und sich auf eine angemessene Verabschiedung freuen, wenn das Turnier für ihn zu Ende geht. Er scheint mit sich und seiner Entscheidung, die Karriere zu beenden, völlig im Reinen zu sein und will seine Abschiedsvorstellung in vollen Zügen genießen. Seit seinem Debüt in Lakeside im Jahr 1991 hat Raymond an fast 30 Weltmeisterschaften teilgenommen. Am Anfang seiner bemerkenswerten Karriere bekam er noch die erste goldene Ära des Profi-Darts mit, anschießend lieferte er sich über ein Jahrzehnt lang mit „The Power“ einen heißen Kampf, bevor er schließlich eine neue Generation auf ihrem Weg in die Weltspitze anführte, um die Qualität des Spiels auf ein höheres Level zu bringen.
2006 entschied sich RvB zu einem Verbandswechsel und nahm fortan an den Turnieren der PDC teil. Der viermalige Lakeside-Champion war der größte Hai im mittelgroßen Becken der BDO und er hätte ganz einfach dort bleiben und sich Titel und Preisgelder einheimsen können. Doch er entschied sich für das Risiko und einen Wechsel zur PDC, um auf höchstem Level spielen und gegen die Allerbesten antreten zu können, die das Spiel zu bieten hat.
Van Barneveld erstes großes Ranglistenturnier bei der PDC waren die UK Open 2006, die er auch gleich gewinnen konnte. Nach diesem Traumstart bereitete er sich auf seine erste PDC-Weltmeisterschaft vor, die Ende des Jahres 2006 begann. Auf seinem Weg ins Finale wird sich van Barneveld vor Augen geführt haben, was ihn knapp ein Jahr zuvor zu einem Wechsel zur PDC getrieben hat. Er war gekommen, um gegen Phil „The Power“ Taylor im Modus „Best of 13 sets“ zu spielen. Der Rest ging in die Geschichte ein: Das äußerst knappe Finale, bei dem mal der eine und mal der andere vorne lag, der Wurf aufs Bullseye vor dem „Sudden Death“-Leg und kurz darauf der Championship-Dart ins richtige Doppelfeld, sein Sinken auf die Knie, die Superlative der Kommentatoren – all dies trug dazu bei, dass das WM-Finale 2007 bis heute als legendär gilt.
Obwohl es Raymond danach nicht mehr gelang, den WM-Pokal zu holen, kann er auf eine sehr erfolgreiche Karriere in beiden Verbänden zurückblicken. Er holte drei „World Cup Singles“- und zwei „Winmau World Masters“-Titel bei der BDO, sowie einen Premier League- und einen Grand Slam of Darts-Titel bei der PDC. Zudem gelang ihm der erste 9-Darter bei einer PDC-Weltmeisterschaft.
Frühestens nach seinem Auftaktspiel gegen Darin Young und spätestens nach einem eher unwahrscheinlichen Auftritt im Endspiel am 1. Januar 2020 werden sich die Fans im „Ally Pally“ und die Darts-Fans an den Bildschirmen auf der ganzen Welt von einer modernen Legende verabschieden müssen. In seiner aktuellen Form ist es Barney durchaus zuzutrauen, dass er den Zuschauern ein großartiges Abschiedsspektakel bietet. Nimmt man nur die letzten drei Monate, so wäre er Zehnter der Weltrangliste mit einem 3-Dart-Average von 96,63 Punkten bei 17 gespielten Veranstaltungen.
Hut ab, Raymond van Barneveld, und alles Gute für die Zukunft!
The Bullet himself has been a little subdued for a while now, it’s not surprising then, that the time has come for a refresh of his darts. Could this new version result in Stephen recapturing his best?
Product: Darts (Steel Tip)
Model: Stephen Bunting (Gen3)
Variation: 12g (90% Tungsten)
Marks: 7 – 9 /10 (overall 8/10)
First Impressions: After ‘The Bullet’ stuttered during 2017 & 18 he, and Target, seems to have gone back to basics here. Out goes the strawberry grip and the golden styling.
The Gen 3 is totally smooth but has a slight bulb toward the point (6.9mm widest). A flat smooth area lengthens the gradient from a narrower section to the curved nose area. A little like smooth Dennis Priestley darts. A lovely feeling dart that warms quickly and then is surprisingly grippy. At 48mm long it is much longer than most ultralight darts.
In the Box: Fitted with short traditional points and set up with Pro Grip Target Stems, in medium length, and Bullet logo flights, black & red. All contained within the standard target packaging. A nice overall image and coordinated colour scheme is the result.
Testing Procedure: As usual, we used three players with different styles and skill levels. This time an elite player, a youth player and a decent amateur all were enthusiastic to try these highly unusual arrows. An initial practise session was used to adapt and then two more sessions were held over the next couple of weeks.
One of our players used these over a social darts evening with a group of friends. Another tried an open event in the Midlands. Overall the Gen 3 had well over 100 legs worth of use and were given a thorough work-out.
Results & Reactions:
Elite: Struggled with the weight initially. These are ten grams lighter than his usual choice. After adapting, however, our elite player enjoyed using these in practice. Trying to use them in a competitive leg seems to prove too much.
Strong Amateur: Our strong amateur player uses quite a light dart by choice and is quite wristy. This seemed to suit and it did not take long until our player was as effective with these as with his default arrows. He liked the smooth grip and the slight bulge made the dart feel more secure in his fingers. With time and practise he is sure these would become his new ‘weapon of choice’!
Youth: Our youth player was perhaps the least impressed of our testers. The short barrel was not easy for him to get used too and no comfortable grip could be found. The desperate remedy of a social night out, mixed with alcohol, was used. Could a less focused environment help? Sadly, this was not much of a success, although others who attended the evening got on much better, with the Bunting darts, than our player. Including somone who had never played before!
Comments: A.I.M: “An excellent dart if you can persevere with getting used to such a light option with no apparent grip. Many will lose patience but those who didn’t may become permanent converts“. We notice that “players with less preconceptions are much more positive to these dartsand perform well with them”.
“I loved these and may get myself some on payday. The little bulge makes all the difference from other lightweights I have tried. These feel much better” – Amateur 1.
“I liked these but could not translate practise into match form. Perhaps they would work as a practice aid?” – Elite Player.
Marks: The marks varied between a 7 from our youth player, generous because he saw others get on with them, and a nine from our strong amateur player. very light and smooth darts are always likely to polarise opinion. They do not obey convention and take time to master. But the overall 8/10 is pretty good for such a specialist dart.
This review also appeared at dartsworld.com and may feature in forthcoming Darts World ( Print/Digital) magazine editions.
The Carnage range is something of an open secret within the RD range. With its ‘coallike’ shot-blasted finish it seems less flashy than many models and could easily be missed. Indeed, we at A.I.M: only came across it while using them to test accessories. Our testers rated them so highly that we conducted a full-scale test and review.
First Impressions: The 22g (Spec 2) version we used features two sections of grip on its 50.8mm barrel. Above the stylish silver blank are seven narrow rings that feel slightly reverse cut to be grippy but not too aggressive for those who hold at the rear of the barrel. The lower section is milled and grooved both across and down the barrel, axially and radially. This creates a very precise grip that is totally reliable. In addition, it gives the dart a much slimmer feel than the 6.3mm that it measures. A rounded nose cone is perfect to ensure excellent grouping is possible.
Results: Three testers used the Carnage dart for at least 60 legs in order to get a real feel for the plusses and minuses of the dart. Our world-class player, who holds the rear section, was very impressed and found them to be at least as good as his signature dart. Our wristy player, who is very good in practice, was very surprised that he got on well with these, and felt very comfortable, despite an increase in weight and grip. The best results, however, were from our good pub player who noticed an increase in confidence due to the improved grip. All three players liked the titanium PVD grip coating and were impressed with the feel of the dart.
Downsides: Only two slight negatives were reported, for those who hold the dart tightly the grip is too good and the black barrel and black point combination was too monotone for one tester. This would be easily corrected with a new point selection, either at the point of purchase or later.
The supplied package included the RD nylon tri-fold wallet, the best free included case out there, and a very nice set up of white Nitro stems (Medium) with Hardcore flights. A.I.M: iscurrently conducting accessory tests, so we will return to this later, but it is safe to say that the accessories at least match the quality of the barrels.
SnapShot: Carnage is a superb dart with excellent grip and top-level functionality. The durability looks good as well. Our sets have had over 180 legs and look only slightly used. In the sub £50 (non-player endorsed) range you will struggle to find a better dart. With multiple variations, in six weights, you will easily find your preferred method of causing Carnage.
A version of this review also appeared at dartsworld.com and/or in Darts World magazine.
Red Dragon’s Nitro stem came out top of the heap recently after being subjected to independent testing. Overall, players of differing styles and standards, including a multiple major finalist, found Nitro improved their game and provided the best value.
“Having used the same style set up for over 15 years, I was very surprised at the immediate difference Nitro stems made. The improved flight, and reliability has added something to my game. I will not be going back.”
The guys at A.I.M: subjected many of the top branded stems, flights and setups, to rigorous testing. This involved, players ranging from enthusiastic amateurs through to major finalists using the various accessories for the equivalent of 60 legs. Various drills and games were played in order to simulate general usage. Red Dragon’s Nitro stem was praised by all players and most preferred it to their original set up. Two of the players, previously wedded to standard setups, have switched to Nitro on a permanent basis.
Four main advantages were reported by players, the flight of dart, flight security and deflection reduction:
Flight: Players noticed immediately that the flight of the dart seemed to improve. We this may well be because of the steady but pronounced taper from barrel to flight. The tail of the dart appeared to lift easier and leave good vision for the following arrow.
Flight Retention: The ‘flight lock’ system works very well with few flights becoming detached. There was a substantial improvement from the standard stem & ring setups.
Target View: visuals, and the ultra-narrow rear profile, appear to encourage the player to hit the visible space. This reduces the number of deflections. The taper and solidity of the stem seem to make those deflections that occur more predictable and easier to adapt to.
Economy: Finally, all the players noted that the combination of these factors meant that they used fewer stems & flights, over the same period when compared to a standard flight, stem & ring combination.
Players noted that the stems seemed a little shorter than other designs. Some also mentioned that fitting flights into the stem could be tougher than with other stems.
A.I.M: “Of all the stems tested these had the best feedback, across style & ability, from players who previously would not have thought of changing”
Major Finalist: “Having used the same style set up for over 15 years, I was very surprised at the immediate difference Nitro stems made. The improved flight and reliability has added something to my game. I will not be going back.”
Amateur Player: “Loved these, I have already ordered more. It feels like I see the target so much better…”
This review has also been published at: reddragondarts.com & dartsworld.com
A.I.M have been closely observing darts for close to a decade. Whether it’s for coaching players, designing/testing products or advising clients, the progression of everything darts is important to us. Who add value to their players? Which have the best signing success? Who is on the up? Who has past their peak?
Despite staying relatively quiet, Team Unicorn has retained its dominance in overall success.
Along the way, we produced a simple league table for comparing the success of darts manufacturers. We use PDC ranking events as a base. Then we add selected major events from the BDO. The players who reach the last 8 of Pro Tour events receive 1 point, semi-finalists 3, Runner Up 5 and the Winner receive 10. These points are doubled for majors and multiplied by 2.5 for the world championships. To ensure maximum openness we use ranking events only. Here is the 2018 Constructors Table:
XQ Max (205)
Red Dragon (199.5)
Bit of Bully (9.5)
When it comes to signing players, the biggest, and longest established, companies attempt to combine a handful of legendary names with a few of current champions and a smattering of players they believe may move up a level. Recently more female players, players from mainland Europe or Asia, and more youth development have been added. Newer or smaller companies try to spot undiscovered or undervalued talent or back players with a legacy that may sparkle again. This has worked well for Powercore ( Ryan Searle) & Bit of Bully (Ryan Joyce) and Evo-Darts (Gabriel Clemens) for example.
Despite the attention given to other companies in recent years, Unicorn has again managed to produce a squad of players that perform in every type of event and combines dominant champions with other talented winners. Their 2nd group seem to step up regularly and when required. XQ Max has again relied totally on MVG for their points but his prolific form ensures this remains a successful strategy.
RD excelling in the constructor’s championship.
Red Dragon has continued their upward momentum and is neck and neck with XQ Max in the PDC table ahead of them when the BDO events are included. The progress of Gerwen price has added another elite level player to Team RD who look more balanced. Their long term support of players is also looking productive. Both Jamie Lewis and Johnny Clayton seem to have benefited from the supportive, family atmosphere that RD create.
Target’s massive investment, in players, designs and marketing, had been paying great dividends. This may have plateaued in 2018. Their old guard are heading into retirements and some of their other top stars had slow years. Rob Cross, Chizzy, Alan Norris and others did not produce their best last years and as such Target slipped into a distant fifth place. Winmau also underperformed for such a famed brand and will need to rework their line up in the coming years or so. They have great ambassadors, who are still playing well, but only Gurney is consistently gaining them high levels of attention.
The 1st player to win the three in a row. Bristow has been joined by Duzza, another Harrows player.
Harrows, darting royalty to many, made a low key return to the success on the PDC side in 2018. Josh Payne claimed a Pro Tour title and is generally progressing very typically for a Harrow’s player. Three-time Lakeside Champ Glen Durrant will ensure this name is seen across the codes in 2019.
All in all, it was a ‘steady as you go’ year across the PDC ranking events. Red Dragon performed well and look to be on the up. Unicorn’s long practised strategy again proved correct and most of the other big names dipped a little. The rise of One80 (in the BDO) & the Independents is good to see and may well continue through to 2019. A.I.M will repeat the exercise and see which Team’s signings, and development, progress the most.