Tag Archives: Alexandra Palace

World Championship ‘9 Darters’ – Palace Perfection.

As part of our contribubion to “The Darts World Championship Ultimate Guide, 2019 A.I.M: looked at those perfect palace moments:

9 Darters – Palace Perfection 

In any sport there are moments of perfection, think Torvil & Dean or Nadia Comenech, darts is no exception. Over the years improving standards, combined with near perfect playing conditions, have ensured that darting perfection, the nine dart leg, is hit with increasing regularity. Yet, hitting one on the biggest possible stage, on live TV, under the greatest of pressure is still very rare indeed. Think Cliff Thorburn at The Crucible. 

I suspect a certain Mr Taylor has never forgiven RVB for this!

Breaking the Duck 

No player had managed the perfect leg in the PDC World Championship since its beginnings in 1994. By 2010 it seemed that the incentive of a place in the history books was weighing heavily on players’ shoulders. Raymond van Barneveld had other ideas. The setting was a Qtr final vs his countryman Jelle Klaasen. RVB went the traditional route (180,180, T20, T19, D12) and appeared as relaxed as he might in a local exhibition.  

Lightning Strikes Twice 

To prove it was no fluke Barney repeated the trick in 2011. In fact, the only difference from the 2010 version, were his darts, he had switched to a golden set up, and his reactions. In scenes reminiscent of his 2007 World Championship win, Barney was as delighted, and emotional, as many could remember seeing him. 

The Final Countdown 

Perhaps the most remarkable of the perfect legs seen at The Alexandra Palace was struck in 2011. To mark the third consecutive year, that at least one perfect leg was thrown, Adrian Lewis became the first to hit one in the final. Incredibly ‘Jackpot’ hit it in only the third leg! Another of the popular 180 x 2 and 141(T20, T19, D12) route. The nonchalance with which Lewis accepted the crowd’s applause showed a player, at the very peak of his powers, for whom it was simply a matter of time. 

Winstanley Goes Wild 

Darts very own Pat Cash moment? Where did he go?

After a barren year, in 2012, darting perfection returned with a bang in 2013. ‘Over the Top’, as Dean Winstanley is known, certainly lived up to his nickname. Dean found a superb sequence of darts hitting six treble 20s without going near a wire. After completing the 141, in the usual way, he was overcome with a spirit of Pat Cash. Winstanley, like the Australian tennis champion, sprinted out of shot and, reacted with an unrestrained joy that endeared him to all watching.  

All the Right Darts, Not Necessarily in The Right Order? 

In the same 2013 tournament Micheal van Gerwen added his name to the roll of honour. In his semi-final, against James Wade, MVG became the first to hit 9 perfect darts but not going the conventional order. He still hit 7 Treble 20s, treble 19 and double 12, but hit the T19 on his second turn in order to leave 144. 

Perfection, Repetition & Despair 

In 2014 both Kyle Anderson and Terry Jenkins hit 9 darters. Both players lost the match. 2015 featured a repeat performance from Adrian Lewis. Jackpot joined Barney in the club of multiple 9 dart hitters at the World Championships. The most recent 9 example of palace perfection was Gary Anderson, Gary hit his perfect leg, in 2016, vs Jelle Klaasen. Poor Klaasen became the first to have two thrown against him! 

The Founder of the Feast. 

Legendary Lim hits the firstWorld Championship 9 darter

No discussion of World Championship 9 darters would be complete without ‘The Legend’ that is Paul Lim. Paul bridges the two golden eras of professional darts and is still going. In 1990 he hit a superb 9 dart leg vs Ireland’s Jack McKenna. Although it was hit at Lakeside there was only one world championship at that time and the feat had never been completed before. Only two years ago Lim threatened to repeat the feat almost thirty years later. After 8 perfect darts, and at the age of 63, Lim narrowly missed the double twelve. Perhaps he will get another chance at that unique fairytale during this year’s event? 


Palace perfection appears in full, with more extensive links and graphic illustration, the Ultimate Guide : https://appsolutely.dev/darts/

Ladies Night. Our Predictions for Female Success Come True!

When A.I.M: were asked to produce some original content, for The World Darts Championship Ultimate Guide, one of the things that prompted us was the surge of interest in the female competitors. You could definitely say we were ahead of the curve here:

FALLON SHERROCK
Pic: Christopher Dean
Lisa Ashton: Helped blaze a trail and is still at it!

For last years (2019) World Championship the PDC innovated once more. A direct route for female players to play in the championships was introduced for the first time. Lisa Ashton and Anastasia were the qualifiers, from very high-quality field, and both played strongly in the main event.  This year the route has been extended to include a UK and a Rest of the World style qualifying event.  

Mikuru Suzuki, 37, will debut at Ally Pally after capturing the Lakeside title in 2019. She is familiar with the PDC set up, and atmosphere, after being selected by the BDO for this year’s Grand Slam of Darts. The Japanese star made things deciding decidedly uncomfortable for Gerwyn Price in her opening match. Despite not qualifying for the knockout stage she will have gained valuable experience, and having little to lose, and could be very dangerous indeed. 

FALLON SHERROCK
Pic: Christopher Dean

Fallon Sherrock has been somewhat overshadowed in recent years. The former World Championship finalist, and twice major title winner, has outmatched by Lisa Ashton and now Suzuki. The twenty-five-year old hairdresser has, however, had a superb 2019, winning several titles all around Europe. Fallon then played superbly in the ladies qualifying event, averaging close to 100. Her debut at Alexandra Palace will introduce her to a whole new audience and may prove another boost to her career! 

The form and ability of the female representatives is getting stronger and stronger. It may not be long until darts becomes a fully integrated sport. 


During a remarkable run Sherrock defeated both Ted Evetts and, the number eleven seed, Mensur Suljovic whilst generating a huge surge of interest from the media worldwide. A couple of weeks later Lisa Ashton made her mark again gaining a PDC Tour Card, in a mixed field of over five hundred players. ‘Ladies Night’ indeed!

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Meet the Fans – Ally Pally.

One of our favorite A.I.M: contributions to The World Darts Championships Ultimate Guide ( 2019) was a centred around the unique nature of the supporters at the Alexandra Palace. We are hoping to do more of these from other seminal darting venues:

QUEEN OF THE PALACE: FALLON SHERROCK IS ACCLAIMED BY THE CROWD
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

The secret ingredient, in the successful recipe that is the PDC World Darts Championship, is not so secret. It’s on full public view every day and every session. Over 85,000 fans troop through the doors of the Alexandra Palace every December. Hen nights, stag nights, work place parties, and many other groups, join more traditional darts fans to experience the unique combination of party atmosphere and sporting drama. 

Kyle Picknell recently described a night at the darts like this:  

You remember the World Cup, don’t you? That summer-long hysteria that swept the nation away in a hot, sticky sea of pints, sweat, tears and pints. Well, the darts is a bit like that. Except with more pints” 

If you have every attended an Ally Pally session, or even caught one on TV, you will struggle to argue with that description. The mix of thousands of everyday people, sporting combat, Christmas spirit and alcohol adds an element to the event that seems very British. The fancy dress tradition, which grows every year, follows a trend from the Edgbaston test match and, has a superb comic edge. An audience member attended dressed as Jesus, on his return journey from the bar, he was captured on the big screen, within seconds the entire crowd were serenading him with Happy Birthday! 

As the event moves into its later stages there are less of the party groups and more of those who follow or play darts. This leads to a more partisan, intense atmosphere with crowd favorites cheered to the rafters and some getting a less fond reception. Over the years Mervyn King and Gerwyn Price have been on the receiving end of the crowd’s displeasure, and yet have come out the other side more fondly regarded. This year may see Gerwyn being a crowd favorite.  

Since the event moved to its current home in 2008, the crowd experience and participation level has been enhanced and now resembles a darting day-trip. There is a dedicated fan area, just outside the main arena, with activities and opportunities to enjoy the day. Legends of the game appear for Q&As / photo’s, the trophy is on display and sponsors do their upmost to promote themselves and their wares.  

Peter Wright wins the 2020 event in front of a delighted Ally Pally crowd. PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

Fans of a night at the darts have changed over the years. National treasures such as Stephen Fry, sporting royalty including Freddie Fintoff and Stephen Gerrard and even actual Royalty, in the person of Prince Harry, have been spotted enjoying their arrows.  

Could it be that darts has a truly universal appeal, that is captured perfectly for two weeks every year by the PDC, Sky TV and Alexandra Palace?  


Welcome to Ally Pally -“Talking Points”.

As part of A.I.M:‘s contribution to The Ultimate Guide to the World Championships (2019), we introduced the PDC’s annual darting extravaganza via a ‘Talking Points Style’ segment:

“Talking Points” – At the Palace. 

The Venue –  

Ally Pally holds 3000 fans that regularly sell out the venue. PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

When looking for a new, and larger, venue after the huge success of the 2007 World Championships, the PDC could hardly have found a better option than “the peoples palace”.

Despite being used as a circus venue, exhibition hall and even a refugee shelter, over its 140+ year history, Alexandra Palace has a long association with darts. The hugely popular News of the World event held its finals at the London venue with the raucous, but entertaining, atmosphere from the 1960’s being preserved in YouTube clips. The Ally Pally has provided fairytales, excitement and no little drama, right from its first year as host. Rank outsider Kirk Shepherd made the final that first year only to be felled at the final hurdle by Darth Maple (John Part). Every year since, thousands of fans, often in highly original fancy dress, have flocked to witness the next chapter of this fabulous story. 

The Trophy –  

2019 WORLD CHAMPION MICHAEL VAN GERWEN BUFFS UP THE SID WADDELL TROPHY
(PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG)

Sid Waddell was known as “The Voice of Darts” and credited by many with helping to popularize the game in the 1970’s, and keep it alive during the leaner times. 

Sid combined a unique use of language with an enthusiasm, and love for the game. that can barely have been matched. Quotes such as “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer… Bristow’s only 27 “ have become legendary and Sid is remembered with affection by millions.

Sid’s death in 2012 marked a generational and style change in darts. The decision to commission a new PDC World Championship Trophy, named after Sid, was warmly welcomed by those connected to both the game and broadcasting alike. Fittingly it was Phil “The Power” Taylor who emerged triumphant in 2013 and claimed the Sid Waddell Trophy upon its debut. 

The Prize –  

The Menace (1st PDC World Champion)

Winning the PDC World Darts Championship is now a life changing matter. The first holding of the event, in 1994, earned its first champion, Dennis “The Menace” Priestly, the princely sum of £16,000.

Although this was not to be sniffed at it can hardly be compared to today’s prize. The total prize fund for that first championship was £64,000, this year’s event will offer £2,500,000. The winner’s cheque will be a cool half a million pounds (£500,000).  In many ways this is just the beginning of the rewards for the 2020 champion. Sponsorship and exhibition fees are boosted massively, by having a World Championship on your CV, and qualification for every event, for the next two years, is assured. Most players will value the place in the history books and the holding of the Sid Waddell trophy as equally important, but their families may well benefit more from the financial rewards available. 

Leighton Rees
1st World Champion.

To say the PDC World Championship is worth a million pounds, to the winner, is no exaggeration. Leighton Rees’s £3000 reward, for the first ever darts World Championship, suddenly seems a long time ago. However, money is not everything and the fact that, Welshman, Rees is fondly remembered as, both a fine player and, a lovely individual, should remind us that the place in the history book of darts, and on the list of World Champions , is priceless.


A version of this feature first appeared in The Ultimate Guide to the World Darts Championship in December 2019.

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Two Shots for Double Dekker?

PDC Dart player Jan Dekker, exploits ranking system to perfection as UK players disadvantaged.

Double Dekker. Former BDO World Semi Finalist Jan Dekker

Double Dekker. Former BDO World Semi Finalist Jan Dekker

Jan Dekker is a Dutch dart player of considerable talent. He has reached the later stages of the BDO ( British Darts Organisation) Lakeside World Championship on more than one occasion and has shown a strong big game temperament. He has always appeared an intelligent and well-informed person and player. He resisted the calls to run to the full-time professional circuit, after his early success, and returned to finish his education. Over the last couple of years he has again returned to the fore and this year made the decision to play within the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) system.

The PDC system involves a qualifying school, to gain one of 128 tour cards in order to be assured of playing on the Pro Tour events and then a number of tours, of differing levels, to qualify for various major & TV events over the year. Tour cards last for up yo two years but are given annually to those in the top 64 without the need for Q School attendance. Those who fail to get a tour card are ranked on their performance. They can still play some tours and are reserve players for the main Pro Tour events and as such may be able to play almost the entire Pro Tour whilst still being eligible for the lower tier tours as well.

To enable wider international participation, some events/tours have qualifiers in, or near to, their continental locations as well as a UK qualifying event. Therefore International players can choose either method of qualification.

The basic aim of the system is to provide qualification and ranking systems and well as allow new players to make an attempt to get into the elite Tour Card holding echelons of PDC Professional darts and to earn some of the £7 million plus prize fund available. As can be imagined this is incredibly competitive and, as in any sport, requires not only talent but financial backing / earnings, patience and determination.

Having met Jan on a number of occasions during the past few years I was interested to see how his move to the PDC would pan out and thus have kept an eye out for his result, I watched some of his games and assessed his progress as the 2015 season has progressed. As a dart consultant /coach and fan I was also in a position to compare this to the efforts of other, mainly UK, players who were in a similar position at the seasons beginning. Q School in Wigan January 2015.

As well as noting Jan’s relative success, many thought he would not thrive, it became impossible not to notice several flaws in the professional system, Jan was benefiting from, not available to other players.

This was again highlighted when I also looked out for a player that I had admired, for a number of years, and was well thought of elsewhere. Eddie Dootson is an experienced but little known player from the UK. It became impossible not to see how badly the odds were stacked against him.

Now that the floor / qualification season is over these anomalies can be shown in their true light.

No blame or allegation of the players mentioned or their teams is intended or implied. Both are simply attempting to gain the best start to their PDC career within the rules in place.

Q School

Dekker had a moderately successful Q school, although he did not gain one of the Pro Tour cards available, he finished high enough up the ranking table to ensure he would be able to compete in the vast majority of Pro Tour events should he wish to do so. By entering and playing the event he also became entitled to play the second level PDC tour known as The Challenge Tour. In addition to this he would be eligible to play in the qualifiers events for six The UK Open and nine European Tour events. The later of these he could do either via the UK qualifiers, which were open to all associate members, or the European/Home Nation Qualifier for each event. This becomes the first example of Two Shots for Dekker. For the 2015 season he can aim to get a tour card either by reaching the top 64 overall or by winning the challenge tour. At the same time his financial opportunities increase over new tour card holders who cannot compete in the Challenge Tour.

Eddie Dootson had a similar overall Q School experience, although he finished higher up the ranking table and was thus assured of gaining access to every event.

Eddie Dootson Reaches L16 of UK Open 2015

Eddie Dootson Reaches Last 16 of UK Open 2015

UK Open.

With this security net, of his two shots at every aim, Jan Dekker is able to relax and play in the qualifiers for these events. As these events are not seeded and he is a highly experienced international player, this should provide a happy hunting ground. A very average performance by his own standard means he qualifies but only in the lower group. Here however his talent for big game match play comes storming through. Jan reaches the last 16 of his debut PDC major and adds £5000 to his bank account but more importantly to his overall ranking position.

Eddie starts superbly and reaches a semi final and finished in the top group in qualifying finishing in 22nd place. He then goes on to reach the last 16 of his debut major. Superb performance to add £5000 to his qualification winnings.

The Challenge Tour

Dekker has previous experience of the challenge tour so a quiet start, picking up a few hundred pounds on the first weekend, does not put a dent in the proceedings. By weekend two however Jan is in a much better place, this sees him win one event and reaches Semi and Qtr finals over the weekends four competitions. The consistent playing of events on most weekends and constant opportunities for him to improve and adapt are beginning to pay off. Over the next two Challenge Tour weekends things have changed on the Pro Tour and a confident Dekker wins two more events and picks up money / ranking points in three more. He even misses event twelve completely. In total he has picked up almost £7,500 in cash and by winning the order of merit has earned himself a tour card for 2016/17. No Q School for Mr Dekker next year. Achieving this by September removes a lot of pressure.

Eddie does not shine on the challenge tour. having not previous tour experience and having to play at the highest level in other events, it is not surprising that something gives and the Challenge Tour is not a priority.

Pro Tour

His Q school ranking ensures Jan has played in almost every Pro Tour Floor event this year. As for all newer players it has proved a tough baptism. However his talent has come through in stages and he has regularly won through to claim between £250 & £750, with one last 16 appearance earning him £1500. His total from his 19 appearances at Players Championship & UK Open qualifiers was £4750. Whilst respectable for a first season it hardly sets the world on fire with the last 16 being his best performance. Here again though, double shot, Dekker has benefited from the slanted rules. Josh Payne for example has earned over £8,000 from the same 20 Pro Tour events but is struggling to qualify for the World Championships. Dekker will have no such problems even with an overall Pro Tour finish of 73rd place.

Eddie Dootson has an excellent Pro Tour first year. As suspected he is eligible for all events and in the 20 players champs and 6 UK Open Qualifiers he reaches a Semi Final and steadily accumulates ranking money with L64 and L32 places. His earnings, of £5,250 are again higher than Jan’s.

European Tour

Since 2012 The European Tour has altered the balance of the PDC Rankings

Since 2012 The European Tour has altered the balance of the PDC Rankings

These nine events ( there will be ten in 2016) have transformed the PDC rankings. They are superb opportunities for up and coming players who get to them. They are held on stage and give great experience, as well as being the best rewarded stand alone element of the Pro Tour. Each event accepts the top 16 seeds from the appropriate order of merit and then has qualifying places open to players at the UK , European & Host nation qualifiers. Qualifiers receive £1000 for the first round and thus can easily cover expenses and concentrate on getting through a round or two to swell their ranking coffers. Often with at least one game against an opponent not from the top 16. Despite playing in the, relatively, easier qualifying events Jan has only qualified for two of these events. However they have made all the difference. Both events came at the right time in terms of financial / ranking boosts and without them life may well have been much tougher!

The £2500 gained here has meant that Jan is sitting in second spot for the European qualifying places for the World Championships. Despite being 73rd in the Pro Tour Order of Merit he will line up at Ally Pally in December. With his record, on TV, and experience meaning he is an opponent that very few would wish for.

Eddie had to enter the much more difficult UK qualifiers for all these events but still managed to qualify for 2 events and gain an additional £2,000. Despite these efforts he will not qualify for the World Championships via the Pro Tour and unless he can gain a place at the qualifying event his PDC season is complete.

Overall Rankings & Earnings.

As noted earlier the top 64 in the overall rankings gain automatic tour cards for a minimum of one year. To avoid Q School in 2016 a reasonable guess would have been for a player to gain in the region of £17,000 in ranking prize money over the season including the World Professional Championships. It is safe to say that were Dekker a UK player he would have had a solid first season and be planning Q School and then a decision on whether to keep his ranking money for 2016/17 or start again from zero. Due to the above double opportunities though he has one further card to play. The prize money from the World Championships will put Jan into the top 64. If he starts in Rd 1 it will put him into the top 55 and any wins will see him rocket up the table. Thus again the double elimination loophole is working overtime for Jan here. He has gained entry to European Tours via an event not open to all. The funds generated from this have earned him a place at Ally Pally, that is also not open to all, and the accumulation of funds will mean he is rewarded with a place in the elite top 64.

As well as the top 64 place is it safe to say that Jan’s first season has hardly been one of financial struggle against the odds. By early January 2016 he will have been in the PDC system for 12 months. He will have claimed prize money  £30,000+. This is basically for failing to win a tour card and finishing outside the top 70 on the Pro Tour. He will start 2016 with nothing to defend and with every chance of moving further up the rankings, even with another steady year.

Meanwhile Eddie Dootson, despite having matched or bettered Dekker in every ranking arena, will have earned a little over £12,000. He will decide on whether to return to Q School and, if he achieves a tour card, whether to start again or gamble on a lesser amount in the ranking bank.

Whilst acknowledging that it is important for darts to attract players and financial interest from other nations, surely it is time to remove some of the more glaring unfairness from a system that works against highly talented players who, cannot work the system financially or, are simply born in the nation that drives the darts boom!

Barry Hearn

Put simply, it is time for Barry Hearn & Matt Porter at the PDC and Peter Manley & Alan Warriner-Little at the PDPA to stop tweaking the rules, and ranking system, and overhaul it to take account of the changes that their superb success, in creating the modern game, has created. It is clearly time for as level a playing field as possible.