Tag Archives: Cosmo

A.I.M: Darts Manufacturers Championship 2018, Unicorn retain their dominance.

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?

Unicorn Logo

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:

outline and tungsten

  1. Unicorn (381) 
  2. XQ Max (205)
  3. Red Dragon (199.5)
  4. Winmau (172.5)
  5. Target (161.5)
  6. Bulls (120.5)
  7. Cosmo (48)
  8. One80 (45)
  9. Harrows (13)
  10. 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.

Red Dragon Logo
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 Dart Logo

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.

Eric Wins 3 in a row

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. 

outline

Red Dragon Punching Above Their Weight? Constructors Championship ’16 Update 1

 RD excelling in the constructors championship?

RD excelling in the constructors championship?

For the initial season, of the AIM constructors championship, teams, companies and players have had a few of each type of event before the initial table. Thus with almost a third of the season gone, 15 PDC Pro/Euro Tour Events complete, and the season’s first TV major complete here is a first look at the table:

Current League Table (May 5th 2016).

£=Points (PDC Ranking Qtr final onwards)

1 – XQ Max – 207.75

2- Red Dragon – 116

3 – Unicorn – 110.25

4 – Target – 105.75

5 – Winmau – 53.25

6 – Monster – 23.25

7 – Bulls – 17

8 – Harrows – 12.25

How points are scored:  https://aimadjuster.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/darts-a-constructors-championship/

XQ Max Lead the Pack.

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The small be very well-formed Dutch company are flying in 2016. With the almost unstoppable MVG leading the way. Only failing to score once as a group and Benito VDP providing some of the strongest opposition to MVG mean that XQ are proving that quality over quantity can be a very successful strategy. Wins in all ranking formats and VVV chipping in on quieter weekends has meant huge exposure for the recently formed successor to Masterdarts. In addition the habit of their players all having individual/XQ set means they lead the way in the accessories area as well. Adding Andy Hamilton to the stable should prove worth a watch. Andy can produce superb stuff when he feels believed in, will it happen again here?

Red Dragon Excelling!

Young Nathan Aspinall playing the role of David to James Wade's Goliath in 2015

Young Nathan Aspinall playing the role of David to James Wade’s Goliath in 2015.

Although RD could be described as Winmau’s little brother, it still must be remembered that compared to some of the other names they are relatively small, budget and marketing are restricted and retail presence is purely online. Thus to be above both Target and Unicorn as well as big brother Winmau is a remarkable effort. The combination of a select group of quality players who have been with them a while, Wright & Thornton being the best examples, together with a policy of giving players an opportunity to come through is working very well. Gerwen Price, Daryl Gurney, Andy Gilding and have come through the system. It appears that RD’s second front is coming through!

What’s Up with Target & Winmau

Target Dart Logo

With the League being based purely on PDC ranking events all is not lost for two of the biggest names in darts. Yet in the case of Target it appears to be a poor return on a huge investment. Innovative darts and complimentary accessories, together with some of the greatest players, should be a sure recipe for dominance or at minimum competing at the very top. 4th position in both Dart & Accessories tables is simply not good enough. All style and no substance? Unbalanced team? The majors should assist them in climbing the table, but rankings do not last forever.

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The situation looks even worse for Winmau, perhaps the oldest and most respected name in darts, are simply having a poor spell. Some of their established stars have endured tough times. There are some signs of recovery, Whitlock & Webster are beginning to return to some sort of form and may well haul Winmau further up the table. It should also be remembered that Winmau are more closely associated with the BDO, where they have the reigning world champion and have recently signed up the superb Jeff Smith. Can they really afford to stand still in regard to the PDC arena? The impression of a stable of former champions and ageing stars in harder to shake off.

Best of The Rest?

Jelle K

Both Monster and Bulls have made decent starts to the season thanks to their stars. Monster are heavily dependant on Jelle Klaasen (As are L style in the Accessories table). Bulls are quietly producing an excellent stable of, mainly European, players. Mensur is obvioulsy the main source of points but others such as Max Hopp & Dave Pallet are chipping in and have strong futures ahead. A special mention to Elven Darts. As an independent handmade producer, of bespoke darts, it is superb to see them register. The return of Harrows to the frontline, of the PDC, is to be warmly welcomed. A name of real pedigree with a small stable of quality players covering all darting areas. Their policy of selecting small numbers and backing them well may pay off with young Josh Payne.

Finally V180 deserve great credit, not only do they make the chart, they would feature a great deal higher if introducing great players gained points! With Chizzy, Bunting, Norris and more being given chances in the recent past.

Dave Chisnall

Set Up / Accessories

Its bad news for those trying to make an impact with accessory systems. So far only Jelle Klaasen making a real impact whilst using L Style flight and stem set ups. Cosmo seem to be slipping backwards with their players struggling and non of the top section adopting their products.

Cosmo Logo

It would be interesting to see whether this is due to players sponsors not allowing the combination or genuine preference for other types. Some manufacturers are missing a trick by not providing branded accessories or producing ones to their players needs. Unicorn still seem to ensure that almost every sponsored player uses either personalised unicorn products or their branded items, target similarly. Red Dragon & others may be missing out a little here.

Unicorn Logo

As the second section of the season continues with more European Tour events, and Pro Tour weekends, coming together with The World Matchplay amongst others. Will XQ continue their excellent season. Can Red Dragon stay ahead of their rivals and will Target & Winmau get back in the race?

 

 

 

Darts, The Technology Game? Part II

In the first part of , The Technology Game? we looked at the recent explosion in technology innovations and advances that have been introduced over the last decade or so. Here in Part II  we will look at Flights, Stems, Points and more. The main areas covered in Part 1 included; Premium marketing, barrel design and grip variations. All have been given a high profile in the last 5-10 years. The jury was still out on the success or necessity of these idea’s and whether they truly have added to the improvement of players at either amateur or professional level.

There are two other area in which  R & D and sales and marketing  booms have taken place:

Accessories: Flights, Stems and more.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

From dart’s earliest commercial days, the variations in the additions to the barrel have been as numerous and interesting as to the barrels themselves. Flight materials changed from feather to imitation feather, then plastic, rip stop material and then thinner and thinner polymer types. The shape varied enormously over the years, with the what is now referred to a the standard shape as well as pear shapes, kite shapes and variations up the theme. In recent years designs such as fantail, V wing, tomahawk, slim, DSX and numerous others have been introduced. In the case of stems/shafts the variations have also been coming thick and fast since the 1970’s. From the initial wooden canes, lightweight plastics, steel, aluminium, titanium, one piece or separate items, side loading (Slik Stix) and now, coming full circle with, the current combination flight & stem sets, made from plastic/polymers by manufacturers such as Cosmo or L Style, offering a fixed single unit. At the same time length of stem and the correct combinations have moved back and forth quite considerably.

An L Style Flight & Stem Combo
Again the idea of premium products that will add to your game and provide a glamorous look has been deployed by the manufacturers. Whilst a basic flight stem and fixing set can still be bought for less than £1 where as a combination of the latest Target Pixel Stems & Phil Taylor Flights will cost around £15, alternatively the one piece systems offered, by various manufacturers, cost between £8 and £15 per set up.

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

All of these changes and developments have,  claimed either logical or scientific, reasons they will improve upon the existing templates. Amongth these are; faster speed through the air, more aerodynamic profiles, less weight, better balance, additional grip and a host of other claims. many have been used and endorsed by professional players and have gone on to win titles or great matches. World Championships have been won with standard flights, smaller standard flights, pear-shaped flights and others. stem length has varied a little and fixings of flight to stem have also varied. But is this through real improvement or simply great players being able to use differing equipment with which they felt comfortable at any one time?

If we again look at the top twenty players we will see how this has panned out of the last twenty years or so, again we shall also look at the next generation of players and see if changes are imminent? In terms of flight shape, the standard shape is used by almost all of the top twenty PDC players. The size and shape varies a little but are described as standard. Taylor uses a unusual very slim “lightning bolt” design. Brendon Dolan will be associated with Kite shaped as he hit his double start 9 darter with them and Barney changes often! The slight size variation is claimed to either assist in the flight, improve visibility, and reduce deflections.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

In terms of stem set up the evidence is simple overwhelming. Phil uses some of the innovative design, metallic stems but almost every other player in the top twent uses a nylon/plastic/ carbon fibre stem, most use a stem ring of some description and a majority seem are between 35 and 44mm in length. These can be bought for less than £2 per set up even for branded items, generic versions can be bought for pennies.

Classic but still hugely popular.

Classic but still hugely popular.

When we tested these combinations and asked many top players most players agreed that weight and simplicity to change easily were the reasons they believed the simple set ups were best. For the average player or beginner cost is also a large factor.

The above is not to say that success cannot be achieved with other designs and set ups. Dolan used a simple kite flight and lengthy aluminium stem for his 9 darter, Steve Beaton has used Standards, Oversized Pear Flights and both short and longer stems, usually aluminium to huge success over a 30 year career. It does suggest that, with the odd exception, simplicity is the key here and that over design or elaboration is unnecessary.

Points

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Although a rather vital element, of the dart, for many years points were pretty much left alone. Slight changes in colour or size seemed almost accidental. The North Americans favoured a longer point many player customised their own points. However it was pretty ad hoc and unsystematic. The last few years however have seen some dramatic changes. Grooved or diamond cut points, for either increased board grip or finger placement, have made a large impact. Knurled points with a section to rest the finger against  prove popular and more recently the “Storm” point innovation, this makes the barrel and point almost seemless. many advantages are claimed by designers and makers of these points and there seems to be merit in them. Storm points reduce damage to flight set up and may be a factor in the simplicity trend? Grip on points has seemed to reduce fall outs, (except on bad Unicorn days!) Many top players use one innovation or more. The many different combination of possible grip and point shape allow a high level of personalisation to an area previously not explored or marketed.

Two commercial bonus spring to mind, though there are more, firstly the increased roughness of many points may increase the wear and tear on boards and results in lower expectations for durability and more regular purchase, also points of various types can be easily fitted to many other darts, not brand specific, again allowing limitless experimentation with and customization of equipment. In short, point development, and technology, may be one area in which genuine improvement and innovation have been brought to modern darts.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Technology Game?

It is hard to fully assess the impact of technology and innovation over recent years. Firstly many of the innovations are not really new, they are re packaged or cosmetic developments based on previous items. Secondly the facts that a very small number of modifications have been accepted, by an even smaller number of the top players, at the top end of the game suggests that they do not feel anything is added to their performance. This however may be misleading as most have not grown up with the newer idea’s and may have been conditioned to be afraid of change or suspicious of tech. Yet it still appears to be the case with the best teenage players?

On the plus side, the huge volume of choice available to the average player is great for the game, conversations about new ideas , designs and equipment are always held amongst players, of all levels, and nearly everyone is willing to give things a try. The research and development undertaken by manufacturers after a slice of the market improves choice of kit and maker. Quality overall is probably improved by modern methods, and thus some of the premium accessory items can last a very long time.

However for those starting out the best advise may still be to try as many sets as you can manage to get a rough idea of the weight and style you like.  Then find a dart shop with try and buy facilities. Once you think you have found a set you like, match them up with relatively cheap flights, stems, springs etc that you can keep replacing or even varying for very little cost. Make use of buy,swap, sell web sites or Facebook groups, these can allow you to test darts and accessories without losing all your initial costs. Keep checking in with AIM for our players guide to selecting darts!

In our experience it is the player and their efforts, that make the difference, not the tech. Within the last five years a number of players over the age of 30 have come through the ranking to occupy high position or do well in TV events.

One of these used a dart that is over 25 years old. Not just the design but the actual set! A medium length nylon stem and stem ring is combined with an everyday pattern dimplex flight. This dart and set up reached the big 5 major PDC events and at times averaged well in excess of 100 whilst, both Pro Tour and in majors, 15+ consequetive legs were won against the worlds best including MVG!

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

In addition last years runner up in the world youth championships, Nathan Aspinall, uses darts that, either came from or, were inspired by his Grandad.

 

Darts – A Constructors Championship?

Could RD cause a shock or two in a constructors championship?

Could RD cause a shock or two in a constructors championship?

Three years ago the idea of a type of constructors championship, for darts, was floated among the darting forum and social media world. It is fair to say it was not very well received.

(http://www.tsod.tv/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10534&p=303584&hilit=constructors+championship#p303584)

It always struck me that the idea had some merit. Reward always motivates companies, as well as people, and the thought of being able to claim to be the best manufacturer might prove tempting.

It was, therefor, with some glee that I came across the framework for, the soft tip darts organisation, Dartslive. “The World” event that they run includes a section for constructors, with registered players being asked to provide not just their generic dart sponsor but their supplier of ; Barrel, Flight, Stem and even tip/point!

Obviously as most of the fast expanding darts activity happens outside of the UK and Europe it is other manufacturers who have taken up the baton in terms of development. L Style, Cosmo, Monster and others currently lead the way. The PDC, BDO & WDF could all be missing a trick here. Surely Unicorn, Target, Winmau & Red Dragon would develop their player sponsorship and product development strategy if their reputation was at stake each year, with the new players snapping at their heals it would be a very interesting first few years.

A new breed?

A new breed?

A few years ago  this may have seemed a limited excercise. Due to the dominance of “The Power” Unicorn would have dominated to a very large extent. RVB,Lewis and Wade ensured that the majors and most other events went to “The Big Name in Darts”. Yet even then there were signs that different approaches were happening and different constructors were making waves.

Red Dragon had opted for a niche marketing idea, signing many up and coming or popular players. Target was developing interesting designs and the dart art type of styling, while quietly planning on gaining some major names. Cosmo had just launched the Fit Flight system and Masterdarts/XQ had a strong stable of European players to lead their brand.

Unicorn Logo

A glance at the situation now reveals a different story. Unicorn managed to retain a good position through signing Gary Anderson and retaining RVB. Target have built an exceptional stable including “The Power”, “Jackpot”, “Chizzy” & “The Bullit” whilst also driving sales through excellent cosmetic appeal and innovation.

Target Dart Logo

The previously mentioned L Style, Cosmo and Monster are beginning to make waves by either, supplying accessories to noted players or complete set ups to a select group of established players or those with potential. Pipe, Part & Mansell to give a few examples. Players who are becoming true global professionals are also backed by this group of manufacturers. Larry Butler is perhaps the best current example, his global travelling a success in all formats mean he provides remarkable value for money!

Cosmo Logo

In the coming season I shall operate a manufacturers league table. Keeping it simple, early on, it will include the full PDC Pro Tour and major events. From the Qtr Finals onward points will be awarded to the dart manufacturer and accessory companies where possible. To begin with we shall simply award points based on £’s for the dart manufacturers and half of the £’s won for the accessories manufacturer. Only ranking events will be used and each event will only count upon its completion.

How will the biggest names fair? Who is developing the most talent? and what combination seem to give an advantage. Hopefully the table will give us a few thoughts through the season.