Our friends over at Darts World magazine have covered almost significant moment in our sports modern incarnation. But even in their 49 years they can not have seen anything like 2020.
So, perhaps, to draw a line under the events during the twelve months from January 2020 they, with the help of Red Dragon darts, have produced a superb scrapbook style e-magazine. Even better its downloadable FREE of charge to all darts fans.
Simply click below the image to read or download your own FREE copy:
NON-player darts are often the hidden gems of major manufacturer launches. Attention is focused on the latest Peter Wright (or other star players) dart or the most recent generation of a legendary design. The 2021 Red Dragon launch proved no exception.
Product: Steel Tip Darts
Brand: Red Dragon
Materials: 95% Tungsten
Dimensions: 50.8mm x 6.25mm
Weight: 22g RRP: £42.90
The Welsh brand has invested a great deal of their innovative player-generated know-how (and some style) into darts that are technically excellent, but that otherwise may have been ignored. The Razor Edge ZX-95 is one such model:
The ZX-95 edition has been released to top the popular Razor Edge range. The 95 refers to the tungsten level which is markedly higher than the other Razor options. This variation provides a dense feel for those who like to go straight for the target.
Open the Box:
The three, 95% tungsten barrels come tucked into a point protector and with a colour coordinated setup of Nitro-Tech stems (3) and Hardcore standard-shaped flights (3). Black steel points are supplied and fitted.
The difference in these darts from previous editions is easily noticeable. The revamp gives them a feeling of precision and directness while retaining the feeling that they will never move in the action of throwing. The ‘Razor Edge’ grip sections give an aggressive 4/5 level grip which every who is light in the hold will get plenty out of them. The simple, slim, barrel design still does its no-fuss job but the higher tungsten content changes the angle of flight for some throw styles.
Set-Up & Durability:
High tungsten content darts are always highly durable and with such a distinct grip it is unlikely that you will wear these out. The coating also seems resilient in comparison with some. The supplied setups suit direct throwers very well indeed. Some players may prefer a less stiff flight and stem combo. The grip being tilted away from the point means they are not as taxing on flights as we imagined.
This Razor Edge ZX-95 dart is a perfect example of the non-payer dart. All the tech and all the styling, but not the premium price tag. There are plenty of useful features as well as simple, classy cosmetics. ZX-95s can be used by a variety of throwers although we expect that they will be most popular with a dart by dart (Peter Wright style) player, who holds the barrel very lightly indeed. At under £40 they are superb value for a highly-styled 95% tungsten dart with multi-grip zones.
Aggressive grip and 95% tungsten are polarising features on a dart. So to average out at 8.5/10 over functionality, looks, performance, and value is very impressive indeed. Yet again there’s a hidden gem with no player name on the barrel. Look out for others in every launch.
There are several situations during a leg where a dart at the bullseye can be very useful indeed. Whether its ensuring your end up on a two darter, instead of a three, or to ensure you have a finish at all, its basically a cover shot with two possible outcomes, this is BullShifting.
If you are on 201 and your opponent is not on a score where adding pressure might be relevant and you hit t20 s20, with darts one and two, this leaves you with 121 remaining and a single dart. A dart in either the 25 or Bullseye ,(a BullShift) will leave you with a handy two darter (either 96 or 71) whereas a single twenty or a stray (caused by a deflection, obviously!) will likely leave you with a tricky three darter including more complex treble possibilities.
In addition there are many other situation where two at the twenties and one at the bull/outer will be required. These may include shots at 170, 130 to finish or 90, 105, 130, 145 or even 170 to set up a finish.
So its important to be be a bit of a BullShifter with your last dart!
Although I like most drills to be based around five turns this one has to involve at least 6. For each turn you will take two darts at the twenties and one dart at the Bullseye ring.
There are six possible outcomes if you hit the twenty bed twice & BullShift: 170, 145, 130, 105, 90 and 65.
Each time you hit a score it is removed from scoring. As an incentive, and to give every throw mean, the Bullseye counts as 50, if hit with the last dart (LDB), even if you have repeated a score or not hit two in the twenty bed.
Turn 1: T20 T20 Bull – 170
Turn 2: T20 T20 25 – 145
Turn 3: T20 s20 Bull – 130
Turn 4: T20 s20 25 – 105
Turn: s20 s20 Bull – 90
Turn 6: s20 s20 25 – 65
Total – 705!
Realistic Run Through:
Turn 1: s5 T20 25 – 0
Turn 2: s20 s20 25 – 65
Turn 3: t20 s20 25 – 105
Turn 4: s20 t5 Bull – 50
Turn 5: s20 t20 Bull – 50 (repeat score)
Turn 6: s20 s20 Bull – 90
You can vary this drill a number of ways. But beware of driving yourself into a fit of frustration.
A harsh variation is to list the possible numbers on the marking board, 65-170 inc and then give yourself a set number of throws to knock them all out.
Example: use 10 turns and mark how many 65’s, 90’s etc that you clock. But also mark how many times you miss the twenty bed with either of your first two and how many last dart bulls (LDBs) you manage!
As you can see from the variations you can set your own level and then simply try to better your best. Total score after 6 turns, number of finishes hit after 10 turns etc. But here is a guide:
Amateur: 1 lower BullShift (65 or 90) and an LDB. 115 to 140
Pub Team: 1 or 2 BullShifts and an LDB. 115 to 220
Higher: 2 or more BullShifts and an LDB. 250 or more
Elite: 3 or more Bullshifts and a LDB. 400+ (often!)
Who is the biggest BullShifter?
Top Score: 665 (145,130,65,170,0,50,105)
Fewest Turns: All six BullShifts were taken out in only 11 turns by a player who has flirted with the PDC top 32 but flew a little too close to the sun.
Originally published for the dartsworld.com Darting Isolation Series during the Covid-19 Lockdown of 2020.
In the modern era of ‘Professional’ darts, we take it for granted that the players at the very top of the game enjoy at least ‘a good living’ from the game. Alan Evans, ‘Evans the Arrow’ has a claim to have been the first Professional dart player. During the mid-seventies, he was driven from venue to venue taking on all comers sometimes for £1000’s.
Those of you will longer memories, or YouTube addictions, may recall seeing the diminutive Welshman in gripping, not exactly friendly, struggles with some of the legendary figures in darts. But most will not be aware of the efforts and contribution made by the fiercely competitive and highly talented player.
Amongst his playing achievements were finals of The News of the World & The Indoor League events. These were amongst the first televised events, Evans also made the final of the first event to be screened on the BBC, The 1975 British Open. During that same year, he claimed the World Masters title. The Welsh Team, of which Evans was a member, cleaned up the titles at the initial World Cup in 1977.
These tremendous results happened in the few years prior to the beginning of darts first golden era. Evans may well have peaked a little too soon. He was twice defeated at the semi-final stage of the World Championships by Leighton Rees and even banned for a year by the BDO. Sadly, Evans seemed to play a secondary role on the biggest stages and never quite hit the very highest level again. Although a superb 1987 run to the World Championship Semi almost provided a fairytale for the ‘Rhonnda Legend’.
Evans has a few other claims to fame, he scored once 401 in 9 darts (doubled to £802 for charity) in TV’s Bullseye’s guest professional round. No one ever scored higher. It was reported and witnessed that, during a Scottish exhibition night, Evans hit the 8 separate 150 checkouts going the 3 x Bullseye route. Alan even played Muhammed Ali in a special “World Championship” match.
Evans was a serious competitor and, at his best, a sensational player. It is a shame that TV did not witness him at his sustained best. His contribution to our game should not be underestimated. Perhaps the best indication of his impact on audiences was the tributes paid by Sid Waddell. Sid would refer to the “Alan Evans Shot” if a player needed 150 to finish a leg and would often use him to illustrate fighting qualities or sudden spells of blistering form. Waddell had seen players come and go for decades with very few being awarded this type of accolade. When Evans passed away in 1999 at the age of 49, it was Sid wrote the tribute.
Phrases including “the balance of Nureyev” are not often equated with darters but perhaps only the combination of Sid & ‘Evans the Arrow’ could produce them with sincerity.
Like many unsung heroes, Alan Evans didn’t enjoy the full rewards of what he helped to create but his role was in creating them should be remembered.
A version of this article appeared in Darts World magazine 2020.
Elsewhere within on A.I.M: you may have come across our review for the SP03 Darts from Target. The SP Range is brand new and offers some interesting and original designs. Its most attractive feature is what those initials (SP) stand for, Swiss Point.
For many years darts players and manufacturers have sought to make the replacement, or changing, of points a simple and attractive feature. In short, they failed. It was usually a fiddly task involving quite a lot of effort and a good few minutes per point. Not exactly ideal during a game or in between rounds.
Modern point innovations have made this quest even more urgent than previously. Has the Swiss Point solved these issues and will they catch on?
As can be seen, from the shot below, the Swiss Point is an all-round system with the barrels, the points and a specific tool, all designed and made for the purpose of swift, secure and simple point change. Each point is exactly the same as a standard version until the blank near the blunt end. A unique screw-in system is incorporated to the last section.
Swiss Point barrels, regardless of model, have the reverse of the screw within them. This ensures a perfect fit and a very solid feel.
There is a slot just below the blank. This is for the SP tool to grip and to ensure that a broken point can still be swapped in and out in very quickly indeed.
The current range of SP barrels is restricted to a range of specific SP darts (01-03) and the latest Generation of Phil Taylor’s darts (Gen 6). Phil himself seems very impressed:
“Swiss point is the biggest innovation in darts since Tungsten”
16 X World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor
The retail price of around £5 per set of points and £3 for a point tool represent good value and seems to have been pitched to include all. The comparative price of player models will be interesting to note.
We subjected the SP to rigorous testing with a variety of styles and players. We have a player who wanted to change his points according to the hardness of the board. He therefore changed them twice during a practice match. It took him less than 1 minute to change all three points and he could not tell the difference between these and his normal set-up.
We then introduced an amateur, who has only played twice, to try and change the points with the minimum of instruction. They also succeeded and did so within two minutes. The SP Tool simply fits over the point and locks onto the slot end of the point. A very few turns ensure the point can be detached and then
Even world champions seem to agree;
“I use Target Firepoints; as I like that extra grip for my finger on the point. With Swiss Point I can now swap out my points in seconds.”
Rob Cross 2018 PDC World Champion
We then deliberately broke a point, by dropping on hard tiled floor, and indeed we changed the point just as easily with no problem whatsoever. Every change resulted in three perfect points, the same length and fit etc. with no variations or difficulties.
All three players reported no difficulties with the feel of the point and reported that they could not feel a difference at the point/barrel intersection.
All three of our testers gave the idea and the execution at least 8/10 and one of the 10/10. All could change the darts perfectly and in no more than two minutes. Their only question was how soon we thought they would get more models, and players darts, available.
It is always difficult to predict the success of an innovation, especially when it is only available on restricted models and from one company. Target have big plans for the SP;
“Our vision is to make Swiss Point the new standard and we see all our darts coming with Swiss Points as the new standard in the future. For me, Swiss Point is the biggest innovation Target has ever done and the one I am most excited about.” Garry Plummer MD Target Darts
A.I.Mcan see the SP being a huge success. If it is introduced to a wider range of models as quickly as possible, and not over-priced, we predict very high demand. Our only question mark is how the system/points will wear over a long period of time. Will the internal screw loosen, if changed often will the points wobble and clink. The build quality appears to be very high indeed and thus the problems are unlikely. But as with all things, the more moving parts, the more there is to go wrong.
We look forward to reporting back with a Swiss Point update in 6-12 months.
Article and testing produced for Darts World Magazine 2019.
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.
A.I.M: are strongly of the opinion that “there has been little, or no, beneficial innovation in darts since the tungsten barrel”. He does, however, allow one notable exception, points!
We have been are currently conducting extensive tests on the various types of points on the market. Collared, coloured, grooved, coated and almost every other option available are being put through their paces. Some things have become obvious early on in the testing. The first is that Raptor from RedDragon is an exceptional product.
First Impressions: These points don’t come with flash packaging or attached to their own range of dart. However, it is immediately noticeable that they are unusual. They are plain and appear very well made indeed. They are 33mm long with 28mm exposed after fitting. The point is collared in style (to eliminate join between point & barrel), there are 4 grooves, from the collar downward, that allow for exact finger placement/grip. The lower section is slim and sharply tapered, for good board penetration and there is a small (2mm) barb for both finger feeling and board retention.
Fitting: We fitted Raptor points into three different brands of darts. The fitted easily and snuggly into all three with no complications.
Grooved Section: The grooves worked excellent for those who like to feel their finger in the same place but not to slip during delivery.
Lower(Smooth) Section: Testing showed that this penetrated the board well and was a good alternative resting point for those who like their finger on a smooth area.
Point Barb: Very unusually Raptor has a small, less than 2mm bard at the very tip of the point. This proved excellent in improving board retention, even the gentlest thrower had full confidence that their dart would stay in place. In addition, it proved very useful with those who naturally rest their finger at the point, Dennis Priestley style, for control.
Durability: The Raptor seems to have overcome one of the problems of newer complex points. Despite heavy usage, and a few drops, we have not broken one yet!
“Brilliant, much stiffer than my current collared point” – Serious Amateur
“Nice and not all flashy” – Elite level player
“All round winner” – Coach
Downsides: The only recorded downside was that they seem to be only available in this length. At least one player would move to them if a 30mm (external) option was provided. Raptor do increase wear on your board espcially if its of the softer variety.
The SnapShot: First impressions, and initial testing, reveal raptor to be an exceptional product, that raises the bar for modern points. The problems of over flexibility, breakability and clumsiness that affect some complex, or collared, points are solved in one go. Red Dragon have produced a superb product and the fact that it can be added, at point of purchase, to a huge range of darts, is a boon.
When A.I.M: were asked to contribute to a guide the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship an article about Raymond Van Barneveld seemed essential.
This piece has appeared, in various forms, in Darts World magazine, at dartsworld.com and on the hugely popular German website darts1.de amongst other places!
Barney Takes A Bow!
Raymond van Barneveld can claim a major role in the story of the PDC at the Palace. From his legendary win in the 2007 event, which may have prompted the move, to his superb 9 dart legs, Barney has provided some of the sports’ most iconic moments. In addition, his ‘Barny Army’ of fans bring atmosphere and colour to every event. RVB’s role in the development and advancement of darts is safe and his reputation as a dart player will only grow. As a five-time World Champion he sits in a club of only three, Bristow (5), Barney (5) and Taylor (16)
Barney, now 52, will play his last World Championship this year and is sure to receive a superb reception and send off when his tournament comes to an end. He seems entirely at peace with his decision and determined to enjoy his curtain call. Raymond will have taken part in almost thirty World Championships since making his debut at the Lakeside in 1991. His remarkable journey has seen him tackle the legends of darts’ first golden era, battle with ‘The Power’ for over a decade and then shepherd a third generation of new players to take the game forward.
RVB decided to cross codes and take his place on the PDC tour in 2006. As a four-time Lakeside champion he was the biggest fish in a middle-sized pond and could easily have remained within the BDO system and racked up titles and fees. Yet, he courted controversy, and risked failure, in order to compete at the highest level and against the very best the game had to offer.
RVB’s first PDC ranking major was the 2006 UK Open unbelievably he won the title. After what could only be described as a stellar debut he prepared for his first PDC World Championship over the festive season of 2006/7. By bludgeoning his way to the final, van Barneveld would realize the ambition that had driven him to the PDC. He was to play Phil “The Power” Taylor over the best of 13 sets. The rest as they say is history. The nip and tuck match, the swings in one direction and then the other, the sudden death bull up and then the winning dart. The sinking to the knees, and the commenators’ superlatives, all form part of the 2007 legend.
Although Raymond has not yet added another World Championship Trophy, he has enjoyed a storied career across both codes. Three World Cup Singles titles, two Winmau World Masters, The Premier League and the Grand Slam of Darts, as well as hitting the first PDC World Championship 9 Dart Leg, were amongst many, placed in the trophy cabinet, during a marvelous career.
Between this year’s first match, vs Darin Young, and an unlikely final appearance on January 1st 2020 the fans at Ally Pally and darts’ fans the world over will bid a fond farewell to a modern legend. On current form Barney may give us a grand finale, Barney’s 3-month form is 10th in the world with a running average of 96.63 for 17 events played.