Tag Archives: Darts

RAZR’s Edge Review

​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:

General:

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.

Testing feedback:

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.

Snapshot:

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.

Marks: 8.5/10

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.

——ENDS——

Original review appeared at dartsworld.com
http://www.aim180.org

Price Dominates Anderson to lift title

Gerwyn Price won the William Hill World Darts Championship and became the new world number one after defeating Gary Anderson with an electrifying display in Sunday’s final at London’s Alexandra Palace. 

Price prevailed 7-3 with a dominant performance against two-time winner Anderson to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy, claim the £500,000 winner’s cheque and become the first ever Welsh PDC World Champion.

The triumph also saw Price replace Michael van Gerwen at the top of the PDC Order of Merit, bringing an end to the Dutchman’s seven-year reign as world number one. 

The damage was done early in the final as the Welsh star won five of the first six sets thanks to some ruthless finishing, leaving Anderson unable to recover despite Price squandering several opportunities to wrap up the victory before finally claiming glory.

“This means everything to me. It means the world,” said Price, who averaged 100.08 in the superb success.

“I bombed numerous opportunities to win it towards the end but I knew that I had put myself in such a good position that I would have another chance. Gary missed to give it me and I’m glad I took it. 

“I’ve never felt pressure like that in my life. It was so tough to hit that winning double but the feeling after doing it is so difficult to explain. I’m the World Champion; it’s unbelievable. 

“I’m proud to be world number one too. It’s probably even tougher to achieve that than it is to become World Champion. To manage both is incredible for me.”

Anderson missed four darts to take the opening set 3-0 and Price punished the Scot by claiming the next three legs to snatch an early advantage. 

The Welshman took the first leg in set two, but a 180 followed by a 128 checkout sparked a three leg burst that saw Anderson level the match.

Price won the third set 3-1 with 12,13 and 14-dart legs, shrugging off a 170 checkout from Anderson, before finishes of 84 and 120 helped the former professional rugby player take set four by the same margin.

Checkouts of 83, 97 and 76 saw Price continue an incredible run of finishes to open up a three set lead.

He then produced the best set of darts in World Championship history when he took out 100 for an 11-dart leg, 161 for a 12-darter and double 12 to go out in ten darts, after missing the bed to complete a nine-darter – posting an astonishing set average of 136.64.

Back-to-back double top finishes saw Price take his success rate on that target to 13 landed from as many attempts, but when he finally missed the bed Anderson pounced to take the seventh set in a decider.

Price moved 6-2 ahead when he landed double top to win the fifth leg in set eight, before claiming the following two legs to move within a leg of glory – but he went on to miss nine match darts across two legs to allow Anderson to steal the set and stay in the contest.

The Scot punished Price for more missed doubles to make it five legs on the spin, but Price came from behind to claim the title on double five after Anderson had missed six darts to keep his hopes alive.

“Getting beat in the final is disappointing but I’ll give myself a pat on the back for getting this far,” said Anderson, who has moved up five places to eighth in the Order of Merit.

“What I’ve done over the last few weeks has been a big bonus for me. I started the final alright but I started to struggle and you can’t do that against players like Gerwyn.”

The triumph saw Price become the tenth PDC World Champion and the first to have achieved the feat as a product of Qualifying School, having earned his professional Tour Card in 2014 – just two weeks after Van Gerwen’s spell as world number one had begun.

He succeeds Peter Wright as World Champion and also leaps above the Scot and Van Gerwen to top the PDC Order of Merit.

William Hill World Darts Championship

Sunday January 3

Final

Gerwyn Price 7-3 Gary Anderson 

Set Scores: 3-2, 1-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-1, 3-0, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-2


Words: PDC

PIC: L lustig (PDC)

A.I.M: Manufacturers Championship 2019

Who builds the better team? Who makes the best signings? Who improves & develops players? Who is the best Manufacturer / Sponsor?

outline and tungsten

For 2019 A.I.M are presenting a simplified Manufacturers Championship version that should be interesting but not over techie or insider nonsense.

A.I.M use the PDC ranking events as a base. In each event, those who reach the Qtr Final or better will score points for their dart supplier/sponsor. Winner will get 10 points, runner / up 5, Semi 3 and Qtrs 1. In the case of televised major,  such as the upcoming UK Open, this will be doubled. For The World Championships, the multiplier will be 2.5. As an amendment, we add the BDO majors for the overall table.

Early Season Skirmishes

The first four ranking events of the season, Pro Tours 1-4, feature the return of a classic dart brand and a rebalancing between the other big names. Another classic brand/manufacturer took a bit of a beating.

  1. Red Dragon (38)
  2. Target (26)
  3. Unicorn (24)
  4. XQMax (21)
  5. Harrows (15)
  6. Bulls (6)
  7. Winmau (4)
  8. Cosmo (1)
  9. Powercore (1)

Red Dragon managed to head the table overall through scoring in every event with a mix of players. Price has moved up a level whilst Wright, Hendo and Clayton all performed well and scored for the team.

Red Dragon Logo

RD excelling in the constructors’ championship?

Target proved hit or miss with Dave Chisnall ensuring a highlight early on while on other days they did poorly, Ricky Evans has stormed through to provide high quality back up. XQ Max still features well with 21 points (two wins) from the four events. This excellent effort is tempered with the fact that all points were gained through a single player. MVG is clearly carrying this vehicle. Unicorn managed to spread their effort across more players including some newcomers including Harry Ward ( Gavin Carlin may well push them over the top as his darts look very like Unicorn Grippers to me!) and in every event, they will also benefit from the return of Gary Anderson.

Harrows made a welcome return to the higher ranks. Their retention of Glenn Durrant ensures they have another iconic name and their 15 points were all gained by the debut-making northeasterner. Josh Payne may also add to Harrows success and represent the younger generation. Bulls continued there recent success with James Wattinema claiming five points with a final appearance. Lees established or smaller brands have yet to make much of a dent in the 2019 table. Cosmo nicked points through Steve West’s efforts and Powercore look to have done well by snapping up Ryan Searle. Perhaps the most surprising was the paltry 10 points picked up by Winmau. Merv King gained them 3 handy points, another was gained by Matt Edgar who despite not having an official dart supplier uses a Winmau Navigator set.

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Harrows returned to the PDC in style.

 Transfers / Signings Activity & Gossip.

Recent gossip about Adrian Lewis leaving Target seems to have died down. His end of season rally in 2018 may well have reminded them of his value. It remains to be seen whether Harrows decide to back up their outfit with another UK / European player or two. Winmau clearly needs a shot in the arm. Their main player roster looks a little one dimensional and although none of them should be written off they do look a little vulnerable to a changing of the guard. Gurney carrying the new generation banner almost alone seems tough. Nathan Aspinall’s move to Target should not surprise anyone as they seem very keen to add proven young talent to their stable, even if it is riskier than their previous ‘darting galacticos’ strategy. Unicorn look a little vulnerable in depth terms. Their team are performing very well but Wade needs to be ber very careful, Gary Anderson seems injury prone and Jelle Klaasen is totally out of sorts. If they can find a star name to prise away from elsewhere to join them it should not be a surprise. Look out for smaller companies or those from the Far East making an impact again soon. In recent years they have been very successful it seems unlikely that this would simply stop. Powercore’s gamble on Ryan Searle, for example, looks a fine bet.

Whether the major companies attempt to poach Clemens, Searle et al may worth keeping an eye on. Do Evo, Powercore, and others, have the reach or ability to develop? Are the contracts solid enough to ensure they get the benefits of their risk/investment?

 

 

The Iceman Joins The Weekenders Club! Price Claims Back to Back Pro Tours.

Winning a PDC Pro Tour event is seriously tough. Players who win back to back Pro Tours over the same weekend are, almost without exception, or soon will be dominant champions of the game. This weekend Gerwen Price added his name to a very elite club.

Latest member of ‘The Weekenders’ club. Price claimed two title from two events.
Pic: PDC

The “Weekenders Club” now has a dozen members and requires its members to win back to back events during the same Pro Tour weekend (or equivalent).

Adrian Lewis (1) founded the club in 2005. At 20 years of age, he won back to back Scottish Pro Tours over one weekend. Phil Taylor (2) unusually not the first, joined soon after claiming both titles in a Dutch doubleheader. Typically of “The Power”, he went on to repeat the feat at least once in each of the next eight years. In 2008 Taylor did the double 3 times and in 2009 he went better with four back to back weekends. Finally, in 2009, a third member joined! Robert Thornton (3) claimed a couple of Scottish Pro Tours over the same weekend. Just to prove it was not a fluke Thornton repeated the trick but it took him till 2014!

In 2010 Wez Newton (5) claimed a unique treble. In addition to back to back Pro Tours in Barnsley, Newton had also claimed his place in the Grand Slam of Darts by winning through the 250+ field on Friday night. This three-hander is unlikely to be repeated. Mervyn King (4) had joined the club earlier in the year by claiming two PLayer Champs. King often starts the Pro Tour well but this may have been his best effort. 2011 featured Gary Anderson (6) claiming his right to join the “Weekenders Club”. His dominant spell over Pro Tour events during this time meant the only surprise was it had taken so long.

cropped-philtaylor-bullet-dart-pic.jpg
“The Power” Completed “The Weekender” 8 years in a row including four times in 2009

Two new members joined in 2012 with Dave Chisnall (7) & Barney (8) getting in on the act. It is surprising that it had taken RVB more than five years to claim two in a row over a weekend. He had had seriously good spells before. Chizzy was simply expanding on a superb first year on the PDC Tour.

2013 featured an anomaly, Jamie Caven (9) claimed players champs 3 & 4. “Jabba” has a huge talent but had not previously threatened elite clubs such as this. He is the only member not to have featured in at least one major final and or be ranked in the top ten. It is, therefore, a remarkable effort. This year also marked MVG (10) crashing through the door. It seems no coincidence that this was also the first year since 2005 that Phil Taylor did not record the weekend double. In 2014 Robert Thornton showed his return was complete by repeating his 2009 effort.

MVG Gurn Away
The Green Machine. MVG alone
has completed a 3- event
Pro Tour “Weekender”.

Three events weekends were now part of the regular calendar and, after missing out the previous year, MVG quickly claimed UK Qualifiers 2 & 3 over a three-event weekend. Lewis also claimed two from three in a throwback to his 2005 efforts. Two from three is not the same however as two back to back and should not gain membership to the club! Typically, MVG soon claimed a record of his own. He cleared up on a three-event stint in 2016. Three Pro Tours in three back to back days (although they were midweek) puts MVG  in a class of his own. 

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Snakebite claimed 2 out of 3 on a Pro Tour weekend but no back to back. “Weekender Club” Access denied! Pic: L Lustig / PDC

No new member joined in 2017, in fact, no one claimed back to back Pro Tours at all. Peter Wright claimed two from three, over one weekend, early in the season getting close. 2018 proved more welcoming MVG repeated the effort twice,  Gary Anderson reminded everyone he could still do it and the superb Krysztof Rajatski (11) claimed back to back titles without even possessing a Tour Card. The BDO World Master had slipped up at Q School and was reliant on other performances and missing tour card holders to even get in the draw. Thus, as a non-seed, he could claim an unprecedented triumph.

Gerwyn Price (12) now completes the twelve players who have pulled off this difficulty feat. With the ever increasing depth of ability, within the PDC, the club is likely to remain exclusive!

Who will join next and complete the Bakers Dozen?


The Pro Tour Revolution Continues.

In 2018 AIM suggested that the removal of entry fees, for the Pro Tour level of professional darts, together with the increases in early stage prize money, would revolutionise the game. It appears we were right!

Nathan Aspinall

Nathan Aspinall – Claimed his first Pro Tour Title in 2018

A quick glance at the results from this week’s first Pro Tour events might suggest to you that all is normal and nothing much changes. MVG wins one event & Dave Chisnall the second. So far so much the same. Yet you don’t have to look much further to see significant change. Day 1 featured Scott Baker reaching the semifinals at the first attempt. Well, there are often good one-off performances you might say. Agreed, but, Harry Ward another brand new tour card holder, also reached the quarterfinals. At least six of the last sixteen are outside the top 32. Many other new or lesser ranked players won multiple games and got off to solid starts Gavin Carlin being another example. Although Day 2 looked a little more conventional in terms of name recognition many, such as Robert Thornton are currently out of the top echelon. Change is upon the Pro Tour and folks had better adjust.

MVG Gurn Away

The Green Machine. MVG claimed another Pro Tour title.

The reasons for this are three-fold and relatively obvious. First is the shear proven talent level in the field. With a cursory glance through the field 45 or more players have reached at least the final of a Pro Tour or have done so at a televised major event! More than one in three of the starting field. These are without a doubt the strongest, in-depth, fields to play professional darts. Therefore it is no surprise that on any given day any player can find their “A Game” and record results that might be beyond recent expectations. The number of games where history, personality and psychology are highly relevant has also increased. Many supposed shocks are not really such, they are more complex than “current form” suggests.

Secondly, new Tour Card holders, & top up players, totally different from those of only a few years ago. They do not have to spend a fortune to play and so are not as weighed down by the financial burdens as previously. In addition, they have had seen plenty of unsung players break through and achieve major success. It does not seem like a closed shop anymore. Players like Mark Hylton & James Richardson showed you don’t have to have been major BDO successes to break through. Gerwen Price has demonstrated how far and how quickly people from outside the “usual routes” can go. Ryan Searle, Luke Humphries, Nathan Aspinall and Mickey Mansell have given examples of different types of success. Whether it’s proving that the PDC system suites some players that did not flourish in the BDO (Searle) or that you can shrug off a few non-descript years and your day may still come (Mansell) it’s still an example to anyone with the grit and talent to persist.

DARTS

Mark Hylton – Showed that a record of BDO type success was not needed.

Thirdly, the field variation is growing. Few years or so ago almost all the top players would play almost every Pro Tour event. This was required by both financial needs, less money was in the game, and ranking/qualification requirements. This is far less so in 2019. With Gary Anderson injured and the Premier League about now underway, there will be more and more variations in the field. Over a period of time. with effects on individual events, and the seedings for later ones, and players confidence and ranking positions, these variations have very large effects overall.

Could it be that the PDC have noticed this and attempted to offset some of this in order to protect its biggest stars? The sudden and unexpected changing of the format in the later stages may not only bring the Pro Tour into line with the Euro Tour. It may also serve to assist those used to playing slightly longer format darts. Premier League players and those used to later stages of the Euro Tour are definitely at an advantage for a least a few months, perhaps longer. It will be interesting to see how many of the “Outsider” players triumph in Semi and Finals?

In the meantime, those on the tour should learn that defeat at any stage, and to any player, is purely an occupational hazard whilst not allowing it to have any effect on their confidence to turn the tables in the very next event. In addition, they should practise over the best of fifteen and be able to perform at the end of long sessions. Resilience and stamina could prove the qualities in most demand.

cropped-ian-white-2011.jpg

Ian White: The Template of Pro Tour Resilience & Stamina?

The Pro Tour Revolution is gaining momentum!

Premier League 2019: Opening Night. Welcome to Hollywood!

Following much debate over who should be selected, in the first place, and then again over who should replace the injured Gary Anderson, the PDC Premier League will get underway tonight in Newcastle (UK).

The first of “The Contenders” will also take a bow. Chris Dobey has been on the verge of a breakthrough for some time. Hollywood, as Dobey is known, first came to our attention in 2014, qualified for the UK Open and reached the last 32 of the World Masters.

Chris Dobey a.k.a Hollywood.
Pic: PDC

After success at Q School in 2015, Chris played the PDC Pro Tour full time. He also received the support of Gary Anderson. After a year of settling in Dobey finally began to show what he could do in 2016. Great runs on the Pro Tour, especially the Euro Tour, ensured qualification for the World Championship, he also qualified separately for the Grand Slam and reached the Qtr Final.
Dobey again plateaued, for twelve months, when many thought he was destined for greater things. After flattering to deceive again, during most of 2018, Chris finally moved up a gear during the Players Championship finals and again in the World championships. His run to the last 16 was superb, but his defeat at the hands of Gary Anderson gained him many fans and was lauded as one of the best games of the event.

Dobey earned his guest slot in the Premier League
Pic; PDC /L Lustig

The serendipitous withdrawal of his Mentor has given Dobey an unexpected opportunity to show his talent to a far wider audience.  It will be interesting to see if the Dobey of last December will be on stage, or whether it will be the intimidated Hollywood, of twelve months previously, who capitulated to The Power in 2017/8. If the 2019 Dobey appears, it will be a very tough opening night for the hugely popular Mensur Sulovic.

Mensur, Hugely popular Austrian with an infectious manner.
Pic: L Lustig / PDC

Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld will begin his long farewell to professional darts, taking on fellow former champion James Wade. It is highly debatable that RVB deserves, on form, to be in this year’s edition. However, the Barny Army will get a final chance to enjoy its hero in a regular, competitive and entertaining setting. It could inspire Barney to great things or prove too much pressure for this strangely vulnerable fella. Regardless of the outcome, surely RVB’s contribution to darts deserves a decent send-off.

RVB (could fade into the background
while Ian White needs to discover a route
to TV success. Pic : Lustig / PDC

While players such as Ian White (above), Simon Whitlock and Joe Cullen can count themselves as unlucky not to have been given a shot at the full league, it may prove a masterstroke to feature new blood almost every week.

Local stars and seriously talented newcomers are what inspire crowds and refresh the game for new generations of players and fans. Here’s hoping the idea gets off to a Hollywood start!

Riley’s UK Open Qualifiers 2019 – Pro’s Finding it Tough.

Former Pro’s and ‘Name’ Players are being given an increasingly hard time at grassroots qualifiers.

colin-osborne-blue-square-uk-open-semi-final
Colin Osborne: UK Open Finalist
Can “The Wizard” adjust to open qualifiers?
Pic: PDC

The annual scramble for the ‘amateur’ places in the is well and truly underway. For the last few years, these have been decided via several knockout events staged at Riley’s clubs across the country. During this time it has become more a more difficult to get through these events and there are fewer & fewer spots available.

Recent changes to the professional qualifying events have further restricted the spots and increased the number of current, or recent, tour/elite players having to use this route. This throws up some superb quality fields in smallish venues with few of the creature comforts they are used to. Very long days, that vary in terms of organisational skills, few practice boards and little free space, mean anyone who qualifies via this route has certainly earned it! The evidence of Rob Cross and his astounding progress proves what’s out there. So Ego beware!

rob-cross-win_13gyls7tw3m2x12iweg36ktdkd
Rob Cross: Voltage’s journey began with a Riley’s qualifier win!
Pic: PDC

Wes Newton became the latest ‘Star Name’ to reach the 2019 finals. The Warrior came through a very long and tough day in Chorlton. Kevin Thoburn triumphed, after 10pm, over a field that included Colin Osbourne, a former UK Open finalist, and current form horse Richie Edhouse. Other tour players including Scott Taylor & Mark Barrilli also qualified through quality fields. In other qualifiers, however, players such as Ian McFarlane Shaun Fox & Micheal Burgoine used their extensive open event experience to triumph on similarly difficult days.

richie edhouse
Richie Edhouse. MadHouse, current form horse fell short in Nottingham qualifier. Pic: PDC

The long and short of this is that a reputation means a lot less than it once did in such events. The fact that there are usually a few big-name players, with a good history in each event rather than one or two is a factor, but also the challenge tour, and other events, have given a wide range of payer a lot of semi-professional experience. They are therefore less intimidated, more familiar with big games and more confident than ever before. Team Riley’s should be stronger than ever for 2019.

The remaining Riley’s Qualifiers will have more and more concentrated fields with ‘Name’ players struggling to grab one shrinking numbers of places. It promises to be difficult, but an intriguing couple of weekends. With the constant evolution of the game, and players experience banks, means the breadth of quality is getting higher every year.

Former, or semi, professionals need to prepare better, adapt to the different conditions and accept the difficulties of such day, if they are to resist the hordes of quality players who in many ways have them at a disadvantage.


Durrant Leads ‘Contenders’to Replace Anderson in Premier League

Anderson is suffering from injury. Pic: PDC

Sadly, Gary Anderson has had to withdraw from this year’s Premier League due to a troublesome back injury that has had bothered him for some time. After frenzied speculation, the PDC has opted not to replace him directly, which must upset Simon Whitlock immensely, and instead invite six up and coming players to gain experience of the event.

A combination of recent performances, geography and commercial factors seem to have been taken into account. Three-time & reigning BDO World Champion Glenn Durrant will lead of ‘The Contenders Team’ in Glasgow next week.  There was much gossip that Durrant would be invited straight into the League as a straight replacement. However, the potential backlash against a player who only won his PDC tour card a couple of weeks ago seems to have weighed against that option.

Most of the other players are those who have had good success, at various levels, in recent times and are linked to the locations where they have been invited to play. Steve Lennon will play in Dublin, John Henderson in Aberdeen, Dimitri Van Den Bergh appears in Rotterdam along with Jeffrey De Zwann, Max Hopp is rewarded for his wins last year with a home appearance in Berlin. Three 2019 World Championship stars are rewarded with places. Nathan Aspinall will appear in Nottingham, Luke Humphries in Exeter and Chris Dobey in Newcastle.

Nathan Aspinall
Young Nathan Aspinall will play the
Premier League in Nottingham 2019

These contenders may have a big influence on the 2019 event. They are financially and otherwise incentivised to win their games and those they play will keep the points should they defeat the newcomers. It is highly likely that these matches will have effects on who goes home on elimination night and the finishing positions overall.

Personally, I would not be happy to draw Duzza or The ASP, whilst Chris Dobey & John Henderson in their native lands could be very hard to handle.

The Masters, Elite Event or Terrestrial Runner’s Up Prize?

The PDC season opener suffers from formulaic predictability and a certain empty feeling, could it be raised up to something more?

The Masters, in its seven holdings, has become the traditional curtain-raiser to the PDC darts season. The event, for an elite top 16 players, gives free to air tv coverage to the game’s major stars and sets the table for the upcoming twelve months.

Yesterday Micheal Van Gerwen claimed his fifth consecutive title with a convincing 10-5 win over James Wade in the final. In truth, he was never troubled during the event. iTV4 again put together a decent production and darts in 2019 can be said to be truly underway.

MVG claimed a 5th Masters title.
Pic: PDC

The Masters, however,  is sandwiched between the end of World Championships and the start of The Premier League and would not feature on many players priority list. To be fair The Masters showcases the very best players in the PDC system and is played over a single weekend. The relatively short formats ensure that games are quickfire. It may well be that Barry Hearn views the event as a terrestrial appetite builder or gateway tournament to recruit or covert more and more fans to the PDC brand.

Yet, The Masters feels empty and is certainly missing the edge of a ranking event or prestigious title with history or a unique twist. With MVG cleaning up, with ease, and very few matches going against expectation there is a danger of this event becoming stale and even boring. One of the best matches in this year’s event only took place due to Gary Anderson being injured and former Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting being drafted in.

Although terrestrial audiences are less exposed to darts than SKY & others even they will tire of the same dish reheated in the end. MVG is admired but not yet loved and what can appear as an unchallenged romp will have its limit. In addition, only two matches went to a deciding leg, both in the first round, and the vast majority were won by more than 11/15 were won by at least 3 clear legs.

Double World Champion heading back to form?

The BBC screened late-season showcase, The Champions League, has the unusual feature of a group stage. Perhaps the PDC/iTV4 could introduce some element of variety or unique quality into The Masters. Ideas previously floated include increasing the length of each leg to 701 or using a short set-based format.

In the meantime, we have learned little from the 2019 edition. MVG started the season much the same as he has the last few, Anderson is susceptible to back injury, Ian White must find the solution to his TV form if he is to progress any further, James Wade is in pretty good shape and this type of event suits him, Peter Wright is struggling to maintain his form and Adrian Lewis is looking stronger. This was known to most already.

Will Ian White needs
discover a route to TV success?
Pic: PDC, L Lustig.

The Masters may also have confirmed that the second group of the PDC elite, Cullen, Mensur, Chizzy and even Rob Cross need to develop ways to regularly upset the established order in the way, Daryl Gurney has managed recently.

Without unpredictability, and or a different angle, The Masters may be deemed an irrelevance by more than just darts devotees.

Challenge Tour 2019 Hits the Highs. (Events 1-4)

Our recent assertion that Challenge Tour 2019 was not to be missed, (here,) was proven immediately at the first weekend of events from Wigan’s Robin Hood Centre. The first four events were claimed by Sean Carroll, Stephan Burton, Richie Edhouse and Boris Koltzov respectively. This, however, tells little of an outstanding weekend of darts.

richie edhouse

Richie Edhouse. Winner of Event 3 Performed well all weekend and tops the CT Order of Merit after 4 events.

Blitzing the Averages!

The CT usually averages around 80 points per throw, over the whole game. This is due to the “pay to play” nature of Q School leaving a wide range of players eligible for the CT. There are a lot of 85-90 results that offset the 60’s & 70’s recorded early on. 2019 however may well be very different.

Event 1 of 2019 featured no fewer than seven different players averaging over 100. Matty Dennant, more of whom later, chalked up 104 early on. The performance of the day, however, came from Dutchman Wesley Plaisier. Matched with former UK Open Finalist, and multiple tour winner, Colin “The Wizard” Osbourne, he produced an outstanding effort. Plaisier averaged over 127 with his first nine darts and hit more than 65% of his doubles. His overall average was dragged down to 107 by a pedestrian 16 dart leg to win the match.

Event 3 featured the highest average to be hit on the CT and one of the highest in PDC conditions. Matty Dennant, who narrowly missed out at the recent UK Q School, averaged 119 vs the hapless Scott Dale. Dennant completed a 5-1 win hitting legs of 11,14,12,12 & 11 darts. Only an average 5th leg prevented Dennant from recording and even higher overall.

Despite these outstanding efforts, Plaisier reached only 23 on the Order of Merit after four events and Dennant may not even make the qualifiers as he is only tied for 32nd place.

Debutant Shines

A couple of weeks ago AIM / Dart X tipped an outsider to do well at Q School and possibly gain a  tour card. It cannot be denied that we looked a little optimistic, to put it mildly, when he underperformed badly and barely troubled the scorers. However, it turns out that we were not daft, just premature.

Sean Carroll has been working the BDO tour for a while and has been playing his league & open darts in a highly competitive area of the Midlands. Somewhat like last years “surprise package”, Jason Lowe, Carroll was respected by many knowledgable folk and good players. But had not quite achieved the breakthrough many, including us, thought he would.

As if to put the tough experience, of Q School, behind him Shaun blitzed the Challenge Tour event at the first time of asking. In his first few rounds, he overcame the talented, such as Vince Tipple (5-4), as well as the experienced including Steve Hine (5-1). His Qtr Semi & Final wins were even more impressive as defeated Edhouse (Winner of event 3), Mick Todd and the in-form Patrick Lynskey to complete a superb run to a maiden PDC title, at the first attempt.

Big Names are Fair Game!

Dennis Smith

Former PDC World No.4 Dennis Smith another to struggle this weekend.

If any of the illustrious names competing on this years CT were under the delusion that their past deeds or experience in matchplay situations would gain them much they will have been rudely awaked this weekend.

Multiple World Champions John Part & Scott Waites, Premier Leaguer Wez Newton, former UK Open Finalist Colin Osborne and many others bumped into some lesser known guys playing world class darts. Others such as Andy Hamilton & Andrew Gilding discovered progress was possible but they would have to graft through every game and play at near their current peak in order to get a few hundred quid on the board. A far cry from the thousands or tens of thousands they have been in the mix for until very recently.

For most of these guys, the path back to their peak level is proving very difficult. Some have ventured into the BDO hoping fresh players and venues would help them to find their footing. Others have struggled to accept the situation they are in and assume that the wheel of fortune will turn again. They seem to forget that there are hundreds of hungry, and less battle-scarred, players who are determined to jump on that wheel when it comes and they are more than happy to push those who have had their turn out of the way.

Don’t be surprised if any of these guys or others who have seen the glory, have a big run or put together some impressive performances. You don’t get where they were without being top quality dart players. However, don’t be surprised if they fall when the promised land is back in sight.

 

March of the Ladies

lisa-ashton

The Challenge Tour has seemed a lonely place for female players in the last few years. Rachel Brooks and more recently Lisa Ashton had often carried the flag alone or between them. Following Ashton’s success and the PDC’s efforts to involve women players in the 2019 World Championships a corner seems to have been turned. The ladies were represented by a group of famous names with talent and experience. Lorraine Winstanley, Deta Hedman, Fallon Sherrock and Anastasia Dobromyslova joined Brookes & Ashton.

Lisa again seemed to be the pick of the bunch with three last 64 appearances and £150 toward the OOM. Recording averages in the mid-high eighties regularly and into the 90’s at times. Fallon also reached the L64 on a couple of occasions, while Anastasia had a run to the last 32 in event 4. It is plain for anyone to see that this group and others are more than able to compete at this level and, should they wish to, it is only a matter of practice planning and time before the level playing field is a reality.

It will be interesting to see whether the interaction between the BDO and PDC, where the women’s game is concerned, will produce a big step forward for the integration of the game at the highest levels.

The Long & Short of It!

challenge tour logo

So, after four superb events, the CT 2019 is well and truly underway. The top section of the OOM looks like this:

Rank Player Country Points
1 Ritchie Edhouse England £2,600
2 Boris Koltsov Russia £2,250
3 Stephen Burton England £2,250
4 Shaun Carroll England £2,000
5 Nathan Rafferty Northern Ireland £1,300
6 Dave Prins England £1,300
7 Mick Todd England £1,100
8 Patrick Lynskey England £1,050
9 Scott Taylor England £1,000
10 Jason Askew England £800
11 Andrew Gilding England £800
12 Andy Hamilton England £750
13 Diogo Portela Brazil £750
14 Jason Wilson England £600
15 Ricky Williams England £600
16 Dennis Nilsson Sweden £550
17 Brett Claydon England £550
18 Darren Herewini New Zealand £500
19 Martin Atkins England £500
20 Dave Ladley England £500
21 Darren Johnson England £400
22 Jeffrey de Graaf Netherlands £400
23 Wesley Plaisier Netherlands £400
24 William Borland Scotland £400
25 Danny Van Trijp Netherlands £400
26 Jesús Noguera £350
27 Stu Wilson England £350
28 Chris Quantock England £350
29 Michael Rasztovits Austria £350
30 Cody Harris New Zealand £350
31 Dafydd Edwards Wales

Although the first four events are unusual, in as much as they count as qualifiers for various things, the top eight or so have put themselves in a very strong position for the rest of the year.  The breadth of first and second level experience in the top thirty or so is very high indeed. Many have played at world championships, on the Pro Tour and some have done even mightier deeds. Yet there are debutants, younger players and those from foreign fields all making a name for themselves. New Zealander Darren Herewini for example impressed at Q School, beating Glenn Durrant along the way, and has started well here. It will be for the big names to put together a series of results over multiple weekends if they are to threaten the Tour Card and major qualifier places.

This tour will be one of the most competitive and interesting out there in 2019. Don’t miss the CT weekend or the AIM summary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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