Tag Archives: Lisa Ashton

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:

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. 

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!


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 –  


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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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


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!













501 or More: Challenge Tour 2017 Events 9-12.

The fourth weekend continued  the rough pattern developed over the previous three in 2017. Strong performances, from the “Yo Yo’s” with the “New Brooms” chipping in again.

Wayne Jones, Andy Smith and Alex Roy for the Yo Yo’s. Jaques, Aspinall and Josh Richardson doing damage in bursts for the new brooms. The leaderboard remains relatively stable but the bunching up behind “The Wanderer” is getting closer.

Pieman Adapts to New Menu!

2011 Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship - Day Eleven

As predicted, Andy Smith’s slow start burst into life this weekend. The Pieman has the skill and persona to thrive on this tour and is beginning to do so. Steady results on Saturday were followed by a strong run to Sunday’s final. Andy’s draw on Sunday was pretty tough and this seemed to pull the best out of him. He has now crashed into the top 16 on the Order of Merit and is likely to rise again during the later stages of the season.

A Fine Double Act! 

Black Country pairing of Nick Fullwell and Ian Jones should be familiar to anyone who plays open events around the midlands. Travelling partners, and friends, the two have been a regular, and winning, fixture for many years. The arrival of Jones on the PDC tour was always likely to result in Fullwell benefiting. This Sunday featured a Semi Final for each of them and you can rest assured it will not be the last. Almost no one associated with darts would begrudge Nick the extra support , and motivation, which Ian can provide. As for “Whippet” now that he has begun to acclimatise, to regular PDC events, his legendary will to win and battling qualities will become familiar to many more.

A Learning Curve?

challenge tour logo

Radaslaw Szaganski and Robert Rickwood have added two more names to the rush of players proving that past performance is not always a current guide. Neither of these two players had performed outstandingly on the Unicorn Challenge Tour previously, despite Rickwood having solid performances this year, yet Robert claimed a victory and Radaslaw a runner’s up spot in events 9 & 10 respectively. Evidence is beginning to build regarding the benefit of patience and exposure to PDC conditions and formats. A look at the Pro Tour Players Championship events of 2017 will confirm that this is applying at all levels.

Ashton Watch

A no-show from Lisa this weekend. This is probably a very sensible action. She must be able to keep her options open for as long as possible. Although she has shown herself to be competitive, on the tour, the other opportunities available to her mean that she has a chance to build her career in any code or gender balanced events. Should she choose to take part in the remaining events or simply play pick and mix for a while she is able to gain income, experience and confidence from the breadth available to her.

Next Generation

Three standout moments from the next younger players this weekend. Nathan Aspinall winning at this level marks another step in his development, due to his slightly unconventional style “The Asp” is underestimated by many. His match playing ability and talent level should gain him more opportunities at all levels in the coming years. The return to form, although too early to tell, of James Hubbard is welcome, he is a very nice young guy who has suffered severely in recent months. Finally Josh Richardson seems to be again making progress. His choices, in terms of event selection and attitude, seem good, together with his dad, and progress is being made.

Feel Good Story.

A few years ago Paul Harvey looked on the verge of a breakthrough into the higher levels of the game. He reached the semi final of the British Open in 2010 and was playing at a very high level through at least the early part of 2011. It is great to see a return to something approaching this form in recent months. Should he reach, or surpass, those previous levels then keep a very close eye on him.

Order of Merit.

Nathan Aspinall

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

Jones and Dyer are still in the tour card positions but the pack behind is both expanding in numbers and condensing in terms of the differences between their totals. Wayne Jones is unlikely to slip out of the top two. The additional automatic tour card and the next eight places, earning a free Q School entry, are still available. Aspinall, Rickwood have shown that one victory makes a huge difference and others such as Andy Smith and Luke Humphries seem to be gathering momentum for the later part of the season.

All in all a very good advert for the Unicorn Challenge Tour and it’s likely to get even better in the coming weeks.




501 or more: Challenge Tour 2017 Events 5-8

Wins for the old guard, and a next-generation moment, provide the story of this weekend’s four events on the PDC Challenge Tour. Wayne Jones and Aaron Dyer lead the way overall.

Another Unicorn Challenge Tour weekend passes by and in many ways, it’s the same story. Three wins for former Pro Tour players, two for Wayne Jones and one for Mark Dudbridge, with others such as Kev McDine and Mark Frost making finals and semis. Jones is one of the game’s nice guys and a fierce competitor, it is good to see him bouncing back.

One exception to the normal run of events was the excellent win, in event 5, from Ryan Harrington. A number of darting dynasties have, or are being, formed in the last few years. Bobby and Richie George, Rod and Ryan Harrington and the two Alan Taberns are just three examples. In addition, a few of the up and coming generation have relatives who, although not household names, have strong reputations in the amateur game.

Outside the top two, the prize money is being shared around a little more with more new faces claiming Semi and Qtr Final places. Allen Edwards, Charlie Jackson and Luke Humphries all made the last four over the weekend’s events.

Ashton Watch!

Another good weekend for Lisa Ashton (our review of Challenge Tour 1-4 pointed out the reasons for a special interest in her success) making progress in almost every event this weekend. Good wins over tough players resulted in a 5th round appearance in event 8. This last 16 appearance may be the furthest yet achieved by a female player in a non-invitational, PDC Tour event. She is currently sitting at a solid 58 in the rankings.

The Disappeared?

There are a number of players who have flattered to deceive at this or higher levels and are struggling this year. Barry Lynn, who came within a place or two of gaining a tour card last year, seems to be struggling badly. Former PDC New Player of the Year Mark Hylton was a no-show after a very poor start to his season. Steve Maish, Pro Tour event winner, also seems to be fading from view.

League Table 

Wayne Jones now leads the order of merit with nearly £5000, w Aaron Dyer is in the other tour card claiming spot. Lee Evans, Mark Frost, Paul Milford, Alan Tabern, Ryan Harrington, Mark Dudbridge, Kev Dowling and Martin Lukeman make up the rest of the top ten spots. Less than £1000 separates position 20 from a place in the top ten and with more events than ever it could be a very interesting season. Some former “greats”, including Andy “The Pieman” Smith are struggling, to adapt and may come strong later, together with many who have recently proved themselves capable of winning at this level. Whether they can re-group time to make their mark on this years tour will be the deciding factor on whether the story will be “same old, same old” or ” Challenge Tour brings new life to PDC”.



501 or more: Challenge Tour 2017, Ashton & Dyer grab headlines.

challenge tour logo

The 2017 Challenge Tour (CT) season kicked off this weekend in its Wigan home. The PDC’s ‘second tier division’ has settled into a viable and consistent event over the last few years and is beginning to establish itself as part of a possible path for future professional players. Superb double wins from Aaron Dyer and the performance of Lisa Ashton draw most attention.

This year’s tour may see a significant move, away from the yo-yo process involving some former Pro Tour players, and some of the newer generation begin to break through. Yet at least some of those who have proven to be big fish in the smaller pond may prove difficult to dislodge. For example Alan Tabern (Semi Finalist in CT1 &2) and Mark Frost (Finalist CT1) have again made an impact during the opening weekends four events. Both players have had very strong performances on this tour, over the last two or three years, whilst still struggling to make a significant impact at the higher levels. Aaron DyerMartin Lukeman could be players to break through, based on recent efforts, with Lukeman also reaching the later stages of the UK Open as well as a final in CT 2.

A possible weakness of the tour, as a progression path, is the volume of players who have proven solid, and talented, but not able to survive on the main tour and are beginning to clog up the higher end of the second division. In addition players whose careers have dropped, after some very high peaks, are enjoying a bit of an Indian summer. It is reminiscent of footballers who are not quite good enough for the Premier League or those looking for an extended payday by dropping down a division, but whereas in team sports such movement can help young players, or unfancied teams, develope the opposite can be argued here.

At look at the last 16 from event 1 highlights the groups emerging. Aaron Dyer  (Winner CT2&4) and the aforementioned Lukeman  represent the newer players breaking through. Tabern, Wayne Jones, Kev McDine & Barrie Bates are examples of those who could be said to be trying to recapture former glory. Whilst Jim Walker, Mark Frost and Peter Hudson have proven, at best, inconsistent at the next level. There are many more in each group.

Ian Jones Whippet

Wolverhampton’s Ian Jones has finally entered a PDC tour and made a solid start. The Whippet is vastly experienced on both BDO and Open tours and has a fierce will to win. Given time to adapt he could prove a dangerous and valuable addition to the cast. At the other end of the age spectrum is Adam Smith Neale. If talent was the only factor Adam would already be a household name. Sadly his early development, as a player, went astray after a superb start. However lots of open success in the last 12 months, and what appears to be a solid return to form, should see progress made toward re-establishing himself as a threat. Pip Blackwell‘s entry into the event implies that the Challenge Tour is now being seen by BDO players as legitimate and perhaps a testing ground for deciding on future career paths.

Lisa Ashton’s strong performance could be a game changer for darts ,and the PDC, as well as the player herself. Already renowned in BDO circles, as a superb player, Ashton’s multiple victories, and close defeats to good quality players, may provide the template for a future unified sport. If this is indeed the turning point, the potential for TV, sponsors and all commercial area’s would be amazing. I cannot think of another mainstream TV sport in which there is a level playing field with Men & Women genuinely competing at the highest level.


In summary then the first four events of this year’s tour demonstrated its strengths and weaknesses. With twenty plus events scheduled for 2017 it should prove the most interesting yet.


501 or More: The BDO World Trophy

After a tough few months,  the BDO managed to get a free to air TV event, with a good field and decent prize fund, played over the Bank Holiday weekend on Dave TV. New sponsors were secured and many fans looked forward to a fresh start for players, officials and fans alike. After watching large slices of coverage and reviewing some of the predictions and comments made before and after the tournament, was the WDT a runaway success? A decent start, or another false dawn?


TV Coverage
This was a definite success. Congratulations are due to Dave and the outside broadcast company. Some of the best elements of SKY coverage were added and most of the outdated BBC habits were removed. Whilst improvements could still be made, presenters knowledge and a few rough edges, the coverage and commentary was professional, refreshing, simple and in keeping with the sport.
The Darts

Daryl Fitton
Hit and miss would be the call here, there were some very entertaining games with new names and old favourites contributing well. Sadly there were a few too many poor games especially in the early stages and then The Final! In this respect it could be said to have been unlucky. Almost all the players capable of exceptional standards, and experienced enough to deliver them in those conditions, were knocked out earlier. The players were also disadvantaged by the BDO having very few other events with similar formats. Thus the long days told on the players especially those with less experience. A win for the well thought of veteran Daryl Fitton helped considerably.

The ladies event also proved a mixed bag. Lisa Ashton produced a performance that suggested darts should be a non segregated sport, by recording a 98 average over the course of a TV match. Sadly some other matches suggested that the ladies game is not yet strong enough in-depth for this amount of TV coverage to be a success.


The Organisation

This must go down as a near disaster. To change the format of a competition whilst it is running is very poor and to have to extend arranged television sessions shows poor planning. The late venue switch, together with poor marketing and ticket sales, did not create the image of a well backed sport full of star players that can attract new viewers and sponsors.

The Lakeside. Late switch and poor sales may dilute the "home of darts" brand

The Lakeside. Late switch and poor sales may dilute the “home of darts” brand

The securing of a major high street sponsor appears on the surface to be a great achievement. It is superb to see a non gambling, drinking or similar sponsor getting involved in darts. However a large note of caution must be sounded. The two sponsors were in fact one. Dunlop is a brand name owned by Sport Direct and although this is perfectly legitimate it remains to be seen the fees paid were similar to those expected for two main sponsors of a sports TV major. Secondly, Mike Ashley and his company are ruthless negotiators who extract large quid pro quo’s in return for their patronage. The current court cases involving Glasgow Rangers should serve as a warning. They are also expert at getting free or incredibly cheap advertising. There could be a risk here of making a deal with “the devil”.


It will be impossible to give a true verdict on the success or failure of The WDT for a least a few months. If Dave or another similar channel are happy with the viewing figures, and the image presented, and sponsors willing to stay or get involved, then this may well have been the starting point of something very positive for the BDO.

However if it turns out that the sponsors paid little, the venue were unhappy with the crowds, and that the event was propped up by the BDO itself, then it will be difficult to see how their other main events including The Lakeside World Championship will thrive in the open market.

From a darts enthusiast’s point of view the event was mainly enjoyable with more positives than negatives. It reminded me of watching selected games from The Championship and then the play offs. Entertaining and dramatic in its own right with some players looking like they could compete in the top division. Yet still with the caveat that week in week out I would rather see the very best in action with huge crowds the best venues and professional standards in every area. So definitely a success.

But also perhaps one that provides an uncertain context for the future?