Red Dragon are not resting on their laurels or letting the grass grow under their feet. Instead it seems they are trying to identify talent that they can develop and improve. In doing so they seem interested in a group of players who could be classed as a lost generation. Another such player has just been announced:
JOSH PAYNE, Darts’ Hot-Stepper, joins Red Dragon darts on a 5-year deal that sees him join darts coolest brand until 2026.
Fighting hard from a very young age Josh made steady progress on the World’s toughest stage at the PDC where the young, charismatic player has already amassed a great level of experience and several wins in the professional game.
Earning his PDC Tour Card back in 2013, Josh finished in the top 2 of the Youth Tour and has retained his place on the PDC Pro Tour ever since.
Payne, a multiple event winner on all the tours that the PDC offers, Development, Challenge and Pro is one of the game’s best young talents.
Speaking with Red Dragon about his recent signing, Josh said, “I’m very excited to start this next stage of my career with Red Dragon. I have spoken with the development team and their attention to detail is amazing, I really think I can kick on in my career now, like many of the top Red Dragon players that have developed over the years”.
Josh’s new deal will see him working with Red Dragon until at least 2026 and Simon Hall, Marketing Director for Red Dragon added,
“We are so happy to add Josh to our brand as he is not only a fantastic person but a super darts player with great ambition who has proven he has what it takes to win. With our technical and mechanical expertise, we’ll be doing everything we can to help Josh reach his potential.”
There is little doubt that Josh has the ability to resurrect his top flight career. Often a change in routine, personnel and a general reset can assist and its possible that Harrows was almost too comfortable for Josh. What remains to be seen is whether Red Dragon can add those extra ingredients and whether the young man is willing to make the changes needed? —–ENDS—– Lead Image: Red Dragon
NOMINATING a TV major winner, who returned to reach the final of the Winmau World Masters twenty-one years later, as an ‘Unsung Hero’ may seem a bit of a stretch, but the label can certainly be applied to the USA’s Larry Butler.
An ‘Immortal’ on the other hand, seems fair enough, The Bald Eagle, now 63-years-of-age, and back playing after a severe heart attack laid him low in 2018, has a remarkable winning record and longevity that can only be matched, perhaps, by Paul Lim.
Butler first appeared on the steel tip scene in 1992 qualifying for the BDO World Championships in the year made immortal by the Taylor – Gregory final. That year’s field was immensely strong and the American lost out to Dennis Priestley.
These were tough times for the sport, with declining TV coverage and the newly formed WDC (PDC) struggling to gain momentum. The Ohio man retreated to the US and concentrated on soft-tip – claiming back-to-back (Bullshooter) World titles in ‘92 and ‘93 – only to return to the UK as part of the PDC’s inaugural World Championship in 1994 and was very unfortunate to be eliminated, in the group stage, on leg difference.
Within months Dayton’s tungsten titan was to write himself into the darts history books at the inauguration of another PDC flagship event, the World Matchplay.
The unheralded Butler made it through the first two rounds with relative ease, but his defeat of Jocky Wilson in the Qtr-finals the signal that he was a serious threat for the title. Wilson was playing well enough to have removed Alan Warriner-Little and Peter Evison in his previous two matches and yet Butler saw ‘the wee man’ off with relative ease.
Shayne Burgess also failed to halt the US thrower in the semi-final, with Butler narrowly missing a 9-darter along the way, there was only one man who could prevent him from lifting that famous trophy. That man was, however, Dennis Priestley.
Now, if they were being honest, a final match-up between these two would not have been the promoters’ or the TV people’s choice. Watch it today however and it’s a belter. Two serious and careful men, at or near the top of their game, giving a demonstration of methodical darts at its best. The nerves are on display from the very start as each man knows that the other can not be given an inch.
Despite missed doubles and Butler breaking in leg three, The Menace hit back with a 124 finish to keep things all square. Priestley then produced a spell of increased scoring power and edged into a 7-3 lead. Surely the debutant would falter?
Remarkably Butler hit back with five legs on the spin and moved into the lead. For the only time I can remember the commentary team admitted that Dennis had become rushed and was struggling to refind his successful rhythm. After 20 legs had been played Larry was ahead 11-9 and had won 8 from the last 10 legs played.
At 13-11, the pivotal moment came. Butler had gone off the boil and Dennis was swiftly down to a finish. With only one leg between them surely the more experienced man would come through? Yet, it was he who faltered. The Menace missed nine darts to take the leg and Butler produced a superb single dart, at an obscured double eight, to extend his lead and within a very few minutes he had claimed the two additional legs needed and the title was his by 16 to 12!
Tragically, for the US player at least, the game of darts was at such a low ebb that there was no Professional Tour to sustain a North American player at that time meaning that trying to earn a living, by travelling to Europe for the few TV events, was unsustainable and slowly but surely Butler drifted away from the top of the PDC game. A return to soft-tip saw him crowned World Champion for the third time in 1997 but other highlights were few and far between.
After those lean years, what is now known as the Pro Tour began to develop in earnest and a now 50+-year-old Butler made an attempt at it in 2008/9. Although he made only a minor impact he did record a 9-darter during a PDC event in Las Vegas and reached a quarter-final.
What was not noticed by UK darts officianadoes however was that Butler had started winning again in America. His record in the American Darts Organisation (ADO) events was outstanding, even more so for a ‘senior’ player. In 2010/11 he scored over a dozen event wins and seemed never far away from any U.S title he contested.
Over the next few years, he became, along with Paul Lim, what can be described as a hybrid darts professional: Soft-tip or steel tip, domestic or international, regardless of code. A real “have darts will travel” journeyman. Suddenly, the winning habit and all the work and ‘practice’ he was getting came together again. The Bald Eagle returned to the mainstream in a big way.
2015 had started quietly as Butler, along with Darin Young, represented the USA in the PDC’s World Cup of Darts. He returned to the USA and picked up the winning habit again immediately before returning to the UK where he produced a run of results few would have believed in advance.
First Butler stormed through the BDO field to qualify for one of their places in the PDC’s Grand Slam of Darts (Yes, a PDC World Matchplay Champion qualified for BDO spot!) his last three wins were over Glen Durrant, Wayne Warren and Scott Waites.
Brimming with confidence he then took his place at the Winmau World Masters where he again defeated Waites and added Scott Mitchell and the scalps Martin Adams. Playing from the last 272, reached the final. This time Durrant denied him the full fairytale. But it was not over for the now 55-year-old.
Two days later Butler bagged the English leg of the ADO World Masters before moving on to Turkey and claiming a Quarterfinal spot in the WDF World Cup and the Turkish leg of the ADO Masters series.
Returning to England to take up his Grand Slam place (possibly a little tired!) he did not progress from his initial group. Incredibly, he was still not finished, he returned home to claim three titles in a row before taking his place in the (BDO) World Championships at the Lakeside for the first time since 1992, reaching the last 16.
Although his 2015/16 efforts were noted at the time, they were not given the attention due. The Bald Eagle was flying between various continents while switching between codes, formats, or even types of darts. He was winning everywhere, against any class of opposition, it was a stunning run that should be credited as a blueprint for (particularly non-UK) players in the modern era.
Although Larry’s form stayed at a very high level in the US and some soft tip events, the demands on his older constitution saw a decline in major and TV results after 2016. Disaster struck when he suffered a heart attack after returning to Ohio following the World Cup in 2018. Fortunately, after multiple operations he made a full recovery and was back playing by the Autumn of that year.
Although not quite back to winning ways the remarkable 63-year-old was still reaching qtrs, semis and finals up until the spring of 2020 when Covid-19 forced him to rest his arrows once more. Almost beyond even Butler’s superhuman efforts he was back and reaching the semi-final of the Cherry bomb event in Florida last month!
It would be a pleasure to see a healthy Butler back at his best and perhaps in the UK for a Matchplay or World Seniors welcome and acknowledgment of his huge contribution to all forms of our game.
The ingredients that lead to a memorable sporting event are many fold. The three mentioned in the title played their part in a tearful Peter Wright claiming the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay, on Sunday night, ending Dimitri Van den Bergh’s hopes of back-to-back titles with a sensational 18-9 triumph in Blackpool.
World number two Wright had lost in the Winter Gardens final four years ago, but this time lifted the trophy named in honour of his conqueror in 2017 – Phil Taylor – to cap a memorable tournament.
Wright had won through to the final with a stunning defeat of Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals, and treated a capacity Winter Gardens crowd to another superb performance in the final:
“That one was for Jo [Wright’s wife],”said an emotional Wright. “She’s been through a lot over the last year or so, but she insisted she would be here for the final.
“I’ve backed up what I said to everyone a month back. “A lot of players have commentated saying I should leave the talking to my darts and that’s what I’ve done.
“I used to watch the World Matchplay as a kid and now my name is on the trophy forever and that’s special.
“It was amazing to lift that trophy in front of this amazing crowd. “As soon as I walked on, the crowd were behind me and it was a real goosebumps moment, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.”
Wright averaged 105.90 in the final and claimed a £150,000 prize, denying Van den Bergh – who spent three months living with his opponent during lockdown in 2020 – the chance to become only the fourth player to retain the title
Wright was clinical in punishing early Van den Bergh misses to open up leads of 3-0 and 4-1, before reeling off four straight legs – including breaks of throw in 11 and 12 darts – to move 8-2 up.
Van den Bergh stepped in following five uncharacteristic misses from his rival in leg 11, and produced a 12-darter to reduce the gap to 8-4.
Wright, though, restored his cushion with a 13-dart leg and produced a ten-darter to move 10-4 up and close in on glory.
Van den Bergh rallied, finishing 87, 96 and 84 in winning four of the next six to pull back to 12-8, only for an 11-darter from Wright to halt his momentum.
The Scot then took out 62 to lead 14-8 and punished misses from the reigning champion in the next two legs as he edged clear.
After Wright then took out 84 on the bull to create a 17-8 cushion, Van den Bergh landed the game’s only ton-plus checkout of 105, but it proved to be only a consolation as Wright sealed the deal with a 13-dart leg on double nine.
Van den Bergh picked up £70,000 as runner-up following a stout defense of his title, which included a victory over World Champion Gerwyn Price and a second-round record 14 180s in his defeat of Dave Chisnall.
The popular Belgian remained upbeat despite a frustrating final, with his run on his Winter Gardens debut seeing him become just the second player in the tournament’s history to reach the final in his first two World Matchplay appearances.
“Every game I’ve played, I’ve dug deep and played my best but tonight Peter was just outstanding,” said Van den Bergh. “Of course it was a disappointment [to lose] but I can say that I gave everything and never gave up.
“I said to Peter that I’ll be back stronger. I’m number five in the world and I’m only 27, so I’ve got time on my side.”
2021 Betfred World Matchplay Final Sunday July 25 Peter Wright 18-9 Dimitri Van den Bergh —–ENDS—–
Kirk’s run in 2008 was remarkable, those who knock it are fools, yet it could have been even better! If Kirk had done nothing else he would warrant a place amongst our ‘Unsung Heroes‘.
In most any other sports Kirk Shepherd’s run to the final of the World Championship of 2008 would be fondly remembered as a beacon of possibility and a wonderful fairy tale story. Yet in darts, it’s almost a dirty little secret, whenever you hear it referred to in commentary, or amongst players, the words you will hear most include ‘lucky’, ‘good draw’ and ‘missed opportunities’.
Yet Kirk was only 21 years old and making his debut appearance, at darts’ biggest event after coming through the qualifiers. It was also the debut year of the Alexandra Palace as the venue making it even more imposing than normal. Surely, this should be regarded as almost Boris Becker like?
For a young man, Kirk had already had a decent record in competitive darts. He was twice British Teenage Champion, and a World Youth Master, between 2003 and 2006. He had not yet made much headway on the PDC Pro Tour, but his form in Open events was very good indeed and this is a better guide to current form. In addition, he had form in previous big events including smashing Gary Anderson with ease on more than one occasion. A brief look back confirms that he had previously defeated some of those who would remove from Ally Pally.
In the weeks running up to the event, Kirk determined that he was going to give a decent account of himself. He arranged for a local county player to visit him regularly and they practiced every evening for the proceeding weeks. By the time came for Shepherd to take his bow versus Terry Jenkins most of those who knew him thought he would do well. He did better than that! Kirk removed the multi-major finalist 3 sets to 2, playing superbly in patches and, piling the pressure onto Terry. It was a pattern that Sheperd was to repeat and others seemed powerless to prevent.
When you hear the traditional running down of Kirk’s effort, try switching the situation in your mind. “Everyone had darts to beat him” you will hear or “they missed a lot of doubles” or even “his averages were only in the 80’s“. These remarks totally miss the point. How on earth did a 21-year-old qualifier generate the nerves and pressure that caused highly ranked and highly senior players to allow him to be so close and to keep fluffing their lines?
It is not unusual for an unknown player to have a small run at the World Champs but it is seriously rare for them to get past the last 16 or Quarterfinals, how did Kirk do it, and especially how did he do it whilst appearing to not be performing above the expected level. This is the real key to a remarkable run and something that every new, unknown, or underdog player should think about and study.
Rob Cross’s remarkable run of 2018 can be simply explained. He outplayed and or outlasted his opponent in every round. He is a superb player, lesser-known at this level, who had been settling rapidly into PDC life. He was also 29 years old with a family and support network. In short the perfect combination of talent and timing. It is not easy for any other player to replicate such an effort.
However, Kirk’s run was different, from that sensible early preparation and the seriously focussed temperament, especially visible against McGowen and Mardle, any player capable of qualifying is capable of emulating Kirk.
Against Jenkins and McGowen Kirk had the advantage of knowing he had defeated them before and had to simple perform again. Thus the stage and the occasion had to be relegated to the background. This also ensured that Kirk did not feel like the underdog and, more importantly, did not act like one. Watch the games carefully, at no point does Shepherd look subservient or like the new boy in school. He knows he is playing well. He is winning legs in superb style and hitting very big shots when needed. The less good efforts are quickly dismissed and he is on to the next throw.
Belief is a major factor that cannot be overestimated. Watch closely and you will see that whenever Kirk’s opponent had darts to win an important leg/set or even the match, Kirk is right behind him with the same attitude he would have had on any other throw. He simply believes he is going to get another throw and he must be ready for it.
The final ingredient in Kirk’s superb run was a refusal to be intimidated. Watch closely, especially against Wayne Mardle, and you will see all the tactics, totally fair, used by a senior or highly successful player against one they regard as a junior. Kirk stands for none of it. Refusing to change attitude, pace, style or manner.
The end result is that senior players are changing their own games or concentrating on Kirk’s instead of their own. Mardle, for example, plays at least three different paces during the match. This plan fails completely and Kirk gets time to settle in and get his own game going. Once he is in full swing Mardle cannot find a way to both get himself up to 100% and impact Shepherd long enough to fully swing the game in his favour. He comes close but Kirks attitude and the lead he had gained ensured he had enough to get over the line. This was a semi-final of a world championship and the senior player had effectively bowed to the junior. But of course, it was “just lucky really”.
It is not fully known but the story could have been even more glorious. Kirk is not one for whining or making excuses, I suspect he has heard enough of those from others, but his performance in the final was hampered by a surprising source, SKY TV!
Kirk had been suffering from the effects of a mild cold for a couple of days around his Semi-Final. After reaching the final, however, there was much to do in terms of media and promotion for the final. This is normal and accepted by all players. However, in this case, it was above and beyond! Kirk was kept waiting around until very late at night, in a very cold venue, and with fake mist/ice to create an effect for one of the promotional trailers. A few of those closest to Kirk note that his cold deteriorated badly and he played the final in a very poor state of health.
Much of the credit for Kirk not getting going in the final must be given to John Part. He did the opposite of the others, who had fallen victim to Kirk, and imposed himself very early and treated Kirk as just another obstacle in his path to a third World title. But maybe, just maybe, a fully fit Kirk would have enjoined the battle earlier and returned the pressure we may then have been in for a real treat and a fitting finale to one of the great underdog runs!
P.s. Don’t write off the “Martial Dartist”! He is only 33 and has retained or regained his tour card three times already. In 2017 he reached the last 32 of the UK Open and had shown flashes on the Pro Tour in recent times. Perhaps a fairytale return is not out of the question.
The sight of once-great players slipping down the rankings, toward an inevitable spell on the ‘Legends’ circuit, is one of the sadder sights in professional sport and has been becoming more common in darts. Merv King is one of the few to arrest that decline and, last weekend, put it into full reverse.
The King, as he is known, has been in the news more for taking on delivery work for Amazon, during the Covid-19 pandemic, than tackling darts elite in recent times. Merv slipped out of the world’s top sixteen during 2016 and has battled ever since to retain a place in the higher reaches of the PDC rankings. But King has refused to follow others, including Colin Lloyd and Mark Webster, down the path into retirement.
Instead, he has battled all comers and worked hard to regain his best form. In addition, the plateau in the performance of the elite seems to have allowed King to close the gap to the leading pack at the age of 54. This weekend saw him reach a major TV final for the first time since 2014. His nail biting defeat to Michael Van Gerwen) was his first ranking TV final since the World Grand Prix of 2012 (coincidentally marking the rise of MVG).
Between the two bookends was firstly a steady decline followed by a determined rearguard action. King is one of the game’s hardest workers, willing to spend hours “pounding the board”, both in non-event practice and while prepping for a match. Indeed, it was not rare to arrive at major venue hours early only to find a selection of Kings flights scattered around the practice room from his earlier session.
In addition, to old fashioned hard work, King has worked with his manufacturer to improve his distinctive signature dart. The current iteration looks almost identical to his old design except they appear to have a new grip between the curved sections. Quite a few older players claim a desensitizing of the fingers requires more grip as they reach the later stage of their career. King’s unique style of dart makes this very difficult to add so credit should go to Winmau for resolving this. Merv also has a strong understanding of the game and his own throw-in particular he is especially keen on the ‘pick up’ of each dart being easily and exactly replicable.
During a career spanning a quarter of a century, King has reached world finals and claimed victory in the World Masters as well as multiple semi and final appearances in the PDC, he has also endured a spell as the pantomime villain of the game. His efforts at the Players Championship Finals give him a chance of an Indian summer at the highest level, back in the top 20 and with a good chance of returning to the elite top 16 could The King reign again with a first PDC major title?
Merely weeks after this article appeared, in Darts World Magazine, Paul Lim claimed his place at the 2020 PDC World Championships. Perhaps, there is still more left to be written:
Paul Lim may perfectly symbolize the future of darts. The legendary ‘Singapore Slinger’, now 66, is certainly the ultimate Hybrid darter. He has played big-time darts for almost forty years and been successful in every arena and format the game has offered.
His overall significance to the sport may outweigh any of his individual achievements, although there are so many it’s hard to be certain. Target’s ‘Legend’ has triumphed in the BDO as well as in the PDC, he has twice been a world champion in soft tip darts, almost twenty years and two different codes separated his 1996 and 2017 triumphs.
In between these individual efforts, Paul has represented four different nations in World Cups and team events. Dart’s World would not bet against him reappearing, and succeeding, in the remote darts realm.
Lim burst onto the professional scene by winning the Australian Grand Masters in 1983, over the next half dozen years Lim made a plethora of quarter and semi-final appearances in major steel tip events, including the World Cup Singles and World Matchplay, across the globe. Then in 1990 Lim wrote his name indelibly in darts history.
John Lowe had hit the first TV perfect leg a few years before. Yet, none had been hit since until Lim stepped up to the Lakeside oche. Nine sublime darts later the Singapore ace hit a plumb double twelve to complete the first World Championship ‘Nine’! A brief look on YouTube shows just how clean and controlled his effort was. Lim was now an icon in the game.
Sadly, Paul’s great moment coincided with a decline in the TV popularity of steel tip darts, especially in the UK. Lim continued to play the biggest events but could not sustain himself with that alone. In an effort to boost his career and earning potential he combined his steel tip efforts with North American soft-tip tournament. Again, his efforts paid off in a major way.
In 1996 Lim claimed his first World title. His victory in the Bull Shooter soft–tip championships confirmed that he could play at an elite level in either format, something he has continued to the present day.
During the following years Lim became what in other sports would be considered a’ journeyman pro’ he played the major events in both formats. In addition, he demonstrated he could play in any company. From 1994 Lim played within the PDC system and competed with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley.
For most of this period Lim was based in either the USA Japan or his native Singapore. However, by the 2000s Paul was no longer reaching the later stages or collecting serious prize money and a great career looked to be winding down. Then something remarkable happened, in 2011 soft tip darts underwent a major makeover and guess who became its instant poster boy!
As part of a re-packaging, of the machine based soft tip game, a $1,000,000 World Championship was held in Hong Kong. In a field packed full of soft-tip super stars, and steel tip icons, Lim came through to claim the title aged 57 (something about that number Wayne Warren?).
In a remarkable piece of happenstance, the PDC arranged a commercial tie-up with the new DartsLive organisation, which Lim was already dominating, an extended an invitation to their champion to play the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally! The following year he qualified again via the Dartslive route.
By now Paul had completely mastered the art of playing hybrid darts. He seemed focused on soft-tip in Asia and still crossed back and forth to play PDC events including World Cups. His gentlemanly demeanor and iconic status ensured he became a firm favourite with the fans. But Lim was not merely a performing seal and not yet finished with creating moments of darting drama.
In 2017 Singapore pulled of one of the biggest shocks seen in the PDC’s World Cup of darts, when they defeated Scotland’s crack team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. They went on to defeat Spain in round-two and reach the Qtrs finals. The very next year Lim created a moment of almost perfect sporting nostalgia, the opponent/ Why Gary Anderson of course.
The 2018 World Championship saw Lim roll back the years and defeat former World Champion Mark Webster. His last 16 game featured a remarkable moment. Lim seemed to be tired and started slowly, before suddenly producing six perfect darts. The crowd realised what could be happening, his opponent, Anderson, knew what was happening, but could it? Could lightning strike twice nearly thirty years apart?
Paul Lim, 63 years old was about to complete a phenomenal legacy of global, multi format, multi code and multi era darting glory. The perfect bookend to a remarkable journey!
The first two darts found their targets and with a near hysterical crowd Lim went to release the 9th dart. In a highly unusual moment, there was a very faint twitch and the dart missed the double twelve bed. The disappointment was universal, Anderson looked almost as crestfallen as Paul! Despite the miss Paul was lauded around the globe and the reminder of his remarkable career.
Just in case you think the story is over, think again! In 2018 the PDC launched their Asian (Steel tip) tour and yes, you guessed it the first Tai Pai weekend saw one player reach the final of event one and then win event two. That player? Paul Lim.
Update: Despite the huge disruption to the 2020 season, caused by the Corona virus, Paul qualified for the World Championship by claiming the Hong Kong qualifying event. He again caused an upset by defeating two time qtr finalist Luke Humphries, in the first round, before bowing out to Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Hopefully those of you who have been socially isolated are managing to keep up with routines and things to keep yourself busy. Here is another ‘daily drill’ to add to your list:
Middle for Diddle:
A drill that focuses on the bullseye, first dart, to ensure you need less recalculation needed during match play. Recommended to be played after your warm up and between other drills/games that are more scoring focused.
There are a number of finishing points, in a leg, where the bullseye (inner or outer), is the best/only option with your first dart. If you become familiar, and automated, when you see these numbers, your success rate will go up and you will react smoothly to any variation (or cock-up!)
Take one turn (3 darts) at these five outshots using the bull:
61, 65, 82, 125 & 132
Award yourself points on the following basis:
61,65 & 82
2 Dart Checkout –10 Points
3 Dart Checkout – 5 Points
Left a Double – 1 Point
for 125 & 132
Checkout – 10 Points
Double Left – 3 Points
Single – Double Finish left (not single bull!) – 1 Point
Turn 1 – Bull, s3, d4 – 5 Points
Turn 2 – 25, Tops! – 10 Points
Turn 3 – 25, s17, 0 – 1 Point
Turn 4 – 25, t20, Tops – 10 Points
Turn 5 – 25, 19, t20 – (28 Left) – 3 Points
Total Score = 29
N.B.A single point is scored when going for the 100+ finishes by leaving the double e.g. for 132 – Bull, 25, s17 would leave tops and score a consolation 1 point. The same applies if you miss the double after setting it up with darts 1 & 2.
There are shots that can be swapped in and out depending on your personal preferences and in order to ensure that you cover the possibilities that can crop up in a game situation.
63 and 135 are the most likely where you may use the middle ring as an option in certain circumstances or even as your default.
In this drill it’s more overall aims than levels. The first order of business is to get shots at doubles. So a good aim is to get shots at all three lower numbers. Then set up the bigger ones.
An amateur or pub player type should aim to get shots at the lower finishes, and hit one. Score guide – (circa) 10
A league player should be looking to take one of the lower ones in two darts & scoring points on the bigger shots. Score guide – 15+
A higher level player should be looking to take two of the lower ones in two/three darts and gaining points on the others. Score guide – 25+
Elite level players should be regularly hitting 33 or more. (Importantly this should be spread across all 5 finishes and be repeatable if the numbers are swapped)
This is a tough drill at the higher end. It sucks the mind into being too deliberate so dont play it two many times. Use it as a break drill between others and do no more than two goes in a row.
The record for this drill was set a few years ago, a duel code World Championship player hit 61 in 2, 65 in 2 and 82 in three then left 40, after three, going for 125 and checked out 132 – totalling 38.
Middle for Diddle is a harder drill that requires a switch in focus and then another half way through. It puts the Bull at the heart of your efforts for a section of every practice.
Enjoy and lets us know if you can beat 38 or if it helps improve your ‘Bulling’!
Originally published (with variations) at dartsworld.com
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All 96 players that took part are individually profiled and there are sections for Fallon Sherrock & Mikuru Suzuki as well as feature articles on Barney, Gerwyn Price and those who have hit an Ally Pally 9 Darter.
Mile High Leaves a Vapour Trail tells the tale of how a relative unknown made a big impact, at the 2010/11 World Championship, blazing a trail for others to follow.
The Super 8’s looks at vital stats and other information that can sort out those with a chance of the title from those likely to fall short.
There is even a betting section. You Betcha! Gives a few ideas of what is available these days in the gambing sector.
All in all it is a great guide and unbeatable for free!
Gerwyn Price produced the performance of his life to retain the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts title in incredible fashion by defeating Peter Wright 16-6 in Sunday’s final.
The Welshman followed up his brilliant maiden career victory over Michael van Gerwen in Sunday afternoon’s semi-finals with an unstoppable display to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy once again in Wolverhampton.
Price had never previously defeated Van Gerwen in 18 previous career meetings but emerged a 16-12 winner in their last-four clash to keep his title hopes alive at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
He then wrote his name into the record books with a relentless demolition of Wright to claim back-to-back Grand Slam wins, averaging 107.86 and hitting 11 180s during a remarkable display.
“I’m chuffed to bits,” said an emotional Price, who picks up £125,000 as champion plus a £3,500 group winner bonus following a flawless week.
“I knew in the middle of the game that I was playing really well. I was hitting trebles for fun and putting Peter under pressure and he wasn’t playing his best.
“I was that I was at the top of my game and I felt comfortable all the way through that game. I’m happy to play the way I did – Peter’s a world-class player and for me to win 16-6 is outstanding.”
Having defeated Gary Anderson in a controversial final 12 months ago, Price has turned jeers to cheers on his way to retaining the Eric Bristow Trophy with his superb form throughout the nine-day tournament.
“This week the crowd has been fantastic for me,” said Price. “To come through that game and have the cheers at the end of it is a much better feeling than last year.
“I’m not used to this but they truly have got behind me and I appreciate it.”
A 100 finish from Price broke throw in the opening leg and he doubled his lead in 13 darts before Wright took out 71 to get off the mark in leg three.
Checkouts of 111, 84 and 88 helped Price to move 7-3 up before Wright – the 2017 runner-up in Wolverhampton – hit back with successive legs to halve the deficit.
An 11-darter from Price stopped that run, while he also took out 130 on the bull and a 12-darter in a run of eight straight legs to open up a 15-5 advantage.
Three missed match darts allowed Wright to keep his faint hopes alive with a sixth leg, but the respite was brief as double five secured Price back-to-back titles.
Following the success, Price moves up to third on the PDC Order of Merit, and he added: “I’m playing well, I’m up to number three and I probably deserve to be three, maybe two.
“I’ve had a good year, 18 months, but it doesn’t happen all the time.
“I’ve been playing well and it breeds confidence, and I’ve been confident in every tournament for the last six months. I’m just thankful to win this again.
“I’m full of confidence and hopefully I can carry that on to next week, it’s the Players Championship and hopefully I can have a good run in that.”
Price’s semi-final win had seen him open up an early 4-1 lead over World Champion Van Gerwen, and though the Dutchman eventually levelled at nine-all, the Markham ace pulled clear to complete a memorable win.
Wright had booked his place in the Wolverhampton final for a second time in three years with a 16-11 win over Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant, who lost out in his third PDC televised semi-final of 2019.
Scottish ace Wright had defeated Price to win his only televised ranking title at the 2017 UK Open but was this time left to admit: “I had no answer.
“Beating Michael and then the way he played there, I thought he was trying for the record [average in a final].
“I was chasing him all the way through, and when he missed I was lucky if I was on 100-and-something! He played fantastic all the way through.”
Wright had switched darts ahead of the event to a style similar to that used by Phil Taylor towards the end of the Stoke legend’s career and was happy with his performances in reaching the final.
“I switched to these darts and I said to myself that I think I can get to the final with them, and I got to the final,” he added. “It’s a stepping stone.”
Van Gerwen had been bidding to win his fourth Grand Slam of Darts title, but has now set his sights on next weekend’s Players Championship Finals after being knocked out by Price.
“Gerwyn deserved to win,” said Van Gerwen. “I made too many mistakes and gave him too many chances. He took advantage and credit to him for that.
“It hurts not to take the trophy home, but tomorrow I start to prepare for the next tournament, where I will put it right.”
The qualification structure for the PDC European Tour has been confirmed for 2020 ahead of the widest-reaching season of events since the series was introduced.
A total of 13 European Tour events are set to take place during 2020, including visits to Belgium and Hungary for the first time alongside tournaments in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic and Gibraltar.
As in recent years, each event will feature 48 players and sees the top 16 players from the ProTour Order of Merit seeded through to the second round.
PDC Tour Card Holders will now compete in one combined qualifier for a total of 24 places in the tournament, having previously been split into UK and European Qualifiers.
The top two ranked players from each Host Nation will also qualify by right, where applicable, as two of four players representing each Host Nation.
Further qualifiers will come from the PDC Nordic & Baltic and East Europe regions (one place per tournament), with two places reserved for an Associate Member Qualifier, which will be open to players who competed at the 2020 PDC Qualifying School but did not win a Tour Card.
“The European Tour is a hugely popular and important part of the PDC circuit now and the expansion into two new territories next year is accompanied by this exciting update to the qualification structure,” said PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter.
“We have reviewed the European Tour with partners including PDC Europe and the PDPA and believe that this new qualifying structure provides a great balance for fans attending across Europe as well as players competing in the events.”
16 Seeded Players – top 16 entered players from ProTour Order of Merit at time of entry deadline. Will enter each event at second round stage, and need to win their second round match in order for prize money to count to the relevant Orders of Merit.
Up to two ranked players from the Host Nation, outside of the top 16 seeds, from the ProTour Order of Merit at the time of entry deadline. Will enter each event at first round stage, and need to win their first round match in order for prize money to count to the relevant Orders of Merit. Should there be less than two ranked players from the Host Nation, additional places would be on offer at the Host Nation Qualifier.
24 Tour Card Holder Qualifiers – from one knockout qualifier featuring all Tour Card Holders
One PDC Nordic & Baltic Qualifier
One East Europe Qualifier
Two Host Nation Qualifiers – from events for Associate and Day Members from the Host Nation. Day Members can participate in up to two Host Nation Qualifiers per year.
Two Associate Member Qualifiers – from events open to any Associate Member who competed at the 2020 Qualifying Schools.