Tag Archives: Phil Taylor

The Myth Of Adding Gramms

​NO this is not another article on the dangers of obesity, nor is it a guide to healthy eating for darts players. Instead, we’re taking a look at one of the most popular techniques adopted by players who seek to improve their game or restore former glories.

Over the past decade, AIM has encountered a number of professional players who have either endured a tough spell or who think that they need to add something to their game in order to improve their performance at the higher levels of the game. Almost all of them have flirted, at minimum, with increasing the weight of their arrows. When asked they all repeat the same mantras: “It will increase my consistency, I need to add some stability” “A little extra weight will help me increase my doubles percentage” or “As I have gotten older I feel I need more solidity” Personally, we blame Phil Taylor!

The Power made a quantum leap late in his career by adding at least 2 grams to his standard weight. But those who cite Phil’s incredible effort forget the most important part of the change. Taylor not only changed weight but also transformed the shape of his arrows and his entire setup. Instead of a heavily gripped parallel barrel, he adopted a bomb shape similar to that of John Lowe.

Using the Stoke legend’s remarkable reconstruction as an excuse to go from, say, 20 to 23/24g, for no reason other than hope, is doomed to failure. Players who have achieved great success with 18-21g darts suddenly seem to think that adding multiple grams will improve their consistency and remove some of the small errors that have crept into their game. Often we find that this is merely a way to avoid tackling actual problems. Such issues can be technical or psychological but are rarely solved with such a blunt tool as weight.

We do not oppose change; indeed equipment assessment is a very early part of working with any new player. We have found that subtle changes in grip, flight shape, and even point type can assist players or add a small percentage to their performance. But we always ask: What is the perceived problem? What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? How will you measure its success?

Older players may find that the sensitivity in their fingers has dulled and thus they may benefit from increasing the grip on their barrel. Elite players may benefit from using older darts in floor events and brand new sets on stage, or the other way around. Newcomers to the game should experiment with various weights and styles during practice and then play matches with the darts that feel most comfortable.

Dennis gently moved up, from 13g to 17g, throughout his storied career.



Like all rules or guidelines, there are exceptions. If you use a very light dart (12-17g) you may find that adding small amounts adjusts for natural changes in muscle elasticity due to age. Dennis Priestley (Above) gradually increased the weight of his darts, from around 13g, over more than a decade, to 17g. Wayne Warren added two grams in the months before his World Championship win; his form had dipped severely over the previous 6 months, although this was prompted by a wrist injury.

So, before you take the easy option and ‘blame your tools’, try smaller steps first. Make any changes one at a time and give every change a fair opportunity, in all conditions, to succeed or fail.

Our experience of working with highly talented players has shown that subtle grip changes, minimal profile adjustments, and working on confidence and relaxation are far more effective than dramatic weight gain. Again, in darts, as in life.

—–ENDS—–
Article originally appears in Darts World Magazine (Issue 574) order yours now!

Swiss Point System – Change Your Points in Under 1 Minute.

A Holy Grail?

Swiss Point – Target 

Interchangeable Point System (Steel Tip) 

Elsewhere within on A.I.M: you may have come across our review for the SP03 Darts from Target. The SP Range is brand new and offers some interesting and original designs. Its most attractive feature is what those initials (SP) stand for, Swiss Point

For many years darts players and manufacturers have sought to make the replacement, or changing, of points a simple and attractive feature. In short, they failed. It was usually a fiddly task involving quite a lot of effort and a good few minutes per point. Not exactly ideal during a game or in between rounds. 

Modern point innovations have made this quest even more urgent than previously.  Has the Swiss Point solved these issues and will they catch on?

 

Introduction

As can be seen, from the shot below, the Swiss Point is an all-round system with the barrels, the points and a specific tool, all designed and made for the purpose of swift, secure and simple point change. Each point is exactly the same as a standard version until the blank near the blunt end. A unique screw-in system is incorporated to the last section. 

Swiss Point barrels, regardless of model, have the reverse of the screw within them. This ensures a perfect fit and a very solid feel.  

There is a slot just below the blank. This is for the SP tool to grip and to ensure that a broken point can still be swapped in and out in very quickly indeed.  

The current range of SP barrels is restricted to a range of specific SP darts (01-03) and the latest Generation of Phil Taylor’s darts (Gen 6). Phil himself seems very impressed: 

“Swiss point is the biggest innovation in darts since Tungsten”  

16 X World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor 

The retail price of around £5 per set of points and £3 for a point tool represent good value and seems to have been pitched to include all. The comparative price of player models will be interesting to note. 

Testing:  

We subjected the SP to rigorous testing with a variety of styles and players. We have a player who wanted to change his points according to the hardness of the board. He therefore changed them twice during a practice match. It took him less than 1 minute to change all three points and he could not tell the difference between these and his normal set-up. 

We then introduced an amateur, who has only played twice, to try and change the points with the minimum of instruction. They also succeeded and did so within two minutes. The SP Tool simply fits over the point and locks onto the slot end of the point. A very few turns ensure the point can be detached and then  

Even world champions seem to agree;  

“I use Target Firepoints; as I like that extra grip for my finger on the point. With Swiss Point I can now swap out my points in seconds.” 

Rob Cross 2018 PDC World Champion 

We then deliberately broke a point, by dropping on hard tiled floor, and indeed we changed the point just as easily with no problem whatsoever. Every change resulted in three perfect points, the same length and fit etc. with no variations or difficulties. 

All three players reported no difficulties with the feel of the point and reported that they could not feel a difference at the point/barrel intersection. 

Marks: 9/10 

All three of our testers gave the idea and the execution at least 8/10 and one of the 10/10. All could change the darts perfectly and in no more than two minutes. Their only question was how soon we thought they would get more models, and players darts, available. 

The Future: 

It is always difficult to predict the success of an innovation, especially when it is only available on restricted models and from one company. Target have big plans for the SP; 

 “Our vision is to make Swiss Point the new standard and we see all our darts coming with Swiss Points as the new standard in the future. For me, Swiss Point is the biggest innovation Target has ever done and the one I am most excited about.” Garry Plummer MD Target Darts 

Testers View:  

A.I.M can see the SP being a huge success. If it is introduced to a wider range of models as quickly as possible, and not over-priced, we predict very high demand. Our only question mark is how the system/points will wear over a long period of time. Will the internal screw loosen, if changed often will the points wobble and clink. The build quality appears to be very high indeed and thus the problems are unlikely. But as with all things, the more moving parts, the more there is to go wrong. 

We look forward to reporting back with a Swiss Point update in 6-12 months. 


Article and testing produced for Darts World Magazine 2019.

‘Mile High’ Leaves A Vapour Trail.

In February, 2010, Mark “Mile High” Hylton began what was to be a shortish, but highly significant, test flight in the world of PDC darts. A superb take off was followed by a turbulent spell ‘cruising at altitude’ before a steep decent took him away from our view. 

All the elements seemed in place, for an outstanding career at the top level. Yet something was missing?

Mark Hylton had been around amateur darts for quite some time, including a notable appearance at the the, 2007 UK Open, before he was approached to turn professional. His first few months on tour proved a steep learning curve. It seemed that ‘Mile High’, as he was known due to a previous career on the airlines, would take a while to adjust to the professional game. 

However, Mark was playing superbly behind the scenes while cleaning up in non-professional events all over the country. His management/coaching team funded trips to Australia, and Canada, that summer to see if their hunch was right. Take off was managed by Hylton as he soared to the final of that years PDC Australian Open. The prize money, £3000, ensured he would qualify for the World Championships. 

Success followed success, with Mark then qualifying for the Grand Slam of Darts and gaining more consistent results on the Pro Tour. Despite not progressing from the group stage, the Grand Slam provided stage darts and ensured he, and his team, were confident of success at Ally Pally. 

First major of a professional career. The 2010 Grand Slam saw Hylton make his entrance.
Pic – L Lustig/PDC

Team Hylton prepared meticulously. Mark played in all conditions and, as often as possible, on borrowed stages with friends acting as officials. When it was known who, the legendary Steve Beaton, would be his first-round opponent, similar style and pace players were found and they played the event format time and time again. They also calculated the next two likely opponents. 

The venue was scouted, the weather anticipated, which was extreme, and complications allowed for. Despite all the usual beginner’s nerves, and the skills of his opponent, Mark ran out the winner in the deciding set. 

During the days between matches similar preparations were made for tackling Colin Lloyd. Again, despite all the advantages, and a few tactics, were with Jaws’. Hylton, was less nervous before and had been instructed “you are the best kept secret in world darts”, “now go and show these people why” and he did. Colin threw everything at him and never made a dent. By the end of the game Lloyd was shaking his head in disbelief, as Hylton averaged over 115 for spells and became the event’s leading 180 hitter.  

Sadly, events beyond anticipation and a superb performance from, his opponent, Mark Webster halted Hylton’s run at the last 16 stage.  

The two big wins at the palace, gave lift off to Mark’s career. He was awarded the PDC’s New Player of the Year award, a lucrative dart sponsorship and went on to great success in more major events. Reaching two Qtr finals during 2011, rising to number 32 in the world and frightening the life out of Phil Taylor in Blackpool. 

Mile High In Action – L Lustig/PDC

Although Mark has slipped from view, since those halcyon days, his efforts should not be forgotten. To debut aged 44, with no top flight experience, and to hit the heights he did, was remarkable. Indeed, the vapour-trail Hylton left guided many. You don’t need to be a big name to win big! 

Just ask Rob Cross! 


A version of this article was first published in The Ulitimate Guide to The PDC World Championships 2020. Grab a free copy here: https://appsolutely.dev/darts/

Text – CJ Harris Hulme

Pics: L Lustig & PDC.

Swiss Point 03: In-Depth.

Product: Darts (Steel Tip) 
Brand: Target 
Model Name: Swiss Point 
Model / Edition: 03 (22g) 
RRP: £75+   
 
Content of the box for Target Swiss Point 03

General Summary

Swiss Point 03 is a superbly engineered, and finely tuned, addition to Target’s premium range. Straight barrelled and dual gripped to appeal to a wide audience. They feature the brand-new Swiss Point, an interchangeable point system patented by Target. 

The colour scheme and styling, (silver/grey combinations) ensure that the dart is visible in the board but not glaring/distracting. For such a heavily machined dart it has a remarkably slim feel and looks. The grip is strong, impressive and original.  

The SW03 will suit many players but especially those with a lighter grip who like a sharp feel. Relaxed, stylish throwers will be intrigued! The SW03 features the Swiss Point changeable point system, more of which later, but is a fine dart in its own right. 

At over £75 SW03 are a premium piece of design, production and performance for the higher end of the non-player market. 

In the Box: 

3 x Swiss Point 22g Barrels, 1 x Swiss Point Changing Tool, 1 x Extra Set Swiss Points, 3 x Pro-Grip Stems ( Medium) & 3 x Swiss Point badged Flights. 

Player Quotes:

“A seriously solid but stunning looking dart that combines solidity with ease and urgency of grip” 

“I love the grip, the front section is superb looking, but feels less likely to stick than deep/sharp old fashioned rings” 

….Great combination of style and performance, best I have seen for ages”. 

Testing Process: 

A.I.M used different players;  elite, strong amateur, youth and a lady player. We subjected the SW03 to a variety of throw styles, conditions and set ups. In total at least one hundred legs and close to two thousand darts were thrown. Our testers used the dart in competitive practice, training drills, over a weekend for social games, even an open knockout. 

Another model of the Swiss Point range is the latest iteration of Phil Taloy’s 9Five range (Gen6).

In addition to the supplied set up, Standard Shape Target Swiss Point Flights and Pro Grip Stems, players were asked to try their own or any other set up they felt might complement this type of dart. 

The Results:  

  • First Impressions: All three of our testers were very impressed with the general look and feel of the SW03. The milled and cut grips intrigued them whilst the subtle black/grey colour was deemed attractive and not “over done with gold and stuff”. Our players mostly liked the initial feel of the dart in their hand. The words stylish and weighty were used. Two players thought the dart would be heavier than the 22g it actually was. One player was weary of the grip, the new feeling felt sharp and he was doubtful as a result. 
  • Performance: Our youth player was most strongly positive about the SW03. In his view, the dart performed very well and felt very comfortable in the hand and was impressed by the styling. He felt his consistency level improved. In addition, our more social player liked the grip style as it “seemed grippy but not sticky” for their very loose hold on the dart. Both these players are quite relaxed (long) throwers and it seems the SW dart compliments this very well. Our female tester also liked the darts performance while having reservations over the grip level. 
  • Downsides: Our elite level player was intrigued by SW03 overall. However, as he uses a very strong grip, he did not find it as easy to get a regular, comfortable feel from SW03. After a while, he found a better holding zone, more toward the front of the dart and was much happier. 
  • The Tech Bit: For such a heavily engineered dart SW03 come in at a slim 6.4mm wide. The subtle cosmetics and grip pattern combine to create the impression of an even slimmer model. The 51 mm length is the middle point in recent times and allows many different throw styles to feel comfortable. The slightly rounded ‘nose cone’ area is essential on a dart with pronounced grip. The stem join area is superbly engineered, as is the nose area, allowing various Swiss Points point to be fitted whilst still allowing the “rested finger” to be consistent. The “Dual Force Machining” results in a square cut grip that acts more like a texture. 
  • Durability: Swiss Point (03) stood up very well over the 100+ legs that we subjected them to. Our strong amateur barely made a mark on them over a whole weekend. Our youth player is very direct and caused the usual surface marks.  Our elite player maximised the contact between the arrows. Yet, due to the colour scheme and styling, no difference was noticed to the appearance of the dart in the board. In the hand, the darts simply slightly used but not in a way that affected their appeal. It is possible that a worn set of SW03 may well be even better with those who hold the dart firmly being happier when they are slight worn in. It should be noted that the grips do seem to increase wear and tear on the flights. Two of our testers reported using extra flights over an extended period of use. 
A.I.M: Independent dart consultants.

A.I.M:  

After looking long and hard at these darts, and studying the players who tested them with us, we have concluded that they would be excellent for those who have a long throw and light or very light grip. If you think you’re a bit of a Barney or even a Terry Jenkins style thrower, then these may well work for you.  

Traditional style setups, medium stems and standard shaped flights worked best with the SW03. Shorter or more slimline setups seemed to affect the stability of the dart in flight. 

N.B. We will be looking at the Swiss Point System separately.  Check-out our stand-alone review. 


A version of this review appeared in DartsWorld (December 2019) & at dartsworld.com

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. 

58ADF03B-3254-4D42-905B-EA162AAFFCEB
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?


PDC World Series Arrives in New Zealand

The PDC’s packed summer schedule returns to Australasia this weekend for its latest event. The first of three Oceanic events will be The Auckland Darts Masters. The field, as in all the World Series events, features 16 players made up of a combination of PDC stars and local qualifiers.

Taylor v Wright 2017

Taylor’s previous dominance will not be repeated even by MVG.

Phil “The Power” Taylor will be attempting to capitalise on his Matchplay triumph and celebrate his 57th birthday in style. Taylor’s recent efforts have boosted interest, in whether he can bow out with a 17th world title.

Defending champion Gary Anderson will try to add, the 2017 Auckland title, to the Dubai event he claimed in May. Micheal Van Gerwen is absent with the Netherlands being represented by Raymond Van Barneveld the 2015 runner-up. Micheal Smith and Daryl Gurney, fresh from his superb Matchplay semi-final, will play in their first and second World Series events respectively.

Kyle Anderson

Kyle Anderson, one of four players, so far in 2017, to claim their maiden PDC title.

Australasian interest is boosted by a returning Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson who claimed his first PDC Pro Tour final last weekend, hitting perfect leg along the way. Corey Cadby, the reigning world youth champion, also proved dangerous in 2016. Cody Harris, who   reached the later stages of the Winmau World Masters in 2015, Rob Szabo, Mark Cleaver, Warren Parry, Rob Modra and, TV debutant, Darren Herewini complete the list of local talent.

Whitlock & White

Simon Whitlock, will be looking to continue his recent resurgence in the Auckland Masters.

Peter Wright and James Wade will also represent the PDC and be will be searching for their first World Series title. The Auckland Darts Masters will be held , at the Kents Arena, from Friday through to Sunday and is in association with TAB and Burger King.

 

501 or More: 2017 A Players Championship Revolution in the PDC?

A brief glance at the results of events from this years Players Championship events reveals a fundamental change in the professional game. Although the games current elite players are still winning events, or at least getting into the later stages, others are finally stepping up and beginning a quiet revolution.

Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson, one of four players, so far in 2017,
to claim their maiden PDC title.
Pic: PDC/L Lustig

In the first six months of 2017 MVG and Gary Anderson have only claimed a handful  of PC events between them and there have been 13 different winners from 16 events. Although the PC tour has grown and altered, in format and volume of events, this appears to be a unique season. In addition two players with little or no top flight experience, in either code, have reached the final. This is a huge achievement and not enough credit has been given, yet it is not simply the new blood that threatens a dramatic change.

For the past few years the Players Championship (PC) has been slowly changing. There are many factors contributing to this but they now seem to be combining to provide an exciting opportunity. The tour card system and restriction of PC events to 128 players every time. This provides a very strong structure to every event. Each event is now very similar in length and made up of substantially identical fields for at least 12 months often longer.

The whole PC tour is played in a very small number of venues and with a consistent team of markers, officials and support staff. There are no random events held all over the world with different field size, organisation, set ups, logistics, facilities etc. This enables players to become accustomed to every aspect and more relaxed.

The increased prize money, especially in the early rounds, and reduced playing costs of the Pro Tour in general, even more so for the PC’s, mean that players are under less pressure to win multiple games in order to be able to continue, or encourage others to pay for, their efforts. An extreme example, from 2010, involves flying halfway across the globe to Australia and staying for only 3 nights (Cost approx £2000)  and having to reach the last 32 (only 1 chance due to it being a single event) in order to win £200. In 2017 the worst possible scenario would be travelling to Dublin staying two or  three nights (Cost approx £300) and having two chances to gain a place in the last 32. Should you be successful the prize money will be £1000. Previously fields could be over 258 in which case a minimum of three wins in a row was needed to reach the last 32. Now it is a maximum of two.

Taylor v Wright 2017
Taylor’s previous dominance of the Player’s Championship will not be repeated even by MVG.

During the decade, or so, of its existence there have been in the region of 60 players who have won a PDC event of this standing. This would be less for specific PC events since the Pro Tour could be said to be fully established. Yet a look at the field from the most recent one tells its own story. The 128 included 36 players who have won a PC event. 9 more were finalists and at least another 10 have won events equivalent events or recorded elite achievements. In short one in three players in the draw had won or were demonstrably capable of winning the event! Thus it should come as no surprise that 4 players who had not previously won a PC event have added one this season already.

The demands of the modern PDC Pro Tour is starting to play a role in the PC changes, over ten of the events are now two/three-day events on mainland Europe and this will affect elite players in many ways. Selection of events, injury/illness ( MVG recently) and fatigue are all likely to play a role. In addition to this a wider variety of players can gain valuable experience and money by qualifying for these events and boosting their confidence as well as coffers.

The declining dominance ,and now absence, of Phil Taylor will doubtless continue to play a role. “The Power’s” dominance of the Pro Tour was immense. Often it was he who ensured that in any group of 5 events there were no more than 2 or 3 winners. The effect on other players, who shared his side of the draw or played him in repeated finals, can not be under stated. However some of this is off set by the dominance of MVG, but this is limited by the fact he, unlike Taylor previously, cannot play every event.

Players arriving on the PC tour have had to earn their place on it, via Q School, and know that they cannot get away with hoping for a softer draw. In addition they are more familiar with the nature of the events and can prepare and practise for them. The slight variations in field that take place, due to top players having to miss events, play to the strengths of those who are highly talented and either not battle-scarred or in, what could be called, the second rank. Players such as Rob Cross,Joe Cullen and Kyle Anderson demonstrate this admirably. In addition players, such as Steve Beaton and Darren Webster, with immense skill, experience and patience can also triumph.

Steve Beaton Winmau days image
The Bronzed Adonis.
winning his first Players Championship event for years during 2017.

A glance at the Players Championship order of Merit reveals the revolution that is underway. MVG is only 7th. Cross, Gurney and Cullen are in the top five despite none of them being in the top 16 overall.  The effect of the PC revolution is yet to play out in full, but some of its consequences are becoming clear. The gain in confidence and cash that players can accumulate is already knocking on into major TV events. Daryl Gurney, Darren Webster and Rob Cross had significant roles in the World Matchplay and this rise of the outsider looks likely to continue. The qualifying lists for the remaining majors and the seedings for events such as the Players Championship Finals will be unrecognisable from previous years. Highly ranked players in this years world championship may face players who have won events on the tour, and played in multiple TV majors, in the first round. In many ways this will be good for the game. More new players for the TV audience to get to know and hopefully less predictable TV events.

A major upside will be the number of players who can earn a good living being a darts professional. Not so long ago it was really only the top 10 – 16 that could be sure of a decent annual income. Currently the 32nd ranked player has earned over £110,000 over the last two years, in prize money alone. With increased outside income from sponsors and exhibitions this should easily translate to around £60,000 p.a after expenses. Only two players from the BDO earned in excess of this amount over the last two years. The downside of the upheaval could be the TV folks being less happy. Major stars may not qualify or bow out early on. The next years or two may feature some tinkering with how these rankings are structured. Overall the revolution in earning potential, opportunity exposure and security is a tremendous boost to players and a remarkable achievement from those who operate the PDC. 


Blackpool Power Gets Final Charge!

Phil Taylor collects his 16th and final World Matchplay title in glorious style. “The Power’s” final season in professional darts is proving more than a fairytale.

Taylor’s previous dominance will not be repeated even by MVG.

Having followed his progress through to the final, of this years World Matchplay, it can safely be said that the vast majority of darts fans were hoping that Taylor would pull off the remarkable achievement of winning the two most difficult title in the game a record sixteen times a piece. Many of the notable facts surrounding his win have been discussed over the last two weeks. His age, 56, his no longer playing the main tour, the improvement in other players, his more relaxed/carefree attitude and the huge gap that he will leave when he holsters his darts for the final time after the 2017/8 World Professional Darts Championship this December. Yet even these valid points do not seem to do justice to this remarkable effort.

The toughest test in darts?

The format of the Matchplay demands excellence and consistency from game one through to the end. As this event pitches the top 16 players by ranking, against the top 16 on current form, there are no easy games and very few that could be described as easier. Taylor’s 1st round opponent, Gerwyn Price, has reached a major final in 2017, as well as the final of the world cup with his Welsh teammate (Mark Webster), and is ranked inside the top twenty both overall and on current form. The format of first to ten, and by two legs, ensures that the throw is not as important as in other events and that no game can be won by winning a handful of important legs. The event keeps getting tougher as you move through the rounds with little or no time off during the later stages. Contrast this with The World Championships were the initial stages can be against qualifiers or lowly ranked players and can be won in second or even third gear. The final weekend can involve playing over 80 legs against the very best players in the world. To be able to do that at the highest standard at the age of 56 is simply unprecedented.

Taylor’s Route Harder Than Ever?

“The Power” dominated Wright in a style he has made his own.

As mentioned above Taylor’s first round draw was tough. But due to his currently being ranked only 4th in the world his route to the title was as hard, if not harder than for many years. His second round opponent was five time world champion, and current world No.8, Raymond Van Barneveld. Although this rivalry has often seemed come down in Phil’s favour it should be remembered that a resurgent “Barney” had bested Phil in the 2017 World Championships. Next up, MVG! Playing Micheal regularly is a pretty tough business and has already put a severe dent in one or two players belief. However Phil has played a very clever game in how he has scaled back his playing over the last couple of years. Thus any damage done by MVG has been very limited. Taken since 2012, when MVG began to surge, “The Power” only trails 18-23 in terms of wins and losses and is ahead 33-25 overall. Many of the games were tight and Phil had chance to win others. Over their last 10 encounters Phil has won 6-4 including short, medium and long format matches. Thus his 16-7 win ensured that MVG does not have it all his own way in 2017. It was then Phil’s turn to do what many failed to do during his reign as undisputed No.1, namely to go on and win after slaying the dragon.

The semi final performance was a reminder of the way Taylor has defeated quicker streak players over the years. Consistency and not bowing to pressure were the hall-mark of this years triumph and were epitomised vs Lewis. To then play the world No.3 over the long format final should have proven a tougher task but Peter Wright was playing against history and a tiring schedule of his own. Taylor’s post match interview gave an insight into how he reframes the situation to his advantage. His opinion that Wright was showing signs of tiredness ensured that he felt the upper hand during the game. In summary playing worlds number 8, 1, 5 and 3 back to back, after a difficult first round, with all of them in good form and some having the recent upper hand on you is a tough ask. Yet again “The Power” refused to be daunted.

Going Out on a High.

Although the difficulty of comparing sports is obvious, and the task of comparing era’s is also somewhat precarious, the occasion of a champion enjoying his final competitive season is one that all sports share and many fans will have memories of. Yet is there another example of a player having a thirty year career, announcing his retirement prior to a final season, still being ranked in the top five and winning one their sports premier/major events in such style?

Most sports superstars retire due to a waning of their own powers in comparison with those coming to their peak. Many still continue to play, even if slightly less, and slip quietly down the rankings until they either join a senior tour or move to the press/commentary box. Often it is many years from their last great triumph. Think about Nick Faldo or Greg Norman in golf, Davis & Hendry in Snooker or McEnroe in Tennis. Each of these champions had excellent single days or one-off events during the Autumn of their careers but they had long since stopped being considered real threats and often were entered for events based on past glories. Taylor could enter any event he wished, on merit, and would still be selected for any and all invitation events regardless of criteria.

Relaxed and laid back? Maybe but still in possession of an amazing will to win.

501 or More: Phil Taylor Generation 3, are they really worth £78?

The 3rd generation Target & Taylor Dart. Style, Substance or both?

The 3rd generation Target & Taylor Dart. Style, Substance or both?

Although not quite in the league of the recent Elysian Special Edition darts, retailing at £300, it’s still a hefty price to pay for a set of arrows. But let’s give the latest Target Taylor collaboration a real going over and see what we made of them.

First Impressions.

The external packaging is typical of target and displays the dart and the marketing image very well. Plenty of gold and silica colour. Inside the darts are protected by a foam mount, It is still a shame that target prefer not to supply premium cases with their premier darts, included are three barrels, three matching Gen 3 silica stems and three of the smallest vapour flights.

The appearance of the dart is definitely in the “Dart Art” class. From the natural point and nose cone through the gold and silica main barrel and to the silica rear section and stem, the impression is of a sleek aerodynamic missile designed to seek out its target (no pun intended).

What’s New?

Actually quite a lot in some ways. Gone are the blue highlighted flat grip sections on the rear of the dart, also the blue highlighted grip pieces on the nose cone have gone. The full pixel grip across the mid section of the barrel is no more.

Additions include the barrel being longer so the “as one ” idea of stem and barrel survives but with differing proportions. The 22g for example is 45mm instead of 41mm. Barrel width is almost identical in each weight. Add the supplied grooved stem and there is a totally smooth transition through to the flight.

Will the 3rd Generation Target Dart hit the spot for The Power?

Will the 3rd Generation Target Dart hit the spot for The Power?

Grip

The Gen 3 has a sectional grip starting from the nose cone, which is completely smooth, next comes a five-line pixel grip section highlighted gold, the third section is a seven line ring cut section more reminiscent of many Unicorn darts. It is situated well for those who hold the middle or rear of the dart. Finally comes a silica pixel grip through to smooth stem junction (and grooved stem base if you fit the supplied accessories).

Overall there is good grip on each section of the barrel and a tried and tested combination on the middle and rear sections. If you hold toward the rear it is very comfortable in combination with the stem. Changing stems does alter the feel and the hold balance. A medium length tapered stem and normal size a standard shape seems to lead to more momentum for the dart and a nicer angle of entry for the taller player.

Barrel Coating.

The combination between the gold highlighting and the silica coating is a very good touch. It seems to wear well and gives a very nice non sticky feel. For this style of barrel this may be targets best combination, of cosmetics and functionality, yet.

Points.

The standard fitted points are absolutely fine and, due to the dart requiring a steady consistent approach, storms or similar are not needed.

Flights.

The new vapour flights are remarkably small and not for an average player. The control and consistency needed is of a very high level and takes huge concentration. However they do provide a good tool for practising. After using a normal flight, for a few legs, try switching to these to see how controlled you are throwing and how long you can maintain it.

Overall.

This is a superb quality dart in term of design, build and appearance. Its advantages include the slightly longer length, narrower nose and excellent feel. Drawbacks are the high level of control needed and the likelihood of players needing to use their own set ups.

Could the Gen 3 be the best thing since Unicorn's Phase 5?

Could the Gen 3 be the best thing since Unicorn’s Phase 5?

Overall then the £78 is a very high cost for a product that may not suit many players. A good strategy would be to test throw at least one similarly designed dart such as a phase 5 rosso, or even a heavy Sigma 970, with a similar stem and flight set up added. If you get on well with the trial it may well be worth the investment. If you cannot succeed with the test, then only spend the £78 if you can’t resist the looks!

phil_taylor_gen_3_steel_second_image_1

501 or More: Defeating the Green Machine!

Follow my lead lads?
Follow my lead lads?
Pic: PDC

James Wade’s superb victory, in this weekends German Matchplay, included a 6-2 win over the apparently imperious Michael van Gerwen. Could this be the chink of light that players and fans have been looking for?

Despite his remarkable performances, in the early part of the Premier League, there have been a few signs recently that “The Green Machine” is in fact human after all. Could it be that he has just gone off the boil? Are the sheer number of events and matches dulling his edge? Or have the others player begun to find ways to at least compete and so pull off surprise results? Or could it be that MVG is struggling at, what could be regarded as, the lesser events and less able to get himself motivated to produce his phenomenal best?

Outstanding earlier in the season, has MVG dipped?
Outstanding earlier in the season, has MVG dipped?
pic: PDC.

From the start of the 2016 season, barely a chink in Michael’s armour has been visible. He has simply blown away the field in virtually every event since. Pro Tour events that take place off camera, Euro Tour events that are on stage and TV matches at the UK Open and Premier League he has been almost unstoppable. Even the occasional defeat has seemed a blip or a freakish performance from the winner. However that is not quite the full story.

Following the UK Open closely would have given a clue to what may be one slight weakness. Qualifiers Rob Cross and Barry Lynn played very well against MVG. Each played their own game and did not appear to allow fear to affect them too much. They were both qualifiers who had nothing to lose and no previous Van Gerwen baggage. MVG looked off the pace (his own that is!) against them and had to find a moment or two of inspiration to get clearly ahead and win. It seems that he found that more difficult than removing players who he knows and who are damaged already or fear embarrassment.

Cross pulled the tiger by the tail.
But did he show others the way?

A couple of close defeats to Benito Van de Pays over the last few months indicate that a player who can stay focused, restrained and throw to his own standard, can earn the chance to gain a prized win. Especially if no extra incentive or inspiration is provided.

Perhaps, to an outsider, the most surprising MVG defeat was inflicted by Ian “Diamond” White in a Pro Tour final during April. Whitey whitewashed Michael 6-0. No inkling of that result was obvious from the previous six games that day. Yet Ian is more than capable of astonishing darts and can be almost unstoppable when in a rhythm. He also gives little for the opponent to react to and is well liked and respected.

"Diamond" handed MVG a 6-0 whitewash recently.
“Diamond” handed MVG a 6-0 whitewash recently.
pic: pdc

Other results give a glimmer of hope. Early rounds are producing closer games. Partially due to Michael seeming to need something to get him going. Recently in Gibraltar it almost seemed as if only danger of defeat brought the best out of him.

A player perfectly suited to exploit these glimmers of opportunity is James Wade. Vastly experienced and comfortable with his own game. He gives nothing extra for MVG to key off or react to. James wins a high percentage of legs on his own throw. He does not throw a high number of huge out-shots or average massively in comparison to some. Yet since last summer Wade has won three out of five encounters.

The Green Machine. Perhaps its not so easy to stay in top gear?
The Green Machine.
Not so easy to stay in top gear?
Pic: PDC

Meanwhile “The Power” has been edging back toward MVG. Recent games have been much closer, with Phil having strong spells. Could it be that the other players will step up and play their part?

The second half of 2016 looks set to be a superb battle. The field vs MVG with the field finally seeing a ray of light.

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