As part of our contribubion to “The Darts World Championship Ultimate Guide, 2019 A.I.M: looked at those perfect palace moments:
9 Darters – Palace Perfection
In any sport there are moments of perfection, think Torvil & Dean or Nadia Comenech, darts is no exception. Over the years improving standards, combined with near perfect playing conditions, have ensured that darting perfection, the nine dart leg, is hit with increasing regularity. Yet, hitting one on the biggest possible stage, on live TV, under the greatest of pressure is still very rare indeed. Think Cliff Thorburn at The Crucible.
Breaking the Duck
No player had managed the perfect leg in the PDC World Championship since its beginnings in 1994. By 2010 it seemed that the incentive of a place in the history books was weighing heavily on players’ shoulders. Raymond van Barneveld had other ideas. The setting was a Qtr final vs his countryman Jelle Klaasen. RVB went the traditional route (180,180, T20, T19, D12) and appeared as relaxed as he might in a local exhibition.
Lightning Strikes Twice
To prove it was no fluke Barney repeated the trick in 2011. In fact, the only difference from the 2010 version, were his darts, he had switched to a golden set up, and his reactions. In scenes reminiscent of his 2007 World Championship win, Barney was as delighted, and emotional, as many could remember seeing him.
The Final Countdown
Perhaps the most remarkable of the perfect legs seen at The Alexandra Palace was struck in 2011. To mark the third consecutive year, that at least one perfect leg was thrown, Adrian Lewis became the first to hit one in the final. Incredibly ‘Jackpot’ hit it in only the third leg! Another of the popular 180 x 2 and 141(T20, T19, D12) route. The nonchalance with which Lewis accepted the crowd’s applause showed a player, at the very peak of his powers, for whom it was simply a matter of time.
Winstanley Goes Wild
After a barren year, in 2012, darting perfection returned with a bang in 2013. ‘Over the Top’, as Dean Winstanley is known, certainly lived up to his nickname. Dean found a superb sequence of darts hitting six treble 20s without going near a wire. After completing the 141, in the usual way, he was overcome with a spirit of Pat Cash. Winstanley, like the Australian tennis champion, sprinted out of shot and, reacted with an unrestrained joy that endeared him to all watching.
All the Right Darts, Not Necessarily in The Right Order?
In the same 2013 tournament Micheal van Gerwen added his name to the roll of honour. In his semi-final, against James Wade, MVG became the first to hit 9 perfect darts but not going the conventional order. He still hit 7 Treble 20s, treble 19 and double 12, but hit the T19 on his second turn in order to leave 144.
Perfection, Repetition & Despair
In 2014 both Kyle Anderson and Terry Jenkins hit 9 darters. Both players lost the match. 2015 featured a repeat performance from Adrian Lewis. Jackpot joined Barney in the club of multiple 9 dart hitters at the World Championships. The most recent 9 example of palace perfection was Gary Anderson, Gary hit his perfect leg, in 2016, vs Jelle Klaasen. Poor Klaasen became the first to have two thrown against him!
The Founder of the Feast.
No discussion of World Championship 9 darters would be complete without ‘The Legend’ that is Paul Lim. Paul bridges the two golden eras of professional darts and is still going. In 1990 he hit a superb 9 dart leg vs Ireland’s Jack McKenna. Although it was hit at Lakeside there was only one world championship at that time and the feat had never been completed before. Only two years ago Lim threatened to repeat the feat almost thirty years later. After 8 perfect darts, and at the age of 63, Lim narrowly missed the double twelve. Perhaps he will get another chance at that unique fairytale during this year’s event?
While A.I.M: were putting together some information for The Word Darts Championship (2019) Ultimate Guide, we could not help but notice the sheer number of players able to boast of being World Champions:
World Champions are special. Regardless of sport, code or status, those who claim a World title always stand out from the crowd. Steel tip darts has two sets of World Champions. From 1976-93 there were simply World Champions. Following the formation of the PDC (originally the WDC) from 1994 there were Lakeside (BDO) Champions and PDC World Professional Darts Champions.
To date, twenty-nine players have lifted either of the overall titles, but only eight have lifted the PDC crown. A glance down the list reveals that these are not normal players! No player has won a senior world title without claiming other titles and reaching the top of the ranking tables. Many have won multiple titles and some have utterly dominated the game for long periods of time.
Raymond Van Barneveld
BDO x 4 PDC x 1
PDC x 3
BDO x 3
PDC x 2
PDC x 1
BDO x 1
BDO x 1
BDO x 1
BDO x 1
Soft Tip x 2
Soft Tip x 1
PDC Youth x 1
PDC Youth x 1
PDC Youth x 1
Dimitri van den Burgh
PDC Youth x 1
At least 16 layers can claim around 28 World Titles before the start of this year’s event
The growth of the sport, and its inclusive nature, mean that there are also World Champions from other darting arenas. The soft tip game, for example, has produced many fine players and its codes/organisations hold their own World Championships. The ladies’ game has held World Championships for nearly forty years and has produced legendary players such as Trina Gulliver, Maureen Flowers and Linda Duffy (ne Batton). The current holder of the title, Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki, will make her debut at Ally Pally this year.
The 2020 PDC World Championship will feature at least fifteen players who can lay claim to World Championships. Many of them can or will be able to claim multiple titles in multiple formats. To date, only John Part can claim World Champion status in the BDO, PDC and Soft Tip formats.
Could Paul Lim add another leg of the treble? Or will Glen Durrant become the latest cross code champion? Whoever claims the 2020 crown will have triumphed in a field containing more darting world champions than ever before.
A version of We are The Champions first appeared, with full graphics, in the guide below:
When A.I.M: were asked to contribute to a guide the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship an article about Raymond Van Barneveld seemed essential.
This piece has appeared, in various forms, in Darts World magazine, at dartsworld.com and on the hugely popular German website darts1.de amongst other places!
Barney Takes A Bow!
Raymond van Barneveld can claim a major role in the story of the PDC at the Palace. From his legendary win in the 2007 event, which may have prompted the move, to his superb 9 dart legs, Barney has provided some of the sports’ most iconic moments. In addition, his ‘Barny Army’ of fans bring atmosphere and colour to every event. RVB’s role in the development and advancement of darts is safe and his reputation as a dart player will only grow. As a five-time World Champion he sits in a club of only three, Bristow (5), Barney (5) and Taylor (16)
Barney, now 52, will play his last World Championship this year and is sure to receive a superb reception and send off when his tournament comes to an end. He seems entirely at peace with his decision and determined to enjoy his curtain call. Raymond will have taken part in almost thirty World Championships since making his debut at the Lakeside in 1991. His remarkable journey has seen him tackle the legends of darts’ first golden era, battle with ‘The Power’ for over a decade and then shepherd a third generation of new players to take the game forward.
RVB decided to cross codes and take his place on the PDC tour in 2006. As a four-time Lakeside champion he was the biggest fish in a middle-sized pond and could easily have remained within the BDO system and racked up titles and fees. Yet, he courted controversy, and risked failure, in order to compete at the highest level and against the very best the game had to offer.
RVB’s first PDC ranking major was the 2006 UK Open unbelievably he won the title. After what could only be described as a stellar debut he prepared for his first PDC World Championship over the festive season of 2006/7. By bludgeoning his way to the final, van Barneveld would realize the ambition that had driven him to the PDC. He was to play Phil “The Power” Taylor over the best of 13 sets. The rest as they say is history. The nip and tuck match, the swings in one direction and then the other, the sudden death bull up and then the winning dart. The sinking to the knees, and the commenators’ superlatives, all form part of the 2007 legend.
Although Raymond has not yet added another World Championship Trophy, he has enjoyed a storied career across both codes. Three World Cup Singles titles, two Winmau World Masters, The Premier League and the Grand Slam of Darts, as well as hitting the first PDC World Championship 9 Dart Leg, were amongst many, placed in the trophy cabinet, during a marvelous career.
Between this year’s first match, vs Darin Young, and an unlikely final appearance on January 1st 2020 the fans at Ally Pally and darts’ fans the world over will bid a fond farewell to a modern legend. On current form Barney may give us a grand finale, Barney’s 3-month form is 10th in the world with a running average of 96.63 for 17 events played.
Raymond van Barneveld kann eine der Hauptrollen in der Geschichte der PDC-WM für sich beanspruchen. Sein Finalsieg im „Spiel der Spiele“ bei der WM 2007, seine fantastischen 9-Darter – Barney hat dem Dartsport einige legendäre Momente beschert. Darüber hinaus verleiht seine Fan-Base, die „Barney Army“, jeder Veranstaltung eine besondere Atmosphäre. Raymonds Anteil am Aufbau und der Weiterentwicklung des Dartsports ist unbestritten und sein Ruf als Darts-Legende schon zu aktiven Zeiten gefestigt.
Er ist einer von nur drei Darts-Profis, die mindestens fünfmal eine Weltmeisterschaft gewinnen konnten. Eric Bristow (5) und Phil Taylor (16) heißen die beiden anderen Mitglieder in diesem erlauchten Club. Der mittlerweile 52-jährige Barney steht vor seiner letzten WM-Teilnahme und kann sich während des Turniers einer riesigen Aufmerksamkeit sicher sein und sich auf eine angemessene Verabschiedung freuen, wenn das Turnier für ihn zu Ende geht. Er scheint mit sich und seiner Entscheidung, die Karriere zu beenden, völlig im Reinen zu sein und will seine Abschiedsvorstellung in vollen Zügen genießen. Seit seinem Debüt in Lakeside im Jahr 1991 hat Raymond an fast 30 Weltmeisterschaften teilgenommen. Am Anfang seiner bemerkenswerten Karriere bekam er noch die erste goldene Ära des Profi-Darts mit, anschießend lieferte er sich über ein Jahrzehnt lang mit „The Power“ einen heißen Kampf, bevor er schließlich eine neue Generation auf ihrem Weg in die Weltspitze anführte, um die Qualität des Spiels auf ein höheres Level zu bringen.
2006 entschied sich RvB zu einem Verbandswechsel und nahm fortan an den Turnieren der PDC teil. Der viermalige Lakeside-Champion war der größte Hai im mittelgroßen Becken der BDO und er hätte ganz einfach dort bleiben und sich Titel und Preisgelder einheimsen können. Doch er entschied sich für das Risiko und einen Wechsel zur PDC, um auf höchstem Level spielen und gegen die Allerbesten antreten zu können, die das Spiel zu bieten hat.
Van Barneveld erstes großes Ranglistenturnier bei der PDC waren die UK Open 2006, die er auch gleich gewinnen konnte. Nach diesem Traumstart bereitete er sich auf seine erste PDC-Weltmeisterschaft vor, die Ende des Jahres 2006 begann. Auf seinem Weg ins Finale wird sich van Barneveld vor Augen geführt haben, was ihn knapp ein Jahr zuvor zu einem Wechsel zur PDC getrieben hat. Er war gekommen, um gegen Phil „The Power“ Taylor im Modus „Best of 13 sets“ zu spielen. Der Rest ging in die Geschichte ein: Das äußerst knappe Finale, bei dem mal der eine und mal der andere vorne lag, der Wurf aufs Bullseye vor dem „Sudden Death“-Leg und kurz darauf der Championship-Dart ins richtige Doppelfeld, sein Sinken auf die Knie, die Superlative der Kommentatoren – all dies trug dazu bei, dass das WM-Finale 2007 bis heute als legendär gilt.
Obwohl es Raymond danach nicht mehr gelang, den WM-Pokal zu holen, kann er auf eine sehr erfolgreiche Karriere in beiden Verbänden zurückblicken. Er holte drei „World Cup Singles“- und zwei „Winmau World Masters“-Titel bei der BDO, sowie einen Premier League- und einen Grand Slam of Darts-Titel bei der PDC. Zudem gelang ihm der erste 9-Darter bei einer PDC-Weltmeisterschaft.
Frühestens nach seinem Auftaktspiel gegen Darin Young und spätestens nach einem eher unwahrscheinlichen Auftritt im Endspiel am 1. Januar 2020 werden sich die Fans im „Ally Pally“ und die Darts-Fans an den Bildschirmen auf der ganzen Welt von einer modernen Legende verabschieden müssen. In seiner aktuellen Form ist es Barney durchaus zuzutrauen, dass er den Zuschauern ein großartiges Abschiedsspektakel bietet. Nimmt man nur die letzten drei Monate, so wäre er Zehnter der Weltrangliste mit einem 3-Dart-Average von 96,63 Punkten bei 17 gespielten Veranstaltungen.
Hut ab, Raymond van Barneveld, und alles Gute für die Zukunft!
It’s always nice to be asked to contribute to a new publishing project to promote the game of darts. Some of the people we at A.I.M: like best have produced 62 pages of news, views, player profiles, product reviews and articles that is yours in a couple clicks:
Dartconnect.com are distributing the guide, as well as RedDragon darts, Grab a copy here:
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!
Following much debate over who should be selected, in the first place, and then again over who should replace the injured Gary Anderson, the PDC Premier League will get underway tonight in Newcastle (UK).
The first of “The Contenders” will also take a bow. Chris Dobey has been on the verge of a breakthrough for some time. Hollywood, as Dobey is known, first came to our attention in 2014, qualified for the UK Open and reached the last 32 of the World Masters.
After success at Q School in 2015, Chris played the PDC Pro Tour full time. He also received the support of Gary Anderson. After a year of settling in Dobey finally began to show what he could do in 2016. Great runs on the Pro Tour, especially the Euro Tour, ensured qualification for the World Championship, he also qualified separately for the Grand Slam and reached the Qtr Final. Dobey again plateaued, for twelve months, when many thought he was destined for greater things. After flattering to deceive again, during most of 2018, Chris finally moved up a gear during the Players Championship finals and again in the World championships. His run to the last 16 was superb, but his defeat at the hands of Gary Anderson gained him many fans and was lauded as one of the best games of the event.
The serendipitous withdrawal of his Mentor has given Dobey an unexpected opportunity to show his talent to a far wider audience. It will be interesting to see if the Dobey of last December will be on stage, or whether it will be the intimidated Hollywood, of twelve months previously, who capitulated to The Power in 2017/8. If the 2019 Dobey appears, it will be a very tough opening night for the hugely popular Mensur Sulovic.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld will begin his long farewell to professional darts, taking on fellow former champion James Wade. It is highly debatable that RVB deserves, on form, to be in this year’s edition. However, the Barny Army will get a final chance to enjoy its hero in a regular, competitive and entertaining setting. It could inspire Barney to great things or prove too much pressure for this strangely vulnerable fella. Regardless of the outcome, surely RVB’s contribution to darts deserves a decent send-off.
While players such as Ian White (above), Simon Whitlock and Joe Cullen can count themselves as unlucky not to have been given a shot at the full league, it may prove a masterstroke to feature new blood almost every week.
Local stars and seriously talented newcomers are what inspire crowds and refresh the game for new generations of players and fans. Here’s hoping the idea gets off to a Hollywood start!
Premier League darts has been a huge success. The opportunity to see ten of the best players, across a single raucous night, in huge venues has proven an important driver in PDC darts being the showcase for the professional game. Crowds, in the tens of thousands, flock to buy tickets for the biggest professional exhibition/competition.
There is a healthy debate each year regarding who should be selected to play? Fans have favourites they would love to see in the biggest show. Even supporters of darts’ other code, The BDO, can’t help but wonder how their own players would match up, adding a little spice to the debate.
Discussions regarding how players from differing eras would have done, against the players of today, are commonplace. With modern conditions and advantages would they be able to hold their own or even outdo today’s superstars?
This divides quite nicely into two golden ages. The current, Sky Sports & PDC driven, times and the original 1970/80’s golden age which proved hugely popular and provided many of the templates for the success of today. Players from both eras are held up as icons and whilst some of the debate is, understandably, generational it is not the only factor in deciding who would make an ultimate league.
The skill factor of the players, the simplicity of the game and the intimate and dramatic nature of the competition, the characters and emotions, or lack of, of players at any time. These factors explain the popularity of TV Professional darts. The Premier League is about showing all these assets, to the maximum degree, in a single night and over the entire league. With finals night being the ultimate showdown.
With all that in mind, who would make an all time ten man line up, how would the generations match up? How would the league progress? Who would triumph?
The Line Up.
1 – Phil Taylor: With 16 World Titles and a huge volume of major wins across the generations there is no doubt that Taylor would be the first name on the sheet. His overall skill level is simply unsurpassed and the Premier League distance is just long enough to show it. His competitive, or matchplaying, spirit is also beyond question, winning matches and titles from almost every position and against all types of opposition. The only dip would be the entertainment level, Phil entertains through excellence and offers little more.
Skill Factor 10, Matchplay 10, Entertainment 8. Total 28
2 – Eric Bristow: Five World Titles, a ruthless competitor and the founder of the feast in terms of entertainment. A prime Crafty Cockney would be the biggest draw of the event and many would be desperate to see him bestride the event with the cocky brilliance of his pomp.
Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 10, Entertainment 10. Total 28
3 – MVG; A career slam of major titles and one of the driving forces upping the standard in the current era. Able to destroy any opponent MVG would also provide the clearest modern versus classic era battles. Not untouchable especially if dominated.
Skill Factor 10, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 26
4 – Jockey Wilson; Twice World Champion, the totally unpredictable Jockey, would add to the event just by being in it. Yet viewing old footage reveal that he , and other past champions, were capable of 100+ averages even using old equipment. The short format of the these games and Jockey’s sheer determination would mean shocks, sublime spells and probably defeats as well. Adding great drama, to the proceedings, especially in the Scottish venues!
Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 10. Total 26
5 – John Lowe; World Champion in three separate decades and a multiple winner in all formats. The ultimate example of the classic stylist. Totally unflappable and the first 9 dart TV hero. Lowe would provide huge contrast to some of the modern players. His battle with Taylor would also carry great interest in a contrasting way.
Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 9, Entertainment 7. Total 25
6. John Part: Darth Maple is a three-time World Champ across both codes. In his pomp his fluent style and deadly play would have seen him compete in any era against any opponent. Articulate and interesting when discussing the game, his media savvy may also add to the proceedings.
Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 24
7. Gary Anderson: Double World Champion in an era containing MVG, Taylor & Lewis, to name but three, Gary brings phenomenal darts and differing laid back attitude. I suspect he would relish the opportunity to match with a variety of players from across time. Can have off nights as well which adds to the unpredictability.
Skill Factor -10, Matchplay – 8, Entertainment – 8. Total 26
8. Bob Anderson: World Champion and three-time World Master. The Limestone Cowboy has already shown he could compete with the best from both codes across both of darts great eras. With phenomenal professionalism, and will to win, in many ways, Bob is the perfect example of a pro dart player. Reaching the semi’s of the PDC worlds in his late 50’s and winning the League of Legends in 2008 demonstrate his often underestimated ability. The shirts, the point, and the grit would all add the entertainment as well!
Skill Factor – 8, Matchplay – 9, Entertainment 8. Total 24
9. Adrian Lewis: Jackpot is another double World Champ and just like Gary he achieved them back to back. Another in the modern style who hits big scores for fun. But how would they adapt to the matchplay skills of some of the other players in this league? Adrian has been known to go missing or suffer bouts of frustration. I am sure this would not have gone unnoticed by others in the group. When inspired, Ade is a great entertainer with flash shots and a fun, quick-fire style.
Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 8. Total 25
9. RVB: Despite 5 world titles I had difficulty putting Raymond into this league. The important elements of entertainment and grit have been lacking recent times from the Dutchman. Then I remembered the very best of Barney, winning World Titles in both codes, pushing Phil to ever greater heights and the ability to defeat MVG in big games even now!
Skill Factor 9, Matchplay 8, Entertainment 7. Total 24
10: Dennis Priestley: Despite hot competition, for the final place, it must be The Menace. World Champion in both codes, gritty competitor, revolutionary in the art of switching (18’s in his case). With Phil and Part the only member of the Older guard who has Premier League experience. Loved by all fans.
Skill Factor 8, Matchplay 9, Entertainment 7. Total 24.
This league would be very competitive and every great show needs interval entertainment ( think Riverdance!). Special guest would be exhibition doubles.
BDO vs PDC “The Entertainers”
Tony O Shea & Daryl Fitton vs Wayne Mardle & Peter Manley.
How Would The Ultimate PL Go?
The above all time league would provide superb nights of drama and high quality competition every week with shocks and maybe even a bit of needle! Ultimately, with every player being in their prime, the last four would be very hard to pick, as would the elimination pairing, but here goes.
The two Johns would bow out at this stage. Lowe at his best was unbelievable consistent and would have battled in every game. I am not sure he would have had quite enough of a 2nd gear when needed. Part may get off to a slow start playing many of those who he idolised. This would see Dennis Priestley survive as he would start strongly although this would fade he would have the points on the board.
The second section of the League would possibly be the most exciting. Most of the big rivalries and cross era clashes would be seen again, this time each would have settled and be aware that elimination was at stake. I would guess that it would come down to the last week with many outcomes still at possible.
Finally though, the combination of skill, ego and sheer determination would see a Semi Finals between Eric Bristow & Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor vs MVG.
=1 Eric Bristow & Phil Taylor
3rd Gary Anderson
5th Bob Anderson
6th Adrian Lewis
8th Dennis Priestly
Semi 1: Eric succeeds by getting away well and thoroughly enjoying the massive crowd and atmosphere. Gary would catch fire later but Eric would get home reasonably safely.
Semi 2: A belter this one, MVG would be out of the gate and into the lead early. But the chance of playing Eric on the biggest stage and in front of the biggest crowd would prove a huge inspiration to Phil. “The Power” ups the gears and produces a stunning spell mid-match. MVG can not quite match the sudden burst and Phil wins by a couple.
Each man in his absolute pomp, Eric enjoying the benefits of what he built and Phil suffering under the huge pressure that Eric exerted. Phil settling down and out playing Eric mid match. Eric however is less easily worn down and uses every tactic and psychological ploy to knock “The Power” out of his stride.
The last leg decider is certain to be the result. The chance to be crowned the best ever, head to head, would prove the only inspiration The Crafty Cockney needed.