Tag Archives: Red Dragon

Payne Moves To Red Dragon

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

Diamonds, Gold and Tungsten: Peter’s Perfect Combo

AIM were asked to contribute a few thoughts toward this very good overview of why Peter Wright’s eye catching new model had proved such an instant success:

Peter Wright credits his resurgent performances to a small addition of one of his favourite dart models. The new World Matchplay champion has credited the addition of a gold coating to his Euro 11 Element diamond gripped barrel. 

Fellow dart professional Josh Payne, himself a Pro Tour winner, suggested the change during a recent practice session. Although it was merely a suggestion as to improving the darts cosmetic appeal. Peter was taken with the idea and even made a DIY version with some gold paint! 

Soon enough the folk at Red Dragon, Peter’s darts manufacture/sponsor, had found a better method of adding a coating to the production process and the initial prototypes were made and it’s fair to say that they have done OK so far!

No, you may think to yourself that ‘just a colour change’ can’t make all that difference. However, history, tech, and analysis would suggest it may well well have been the final piece of the jigsaw. Did we ask our team why and how?

The Wright Hybrid:

One of Darts World’s Coaching Corner members has long argued that the diamond fusion grip offered by Red Dragon (on their Element range) could be close to the perfect grip.

” The surface provided by Diamond fusion and the player’s fingers is absolutely ideal for a smooth release or ‘launch’. The only downside is that for many, it needs to be worn in. Peter has had high-level success with a very worn set of ‘Diamond’ gripped darts that became the Melbourne Special Edition.”

Our contributor thinks it’s possible that adding the gold coating has softened the grip, or at least its feel, much earlier in the darts life. Thus it has become the perfect hybrid for Peter’s priorities. The feel is similar to that worn diamond, the base model is one he has huge success with (Euro 11) and the look matches Peter’s need for a dash of flamboyance.

Psychological:

Darts World’s product tester and contributor Joe Reid feels that the psychological element plays a big role in Peter’s decisions. 

” Peter has said in the past that part of his frequent changing of equipment is to keep his focus. He said that using the same set he becomes lazy. I feel that the coating could be a psychological change. The dart will have a familiar feel but with a big enough change to ensure that he adjusts and re focuses in order to use them”

Strive for perfection, achieve excellence:

Accuracy ‘Supercoach’ Steve Feeney suggests that its a combination of that heightened sense of feel that Peter clearly possesses with a ceaseless quest to achieve even the tiniest improvement:

 “As well as the visual aspects that we’ve seen Peter work on, he has a heightened sense of feel. Players such as Peter can feel or sense every minute change or fraction of a gram difference. Feel is so important to Peter, the dart must feel perfect and if it does not he will continue to strive for perfection.”

“We know from all sports and other research that striving toward perfection can lead to excellence.”

Historical:

Our testers at AIM180 reminded us that this is not the first time player has recaptured their best by adding gold to their tools. Their analyst said:

” In the very late 1980s, John Lowe started to use a gold-coated dart. He said publically that he was delighted with it as it gave him all the advantages of tungsten – with the weight and density – but the feel was more reminiscent of the brass darts from his very early day. This hybrid suited Lowey perfectly and enjoyed great success with them. A surprise World title in 1993 and some remarkable efforts against Taylor et al. in the PDC years.” It’s noticeable that he never went back or altered anything else during the rest of his pro career.

Peter’s Preference:

Over the years it’s clear that Peter has had a preference for the design used in the Snakebite Euro 11 Element PC-20 Gold. Initially, it was a standard ring gripped dart, similar to MVG’s, later the element grip was added. There followed a string of models such as the Mamba and Viper designs that were variations on the theme.

Despite the runaway success of his World Championship winning design, it was clear that Peter could, not shake his instinct for the Euro 11 design. Indeed Wright had smashed the average record on the Pro Tour with a set only weeks before winning that World title with a different design. Finally, has he found the perfect version of his preferred weapons?

Perhaps we should leave the final word to Joe Reid:

“The gold perhaps reflect that he is a champion, and that, for Peter, it gives that extra confidence boost, evident from his Matchplay success”

—–ENDS—–

Article originally appeared at dartsworld.com
Images: Red Dragon Design​

Not ‘just a Virage’ – A snapshot look at superb value dart

We couldn’t help but notice the latest ‘Deal of the Week’ from Red Dragon. The Virage rang a bell and we looked back through some testing reports done a little while ago. We came across some notes that had not been made into a review at the time. We have tidied them into a snapshot for anyone considering parting with their hard-earned:

Dimensions:

Red Dragon Virage 21g. (Also available in 22 and 23g)
Material – 90% Tungsten.
Finish – Bronze/Natural
Langth & Width – 50.8 mm 6.2mm

Open The Box:

Virage comes simply presented in Red Dragon retail packaging. The three barrels, in this case 21g, are coupled with Nitrotech stems in black and a bronze-colored set of hardcore flights. The points are standard silver stainless steel.

The supplied setup works well and is stable for newer players whilst firm enough to allow for direct throwers to benefit. An interesting alternative proved to be an in-between stem and a smaller std shape flight.

Testers Views:

The general approach was that Virage is a very good dart. If you are a straight barrel fan then these could be for you. The coating is excellent, combining the natural look & feel but with the subtle colouring that stands off the board.

“Imagine a ‘Bristow Barrel’ with a little more feel to the grip. The switch in grip, after the name blank, is handy for rear grippers who like purchase for the thumb or fingers.”

“The slightly shaped lower 2/3 of the barrel has additional grip compared to the usual ring grooves….. Very handy if you like to rest the dart rather than grip it.”

“The rounded nose is halfway between a full nose cone and a snub or bullnose. It works really well and is comfortable while assisting in grouping and limits the damage from deflections”.

Snapshot:

All-round this is an excellent dart. 90% and a silica style coating for the current offer price of less than £25!

More details of the Virage offer and order here

—–ENDS—–

Original appeared here at Darts World

Original Column appears in Darts World 575 OUT NOW

Board Room News – Spring 2021

A society and darts are making swift progress toward some form of normality need only to look at the activity emanating from darts’ boardrooms, and head muckety-muck’s offices. New ranges are being prepared, production plans are being laid down and opinions are being sought from almost every corner. Perhaps the most obvious indicator comes in what we term ‘the transfer market’.

Talent signing:

The snapping up of new talent or those who may have made a step change during 2020, in addition the retention of ‘brand assets’ seems a weekly event currently. As good as new. Usually, when football fans hear these words it means upcoming disappointment in the next transfer window. However, the extension of Jonny Clayton’s contract could indeed be the equivalent of signing a major winner. The popular Welshman represents a tribute to Red Dragon’s ability to nurture ‘homegrown’ talent and maximize its potential. Gary Anderson extending his arrangements with Unicorn, for a further five years, seems to confirm a steady as she goes approach from the grand old lady of darts.

Management Capital:

The management sector has seen the likes of Adam Gawlas join TSMC whilst Micheal Smith has joined the reassuring arms of Darting Promotions. Whilst others are shedding players or holding their horses, the West Midlands area is fast becoming a stronghold in this area of the darts ecosystem. TSMC has a phenomenal group of major winning talent (see cover story) and along with Darting Promotions are seeing the rewards from a player-centred approach.

On a Mission:

Mission darts have stepped up their player involvement. Since their launch in 2019 Mission had seemed to concentrate on reproducing popular models and focusing heavily on what could be described as premium generic ranges. Late in 2020, they seemed to switch approach and move into the player-endorsed equipment market. Wayne Mardle gave them a star name/ ambassador and the signature of breakthrough star Alan Soutar may signify a new boldness. The Boardroom team will be keeping a close eye on the insurgent brand.

Broadcast News:

MODUS has stepped forward again to initiate a new innovative series of live darts events. Their ‘Live League’ is full of star names and performances are beginning to match. Fallon Sherrock, Martin Adams, Richie Burnett and our own Colin Osborne make regular appearances and seem to be relishing new opportunities. When, in 1995, Barry Hearn talked of 250 hours a year of TV darts many mocked the bold pronouncement. Across all platforms even that figure now seems almost derisory. As he steps into retirement even ‘Uncle Barry’ might be impressed.

Thank you, sir.


—–ENDS—–

Featured Image: Barry Hearn (PDC)
Original article appeared in Issue 574 of Darts World magazine.
Grab your copy (subscription or back issues bundle) here

Three Degrees Of James Wade – The Machine Claims Third UK Open

In any sport to play successfully though three different eras is unusual, to play through three of the best in the history of your chosen field and still be winning major titles is quite remarkable. Yet The Machine has done just that:

JAMES WADE landed his third Ladbrokes UK Open title in Milton Keynes on Sunday, defeating Luke Humphries 11-5 in the final. Almost 13 years on from his first UK Open title, Wade’s success sees him join Phil Taylor in winning televised PDC titles across three decades.

In addition, the £100,000 winner’s prize sees him move up to fourth in the PDC Order of Merit, overtaking Rob Cross as the highest-ranked Englishman.

Now a winner of ten televised ranking titles, Wade expanded his impressive trophy haul with a first UK Open crown since 2011 thanks to a weekend of consistent performances at the Marshall Arena.

His first TV success since November 2018 was secured with a typically clinical display in the final against Humphries, who knocked out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in the semis with a brilliant display but was unable to repeat the feat in the decider.

Experience won the day as Wade – who averaged 102.52 and was on target with 41% of his checkout attempts – made the former World Youth Champion pay for 20 missed doubles.

“To win TV titles across three decades is something I’m very proud of,” said Wade. “I’m enjoying it again, I think I’ve reinvented myself.


“I’m very happy to be in the world of darts, it’s a great place to be when you’re winning.

“I’m here to provide stability for my son and winning these allows me to do that”.

“Luke is quality, he’s a gentleman and he showed his quality in the way he dismantled Michael [van Gerwen] in the semi-finals.”


In reaching the final Wade was at his unflappable best in defeating world number one Gerwyn Price 11-6 in the semi-finals, having produced a 10-8 comeback win over Simon Whitlock in the afternoon’s quarter-finals.

Wade’s route to the title began with a scare from Ryan Joyce in round four as he came through a last-leg decider, before defeating Cross and Germany’s Gabriel Clemens in rounds five and six on Saturday.

Despite coming up short in his first televised final, two-time World Youth Champion Humphries continued his progression and produced a sensational 107.41 average in his 11-5 semi-final win over Van Gerwen.

Humphries, who edged out Dave Chisnall 10-9 in the quarter-finals, pockets the £40,000 runners-up prize moves up eight places to 33rd on the PDC Order of Merit. The 26-year-old reflected:

“It’s been an incredible weekend for me, an emotional weekend,”
“To reach a TV final is the most unbelievable feeling. I think James is the best player in the world under pressure and he showed it in that game.

“I’m here to achieve big things in darts and this run puts me in good stead going forward.

“I want to be playing the best players week-in, week-out. I know I’ve got the game to do it. Tonight it wasn’t my night, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”

The Ladbrokes UK Open reached its climax on Sunday after 151 players competed in the tournament’s opening day on Friday.

South Africa’s Devon Petersen reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015, while Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski made it to the last eight for the first time before losing to Van Gerwen.

2021 Ladbrokes UK Open
Sunday March 7

Afternoon Session

Quarter-Finals
James Wade 10-8 Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price 10-9 Devon Petersen
Luke Humphries 10-9 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Krzysztof Ratajski
Evening Session

Semi-Finals
James Wade 11-6 Gerwyn Price
Luke Humphries 11-5 Michael van Gerwen

Final
James Wade 11-5 Luke Humphries

—–ENDS——

Picture: L Lustig (PDC)

Red Dragon Raptor (GT)- ‘The SnapShot’ Review.

  • Product – Raptor (Points)
  • Brand – RedDragon
  • RRP – £8.90
  • Dimensions – 33mm (28mm exposed)
  • Features – Collared, Grooved & Barbed

A.I.M: are strongly of the opinion that “there has been little, or no, beneficial innovation in darts since the tungsten barrel”. He does, however, allow one notable exception, points!

We have been are currently conducting extensive tests on the various types of points on the market. Collared, coloured, grooved, coated and almost every other option available are being put through their paces. Some things have become obvious early on in the testing. The first is that Raptor from RedDragon is an exceptional product.

First Impressions: These points don’t come with flash packaging or attached to their own range of dart. However, it is immediately noticeable that they are unusual. They are plain and appear very well made indeed. They are 33mm long with 28mm exposed after fitting. The point is collared in style (to eliminate join between point & barrel), there are 4 grooves, from the collar downward, that allow for exact finger placement/grip. The lower section is slim and sharply tapered, for good board penetration and there is a small (2mm) barb for both finger feeling and board retention.

Fitting: We fitted Raptor points into three different brands of darts. The fitted easily and snuggly into all three with no complications.

Grooved Section: The grooves worked excellent for those who like to feel their finger in the same place but not to slip during delivery.

Lower(Smooth) Section: Testing showed that this penetrated the board well and was a good alternative resting point for those who like their finger on a smooth area.

Point Barb: Very unusually Raptor has a small, less than 2mm bard at the very tip of the point. This proved excellent in improving board retention, even the gentlest thrower had full confidence that their dart would stay in place. In addition, it proved very useful with those who naturally rest their finger at the point, Dennis Priestley style, for control.

Durability: The Raptor seems to have overcome one of the problems of newer complex points. Despite heavy usage, and a few drops, we have not broken one yet!

Player Quotes:

  • “Brilliant, much stiffer than my current collared point” – Serious Amateur
  • “Nice and not all flashy” – Elite level player
  • “All round winner” – Coach

Downsides: The only recorded downside was that they seem to be only available in this length. At least one player would move to them if a 30mm (external) option was provided. Raptor do increase wear on your board espcially if its of the softer variety.

The SnapShot: First impressions, and initial testing, reveal raptor to be an exceptional product, that raises the bar for modern points. The problems of over flexibility, breakability and clumsiness that affect some complex, or collared, points are solved in one go. Red Dragon have produced a superb product and the fact that it can be added, at point of purchase, to a huge range of darts, is a boon.


An edition of this review first appeared at http://www.dartsworld.com in 2019.

A.I.M: Manufacturers Championship 2019

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

outline and tungsten

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

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

Early Season Skirmishes

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

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

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

Red Dragon Logo

RD excelling in the constructors’ championship?

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

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

E68FFFAE-B024-4518-9A06-0C3E7190AF88

Harrows returned to the PDC in style.

 Transfers / Signings Activity & Gossip.

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

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

 

 

A.I.M: Darts Manufacturers Championship 2018, Unicorn retain their dominance.

A.I.M have been closely observing darts for close to a decade. Whether it’s for coaching players, designing/testing products or advising clients, the progression of everything darts is important to us. Who add value to their players? Which have the best signing success? Who is on the up? Who has past their peak?

Unicorn Logo

Despite staying relatively quiet, Team Unicorn has retained its dominance in overall success.

Along the way, we produced a simple league table for comparing the success of darts manufacturers. We use PDC ranking events as a base. Then we add selected major events from the BDO. The players who reach the last 8 of Pro Tour events receive 1 point, semi-finalists 3, Runner Up 5 and the Winner receive 10. These points are doubled for majors and multiplied by 2.5 for the world championships. To ensure maximum openness we use ranking events only. Here is the 2018 Constructors Table:

outline and tungsten

  1. Unicorn (381) 
  2. XQ Max (205)
  3. Red Dragon (199.5)
  4. Winmau (172.5)
  5. Target (161.5)
  6. Bulls (120.5)
  7. Cosmo (48)
  8. One80 (45)
  9. Harrows (13)
  10. Bit of Bully (9.5)

When it comes to signing players, the biggest, and longest established, companies attempt to combine a handful of legendary names with a few of current champions and a smattering of players they believe may move up a level. Recently more female players, players from mainland Europe or Asia, and more youth development have been added. Newer or smaller companies try to spot undiscovered or undervalued talent or back players with a legacy that may sparkle again. This has worked well for Powercore ( Ryan Searle) & Bit of Bully (Ryan Joyce) and Evo-Darts (Gabriel Clemens) for example.

Despite the attention given to other companies in recent years, Unicorn has again managed to produce a squad of players that perform in every type of event and combines dominant champions with other talented winners. Their 2nd group seem to step up regularly and when required. XQ Max has again relied totally on MVG for their points but his prolific form ensures this remains a successful strategy.

Red Dragon Logo
RD excelling in the constructor’s championship. 

Red Dragon has continued their upward momentum and is neck and neck with XQ Max in the PDC table ahead of them when the BDO events are included. The progress of Gerwen price has added another elite level player to Team RD who look more balanced. Their long term support of players is also looking productive. Both Jamie Lewis and Johnny Clayton seem to have benefited from the supportive, family atmosphere that RD create.

Target Dart Logo

Target’s massive investment, in players, designs and marketing, had been paying great dividends. This may have plateaued in 2018. Their old guard are heading into retirements and some of their other top stars had slow years. Rob Cross, Chizzy, Alan Norris and others did not produce their best last years and as such Target slipped into a distant fifth place. Winmau also underperformed for such a famed brand and will need to rework their line up in the coming years or so. They have great ambassadors, who are still playing well, but only Gurney is consistently gaining them high levels of attention.

Eric Wins 3 in a row

The 1st player to win the three in a row. Bristow has been joined by Duzza, another Harrows player.

Harrows, darting royalty to many, made a low key return to the success on the PDC side in 2018. Josh Payne claimed a Pro Tour title and is generally progressing very typically for a Harrow’s player. Three-time Lakeside Champ Glen Durrant will ensure this name is seen across the codes in 2019.

All in all, it was a ‘steady as you go’ year across the PDC ranking events. Red Dragon performed well and look to be on the up. Unicorn’s long practised strategy again proved correct and most of the other big names dipped a little. The rise of  One80 (in the BDO) & the Independents is good to see and may well continue through to 2019. A.I.M will repeat the exercise and see which Team’s signings, and development, progress the most. 

outline

Red Dragon Punching Above Their Weight? Constructors Championship ’16 Update 1

 RD excelling in the constructors championship?

RD excelling in the constructors championship?

For the initial season, of the AIM constructors championship, teams, companies and players have had a few of each type of event before the initial table. Thus with almost a third of the season gone, 15 PDC Pro/Euro Tour Events complete, and the season’s first TV major complete here is a first look at the table:

Current League Table (May 5th 2016).

£=Points (PDC Ranking Qtr final onwards)

1 – XQ Max – 207.75

2- Red Dragon – 116

3 – Unicorn – 110.25

4 – Target – 105.75

5 – Winmau – 53.25

6 – Monster – 23.25

7 – Bulls – 17

8 – Harrows – 12.25

How points are scored:  https://aimadjuster.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/darts-a-constructors-championship/

XQ Max Lead the Pack.

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The Green Machine. Helping XQ reach a large market?

The small be very well-formed Dutch company are flying in 2016. With the almost unstoppable MVG leading the way. Only failing to score once as a group and Benito VDP providing some of the strongest opposition to MVG mean that XQ are proving that quality over quantity can be a very successful strategy. Wins in all ranking formats and VVV chipping in on quieter weekends has meant huge exposure for the recently formed successor to Masterdarts. In addition the habit of their players all having individual/XQ set means they lead the way in the accessories area as well. Adding Andy Hamilton to the stable should prove worth a watch. Andy can produce superb stuff when he feels believed in, will it happen again here?

Red Dragon Excelling!

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

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

Although RD could be described as Winmau’s little brother, it still must be remembered that compared to some of the other names they are relatively small, budget and marketing are restricted and retail presence is purely online. Thus to be above both Target and Unicorn as well as big brother Winmau is a remarkable effort. The combination of a select group of quality players who have been with them a while, Wright & Thornton being the best examples, together with a policy of giving players an opportunity to come through is working very well. Gerwen Price, Daryl Gurney, Andy Gilding and have come through the system. It appears that RD’s second front is coming through!

What’s Up with Target & Winmau

Target Dart Logo

With the League being based purely on PDC ranking events all is not lost for two of the biggest names in darts. Yet in the case of Target it appears to be a poor return on a huge investment. Innovative darts and complimentary accessories, together with some of the greatest players, should be a sure recipe for dominance or at minimum competing at the very top. 4th position in both Dart & Accessories tables is simply not good enough. All style and no substance? Unbalanced team? The majors should assist them in climbing the table, but rankings do not last forever.

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The Bronzed Adonis. Still Flying the flag for Winmau

The situation looks even worse for Winmau, perhaps the oldest and most respected name in darts, are simply having a poor spell. Some of their established stars have endured tough times. There are some signs of recovery, Whitlock & Webster are beginning to return to some sort of form and may well haul Winmau further up the table. It should also be remembered that Winmau are more closely associated with the BDO, where they have the reigning world champion and have recently signed up the superb Jeff Smith. Can they really afford to stand still in regard to the PDC arena? The impression of a stable of former champions and ageing stars in harder to shake off.

Best of The Rest?

Jelle K

Both Monster and Bulls have made decent starts to the season thanks to their stars. Monster are heavily dependant on Jelle Klaasen (As are L style in the Accessories table). Bulls are quietly producing an excellent stable of, mainly European, players. Mensur is obvioulsy the main source of points but others such as Max Hopp & Dave Pallet are chipping in and have strong futures ahead. A special mention to Elven Darts. As an independent handmade producer, of bespoke darts, it is superb to see them register. The return of Harrows to the frontline, of the PDC, is to be warmly welcomed. A name of real pedigree with a small stable of quality players covering all darting areas. Their policy of selecting small numbers and backing them well may pay off with young Josh Payne.

Finally V180 deserve great credit, not only do they make the chart, they would feature a great deal higher if introducing great players gained points! With Chizzy, Bunting, Norris and more being given chances in the recent past.

Dave Chisnall

Set Up / Accessories

Its bad news for those trying to make an impact with accessory systems. So far only Jelle Klaasen making a real impact whilst using L Style flight and stem set ups. Cosmo seem to be slipping backwards with their players struggling and non of the top section adopting their products.

Cosmo Logo

It would be interesting to see whether this is due to players sponsors not allowing the combination or genuine preference for other types. Some manufacturers are missing a trick by not providing branded accessories or producing ones to their players needs. Unicorn still seem to ensure that almost every sponsored player uses either personalised unicorn products or their branded items, target similarly. Red Dragon & others may be missing out a little here.

Unicorn Logo

As the second section of the season continues with more European Tour events, and Pro Tour weekends, coming together with The World Matchplay amongst others. Will XQ continue their excellent season. Can Red Dragon stay ahead of their rivals and will Target & Winmau get back in the race?

 

 

 

Darts, The Technology Game? Part II

In the first part of , The Technology Game? we looked at the recent explosion in technology innovations and advances that have been introduced over the last decade or so. Here in Part II  we will look at Flights, Stems, Points and more. The main areas covered in Part 1 included; Premium marketing, barrel design and grip variations. All have been given a high profile in the last 5-10 years. The jury was still out on the success or necessity of these idea’s and whether they truly have added to the improvement of players at either amateur or professional level.

There are two other area in which  R & D and sales and marketing  booms have taken place:

Accessories: Flights, Stems and more.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

a new breed? One of a number of interlocking flight and stem systems available.

From dart’s earliest commercial days, the variations in the additions to the barrel have been as numerous and interesting as to the barrels themselves. Flight materials changed from feather to imitation feather, then plastic, rip stop material and then thinner and thinner polymer types. The shape varied enormously over the years, with the what is now referred to a the standard shape as well as pear shapes, kite shapes and variations up the theme. In recent years designs such as fantail, V wing, tomahawk, slim, DSX and numerous others have been introduced. In the case of stems/shafts the variations have also been coming thick and fast since the 1970’s. From the initial wooden canes, lightweight plastics, steel, aluminium, titanium, one piece or separate items, side loading (Slik Stix) and now, coming full circle with, the current combination flight & stem sets, made from plastic/polymers by manufacturers such as Cosmo or L Style, offering a fixed single unit. At the same time length of stem and the correct combinations have moved back and forth quite considerably.

An L Style Flight & Stem Combo
Again the idea of premium products that will add to your game and provide a glamorous look has been deployed by the manufacturers. Whilst a basic flight stem and fixing set can still be bought for less than £1 where as a combination of the latest Target Pixel Stems & Phil Taylor Flights will cost around £15, alternatively the one piece systems offered, by various manufacturers, cost between £8 and £15 per set up.

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

Taylor 9Five Gen 2. Too much tech?

All of these changes and developments have,  claimed either logical or scientific, reasons they will improve upon the existing templates. Amongth these are; faster speed through the air, more aerodynamic profiles, less weight, better balance, additional grip and a host of other claims. many have been used and endorsed by professional players and have gone on to win titles or great matches. World Championships have been won with standard flights, smaller standard flights, pear-shaped flights and others. stem length has varied a little and fixings of flight to stem have also varied. But is this through real improvement or simply great players being able to use differing equipment with which they felt comfortable at any one time?

If we again look at the top twenty players we will see how this has panned out of the last twenty years or so, again we shall also look at the next generation of players and see if changes are imminent? In terms of flight shape, the standard shape is used by almost all of the top twenty PDC players. The size and shape varies a little but are described as standard. Taylor uses a unusual very slim “lightning bolt” design. Brendon Dolan will be associated with Kite shaped as he hit his double start 9 darter with them and Barney changes often! The slight size variation is claimed to either assist in the flight, improve visibility, and reduce deflections.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

The current & double world champion uses a simple no nonsense set up.

In terms of stem set up the evidence is simple overwhelming. Phil uses some of the innovative design, metallic stems but almost every other player in the top twent uses a nylon/plastic/ carbon fibre stem, most use a stem ring of some description and a majority seem are between 35 and 44mm in length. These can be bought for less than £2 per set up even for branded items, generic versions can be bought for pennies.

Classic but still hugely popular.

Classic but still hugely popular.

When we tested these combinations and asked many top players most players agreed that weight and simplicity to change easily were the reasons they believed the simple set ups were best. For the average player or beginner cost is also a large factor.

The above is not to say that success cannot be achieved with other designs and set ups. Dolan used a simple kite flight and lengthy aluminium stem for his 9 darter, Steve Beaton has used Standards, Oversized Pear Flights and both short and longer stems, usually aluminium to huge success over a 30 year career. It does suggest that, with the odd exception, simplicity is the key here and that over design or elaboration is unnecessary.

Points

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Smoothing out junction between barrel and stem as well as griping both board and finger, a true innovation?

Although a rather vital element, of the dart, for many years points were pretty much left alone. Slight changes in colour or size seemed almost accidental. The North Americans favoured a longer point many player customised their own points. However it was pretty ad hoc and unsystematic. The last few years however have seen some dramatic changes. Grooved or diamond cut points, for either increased board grip or finger placement, have made a large impact. Knurled points with a section to rest the finger against  prove popular and more recently the “Storm” point innovation, this makes the barrel and point almost seemless. many advantages are claimed by designers and makers of these points and there seems to be merit in them. Storm points reduce damage to flight set up and may be a factor in the simplicity trend? Grip on points has seemed to reduce fall outs, (except on bad Unicorn days!) Many top players use one innovation or more. The many different combination of possible grip and point shape allow a high level of personalisation to an area previously not explored or marketed.

Two commercial bonus spring to mind, though there are more, firstly the increased roughness of many points may increase the wear and tear on boards and results in lower expectations for durability and more regular purchase, also points of various types can be easily fitted to many other darts, not brand specific, again allowing limitless experimentation with and customization of equipment. In short, point development, and technology, may be one area in which genuine improvement and innovation have been brought to modern darts.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Being certain that your fingers are accurately placed can certainly add to the repitition of your throw.

Technology Game?

It is hard to fully assess the impact of technology and innovation over recent years. Firstly many of the innovations are not really new, they are re packaged or cosmetic developments based on previous items. Secondly the facts that a very small number of modifications have been accepted, by an even smaller number of the top players, at the top end of the game suggests that they do not feel anything is added to their performance. This however may be misleading as most have not grown up with the newer idea’s and may have been conditioned to be afraid of change or suspicious of tech. Yet it still appears to be the case with the best teenage players?

On the plus side, the huge volume of choice available to the average player is great for the game, conversations about new ideas , designs and equipment are always held amongst players, of all levels, and nearly everyone is willing to give things a try. The research and development undertaken by manufacturers after a slice of the market improves choice of kit and maker. Quality overall is probably improved by modern methods, and thus some of the premium accessory items can last a very long time.

However for those starting out the best advise may still be to try as many sets as you can manage to get a rough idea of the weight and style you like.  Then find a dart shop with try and buy facilities. Once you think you have found a set you like, match them up with relatively cheap flights, stems, springs etc that you can keep replacing or even varying for very little cost. Make use of buy,swap, sell web sites or Facebook groups, these can allow you to test darts and accessories without losing all your initial costs. Keep checking in with AIM for our players guide to selecting darts!

In our experience it is the player and their efforts, that make the difference, not the tech. Within the last five years a number of players over the age of 30 have come through the ranking to occupy high position or do well in TV events.

One of these used a dart that is over 25 years old. Not just the design but the actual set! A medium length nylon stem and stem ring is combined with an everyday pattern dimplex flight. This dart and set up reached the big 5 major PDC events and at times averaged well in excess of 100 whilst, both Pro Tour and in majors, 15+ consequetive legs were won against the worlds best including MVG!

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

The Asp. Grandad knows best?

In addition last years runner up in the world youth championships, Nathan Aspinall, uses darts that, either came from or, were inspired by his Grandad.

 

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