Steve Beaton is preparing for his thirtieth World Championship taking the record from Phil Taylor. Both are currently sat on 29 events each. The remarkable ‘Bronzed Adonis’ made his television debut as far back as 1984 and collected his BDO World Championship title in 1996.
Beaton played ten times at The Lakeside and will soon reach twenty consecutive PDC World Darts Championships when he takes to the Alexandra Palace stage. The PDC Championships has not proven a happy hunting ground for Steve but 2020 saw him match his best ever run, reaching the last 16, at the Ally Pally.
The 56 year old Southam thrower has reached almost every peak in the game and has had the longest top flight career of any professional. He is still ranked in the World’s top 32 and has reached multiple Pro Tour Qtr Finals in 2020. He will play in the this years opening session (Dec 15th) against the talented Brazilian Diogo Portella.
Should Steve manage to lift the crown he would be the oldest player to claim the title as well as, by some distance, the longest gap between debut and title winner. It would also be his first PDC major title. Despite his storied career he is yet to lift a PDC major trophy and has had to be content with a multitude of semi final places.
During his BDO days captured many of the games most famed events. In addition to his world title he claimed the World Masters and the British Open and Pentathlon titles. In addition Steve represented England on many occasions, winning both European and World Cups!
Being last, of the major brands, to launch their new range is a tradition at Winmau. Their retail pedigree means that they synchronise the launch in order to provide their retail channels with maximum new products for the Christmas and January peaks.
This year sees the Welsh firm lead from the front with a selection of products from their lead player Michael Van Gerwen before moving on to their other marquee names:
This premium model is clearly inspired by MVGs general barrel design but given the premium touches they ensure a great first impression. They have also eliminated some of the less popular features of Michael’s standard dart.
Vantage feature sections of a ‘VA’ shaped grip and gold plated highlights. The black and green styling of the Adrenalin model is adopted again for this striking variation on the MVG theme.
This looks a more traditional dart but with MVG grip locations and branding. The onyx coating is gain present but paired with non coated bands and deep cut grooves to give an impression of a very aggressive grip.
The MVG green, black and silver styling with plenty of branding points ensures that, although a different style of dart, Assault willlook part of the family.
New weights have been added to Adrenalin, Ambition and Absolute models. All in all the MVG range goes from strength to strength.
Joe has got to off to a nice start with Winmau and they look like a good match. His recent form is nicely timed for his signature dart launch and these are a definite forward development.
The front and rear sections are similar to his usual model but the gentle scallop in the mid section adds an element of element of exactitude not previously obvious. The Red and black colour scheme coordinates with much of Joe’s branding. Overall it’s a more subtle and less aggressive model. A sign of maturing confidence?
Mark Webster (Diamond):
These look a nice development of Webby’s second signature dart. Two new sections of Winmau’s unique diamond fusion grip have been added. This may increase the range of players willing to give this classic shaped dart a try. It’s striking looking and could suit any type of throw.
Even the most optimistic at Winmau would not have expected these to be launched at quite such a peak of interest in The King! Merv’s superb run to the final of the Players Championship Finals has given his profile a huge boost.
It is not shock that the shape of this new edition is the classic Bamboo pattern that has proved so successful for its most famed user. However the added grip within the curved sections looks a technical masterstroke. Taking an old tech dart and making it look both new and modern is a fine effort.
A couple of years back Ted finally added some real grip to his signature shaped dart. The black and red styling also helped introduce the dart to a wider audience. The latest edition celebrates 20 years since The Cou ta inaugural World Championship and the gold section seems appropriate. With a fine ring grip and black onyx coated front area a very striking edition is compete.
There are new and revamped models for Scott Mitchell, Jeff Smith, Willie O Conner and Steve Brown as well as another adaptation of the evergreen Steve Beaton design.
Non Player Ranges:
The excellent Sicario range has been expanded and it is good to see the cluster grip given more opportunity. Fury, Electra and Zinati have been added to the catalogue and bring a dash of simplicity, colour and style respectively.
A select group of accessories brought the launch to a close. A funky pocket flight store and additions to the Pro Line range of premium accessories in the form of a board surround and cabinet.
This is a very strong launch for Winmau. 2020 may have been a terrible year for many but the signing of MVG and then the return to form of King have bookended an excellent performance. They have moved from a legacy brand, who looked jaded and old, to the sharpest and most focused of the leading darts brands.
The sight of once-great players slipping down the rankings, toward an inevitable spell on the ‘Legends’ circuit, is one of the sadder sights in professional sport and has been becoming more common in darts. Merv King is one of the few to arrest that decline and, last weekend, put it into full reverse.
The King, as he is known, has been in the news more for taking on delivery work for Amazon, during the Covid-19 pandemic, than tackling darts elite in recent times. Merv slipped out of the world’s top sixteen during 2016 and has battled ever since to retain a place in the higher reaches of the PDC rankings. But King has refused to follow others, including Colin Lloyd and Mark Webster, down the path into retirement.
Instead, he has battled all comers and worked hard to regain his best form. In addition, the plateau in the performance of the elite seems to have allowed King to close the gap to the leading pack at the age of 54. This weekend saw him reach a major TV final for the first time since 2014. His nail biting defeat to Michael Van Gerwen) was his first ranking TV final since the World Grand Prix of 2012 (coincidentally marking the rise of MVG).
Between the two bookends was firstly a steady decline followed by a determined rearguard action. King is one of the game’s hardest workers, willing to spend hours “pounding the board”, both in non-event practice and while prepping for a match. Indeed, it was not rare to arrive at major venue hours early only to find a selection of Kings flights scattered around the practice room from his earlier session.
In addition, to old fashioned hard work, King has worked with his manufacturer to improve his distinctive signature dart. The current iteration looks almost identical to his old design except they appear to have a new grip between the curved sections. Quite a few older players claim a desensitizing of the fingers requires more grip as they reach the later stage of their career. King’s unique style of dart makes this very difficult to add so credit should go to Winmau for resolving this. Merv also has a strong understanding of the game and his own throw-in particular he is especially keen on the ‘pick up’ of each dart being easily and exactly replicable.
During a career spanning a quarter of a century, King has reached world finals and claimed victory in the World Masters as well as multiple semi and final appearances in the PDC, he has also endured a spell as the pantomime villain of the game. His efforts at the Players Championship Finals give him a chance of an Indian summer at the highest level, back in the top 20 and with a good chance of returning to the elite top 16 could The King reign again with a first PDC major title?
A distinctive set from the current MVG Design range by Winmau. For the first time, there is an extensive range of Van Gerwen darts, and other products, that are intended to suit a broad cross-section of the darting public. Can they improve on Michael’s ‘Authentic’ or previous signature models?
Dimensions: 22g, 54.6mm x 6.1mm barrels. Grip Style: Multi-directional ring cut grip. Variation: Soft Tip Edition. Price: RRP £69.90
Adrenalin may be the best dart in the 2020 MVG Design range. They launched shortly after Michael signed with Winmau. It seems to us that Adrenalin seeks to retain the key features of the Van Gerwen dart while increasing their visual appeal and removing some of the less popular aspects.
Open The Box:
3 Black Onyx Coated 90% Tungsten Barrels 3 x Prism Force Stems 3 x Prism Flights
Full retail packaging.
” These are a superb looking dart. The black onyx and MVG green highlighted cosmetics ensure a sleek premium appearance.”
“The grip is brilliant. I use the the middle blank and the front grip section to get the best control without either slipping or sticking.“
“These are a superbly balanced dart, I did not even notice that they are longer than my normal darts.“
Soft Tip Edition:
As you may note from the pictures of these darts, Adrenalin are almost indistinguishable in Soft/Steel tip. They are excellent as a soft tip choice, they land well in the board and, due to the balance, do not seem to wobble or droop as much as some. But, with high quality conversion points (not supplied) they become a tremendous steel tip model.
The collared style of conversion point (Target for example) ensured a seamless transition from barrel to point. This ensures a predictable flight and minimal deflection/distraction.
One tester was not as happy with the rear section of Adrenalin claiming the transition to the stem was too pronounced. There is a limited weight range in the soft tip version of Adrenalin which may limit its popularity. Finally, it should be remembered that more wristy players may find 54mm long darts more awkward.
Unusually for an elite player, MVG’s signature model is not the premium dart in the range. Winmau has produced a very good value version of Michael’s standard dart (‘Authentic’) for around £40. However, for those who feel that the standard darts is not for them, Adrenalin could be the solution. With the extra features and coatings etc these are the ultimate MVG Design set. While £69.99 is toward the top end of mainstream pricing Adrenaline still costs less than many sets endorsed by Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld and others.
AIM: testers were very impressed by Adrenaline. Excellent grip feel and balance are complemented by superb styling and seemed to suit a variety of players. More direct throwers will find these easy to use and may see an improvement in their game. The grip zones are well placed and all testers found them easy to get used to. Both soft and steel tip editions perform at a high level in their arena. The steel tip edition comes in 22,23 and 24g weights which should suit the majority of players.
Featured Pic: L Lustig
A full range of MVG Design products can be viewed and purchased here
The ‘Man in Black’, is a traditional figure in sport and many other areas of pop culture. He is often the villain of the piece or the one who is difficult to like. Nothing could be less true of darts’ own ‘Man in Black’ Alan Glazier.
Glazier, who died on November 12th 2020, was hugely popular with fans and fellow players alike and was in the vanguard of those who made the game in Darts’ early professional days. In addition, he was an inspiration to many left handed players of the generation which followed.
Although Alan’s trophy cabinet was not as stocked as some of that era’s iconic figures he was a fine player in his own right and somewhat unfortunate to pay in the shadow of such luminaries as Bristow, Lowe , Lennard and Bobby George. He came to prominence in 1975 reaching the final of the British Open, losing out to Alan Evans.
Glazier reached the semi finals of the World Championships in 1986 as well as the final of The News of The World event, missing out to Bobby George, as early as 1979. Glazier triumphed in the Swedish and North American Opens during the late 1970s.
On his 1986 Lakeside run he had this to say:
“I had three hard games to get to the semi-finals,” Glazier recalls. “I was 3-0 up on Terry and won 4-3 in the end and it finished at 1 o’clock in the morning! The next day I played Eric and my arm was killing me. It gradually wore off, but I was 3-0 down and fought back (eventually losing 5-3). I thought that was going to be my year, but never mind.” (Weekly Dartscast 2020)
Along the way he picked up an additional moniker ‘The Ton Machine’, any watcher would soon see why. Glazier was hugely consisitent and did indeed appear to secure almost constant cries of “One Hundred” from the match scorers.
Alan had a very steady, calm throw with the darts tending to lean left on entry. He signature dart has been manufactured by both Winmau and later McKicks. The dart is an excellent starting point for many different styles of throw and the 21g example, used by the man himself, is perfectly balanced.
Glazier was also a fine team and international player who represented England twenty-seven times up until 1988. He retired from competitive BDO darts in 1989 but continued to play exhibitions and entertaining the darting public for many more years.
“The exhibitions went on for the rest of my career. I was doing more exhibitions than I was playing in tournaments! I was on the road six days a week. I was the first professional. I was doing exhibitions, which nobody else did…..” (Weekly Dartscast 2020)
As with many trailblazers, as new starts are born and new eras made, his career began to fade from the memory. Fortunately, for all darts fans Glazier, approaching 80, was spotted playing in a local open, simply for fun, a couple of years ago. Social media did its thing and within days reviews of Alan’s career, along with classic and modern photos, began to appear. An excellent appearance on The Weekly Dartscast during the first 2020 lockdown was perhaps the best of these.
Whether you remember him as ‘The Ton Machine’, ‘The Man in Black’ or as the best lefty of his generation, darts was the better for having Glazier in it and is poorer for his departure.
Weare often asked for ideas for your home practice sometimes others come along that are too good to miss.
The Kill Bull Game from Winmau.tv is one of them. This one has been featured on social media so we had a look. Its a nice, quick, game to work on your bull hitting.
Coach says: “This is nice simple game that can be scaled up or down depending on ability/experience. This means different players can race to their own target while playing together”.
A.I.M:’s ‘Coach’ commented:
Downsides: “Often those who try to devise games make then two hard or the consequences of a missed dart/s too great. This is one of those“.
Play the game two ways: “First play it as simply a chase the target or opponent game.” If your doing well, add in the penalty for missing. “When you first add the extra penalty in reduce your target.”
Overall though, its a good drill,if kept within a wider setting. The DW staff had a go and managed the 300 level reasonably soon even with the penalty. The higher levels were indeed tough and frustrating!
“Too much time spent on one drill leads to complacency and or frustration. Neither of these is good within a practise session”.
Review/Summary of Kill Bull Proved to dartsworld.com
A.I.M: spend quite a large percentage of our time testing and reviewing darts. It can help us solve problems for specific players and in designing products to meets their needs.
So far the Daryl Gurney SE has proven our most highly rated dart (9.5 out of 10!) Along the way we filmed some of our thoughts and reactions and produced a couple of video reviews. While not Spielberg like (Yet!) we hope they are useful to you.
There are two versions one a full 11 mins long and the other, a highlights or snapshot version, coming in at 180 seconds! The shorter is embedded here:
Our reviews have been used by major manufacturers and published in various magazines including Darts World and at dartsworld.com. See the online written version here:
A.I.M: Produced this Top 5 for Darts World Magazine a couple of months ago. Many of the deals discovered are still available!
Darts World has noticed that the costs, especially player and premium, of darts have increased substantially over the past few years. Increased and improved cosmetics, together with some technical innovations, can be blamed for some of this. But, the increased popularity and worldwide expansion of darts seem to be resulting in a golf or tennis like spiralling of some equipment costs.
Less than five years ago very few sets of darts would cost more than £50 and the vast majority were between £20 & £35. These often included accessories such as a case and or spare flight & stem setups. Today, a brief look at any of the major sellers reveals thirty or forty different models with an RRP of over £60 with a handful of models on or around the £100 mark.
Does all this mean that darts is becoming a rich pursuit for those with more disposable cash? Can the average young person still get a decent start and does all this extra cash actually make much difference?
Darts World asked A.I.M: to look into the best value darts available and to put them through their paces. We set them a maximum of £25 per set and asked them to assess quality, performance, value, and accessibility. Here is the first summary of what they found;
These are a lovely dart for the £15 cost. The 22g model is 48mm x 7.2mm (widest) and has a slight taper from the front to rear. There is a small blank near the stem and the grip is what could be described as an original Bob Anderson style grip but slightly more aggressive. They have a slight front weight but still, feel well balanced. Almost indistinguishable from the McKicks Alan Glazier darts.
The darts come with nothing but a point protector in order to keep the costs, and postage fees, at an absolute minimum. They were popular with all our testers and all standards. Even our elite player was very impressed. The ‘Pro-Style’ compared well with other models even those of higher cost. The tungsten content will be at least 80% and may be higher.
These are a serious bargain. Originally £55+ they represent the combination of high-quality tungsten and a diamond fusion grip. Winmau seems to have abandoned this grip style and thus you can now pick up some serious bargains.
These have a great deal in common with John Lowe or Andy Fordham shape darts. The extra grip near the nose can be handy. They are 90% tungsten and measure 40.6mm x 7.7mm. The diamond grip was very popular and will be missed by some serious players. However, after a while, it can rub the other darts into looking shabby and wears itself down.
In short, these are a premium dart for a one-off price. I doubt these will last long. Well worth a try or even to get yourself an extra set if you use them already.
These are a very good value, 90% tungsten dart. They have a lot in common with Unicorn (Taylor) Phase 1. The black barrels with natural highlights are a popular look and have a touch of the Noir range about them. A very grippy dart that is not chunky in the hard or over-complex in design. Various weights are available with 22g and 24g being the most popular. With Darts Corner moving their priorities to Mission darts these may not be around forever as the Designa badge may fade away.
These are available in the clearance section of dartscorner.com and may not be for very long at this price. This model became Jelle’s signature shape and style for quite a few years and during his most successful PDC spell.
90 % Tungsten, superbly designed and engineered to be a superb combination of aerodynamics and style. 42mm long x 7mm (at the widest) they are highly individual and you might wish to try before you buy! Although badged as 22g this is misleading the barrel weight is only 20.4g.
Two of our testers loved these and one has kept them! However, our third player could not get used to them at all. It seems that ‘The Cobra’ is a bit Marmite!
You don’t get many classic player darts for under £20. However, V180 makes a small range, all of which are pitched at a great price. Perhaps the best of these is the Tabern dart. These could be made by Target, Alan’s old sponsor, they are a classic style ring grip dart. Only Alan’s 21g edition is available. They are a little over 47mm x 6mm wide they feel very well balanced and are 90% tungsten.
Our players thought that these were a lovely dart. The only downside was that they are not as heavily gripped as some current models. Our more traditional testers were fond of these darts, whereas our younger player, seem to find them over delicate and harder to control.
It can be seen from the above, that despite the recent increases in the cost of premium products, high-quality darts can be sourced. A little creativity and patience can result in darts of the same very high standard for a lot less of your hard earned.
Occasionally a product can be initially overlooked but grow into its time. Whizlocks may be one such innovation.
We at AIM: tested and reviewed these in the days they were strongly linked to Simon Whitlock. We recently updated our review for dartsworld.com.
Product: Stem Cap & Flight Punch System
(Additional Caps £1.50 set of 3)
You may have noticed the recent trends for fixed/moulded flight & Stem systems. Cosmo, L Style and many others are available and have proven very popular. However, these sets do have their own drawbacks. They are costly and are limited in shape and colour etc. In addition, weight and distribution can be difficult to adapt to.
Tucked away within the accessories section of Winmau’s catalogue, & their website is a hidden gem of an alternative solution. Whizlocks & Flightpunch can be used on most flights and with most stem types (with a standard-sized flight zone). They are solid and metallic and fit nicely over the end of the stem. The punch puts a Whizlock shaped hole into the lower section of the flight. This makes for a very solid set up, protects the stem from collision and locks the flight into place and preventing fallouts.
Testing & Results: During heavy testing A.I.M found Whizlocks to be superb for stem preservation and did not suffer a single flight fallout. If a strong flight, such as a 100+ micron, is used the effect is very similar to a fixed flight system. We used them with Kite, Standard & Oversized Pears, the Whizlocks worked well with all of them. After over 200 legs we have only used 1 set of each size stem and the Whizlocks were still in virtually perfectcondition.
Flights were preserved quite well although some wear and tear was still present. The shape of the flight was preserved very well, especially if the full set up was stored intact.
Downsides: There a couple of small issues. Firstly Whizlocks cannot be used with stems with very narrow flight zones, mainly aluminium ones. They are also a little fiddly to fit at first. Bit these are minor matters and are soon gotten over.
Overall: The cost-saving repaid the cost of the Whizlocks very quickly due to stem preservation. Choice of flight style & pattern combination is hugely increased. Whizlocks can make an excellent alternative to costly and awkward fixed/moulded systems.
Who builds the better team? Who makes the best signings? Who improves & develops players? Who is the best Manufacturer / Sponsor?
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.
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.
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.
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?