Issue One (May 2017) *FREE*

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Lo ve The Darts ISSUE ONE



Editor’s Letter Alex Moss

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o borrow a phrase which is synonymous with the darts, game on! Hello and welcome to the launch issue of the LoveTheDarts magazine. For those readers joining us over from the Darts Weekly magazine, the now defunct title which our team ran from January 2016 to March this year: welcome back and thank you for following us into this new venture. And for any new readers out there: welcome and we hope you enjoy the first offering of our new magazine. What we hope this new publication will provide is something a bit different to what is already out there. With the way the media is changing on an almost day-to-day basis, with the advances of technology and the rise of social media and instant news, for our magazine to be sustainable and keep you, the reader, engaged, we need to offer fresh and new content. That’s why we hope you’ll enjoy what our team has put together for our launch issue. If you turn over the page, you’ll see a contents with everything inside, but I’ll give you a brief rundown anyway. Our main feature this month is an

exclusive interview with one of the inform players in the PDC right now, Wales’ Gerwyn Price. The great Phil Taylor has even been talking him up recently as a future player in the Premier League, so we thought it would be best to chat to him about his rise in the PDC and what the future may hold. As well as Price, we’ve got interviews inside with Kevin Painter, John Lowe, Shaun Greatbatch and Linda Duffy, plus a column from former professional turned pundit and commentator Chris Mason. There are also plenty of other interesting features inside to keep you entertained in our first issue, which we are serving up to you for FREE as a thank you to our loyal readers and followers who have stuck with us during the changeover. To keep this magazine going, though, we will need to charge a small sum for future issues, which is why it is important you get in touch and let us know what you like and dislike about our launch issue.

LoveTheDarts EDITORIAL Email lovethedartsmag@gmail.com Twitter @lovethedartsmag Editor Alex Moss Staff Writers Richard Edwards, Christopher Kempf, Dave McNally, Dave South Contributors Burton DeWitt, Chris Mason Thanks to Dave Allen, Matthew Porter, Lewis Wood-Thompson (PDC), Kevin Painter, Dave Parletti, Gerwyn Price, Linda Duffy, John Lowe, Shaun Greatbatch, Peter Sajwani, Paul Gillings (Darts Performance Centre), David Gill, Lawrence Lustig, PDC Europe (photos)

We look forward to hearing from you! Alex Moss Editor lovethedarts 3



Contents 6 THE BIG PICTURE 8 UP FOR THE BULL Former major winner Kevin Painter answers your questions GAME ON! 12 THE TOP 10 EL DARTICOS 14 THIS MONTH IN DARTS HISTORY 16 BURTON DEWITT’S 180% DARTS QUIZ 18 CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR DARTS PLAYER 20 MATCH OF THE MONTH FEATURES 22 INTERVIEW An exclusive chat with Gerwyn Price, one of the fastest rising stars in the PDC 31 PREMIER LEAGUE CLASSICS We look back at some of the most memorable matches in the Premier League play-offs ahead of this year’s finale at The O2 34 PYSCHOLOGY IN DARTS Ex-ladies world number one turned sport psychologist Linda Duffy chats about the mental side of the game 38 NINE DARTER Nine dart magicians John Lowe and Shaun Greatbatch discuss whether the nine darter has lost its magic. DARTS AROUND THE WORLD 43 EUROPEAN TOUR ROUND-UP 44 PDC FLOOR TOURNAMENTS REVIEW 46 INTERVIEW Sweden’s Peter Sajwani chats to us about his recent two BDO ranking event wins 50 SPOTLIGHT ON MALAYSIA

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53 FORM RANKINGS 54 THE FINAL LEG: CHRIS MASON

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The Big Picture

6 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com


PERFECTION FOR LEWIS Adrian Lewis joined Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld on five televised nine-dart finishes, as he landed the perfect leg in the Betway Premier League last month. The two-time world champion kicked off the fourth leg of his clash with van Barneveld at the Echo Arena, in Liverpool, with backto-back 180s, before checking out 141 to complete another historic achievement. Only Phil Taylor has hit more nine darters than “Jackpot”, but the feeling of producing the perfect game has not lost its magic for Lewis. “It’s really special and a great feeling,” he said. “I’ve been threatening a nine darter for the last couple of weeks in the floor tournaments and tonight I was determined not to miss it. The nine darter’s great but to get the win was important too. I knew I had to put in a performance and tonight I’ve come out a champion.” Photography by LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

APRIL 13, 2017 BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE ECHO ARENA, LIVERPOOL lovethedarts 7


UP FOR THE BULL Does he think he can win another major? What’s it like playing in a World Championship final? Should darts be in the Olympics? And what was the Taylor/Mardle argument all about?! YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY…

Kevin Painter Do you think you can win another major? How much are you practicing these days? Liam Grant, via Twitter In fairness, the odds of me winning another major are probably quite slim, but as long as I can still compete at the top level I’ll keep having a crack at it. Why Ipswich Town? (Ed: Kevin is a season ticket holder at Ipswich Town FC) Del, via Twitter I lived in Essex in my younger days and Ipswich was only about 25 minutes from where I lived, so that’s how I became a supporter of them. What was the Phil Taylor/Wayne Mardle argument about when they said “you know what Kevin is like” at the last World Championship? DuckMan180, via Twitter I don’t waste my time talking about Taylor anymore, you best ask him. Ask me about the weather or something! 8 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

Should darts be in the Olympics? Razorgrip, via Reddit Darts probably should be an Olympic sport. It has the required skills needed to be in, but as long as alcohol is associated with the sport it’s unlikely it ever will be. How many hours a week do you practice? And, what type of routines

FACT FILE Name Kevin Painter Date of birth 12/7/1967 Place of birth Billericay, Essex Nickname The Artist Playing career 1992-2001 BDO; 2001- present PDC Honours England Open 1995; British Open 1997; British Matchplay 1997; WDF Europe Cup (Team) 2000; Swedish Open 2000; Bob Anderson Classic 2002; PDC World Championship runner-up 2004; Players Championship Finals 2011.

do you follow while practicing? La4s, via Reddit I try to practice every other day, you don’t have to practice every day. I have a practice session with Matt Edgar one day a week for five hours, and a few other days I put in two to three hours. I get bored on my own to be honest, so I generally hook up and play against the lads in the local pub or club. I don’t follow any specific routines, just a mix of 501, shots out, doubles etc. It has to keep you interested or it becomes a chore. What age did you start playing darts? Hudd24, via Reddit I was 15-year-old when I first threw a dart. Contrary to the belief that people always say I played in youth leagues etc., I didn’t play super league until I was 19-years-old. How does it feel to play in the final of a World Championship? TheBaldOne91, via Reddit It is a great feeling being in the World


“THE ODDS ON ME WINNING ANOTHER MAJOR ARE QUITE SLIM, BUT AS LONG AS I CAN STILL COMPETE AT THE TOP LEVEL I’LL KEEP HAVING A CRACK AT IT”


Up For The Bull Championship final. It was an incredible experience and one that most players will never get to do, and I’m proud to have been involved in such a great match (Ed: Kevin lost 76 to Phil Taylor in the 2004 final), it was just a pity I didn’t win it though! How often do you change sets? By this I mean, from an older set to a new one of the same, not the Unicorn to Winmau switch or the “Snakebite” different darts every month switching. Berlin180, via Reddit I try not to change my darts if I can help it. I prefer the darts well-worn in rather than the brand-new feel. How do you prepare for the matches against the likes of Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen? Shinnchan, via Reddit I prepare for all my matches in the same way if possible, regardless of who I’m up against. It’s all about how I play to me, I can’t do nothing about my opponent’s game, so I have to make sure I’m fully prepared for the game. In general, I’m great at doing that for TV and stage games as there is generally one match a day and you have an idea of the approximate time you’re on, unlike in floor events where you have no idea. Which player on the circuit have you looked at and thought ‘they have the potential to be a future world champion, but they never made it that far’? kruitenberg, via Reddit I haven’t really thought someone would have been a world champion and hasn’t been, but the standard is so high now that in a few years’ time some of the younger lads have a chance. I always said Michael Smith would be and I stand by that, although it may take him a bit longer than he thinks it will! My other future tip to be a world champion would be Dimitri van den Bergh. 10 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

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however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12

first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis

What is the worst thing a new/ aspiring player can do? kruitenberg, via Reddit The worst thing a new, aspiring player can do is to think they are better than what they actually are. There are plenty of players out there now who you think by their actions that they are multi-time world champions! There is always someone around who will beat you. I’d say to also try and keep in a good, physical condition and stay healthy as the days and weekend events are long ones.

Do you believe the globalisation of the game takes the sport to greater heights? Does it make it harder for you to survive as a pro? Duneh9617, via TSOD.tv It’s great that the game is now such a global success. It can only be great for the sport to have gone as far as it has in the last 10 years or so. On a personal level, again it can only be a good thing. If you are a professional dart player, what’s not to like about being recognised all over the world and playing exhibitions and events in some great places.

“THERE ARE PLENTY OF PLAYERS OUT THERE NOW, WHO YOU THINK BY THEIR ACTIONS THAT THEY ARE MULTI-TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS!”

What do you think of the advancements in board technology? More specifically, do you think the increases in segment size has taken the shine off peoples’ achievements in the sport, with the proliferation of nine darters and hugelyinflated averages? ifm, via TSOD.tv I don’t take much notice of the debates on treble sizes on the dartboards. Yes, there are more nine darters than ever and higher averages, but they still have to be hit. I’m just happy to hit the trebles, whatever size they are!



GAME

TOP 10 EL DARTICOS THE

As Phil Taylor gets ready to pack his darts away, we look back at his best tussles with his great rival Raymond van Barneveld “A fabulous match and a story book ending” The first televised meeting between the pair since Raymond van Barneveld’s switch across the darting divide from the BDO to the PDC in 2006 certainly lived up to the billing. “Barney” had earlier wowed the boisterous crowd at the International Centre, in Bournemouth, by hitting a nine darter against Peter Manley, the first in the Premier League’s then brief history, and then returned to take on Taylor in the final game of the night. Taylor looked to be heading to victory as he took a 7-4 lead, but his Dutch rival battled back to win the last three legs and claim a share of the spoils. Sky Sports presenter Dave Clarke pointed out in the post-match interview on stage between the two 12 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

players that it “could be the start of something special”. He was right! “Taylor missed, Barneveld didn’t, what a match!” This classic in the 2006 UK Open saw “Barney” secure his first win over Taylor in front of the cameras. The quarter-final clash at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium went all the way to a 21st and deciding leg. After van Barneveld kicked off with two treble-less visits it seemed it would be Taylor’s day again, but “The Power” missed three match darts, two at tops and one at double 10, which allowed “Barney” to step in and take out 97 in two darts to win a thriller. “3-0 down, ploughed in 21 180s” Many regard the final of the 2007

World Championship as the best match in darts history, and it is hard to disagree. Van Barneveld was on the ropes when he trailed 3-0 in sets, but staged a memorable comeback to win his fifth world title, and first in the PDC, in a dramatic sudden death leg in the 13th set. The duo traded 180s in the decider, before “Barney” landed tops to be crowned champion. “What a game between two legends of the game” In 2008, van Barneveld and Taylor faced off in the quarter-finals of the UK Open for the third straight year, and like the previous two encounters, it was “Barney” who came out on top again. A 109 checkout in the decider won it for the Dutchman at the Reebok Stadium.


ON!

STEPPING UP TO THE OCHE

has been the only time Taylor and van Barneveld have faced each other on the famous Winter Gardens stage in Blackpool. “Barney” was back to his best as he made it through to his first World Matchplay final, firing in a nine darter in the first round. While Taylor continued his dominance in the event by winning the final 18-12 and averaging 105.16, with his rival also finishing in three figures on 100.11.

“Two brilliant men have given us a Desert Classic” In one of the highest quality finals in televised darts history, Taylor edged past van Barneveld 13-11 in the decider of the last ever Las Vegas Desert Classic in 2009. A 104 checkout won it for “The Power” who finished with an average of 109.21, as opposed to van Barneveld’s 98.52. After the game, “Barney” took the microphone and gave a speech about Phil Taylor being the best player in the world, but that he would be back better than ever.

“Not happy, shenanigans happening on stage!” A match which is probably remembered for what happened after, rather than the match itself, but Taylor and van Barneveld still produced a classic when they met in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Championship. Taylor, chasing a record 16th world title, stormed into a 5-1 lead, before van Barneveld fought back and won three straight sets to only trail by one set at 5-4. Taylor then clinched the next set to prevail 6-4, before the pair were involved in an angry confrontation on stage. Both players were escorted away separately by security staff at the Alexandra Palace, as it appeared Taylor was angry with van Barneveld pulling him back after their handshake. Even discarding the postmatch drama, van Barneveld’s comeback in itself makes this one of the best matches between the two.

“Barney played his part in one of the best finals on this stage” These two great rivals met in another televised final almost a year later at the World Matchplay, and to date it

“What a match! Barney what a man!” Taylor and van Barneveld met once again in the 2015 Premier League and produced one of the best

Do you think you can win another major? How much are you practicing these days? Liam Grant, via Twitter

matches in the history of the tournament during week seven in

matches in the history of the tournament during week seven in Glasgow. Taylor hit nine 180s and averaged 115.80, the highest ever losing average in a televised game, in a 7-4 defeat to van Barneveld. In a dramatic third leg, Taylor opted not to go for the bullseye on a 125 finish, instead setting up 32, and saw “Barney” check out 144. “Phil Taylor proves once again he is the daddy” A total of 19 180s were hit between the pair when they met in the semifinals of the 2015 Grand Slam. A closely fought contest saw Taylor manage to pull away from 8-7 up to 14-10 in front, before getting over the line to win 16-12. “Barney is the boss at Alexandra Palace” The last high profile meeting between the two rivals came at the last World Championship, and saw van Barneveld win their quarter-final clash 5-3. It was the first time “Barney” had got one over “The Power” in the World Championship since 2007, and he certainly enjoyed the moment, getting Taylor to sign the board after the match!

lovethedarts 13


This Month in Darts History May 2013

MIGHTY MIKE IS FIRST DUBAI MASTER

Michael van Gerwen wins the inaugural Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters with an 117 win over Raymond van Barneveld in an all-Dutch final at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, as the PDC launches its World Series of Darts events back in May 2013 major winners James Wade, van “I’m delighted with the success of sport, which is growing in popularity Gerwen and Simon Whitlock, and this tournament and we’d be crazy across the world, will be a good major finalists Andy Hamilton and not to come back!” beamed PDC addition to Dubai’s busy sports and Wes Newton. chairman Barry Hearn after the first social calendar.” The LoveTheDarts Form attempts Commenting to determine,on based on actual efficiency inOn winning legs, extent darts the event at the staging of the Dubai DutyRankings Free Darts the first dayto ofwhat action, the top players are overvalued or undervalued by their rank in the PDC Order of Merit. launch, Colm McLoughlin, executive Masters in May of 2013. two seeds both suffered early exits as To do this, weGerwen saw off Dutch vice chairman of Dubai Duty Free, Michael van top seed Taylor lost 10-8 to Hamilton ,rival andRaymond the “sandbox average”, the average would opponent infinite said: “This aisplayer the first timerecord that a without an van Barneveld 11-7estimated in and second over seedan Lewis lost number out to of professional darts tournament has thelegs. final, held at the Dubai Tennis van Barneveld 10-6. been staged in Dubai and the first Stadium, firing in checkouts of 170 Wade got the better of Whitlock 10time that darts will be played in an and 164 to better three ton-plus 8 and van Gerwen saw off Newton outdoor arena. We think that this finishes from van Barneveld and lift 10-7 in the other two quarter-finals. the trophy. In the semi-finals, van Gerwen Just weeks after winning his 16th battled back from 9-8 down to edge world title, Phil Taylor flew out to past Hamilton 11-9, while van Dubai to help launch the inaugural Barneveld defeated Wade 11-5 to xDubai Darts Masters in mid-January a set up an all-Dutch final. xfew months before the event, which Van Barneveld fired in checkouts of would be the first leg of the PDC’s 120, 124 and 121 to level the final xnew World Series of Darts. up at 6-6, before a killer 164 finish x Taylor headed the field of eight from van Gerwen in the next leg xx players who competed in the proved to be decisive as he went on xknockout event, the first-ever to open up a 10-6 advantage. xprofessional darts tournament to be The next two legs were shared as xheld in Dubai. van Gerwen took the title, which he x The two-day event boasted a described as “a very special win for x$250,000 prize fund, with Taylor me and I’m so happy to win this”. xjoined by former world champions The 2017 Dubai Duty Free Darts xAdrian Lewis and van Barneveld, Masters takes place on May 24-25. x 14 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com



Game On!

EX-ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL PARLETTI SEEKS SPONSORS After a successful first 18 months playing on the BDO circuit, Dave Parletti explains to Alex Moss about looking for sponsors to help him with his progress up the rankings and a possible debut at the BDO World Championship next year the last three years, but to continue nine in county which is nice, but my A former England international and his progress and help fund entries to route to Lakeside is going to be BDO ranking event finalist is seeking more tournaments he is looking for through the back door way. sponsors to help him achieve his sponsors to provide some support. “Winning nine out of nine has got dream of qualifying for the BDO The LoveTheDarts Form Rankings attempts “It’s to determine, based actualTop efficiencyme in winning legs, to what extent a nightmare,” theonformer in the qualifiers, so I’m goingdarts to World Championship. players are overvalued or undervalued by their rank in the PDC Order of Waregem runner-up said.of Merit. have to do it the cheap way. Postman, Dave Parletti, has been To do athis, we number of events on “I private rent, I’ve got two kids and “If I can get a sponsor, that’s the playing select ,the andBDO the circuit “sandbox average”, thehas estimated averagethat a player would without an opponent over an infinite number a missus, comes first.record I’ve got since 2015, and hope, then I’ll probably speak to of legs. money in one hand and then it goes enjoyed success despite only playing them, they’ll ask me what I want, I’m in the other. going to start from August and do in a limited number of tournaments. “At the end of the day, if I’m playing everything I can. The 34-year-old came within a well and I’ve got no stresses I can “It wouldn’t matter if it was one whisker of qualifying for the World just do my game. person sponsoring me or 20 people. Championship earlier this year, but in “I’ve beaten everyone in the BDO “If I had a shirt 30 stickers on it, a memorable 2016 did represent the apart from Glen Durrant (reigning honest to god, it wouldn’t make a England national team, got to a BDO BDO world champion and BDO world difference at all. ranking event final and made it xthrough to the televised stages of the number one). “All I want to do is play darts. I just xprestigious Winmau World Masters. “I know what I can do. I got into the want someone to believe in me, put World Masters last 32, I’ve qualified their arm round me and I’ll do the Away from the BDO, Parletti has xqualified for the PDC’s UK Open for for the UK Open. I won nine out of business.” x xx x x x x x x x x

BURTON DEWITT’S 180% DARTS QUIZ PUB - Who won the first PDC World Matchplay?

LEAGUE - Who was the only Swede to make a major final?

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS COUNTY - 20 years ago on this date (May 1, 1997), who was the XXX - XXXXXX PDC world number one? XXXXXX INTERNATIONAL - Other than English, which nationality has produced the most different World Championship runners-up? PROFESSIONAL - What do James Wilson, John Walton, Co Stompe, Jelle Klaasen, Raymond van Barneveld, Ronnie Baxter and Roger Carter have in common? Answers in next month’s issue 16 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com


x x

Parletti came within two rounds of qualifying for the BDO World Trophy earlier this month, and is next looking

to play at Selsey in the England Open next month. If you are interested in sponsoring

Dave, you can message him on Twitter @Parletti180 or email us at lovethedartsmag@gmail.com

stores.ebay.co.uk/Mojo-DARTS lovethedarts 17


Darting Diary

CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR DARTS PLAYER Our Asian Darts Correspondent Richard Edwards pens the first of his monthly diary entries talking about his mission to be as good at darts as Max Hopp, or is it Per Laursen? Read on to find out more!

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and Scott McKenzie, to namedrop a anti-social to play webcam darts his time last year I decided to couple). against real human beings) and then start a ‘darting diary’. I had At the turn of the year, after a jolly the rest. made the decision of doing up back in Blighty, I returned back to It is this rest period that I am whatever it takes to get better The LoveTheDarts Form Rankings attempts to determine, actual efficiencylearning in winning legs, to what extent dartsI Korea looking forbased work on - unfortunately is so important. In the past at darts. Not just better, but as good players are overvalued rank in employer the PDC Order of Merit. my previous was not keen had been known to thrown darts for as I possibly can be. or undervalued by their To doknows this, we on me taking four days off to five hours non-stop without even Lord why, but I chose ,German and theace “sandbox average”, average their a player would record without an opponent over an infinite number represent country. Max Hopp as a the estimated pausing to relieve myself. of legs. It was then I decided to get a partbenchmark for greatness. This is Taking a proper rest makes the time job and fill my spare time with practice more realistic. The rest is what I jotted down 12 months ago: pounding the lipstick. also sometimes the trickiest thing to “How much better can I get? Max Money is going to be awfully tight do, as win or lose you want to keep Hopp is 19-years-old, assuming he for a while, but I could not resist at going and beat the computer again, has been playing for 12 or so years least having a go. or in most cases, try and get revenge. how good could I be in 12 years’ In a year’s time I will probably have I fill this rest period with enjoyable time?” to go back full-time, but I really don’t jobs; perusing darts forums, I am now one year into my 12-year xprogramme and it has been one hell want to be thinking about that right cleansing etc. and not so enjoyable xof a ride so far. now! jobs; doing the dishes, hanging out So this is my life right now… darts, the laundry etc. It is fair to say I have had my ups xand downs, in fact, just a couple of darts, darts! From 8am until Needless to say the not so xmonths into this adventure I 11.30am every weekday I hit the enjoyable jobs tend to be left before xx practice board. admitted that reaching the level of the frantic getting ready to go to x“The Maximiser” may be a stretch. In the past I may have just hurled work. Talk about pressure darts! x While watching the World Cup of darts aimlessly, I now try to stick to a Imagine sitting on tops to beat Pro xDarts, I decided that if I could not plan of: warm-up, routines (doubles Darter Level 7 knowing that if you xmatch Max’s greatness, I would practice, outshots, scoring etc.), play miss, PDL7 will probably check out xsettle for Denmark’s Per Laursen. (against the computer - I am far too ‘his’ score and send the game into an x I noted: “Per Laursen (50) has been xplaying darts since 1986 (thanks xWikipedia). That’s 30 years! I have only been playing for four years. I have got 26 years to get to his level! Quick bit of maths… 62nd birthday = solid World Cup player. Getting in the England team could be tricky, but I reckon I could get a Maltese team in by then (thanks granddad Valentino!) I think it is one of the many Les Brown motivation speeches I listen to these days, he says “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Or in this case “Try to be as good as Max Hopp at darts and even if you fail, you’ll be as good as Per Laursen.” Without doubt, the highlight of year one of my darting programme was representing South Korea at the Asian Pacific Cup (despite the almighty spankings I received in most games to the likes of Raymond Smith

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS XXX - XXXXXX XXXXXX XX XXX WW WWW

to namedrop a 18and MayScott 2017McKenzie, lovethedartsmag.com


extra leg; which will in turn lead to no time to hang out the laundry and a seething wife who gets home from work before you to a pile of sodden undercrackers. On the way to work the darts does not stop. A year ago I would probably be on Facebook watching videos of cats doing the cutest things or Asian doctors getting dragged off planes. Now I will either be looking at the social media of all the ‘darty’ people I follow, hoping for some news on imminent tournaments. The walk from the station to work; more darts! An endless cycle of motivational speeches that I nabbed off the internet. Lots of these speeches I have turned into little posters which I have placed next to my practice board (see right). One of my favourites says “Welcome to Success, Enjoy the Journey” and whatever the outcome of my pursuit I can honestly say I am enjoying life and feeling great. Since starting ‘Operation Max Hopp’ I have been loving life, and I have even seen some health benefits. Being a larger than average man, the old ‘hammer and tack’ gives me a fair bit of grief when I play, so I am on a mission to lose some weight. I am watching what I eat and drink more carefully and I even squeeze in a couple of power walks each week. When I returned from the UK in January I was back at my ‘western weight’ of 22 stone - three months later I am down to 19 ½ stone - so it is official: darts is good for your health! So here I am, slimmer and still as focused as ever to go as far in darts as I can. Have I seen much improvement in the past year? Absolutely - I am now playing people down the pub, in tournaments and leagues who were giving me a hiding last year, I am now competing with these guys; winning some and losing some. Am I a great darts player? Resoundingly, no! I am still at a standard where I can’t help but be very pleased with myself when I hit a 180. I wonder if that feeling ever stops? Do great players just dump in that third dart and not bat an eyelid? I still average in the 60s most of the time I play and I see an average

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however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the outside, for the perfect leg. That is what it takes to beat the world number one - relentless punishment for van Gerwen’s slightest imperfections. Another “MVG” imperfection missing double 16 for a 108 finish resulted in a critical break of throw for Lewis. A 122 checkout on the bullseye pushed “MVG” to the brink on a 3-5 deficit, but under pressure the Dutchman continued to pound the trebles. Within three minutes, “MVG” had taken out both 80 and 84 finishes -

first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to throw 13 180s and played 11 superlative legs of darts in about 15 minutes. “MVG” recorded a 114 average in defeat. From the players’ perspective however, there was little unusual about this match. It was just another floor game; all business, no histrionics. The difference, however, was the astonishment of watching “MVG” be punished for slight mistakes for which he is normally excused. If Lewis can parlay that winning formula into success in long-format mat

in the mid-70s as very positive. I have got so far to go, but if I continue making progress, who knows where I will be next year? Or even 11 years down the line? Perhaps Mr Hopp would be up for a few legs?

Left: Finishing runner-up at the Korean Darts Championship tournament last month. Above: where the magic happens!

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ome Asian related darts news for you. The PDC are getting the wheels in motion for the Shanghai Masters in the summer. A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from the boss of Professional Darts Korea telling me that a Korean will have a spot in the event. Thankfully, Mr Na (or the Korean Barry Hearn as I like to call him) didn’t let me get excited for too long

as he informed me this was open only for Korean nationals. After a restless night looking at nationalisation procedures, I gave up as I would have to pass a written test in a language I can barely order a pint of lager in. Perhaps next year? The next morning the wife jokingly (well, I assume jokingly) apologised for not being Korean and suggested a quick divorce. I think she was pleased when I laughed it off as not being feasible; there is no way they will process the papers that quickly!

‘I AM STILL AT A STANDARD WHERE I CAN’T HELP BUT BE PLEASED WITH MYSELF WHEN I HIT A 180. I WONDER IF THAT FEELING EVER STOPS?’

ches this year, Michaellovethedarts van Gerwen 19 may find his game to prove not to be


Match of the month

LEWIS BEATS FULL-THROTTLE MVG IN BLISTERING DECIDER Match of the month: Adrian Lewis 6-5 Michael van Gerwen (Players Championship 5 semi-final) By CHRISTOPHER KEMPF Photography LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

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any of the top PDC players, however, it would not prove first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart accustomed to meeting necessary against “Mighty Mike”. break of throw and overthrow the one another dozens of “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in Dutch darting tyrant. times in floor events, greet the second, fourth and sixth legs to Had this match taken place on The Form Rankings to determine, on actual in winning legs,have to what extent theirLoveTheDarts opponents with some friendlyattempts keep himself at based level pegging, theefficiencystage, it would thrown anydarts of players are overvalued or undervalued by their in the PDC to Order of Merit. chatter and a relaxed demeanour. latterrank coming thanks a clutch 12 the capacity crowds for which Lewis To dothe this,April we Fools’ Day setting of Even darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” and “MVG” play each week into an ,aand the “sandbox average”, the estimated average a player would opponent over an infinite number Players Championship semi-final missed double 12, just to record the without an uproar, as the players combined to of legs. Adrian Lewis and Michael between outside, for the perfect leg. throw 13 180s and played 11 van Gerwen, however, failed to That is what it takes to beat the superlative legs of darts in about 15 diminish the intensity of the two world number one - relentless minutes. darting aces. punishment for van Gerwen’s “MVG” recorded a 114 average in These were two men with no slightest imperfections. defeat. From the players’ perspective particular amity or animus between Another “MVG” imperfection however, there was little unusual them - just the mutual recognition of missing double 16 for a 108 finish about this match. one in the other of an obstacle on the resulted in a critical break of throw It was just another floor game; all xpath to ranking and prize money. for Lewis. business, no histrionics. The x A dispassionate handshake before A 122 checkout on the bullseye difference, however, was the and after the match aside, Lewis and pushed “MVG” to the brink on a 3-5 astonishment of watching “MVG” be xvan Gerwen were all business. deficit, but under pressure the punished for slight mistakes for x “Jackpot” had not won a PDC Dutchman continued to pound the which he is normally excused. xx singles title since February of last trebles. If Lewis can parlay that winning xyear. “MVG”, to put it mildly, had. Within three minutes, “MVG” had formula into success in long-format x Lewis was under pressure to win taken out both 80 and 84 finishes matches this year, Michael van xquarter-final and semi-final matches both in two darts - and fired in two Gerwen may find his game to prove xto stop his recent slide down the more 180s, to level the match. not to be as unassailable as he would xrankings. In the decider, like. x The pressure on van Gerwen was a “MVG” fell one xdifferent sort: the weight of more imperfection xexpectation on the world number one short of reaching to crush all challengers, on every day, the final as his in every match. 12th dart flew just Throwing down the gauntlet in the outside of the first leg, van Gerwen produced a twodouble 14, dart 100 finish to hold throw in 11 thwarting his darts. attempt at a If “MVG” had continued to hold match-winning throw in this manner, Lewis would 121 finish. have been a certain loser unless he Lewis then could manage to break throw with a found himself nine darter. well positioned, The nine darter would come in two having hit seven weeks’ time. Thankfully for Lewis, trebles in his

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS XXX - XXXXXX XXXXXX

‘LEWIS SECURED AN 11DART BREAK OF THROW TO OVERTHROW THE DUTCH DARTING TYRANT’ “chat on thur OUR

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Gerwyn Price is on the crest of a wave in the PDC. After reaching his first TV final the Welshman is now on the verge of breaking into the top 16 and the former rugby player shows no signs of slowing down his rapid rise Words Alex Moss

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his time last y

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eing successful in one sport is hard enough, but to taste success in another is rarely achieved. Introducing Gerwyn Price who, at the age of 32, is now in the midst of a flourishing career in his second chosen sport: darts. The Welshman brought a halt to his rugby playing career at the start of 2014 to focus on trying to become a professional on the PDC circuit. A far cry from playing as a hooker for rugby union sides Neath and Cross Keys in the Welsh Premier Division. After winning a two-year tour card on the second day of Qualifying School in 2014, to play on the PDC circuit, Price has since enjoyed a rapid rise at the oche. A run to his first major final, in Minehead at the UK Open back in March, saw “The Iceman” move to

24 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

his time last year I decided to

within touching distance of breaking into the top 16 on the PDC Order of Merit for the first time. Later this month, Price flies out to Dubai to make his World Series debut in the Dubai Darts Masters, and his name is already being touted for next year’s Premier League. Not bad for someone who only took up the sport as a bit of fun with his mates to pass the time on a Friday evening before he played rugby the next day, as he explains to us in an exclusive interview for the first issue of the LoveTheDarts magazine. “I was obviously playing rugby since I was young really and I was playing semi-pro level and a little bit of pro,” Price recalls. “And as it goes I started a Friday night league with my mates, and I was like ‘oh yeah, I’ll have a game on

his time last year I decided to start a ‘darting diary’. I had a Friday’. I don’t go out drinking or anything, I was playing rugby on the Saturday, so Friday nights were free. “I joined a local pub league and then realised I was pretty decent. I started going to super league and I think I was top of the averages for most of the season. “And then I met Barrie Bates (former PDC tour card holder) along the way in a couple of local opens, and he’s like for about two years ‘go to Q-School, go to Q-School’. But my priorities at the time were rugby and I didn’t really have much time to do that, but eventually I got my tour card and never looked back.” As Price continued to taste more success playing in the local darts scene in Wales, it was clear to see he had the natural ability and talent to step up to the professional ranks. It


extra leg; which will in turn lead to no time to hang out the laundry and a seething wife who gets home work before you to a pile of sodden undercrackers. On the way to work the darts does not stop. A year ago I would probably be on Facebook watching videos of cats doing the cutest things or Asian doctors getting dragged off planes. Now I will either be looking at the social media of all the ‘darty’ people I follow, hoping for some news on imminent tournaments. The walk from the station to work; more darts! An endless cycle of motivational speeches that I nabbed off the internet. Lots of these speeches I have turned into little posters which I have placed next to my practice board (see right). One of my favourites says “Welcome to Success, Enjoy the Journey” and whatever the outcome of my pursuit I can honestly say I am enjoying life and feeling great. Since starting ‘Operation Max Hopp’ I have been loving life, and I have even seen some health benefits. Being a larger than average man, the old ‘hammer and tack’ gives me a fair bit of grief when I play, so I am on a mission to lose some weight. I am watching what I eat and drink more carefully and I even squeeze in a couple of power walks each week. When I returned from the UK in was while he was competing in one of the many open tournaments near to his home in Markham, in the South Wales Valley, that Price stumbled upon the set of darts which would help make his decision to switch sports fully an easier one. “I was playing in a tournament and I bought a set of darts which cost me £12,” he recalls. “I won that tournament and I was scoring well, hitting the doubles and everything. “I’ve just kept the same set and Red Dragon have altered the design of them a bit obviously, but the basic dart is exactly the same from then as it is now. “I was picking up a bit more in the darts than I was in the rugby and realised I could live and stick in with the big boys. “So I thought I’d give it a crack and

however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the outside, for the perfect leg. That is what it takes to beat the world number one - relentless punishment for van Gerwen’s slightest imperfections. Another “MVG” imperfection missing double 16 for a 108 finish resulted in a critical break of throw for Lewis. A 122 checkout on the bullseye pushed “MVG” to the brink on a 3-5 deficit, but under pressure the Dutchman continued to pound the trebles. Within three minutes, “MVG” had taken out both 80 and 84 finishes in the mid 70s as very positive. I have got so far to go, but if I continue making progress, who knows where I knock the rugby on the head. The first day at Q-School I was really, really nervous, and I never got nervous before I played darts. “I don’t get nervous anymore. The only time I’ve ever got nervous was the first day at Q-School and my first ever game on the European Tour, but apart from that I never really get any nerves. “I was 4-0 up in my first game at QSchool and I managed to lose that 54. But then the second day I went all the way through.”

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rice secured his tour card at the second time of asking, defeating Rowby-John Rodriguez 5-3 in the final round on the second day of Q-School, but it then took him some time to firmly establish himself on the PDC

Main Feature “I WAS PLAYING IN A TOURNAMENT AND BOUGHT A SET OF DARTS WHICH COST ME £12. I WON THAT TOURNAMENT AND I WAS SCORING, HITTING DOUBLES AND EVERYTHING” circuit. That nervy debut on the European Tour did not arise until midJuly, but Price’s first appearance on the big stage did spark an impressive run of results for the second half of 2014, culminating in qualification for his first World Championship at the end of the year. “When I first started it was like, people I didn’t know I was beating and then people that I knew through darts, like obviously the top boys, I was always overthinking things,” Price says. “I was hoping I was going to beat them, instead of thinking I was going to beat them and I was always falling to the seeds all the time. “I was beating people I should beat and losing to people I was not expected to beat, and as time progressed I beat one or two people, got a few scalps, got a bit more confident and realised there’s nothing more different to them than there is to us. “You just needed to be a bit more consistent that’s all. And my confidence grew and I just got a lot better.” Wins over seasoned campaigners including the likes of Colin Lloyd, Terry Jenkins and Mark Webster, as well as victories against the big boys, such as Gary Anderson and James Wade, helped him secure a spot at Alexandra Palace for the World Championship at the end of his first year on the PDC circuit. A straight sets defeat to fifth seed Peter Wright in the first round brought his debut season as a tour► lovethedarts 25


Main Feature ◄card holder to an end. And after more runs to quarter-finals and semifinals across the Pro Tour at the start of 2015, by the time summer rolled around, it was time for Price to make his second appearance in a televised tournament: the prestigious World Matchplay, an event which many place second only to the World Championship. After easing past Michael Smith 104 in the first round, Price put his name firmly on the darting map in the next round, beating two-time world champion Adrian Lewis 13-10 to progress to his first TV quarter-final. “That was the next TV event I was in and I was playing really well on the floor,” Price says. “I was beating players like Adie (Adrian Lewis), but when you’re playing a longer format you don’t really know if you can last over that many legs, or how you’re going to compare with the top players when they keep playing at that standard right the way throughout. “When I played Michael Smith in the first round it wasn’t a very good game, but I won quite convincingly. “Then I played Adie and to play the way I did for 80 per cent of the game it just gave me a confidence boost for the rest of the year. “I wouldn’t say it was one of my most important wins, I would say there was nothing important about the game. “The only important thing about it is that it was a good learning curve for me. It put me in good stead for the next TV events, but no, it was just another game and it wasn’t exactly a final or I didn’t win anything, apart from the game. “So I just had the stage experience, that was the only thing I got out of the game to be honest with you. “I didn’t play well in the TV events after that, but I knew that I could do it on the big stage, and the big

averages were there. It just gave me the confidence to know that the game is there. It’s just pulling it out a bit more consistently.” Price’s debut at Blackpool came to an end after losing 16-7 to Wright in the last eight, before he would suffer more heartbreak in front of the cameras, spurning a commanding lead against Smith in the World Grand Prix, falling short in a decider to Ian White in the Players Championship Finals, and then being whitewashed by Andrew Gilding in his second visit to Alexandra Palace. “After my second World Championships I was coming into 2016 with a knock of confidence, because I just couldn’t get my first win in the worlds,” Price says. “It’s a big break obviously watching the worlds for the next two weeks and then it goes to Q-School, so I wasn’t playing then until February in the UK Open Qualifiers. “I wasn’t nervous, but I was just a bit anxious of how my game was going to be. After the first day I was like ‘oh, I’m not too bad’.” In the fifth UK Open Qualifier of

“I WAS GOING TO CHANGE MY DARTS, BUT I’VE STUCK WITH THEM AND I’VE JUST GOT TO PUT MORE PRACTICE IN AND I THINK THEY’LL COME TOGETHER FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON” 26 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

2016, Price knocked out Webster and Mensur Suljovic to reach his first PDC final, where he lost out to world number one Michael van Gerwen 6-2. The Welshman would not have to wait much longer to win his maiden PDC title, though, as he reeled off six legs on the spin to beat Wright 6-3 in the final of Players Championship 7. A 108 average in the final of the very next Players Championship saw Price pick up back-to-back titles on the Pro Tour. “I was practicing well and my confidence was back. I just went on a roll from there,” he says. “I don’t know where the confidence came from, I was lucky enough that the first year I started playing well. “I was going to change my darts, but I decided not to. I’ve stuck with them and I’ve just got to put a lot more practice in now and I think they’ll come together for the rest of the season.”

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rice’s 2016 campaign in the TV events, in comparison, was a mixed bag. A 10-8 win over Kim Huybrechts in the first round of the World Matchplay was followed by an 11-5 defeat to Lewis in the last 16, in a match which is remembered more for the prematch build-up than the encounter on stage itself. Lewis had claimed in his pre-match interview that Price’s win over him in the event in 2015 was lucky,►



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◄and the two exchanged words over social media in the lead up to their rematch at the Winter Gardens. Early exits in the World Grand Prix and European Championships followed at the start of last autumn for Price, before he topped his group in his debut year in the Grand Slam of Darts, eventually losing out to Brendan Dolan in a decider at the start of the knockout stage. Another first round exit in the World Championship at the end of last year, this time to his fellow Welshman, Jonny Clayton, left Price still waiting for his first win on the Alexandra Palace stage heading into 2017.

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uelled by the disappointment of losing in the last 64 of the PDC’s biggest tournament for a third year in a row, Price has certainly hit the ground running in 2017. In fact, as we went to press only Wright (£208,750) and van Gerwen (£90,500) had picked up more prize money in ranking events than Price (£71,000) so far this year. Gerwen Almost had half of that amount (£35,000) came from Price’s run to the final of the UK Open in March, his first televised final, which he lost out to Wright 11-6. What was the most remarkable about Price’s heroics in Minehead was that he had never got past the last 96 of the event in his three

28 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

“THERE’S SPOTS OPENING UP IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE, MAYBE THREE OR FOUR SPOTS OPEN FOR NEW PLAYERS, AND I COULD BE ONE OF THEM”

previous UK Open campaigns, but wins over Justin Pipe (10-5), Dave Pallett (10-4), Paul Hogan (10-6), Ian White (10-9) and Alan Norris (11-9) saw him go to within one game of winning the tournament, widely known as ‘The FA Cup of Darts’. “In the final I felt more relaxed and at ease than all the way through the tournament, because I’d only ever won a prelim game in the UK Open,” Price says. “It’s one of those places where I just never get going, but once I got through my first game, that was the main target, I just don’t know. I think I grew into it and got my way to the final game. “As you get to the quarters and the semis I really, really wanted to do well, and once I got to the final I relaxed too much. “I felt like I relaxed too much. I didn’t mind losing and I shouldn’t have been in that mindset.” Now up to 17th on the PDC Order of Merit, Price is closing in on the top 16, although his recent carelessness in missing events after forgetting to enter them may mean it takes him a

little longer to crack the top 16 than he perhaps anticipates. “As long as I can get into the top 16, that’s my target by the end of the year,” he says. “It’s not that far to go, it’s well within my grasp if I just keep playing well. I just want to do well in the TV events and the Europeans. “I’m doing pretty well on the Pro Tour most of the time. I just want to do well where it matters, where people are recognising it. “If you do well in the TV majors then you never know what comes off the back of that. “I’m hoping I can squeeze into the top 16, do well on the European Tour and the TV events, and then people can come out of the Premier League. “There’s spots opening up there, maybe three or four spots open for new players.” It seems only a matter of time before Price breaks into the top 16, with the way he is performing right now what happens after that looks to be in his hands too.LTD Thanks to Dave Allen at the PDC for organising the interview with Gerwyn.




Premier League Classics

GREATEST PLAY-OFF MATCHES AT THE O2

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Premier League Classics ANDO DODGES A CHIZZY BULLET A DAVE CHISNALL 9-10 GARY ANDERSON YEAR: 2015

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his time last year I decided to start a ‘darting diary’. I had made the decision of doing whatever it takes to get better at darts. Not just better, but as good as I possibly can be. Lord knows why, but I chose German ace Max Hopp as a benchmark for greatness. This is what I jotted down 12 months ago:

MVG CUTS OUT THE POWER MICHAEL VAN GERWEN 10-8 PHIL TAYLOR YEAR: 2013

“Not many people have beaten Phil Taylor in finals and he doesn’t like losing finals, so to do this gives me a lot of confidence because he’s the greatest player ever. It’s my biggest title yet and I hope I can win a lot more of these titles in the future.” These were the ominous words uttered by Michael van Gerwen shortly after beating Phil Taylor 10-8 to win the Premier League in his debut season back in 2013. The Dutch ace had catapulted himself into the tournament for the first time, having ran Taylor close in the World Championship final at the start of the year, and also captured his first PDC major, winning the World Grand Prix in October 2012. But this triumph, at The O2 in London, set the scene for what has been a dominant era for the current world number one. Van Gerwen had enjoyed a superb first year in the Premier League, finishing at the top of the league table after the 14-week league phase, before he saw off previous winners James Wade (8-4 in the semi-finals) and Taylor to scoop the £150,000 title. Taylor had beaten Raymond van Barneveld 8-4 in his semi-final earlier in the night, and began the final in a confident mood, opening up leads of 3-1 and 5-3 in the best of 19 leg deciding contest. But Taylor’s new rival stormed back in the second half of the final, taking 32 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

five successive legs to go 7-5 in front, before a 160 checkout from the 16time world champion punished the Dutchman’s decision not to throw for the bullseye in the 14th leg. Van Gerwen regained his composure to win the next two legs and go 9-7 up, and despite Taylor surviving two match darts in the next leg to keep his hopes alive, it was “MVG” who checked out an incredible 132 finish on the bullseye to win the title in style. Only a year prior to this success, van Gerwen was playing at The O2, where he was beaten by James Hubbard in the World Youth Championship final, but he went into this final ranked second in the world. “Last year after I lost in the World Youth Championship final I said to myself that I hoped one day I could play here with the big boys, and a year later I win it, which is incredible,” van Gerwen said. After the defeat, Taylor admitted that overhauling van Gerwen off his perch was his new target, a goal which he has done on several occasions, but he has not been able to stop “MVG” from reaching the top of the rankings and taking home the majority of major titles since. “All my career I’ve had people come along and beat me, and knock me off my pedestal,” Taylor said. “Michael’s knocked me off my pedestal and I’ve got to get back up and I’ve got knock him off now.”

“The 116 was a big shot to hit to win that semi-final. Chizzy had those three darts at 32 and missed and I took out the 116. It’s usually me who misses the darts at a double and someone takes out a big shot to beat me but I’m taking my chances now, and it was the same in the final.” It had been four years since Gary Anderson’s previous triumph in the Premier League going into the 2015 season, but the Scot went into the campaign with a moniker which he never had before ‘world champion’. At the start of the year, at the age of 44, Anderson beat Phil Taylor in a deciding set to win the World Championship at Alexandra Palace and achieve his darting destiny. Indeed, a player of Anderson’s calibre was too good to finish without a world title to his name, but this victory at The O2 five months later backed up his standing among the game’s elite. An 11-7 win against world number one Michael van Gerwen secured him the £200,000 prize, but it was his success over Dave Chisnall earlier in the night, in the semi-finals, which was the most dramatic. A high-quality encounter went to a deciding leg, and it looked like Chisnall was going to be the victor when he opened with a 180 and got down to double 16. But three missed match darts allowed Anderson the chance to snatch victory, and he did so with a match-winning 116 finish.


however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the outside, for the perfect leg. That is what it takes to beat the world number one - relentless punishment for van Gerwen’s slightest imperfections. Another “MVG” imperfection missing double 16 for a 108 finish resulted in a critical break of throw for Lewis. A 122 checkout on the bullseye

TAYLOR CREATES HISTORY JAMES WADE 8-10 PHIL TAYLOR YEAR: 2010 “I’m a very proud man. I’ve won every title in the PDC and I don’t think I can ever do better than this - it’s the proudest day of my life. Everything I’ve done for the last 30 years has all come together. It’s been my dream to do this.” Those were the words of a joyous Phil Taylor, speaking after beating James Wade 10-8 in the final of the 2010 Premier League, in a match which saw him hit not one, but two nine darters. Taylor became the first player ever to hit two nine-dart finishes in one game, as he twice produced the perfect leg on his way to winning back the Premier League trophy. The first of the nine darters came in only the second leg, before Taylor went on to achieve the feat again in the 15th leg of the final. Taylor then went seven perfect darts into the next leg, before settling for a 10-darter as he went on to close out a 10-8 win in one of the most

historic games in the history of the sport. The first nine darter from Taylor saw him follow scores of 174 and 180 with a 147 finish, treble 20, treble 17 and double 18 to hit the first perfect leg in a televised final. Wade was not deterred by Taylor’s heroics though and as the final entered the 15th leg, the two were all square at seven legs apiece. Taylor then kicked off the leg with back-to-back 180s, before checking out 141 to record his second ninedart finish of the game, which raised the Wembley Arena roof. A 10-darter in the next leg, a leg which saw Taylor miss treble 17 to

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first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to throw 13 180s and played 11 superlative legs of darts in about 15 minutes. “MVG” recorded a 114 average in defeat. From the players’ perspective however, there was little unusual about this match. It was just another floor game; all business, no histrionics. The difference, however, was the astonishment of watching “MVG” be astonishingly almost set up a shot at a third nine darter, put him 9-7 up. Three missed match darts from “The Power” in the next leg handed Wade the chance to finish 64 and keep the match alive, but Taylor checked out 88 in the 18th leg for a 12-darter and to win the title. “It’s absolutely incredible and possibly the greatest moment of my career,” Taylor said. “I knew it was possible to hit two nine darters in one game and I said to Rod Harrington in the break after six legs of the final that I thought there could be a second in our game.” A gallant Wade said: “It was an incredible game and in a way it’s a compliment that Phil hit two nine darters to beat me. The score was 10-8 so those two legs were the difference.”

“IT’S ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE AND POSSIBLY THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY CAREER. I KNEW IT WAS POSSIBLE TO HIT TWO NINE DARTERS IN A GAME” lovethedarts 33



Psychology in Darts

INSIDE THE MIND OF A DART PLAYER Former ladies world number one, and now sport psychologist, Linda Duffy discusses working on the mental side of the game Words Dave McNally

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s all players these days, at whatever level, search for that extra bit of ‘something’ to improve their game, psychology and mental training exercises are becoming more and more prominent in, not just darts, but in sport in general. I managed to catch up with ex-darts player and respected sports psychologist Linda (Batten) Duffy. Linda herself is no stranger to the mental pressure of toeing the oche, winning the WDF World Cup women’s singles in 1985 and having over 30 titles to her name, add the fact she was ranked as ladies world number one from 1982 to 1987, Duffy had an illustrious career playing darts. Now she is involved with helping those current players with the mental side of their game, while also being an associate professor of Sports Psychology at Middlesex University. So Linda, was psychology something that you were always interested in, or did it develop from when you were involved in and playing darts? “It developed from playing darts,” she said. “I always wondered why men should be better than women in a sport where there were no obvious physical disadvantages.” Most players suffer from nerves or some sort of tension during a certain

match or tournament, this can only be expected as pressures increase and the mind kicks into overdrive. Did Linda suffer from nerves and in what way? “Yes, I always suffered from pre-match nerves, especially county games and international matches. Tournaments weren’t too bad as you could play yourself into the tournament, as the further into the tournament I went the less nervous I was.” John Lowe once told me that if you don’t get nervous, then you don’t care, but sometimes nerves can totally destroy a player’s confidence or belief that they can actually win, and be totally detrimental and take all the enjoyment out of the sport. Many players have fell by the wayside because of the mental attributes needed for darts, does Linda think it is possible to train the mind to overcome these situations? “Yes, of course, otherwise there would be no point in me being a sport psychologist!” A fair point made by Linda, but what sort of techniques does she adopt when it comes to working with dart players? “Without giving too much away, all players are different therefore they have to be assessed and treated as individuals. I use a variety of psychotherapies and cognitive

techniques to improve players’ mental skills.” There is often scepticism with any sort of newer approaches that don’t fit in with traditional old school ways of doing things, so how has the world of darts responded to Linda’s coaching methods? “Players that I have worked with appear happy and have improved. I still think the governing bodies are sceptical.” So with sceptics out in force, what have been the success stories? “I can’t name individual players or teams but I have worked with several. In darts I’ve helped someone regain respectable form following a severe bout of dartitis and I’ve worked with teams on penalty taking in football and increased their score percentage from 72 per cent to 98 per cent.” So how does it all work then? Does Linda have players visit her regularly or do they just follow advice she has given them after a few visits? “Both really, it’s all down to the individual.” And what sort of mental blocks has she come up against? “Dartitis is the biggest mental block in darts as severe cases can ruin careers and ambitions.” Does Linda feel that more and more sports people are using psychology more, as I notice it is► lovethedarts 35


Psychology in darts ◄big in boxing and often used in American sports to get that competitive edge? “Yes definitely, everyone wants a mental edge. Psychology is a science that can turn performances into wins.” What about people who say that it is cheating, not part of darts, and should be about who is the strongest whilst on the oche? “I don’t see how it is cheating,” Linda says. “To be a champion you have to be strong mentally, physically and in skill set. Developing your psychological skills is just one aspect of training. I don’t think anyone would think it was cheating if one boxer spent more time on pad work or the speedball than his/her opponent. Some athletes spend more time on developing their mental skills than others.” As science develops and new ideas arise, has Linda changed her own techniques as more and more research is done and newer methodologies are suggested? “There are fundamentals of mental training that haven’t changed much over the past 20 years but of course with new research certain aspects of delivery have changed.” Often you will hear commentators

Are these players that much better than when we played or has something changed? Their conditions at the Pro Tour are much better than the conditions were in the days when we played, when people could be within touching distance whilst you were in a game so to speak, compared to today. I understand that the conditions at events are perfect for the players in the room and Barry Hearn has made the game the way it 36 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

referring to players as being ‘mentally weak’ or ‘unable to handle the pressure’, for example when on the big stage tournaments or in front of

the television cameras. Does Linda feel that her work can help everyone, or are some people just too mentally weak? “Mental skills training can help everyone, those who are mentally weak at the beginning may benefit more as there is more room for improvement. But there will always be more who are stronger than others?” Is it all positive Linda? Do you feel that there can be negative effects, such as becoming over reliant on psychological techniques? Such as if a player forgets what they’ve been trained to do or psychological skills that they’ve learnt that will play on his/her mind as well, causing a detrimental performance? Linda concludes: “No not at all, the techniques are designed to benefit the performer, and psychological skills training should be built into everyday training routines, as physical training is. “The foundation of performing at an optimal level is built upon confidence and self efficacy, using every aspect possible in training enhances these psychological constructs.”LTD



HAS THE 9 DARTER LOST ITS MAGIC? Words Dave South


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he nine-dart finish. Is it overhyped by today’s environment - by the men that defined it? My attempt to discuss the argument of the nine-dart finish and how it is hailed as a seemingly every day encounter, especially perceived in my eyes and bookmakers’ eyes, when we see odds for an event for a nine darter to occur, and the hype from some television contributors, who screen most of the major events in the UK. As an axillary to this feature, we are happy to present that the history of the nine-dart finish goes back to 1984, when John Lowe hit the milestone on television. As well as the first person to hit the first live televised nine-dart finish Shaun Greatbatch. Both of these men kindly spoke to me and discussed the sport’s holy grail: the nine darter.

John Lowe First player to hit a nine darter on TV John, before your nine-dart finish in autumn 1984, in your view, how common was this in events you were involved with? It wasn’t common at all. It was reported that Albert Gamble, from Stockport, had done a nine dart game, but it could not be verified, and they believe it wasn’t the traditional regulation dart throw. In all likelihood my nine darter was not only the first in history on TV, but possibly the first ever. You took home a lifechanging £102,000 for your nine darter, considerably more than the winner’s cheque for the event. Did hitting that perfect finish ultimately change your life and did it increase the thirst for success? The first reaction to achieving the nine dart game was: I must now win the tournament. I did not want people to say I was lucky for two minutes. I did win the tournament, and the high finish. The final amount won was £116,000. It did change my life, I put the whole amount into a pension fund.

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however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12

first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to throw 13 180s and played 11

Although your achievement should not be overshadowed, do you think when Phil Taylor hit his perfect leg in 2002 it did overshadow yours, and Paul Lim’s nine-dart finish in 1990, being live on Sky Sports? It’s impossible to overshadow my nine-dart leg, it was the first and it always will be. No matter how many more since and in the future, the 13th of September, 1984 is history, the rest are just number two, three, four and so on.

“IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERSHADOW MY NINE DARTER. IT WILL ALWAYS BE THE FIRST” CAREER. I KNEW Shaun IT WASGreatbatch POSSIBLE Hit first nine TO HIT TWO darter NINE on live TV IN A DARTERS GAME” You hit the first ever nine-dart finish

Do you think, especially in the last two years or so, fans have been conditioned into expecting the ninedart finish more often than not? The audience expect it and so do I. The scoring area of the dartboard is 14 per cent bigger than in 1984. This is down to the wires being razor blade thin, and no staples, bounce outs are rare today. In 1984 you expected at least a few darts would bounce off the big wires in any match you played. With the nine-dart finish happening more frequently, is this fuelling fans’ expectations of a perfect leg? I honestly believe it’s time to leave the nine-dart leg behind and move on to another chapter in darts format. Increase the legs to 601, and then we would all wait for the first player to hit the ultimate leg of 601 in 11 darts. It would make good TV and give the bookmakers something to add to their betting list.

on live TV in the Dutch Open in February 2002. How did it make you feel to be in the history books for a live nine-dart finish? I was not heavily known at the time, having played one Lakeside, and you would never have thought I would be the one to hit the first one. I went over as a guest of Mervyn King for my first ranking event outside of the UK and queued up in the rain with Steve Coote as members of the IDPA, with 2,400 entries that weekend. Steve and I were put in a room together (to save on expenses) and we went on to meet in the final. It was pretty special to play against a mate in the final. The memory of the nine darter was hitting the first 180, then the next then thinking I am probably only going to get one crack at this and never for a second thought I’d be► lovethedarts 39


Nine darter ◄playing in numerous future World Championships etc. and said to myself just do not pull that first dart on the approach. This was the best leg I have ever played in my life and all I could think of after the event was getting some rest, having played since Thursday and this was now Sunday. The crowd went nuts for 20 minutes or so and we were escorted off the stage by two bouncers at the end. Was there any prize money for hitting the nine-dart finish in 2002? There was no bonus, although someone did donate €2,000 through the television company and I was awarded with this. However, this did kick start some sponsorship with DataDarts and opened the door to exhibitions and even some events, which I had not qualified for, I was brought in as a wildcard. Do you think as an audience, especially in the last two years or so, fans have been conditioned into expecting the nine-dart finish more often than not? The game has moved on and the top six are frightening now. The boards have reportedly been adapted slightly, which means the boards are not quite the same boards I played on when I hit the nine-dart finish in 2002 with staples on the board. It would be interesting if the boards from my era were used, what the averages would be, but the fans love the entertainment. With the nine-dart finish happening more frequently on the floor events, is this fuelling fans’ expectations of a perfect leg in front of the cameras? Are these players that much better than when we played or has something changed? Their conditions at the Pro Tour are much better than the conditions were in the days when we played, when people could be within touching distance whilst you were in a game so to speak, compared to today. I understand that the conditions at events are perfect for the players in the room and Barry Hearn has made the game the way it 40 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the is, there must be a less social element to it due to the prize money that is on offer, but that is the way of the world. Apart from your milestone, is there any other nine-dart finish that holds good memories to you as a fan? Tony O’Shea at the International Darts League as there was a car on offer, and Phil Taylor had hit one already the day before and took him for half a car in 2007. To nominate another would be John “Boy” Walton in the World Masters, it is another perfect leg which holds great memories.

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first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to s a fan I feel that something has changed in darts. With reports suggesting the trebles have got as much as 14 per cent bigger, as reported by many sources, I can only summarise that the standard has got better via influences such as prize money, competition and the desire to win. As Barry Hearn himself once stated, offering the prize money out there like the PDC do today was like dangling a carrot out and suggesting players to go and get it. The entertainment aspect of darts has grown to levels out of probable reach ten years ago, with there now being a World Series of Darts, which is included in well over 150 days of televised darts coverage this year. The nine-dart finish is great, with the great Adrian Lewis honoured to be the last player to hit one on TV, in the Premier League last month. But do you think Mr Hearn, if you were to offer the very next player from now to qualify and compete for a sizeable sum for hitting the nine darter at, say, the World Championship later this year, surely this would motivate players to get even better. I do see John Lowe’s possible direction of introducing the 601 format, now that the double-in format has been surpassed, and as he suggests it would give odds compilers more markets and give more choice for the punters. Seeing that bookmakers tend to sponsor PDC events, could this be the next move?LTD

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Darts Around the World

DARTS AROUND THE WORLD

PDC TOP 20 By CHRISTOPHER KEMPF Photography LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC The LoveTheDarts Form Rankings attempts to determine, based on actual efficiency in winning legs, to what extent darts players are overvalued or undervalued by their rank in the PDC Order of Merit. To do this, we a rolling Peter Wright andconstruct Michael van 180-leg lead dataset players’ stage Gerwen the from way in the PDC matches that is updated with each European Tour Order of Merit additionalthe legfirst played (and, following three events of consequently, each additional leg the 2017 season. dropped out of the rankings). World number three Wright, who From data we canfinal estimate beat vanthis Gerwen in the of the how well a given player would German Darts Championship, throw the if he played out every leg until he hit a curtain raiser to this year’s European winning double. Tour, in March, continued his fine Thistoprovides controlled start the yearus byaclinching another statistical situation in which we can title on European soil last month. directly strengths, Wrightcompare defeatedplayers’ Benito van de Pas weaknesses and overall form. 6-5 in a thrilling final of the German In the table, those areTour Darts Open, the thirdqualities European expressed by the average number of event of 2017, defying a career-best darts it would take each player to 110.46 average from “Big Ben” to complete this hypothetical leg, title stage win his second European Tour of by stage, and the “sandbox average”, the year, with Wright surviving one the estimated average a player would record without an opponent over an infinite number of legs.

PETER GETS IT WRIGHT AGAIN! match dart in the decider before checking out 121 on the bullseye to snatch the victory. “You have to make things interesting,” Wright joked. “I took my time, I thought it was the only shot I was going to get and luckily I landed it.” Wright leads the European Tour Order of Merit with £54,000 to his name after three events, with van Gerwen in second spot on £39,000. The world number one picked up

his first European Tour title of the year after winning the German Darts Masters in Jena last month. ‘MVG’ saw off Dutch rival Jelle Klaasen 6-2 in the final to be crowned German Darts Masters champion for the third year running. “When you play this well it feels great,” van Gerwen said. “But I’ve worked really hard for this and I make a lot of sacrifices, so I’m glad it paid off.”

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lovethedarts 43


Darts Around the World PDC Floor Tournaments Review By CHRISTOPHER KEMPF Eight players on the Development Tour have won one quarter of all the prize money on offer in the first eight events of the year. This top echelon of young players includes Kenny Neyens, whose exploits on the tour include one title, three finals, and only the second nine darter thrown on the Development Tour, and Luke Humphries, who claimed two titles within 36 hours of one another in February. But the most consistentlyexceptional player on the tour thus far has been Adam Hunt, who has taken 110 legs off his opponents and reached six out of eight possible semi-finals. Hunt snapped his losing

streak to top Belgian youth player Dimitri van den Bergh in a 5-3 semifinal triumph en route to claiming the title in the seventh event. However, another 12 events remain on the Development Tour calendar, which allows plenty of time for other young players - such as Stephen Rosney, a surprise finalist in the seventh event - to rise from the obscurity to challenge the established tour leaders. DEVELOPMENT TOUR Player Earnings Leg +/A. Hunt £5,700 +110 L. Humphries £5,300 +80 K. Neyens £5,150 +95 D. van den Bergh £5,050 +84 S. Lennon £3,350 +77

The list of 2017 Challenge Tour winners includes a World Championship semi-finalist (Wayne Jones), the 2002 Winmau World Master (Mark Dudbridge) and a 24year-old darter from Gloucestershire (Aaron Dyer) who has matched or exceeded the accomplishments of established veterans. Dyer survived a second round last-leg decider to reach the final of the first event, crushing Mark Frost 5-1, and claimed the fourth title later the next day. Ally Pally-debutant Frost, who reached three semi-finals and two finals in his first five events, remains at fourth place in the Challenge Tour rankings despite having not won any of the eight events so far.

The second four events, played in mid-April, witnessed the dominance of veteran players who had not made their mark in the March events. Overcoming Lee Evans in a tight semi-final match, Wayne Jones proceeded to easily win two evening titles in finals against exhausted opponents. A clear top two has emerged, symbolising in Jones and Dyer two distinct darting generations.

Two veterans of PDC stage and screen top the tables on the Moscowbased EADC tour: rapid-fire Boris Koltsov and the idiosyncratic, methodical Aleksandr Oreshkin. The two split the titles awarded on the first weekend of the tour, in February, with Koltsov dominating the first event and Oreshkin besting a subpar Koltsov in the second final. The March events were less kind to the Russian numbers one and two,

as Koltsov crashed out in the quarterfinals of both events three and four and Oreshkin, in a bizarre incident, forfeited a quarter-final match when he and his opponent took an unauthorised bathroom break at the same time. Of note also among the top performers is the teenaged Maxim “The Machine” Aldoshin, who reached at least the quarter-finals in all four events and pushed Oreshkin

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CHALLENGE TOUR Player W. Jones A. Dyer L. Evans M. Frost P. Milford

Earnings Leg +/£4,800 +79 £4,600 +69 £3,350 +65 £2,800 +56 £2,650 +47

anti-social to play webcam darts against real human beings) and then the rest. It is this rest period that I am learning is so important. In the past I had been known to thrown darts for five hours non-stop without even pausing to relieve myself. Taking a proper rest makes the practice more realistic. The rest is also sometimes the trickiest thing to do, as win or lose you want to keep going and beat the computer again,

or in most cases, try and get revenge. I fill this rest period with enjoyable jobs; perusing darts forums, cleansing etc and not so enjoyable jobs; doing the dishes, hanging out the laundry etc. Needless to say the not so enjoyable jobs tend to be left before the frantic getting ready to go to founder of the Malaysia Darts Corporation. He told me how he is

to a semi-final last-leg decider in event two, and Aleksander Shevel, event three winner, who defeated Koltsov 6-2 on the way to the title. EADC (RUSSIAN) PRO TOUR Player Points Leg +/B. Koltsov 420 +47 A. Oreshkin 390 +44 A. Shevel 330 +17 E. Izotov 295 +14 M. Aldoshin 280 +31


Corey Cadby celebrated his 22nd birthday in March, and with it his position atop the Australian darts circuit’s leaderboard. Yet having won two out of the ten title awarded thus far and having reached four other finals, he is only eight points clear of another two-time winner Rhys Matthewson, a 6-4 winner over Cadby in event six, and 12 points ahead of Gordon Glen Mathers, who rode a fantastic April weekend of darts to consecutive titles. The top player after the 16 Pro Tour

events concludes qualifies for the 2018 PDC World Championship, and while Cadby could qualify by winning the World Youth Championship again, he may find this qualifying avenue closed off by an unexpected darter from Down Under. AUSTRALIAN PRO TOUR Player Points Leg +/C. Cadby 124 +69 R. Mathewson 116 +66 G. Mathers 112 +56 L. Cameron 84 +47 J. Thompson 68 +32

No Nordic or Baltic player has managed to mount a convincing challenge to Finish ace Kim Viljanen, undefeated through 22 matches, as only one player over four events played thus far has managed even to force Viljanen to a last-leg decider. Of the remaining challengers, Sweden’s Daniel Larsson - a fourtime quarter-finalist and runner-up in event three, has met with the most success. Danish number one Per Laursen’s campaign has been met with disappointment thus far, having lost twice to Larsson and only advanced as far as the third round. Latvian PDC tour card holder Madars Razma reached a quarterfinal in the first event but lost to Larsson as well - he has yet to make his mark on the tour. NORDIC & BALTIC PRO TOUR Player Points Leg +/K. Viljanen 4,800 +92 D. Larsson 1,400 +41 M. Kantele 1,300 +33 M. Caris 1,200 +32 R. Nauman 925 +23

League reaches its conclusion with at The O2 Arena this month. We look e classic matches from years gone by Words Alex Moss

Boris Koltsov and Aleksandr Oreshkin will represent Russia in the Betway World Cup of Darts next month. Top Russian pair Koltsov and Oreshkin competed in the 2016 World Cup of Darts, losing out to the Netherlands in the first round, and will team up once again for the pairs event in Frankfurt. The pair are the top two players in the EADC (Russian) Pro Tour rankings. lovethedarts 45


Darts Around the World Peter Sajwani Interview

“THE SAJWANI ARMY IS STILL STRONG” Fresh from his two BDO ranking title wins in Iceland and Estonia, the charismatic Peter Sajwani chats to us about his recent successes, his aim to get back to Lakeside next year and where “The Chatterbox” nickname came from!

Darius (Labanauskas) and they said You’ve enjoyed an excellent few something to motivate me with. Okay, ‘how are you going to beat Darius?’ weeks on the BDO tour, recently you didn’t make it this year, so come and I said ‘I’m going to do it because winning the Iceland Open and the back harder and stronger, and I just I have two wins in the past, so I make Estonian Open. Can you talk us feel like I can be there again. The LoveTheDarts Form Rankings attempts to determine, based on actual efficiency in winning legs, to what extent darts it a third’ so happy days. through those two wins? And when I’m there again I have a players are overvalued or undervalued by their rank in the PDC Order of Merit. To be honest I didn’t expect so much new point of view. I’m thinking not To do this, we You’re now up to 64 in the rankings. to do well or not well. The Iceland just exhibition darts from me, just to , and the “sandbox average”, the estimated average a player would record without an opponent over an infinite number How far do you think you can go? Open was difficult travelling to, I just be there, I’m thinking I can win one, of legs. Well to be honest I’m not very happy had this main event on the men’s two, three, four, five games, if I play to be top 64 in the BDO, because in singles, didn’t have time to play the my darts I think I have a chance of the past I’ve been about 39, 45 I blind draw, open doubles or men’s getting to the semi-finals. think. But I don’t play the BDO majors pairs, I just had the men’s singles. like everybody else does. I play my So I was very focused on what hotel Presumably then the dream is to get Baltic regional rankings, so I lost a I was staying in, how far it was from back to Lakeside in 2018? little bit on the majors on the BDO the venue and I just wanted to play Yeah of course, I’m doing everything rankings, but I’m number two right my darts and every win was a bonus, to get back there now. I was very x now and hopefully I’m going to be because it allowed me to play tired after those two years, I was a x number one so I can get back to another game and suddenly I was in little bit less of my energy. Lakeside, because that’s my goal and the final and I was playing against But now I’ve reloaded all of my x that’s what I want to deliver and Dennis Nilsson. energy and everything, I just want to x that’s what I expect from myself. Ten minutes later I was standing go back to Lakeside. That’s my focus, xx But the question is how long can I there, 7-0, winning. I had never beat that’s the only thing I want to do right x go if I play the majors, I’m thinking if I him with that, never, but they asked now and that’s where I’ll be in x can play like the other guys I think me ‘was it easy to win?’ and I didn’t January. x 25, 35 if I’m allowed to play at the know how to respond, because I had x circuit like they do. one of those days when everything You’ve got the nickname “The x that you are aiming at you hit, and Chatterbox”, where does that come x So what other tournaments are you when you hit what you are aiming at from? x going to do before the end of the it’s pretty simple. It came from the interview when I x season? That’s the beauty of darts. I was knocked out the number one seed at Now I have after Denmark Open I just very happy and very grateful for Lakeside. They were supposed to have Finnish Open left, then I have that day. interview me, but I had so many the Lithuanian Open, the Swedish questions so I had to go and Open then I have the Baltic Cup. So did that give you confidence when interview them, and they wanted me That’s what I’m going to aim for. you went to Estonia the following to shut up! week? I never shut up as I had a lot of Watching Lakeside this year, how The funny part was I said ‘ok, maybe questions. Now I’m Sajwani Army and hard was it not being there? semi or quarter-finals’. To win is I’m very pleased with that, because Well of course, I was settling that I going to be tough, because I saw it there’s so much Sajwani Army, it’s wasn’t going to play this year, but was a whole different entries. There brilliant. I’m very pleased with all the when the TV broadcast and was a lot of people from England, fans that have supported me. I can’t everything starts, I had my friend Sam Head was one of them and it believe they’re still out there and playing there, then of course you was the same. Everything I aim for I want me to go on the magic stage want to be there. But it just gave me hit and I was in the final against and that’s what I’m practicing for.

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS XXX - XXXXXX XXXXXX

“WHEN I GET TO LAKESIDE AGAIN I HAVE A NEW POINT OF VIEW. I’M THINKING NOT JUST EXHIBITION DARTS. I’M THINKING IF I PLAY MY DARTS I THINK I HAVE A CHANCE OF GETTING TO THE SEMI-FINALS”

46 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com


Mr Doughty has a clear objective, he wants to help Malaysia work together to produce more darting stars and promote the sport throughout Malaysia. “We want to establish an accepted ranking system, encourage collaboration and goodwill for the betterment of darts in Malaysia to compliment the works of the local darts association,” he says. “Darts in Malaysia is very popular, with soft tip darts on the scene, the sport has gained further interest from different segment of communities. “In the recent PDC World Darts Championship Asia Qualifier, two Malaysians (Tengku Shah played Mark Jumin) battled for their spot to represent Asia in the final game, both respectively were darters from East and West Malaysia. “Because of both of these players’ achievements, many Malaysian darters are inspired to follow in their footsteps and further fuel darts popularity. “You can see this happening in the local scene with soft tip and steel tip clubs and pubs ‘opening like mushrooms’. “Currently MDC runs steel darts tournaments, however we do not shy away from soft tip and will work in partnership with local soft tip organisers in the future. “Our focus is both in steel and soft

however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the outside, for the perfect leg. That is what it takes to beat the world number one - relentless punishment for van Gerwen’s slightest imperfections. Another “MVG” imperfection missing double 16 for a 108 finish resulted in a critical break of throw for Lewis. A 122 checkout on the bullseye pushed “MVG” to the brink on a 3-5 deficit, but under pressure the Dutchman continued to pound the trebles. Within three minutes, “MVG” had taken out both 80 and 84 finishes both in two darts - and fired in two

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first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to throw 13 180s and played 11 superlative legs of darts in about 15 minutes. “MVG” recorded a 114 average in defeat. From the players’ perspective however, there was little unusual about this match. It was just another floor game; all business, no histrionics. The difference, however, was the astonishment of watching “MVG” be punished for slight mistakes for which he is normally excused. If Lewis can parlay that winning formula into success in long-format mat

tip darts promotions. We have, in the past, tested out a ranking system for one season (one year). “The winner of the season gained sponsorship for big tournaments, including the Malaysian Open that was organised by the Malaysia Darts Association.” When I asked Mr Doughty about future stars to look for, he reiterated my thoughts on Tengku Shah. “There are so many players that are worth naming, but my personal favourites that I believe and possibly will soon make Malaysians proud, and have the greatest potential are Tengku Shah, Mark Jumin and Eric Presley.”

lovethedarts 47 Left: Finishing runner-up at the




Darts Around the World Spotlight on Malaysia

MALAYSIAN DARTS ON THE UP Our Asian Darts Correspondent Richard Edwards finds out what the darts scene is like in Malaysia

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games to the likes of Raymond Smith ack in December, Tengku anti-social to play webcam darts and Scott McKenzie, to namedrop a Shah, from Malaysia, graced against real human beings) and then couple). our television screens at the the rest. The LoveTheDarts Rankings attempts At to the determine, based onafter actual efficiency inItwinning legs, to what turn of the year, a jolly PDC WorldForm Championship. is this rest period thatextent I am darts players overvalued or undervalued rankininBlighty, the PDC Order ofback Merit.to up back I returned Havingare seen him previously, I was by their learning is so important. In the past I Tosurprised do this, we Korea looking for work - unfortunately not by his solid had been known to thrown darts for ,performance. and the “sandbox average”, a player would without an opponent over an without infinite number myaverage previous employer wasrecord not keen This Asian Dartsthe estimated five hours non-stop even of legs. on me taking four days off to Correspondent actually had a punt on pausing to relieve myself. represent their country. him getting two sets, but alas he Taking a proper rest makes the It was then I decided to get a partcould only get one off of Benito van practice more realistic. The rest is time job and full my spare time with de Pas. also sometimes the trickiest thing to pounding the lipstick. Coming from a country that hasn’t do, as win or lose you want to keep Money is going to be awfully tight got a proven track record over in the going and beat the computer again, for a while, but I could not resist. UK, he may have surprised some or in most cases, try and get revenge. In a year’s time I will probably have though. I fill this rest period with enjoyable x Last month I spoke to some players to go back full-time, but I really don’t jobs; perusing darts forums, xand organisers from Malaysia about want to be thinking about that right cleansing etc and not so enjoyable now! the darts scene over there and the jobs; doing the dishes, hanging out xchallenge of producing more players So this is my life right now… darts, the laundry etc. xthat can compete on the PDC stages. darts, darts! From 8am until Needless to say the not so xxHaving previously interviewed Mr 11.30am every weekday I hit the enjoyable jobs tend to be left before xShah before his appearance in the the frantic getting ready to go to xWorld Championship in the now xdefunct Darts Weekly, I wanted to xfind out more about darts at a level will say it is free to play steel tip, but founder of the Malaysia Darts xthat you and possibly most of our it seems that getting a game of steel Corporation. He told me how he is xreaders would be familiar with. tip isn’t all that easy in Malaysia. doing his best for the East. x I spoke to a guy who lives and “There is not much steel tip here, “Darts in Malaysia is generally run xbreathes the game, who I had the but we still have the Steel Tip Open by an association called Malaysia Tournament twice a year,” Gee says. fortune to meet before at the Macau Darts Association, however their These brace of tournaments pale in Open last summer. activities and reach is mainly in West comparison to the amount of soft tip Jackie Gee is based in Kuala Malaysia,” he tells me. tournaments that take place in Lumpur and filled me in on the darts “Darters in East Malaysia (Borneo Malaysia on a regular basis. scene in the capital city of Malaysia. Region) feel left out. We decided to Those who are familiar with their “Playing in Malaysia is better for me set up MDC and run it as a social Asian geography know that Malaysia than other countries I have visited,” enterprise. is basically split between West and he told me. “I started playing darts when I was East, with hundreds of miles of South “The price to play on the machines 13. It’s the sport that I truly love and I China Sea in-between, so getting to is fair and they are everywhere. am passionate about. every tournament is just not feasible. “It costs me just two Malaysian “Since then I have owned and run a I wanted to learn more about darts Ringgit (approximately 35p) to play. PR firm in Malaysia. Together with away from the more popular West, “At the end of the day, when we several friends who share the same where Kuala Lumpur is based, so I play together we become family.” passion for darts we decided to talked to Daniel Doughty, who is the Of course, die hard steel tip fans establish and help grow the sport.”

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS XXX - XXXXXX XXXXXX

‘THOSE FAMILIAR WITH THEIR ASIAN GEOGRAPHY KNOW THAT MALAYSIA IS SPLIT BETWEEN WEST AND EAST, WITH HUNDREDS OF MILES OF SOUTH CHINA SEA IN-BETWEEN, SO GETTING TO TOURNAMENTS IS JUST NOT FEASIBLE’

50 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com


Mr Doughty has a clear objective, he wants to help Malaysia work together to produce more darting stars and promote the sport throughout Malaysia. “We want to establish an accepted ranking system, encourage collaboration and goodwill for the betterment of darts in Malaysia to compliment the works of the local darts association,” he says. “Darts in Malaysia is very popular, with soft tip darts on the scene, the sport has gained further interest from different segment of communities. “In the recent PDC World Darts Championship Asia Qualifier, two Malaysians (Tengku Shah played Mark Jumin) battled for their spot to represent Asia in the final game, both respectively were darters from East and West Malaysia. “Because of both of these players’ achievements, many Malaysian darters are inspired to follow in their footsteps and further fuel darts’ popularity. “You can see this happening in the local scene with soft tip and steel tip clubs and pubs ‘opening like mushrooms’. “Currently MDC runs steel darts tournaments, however we do not shy away from soft tip and will work in partnership with local soft tip organisers in the future. “Our focus is both in steel and soft When I returned from the UK in January I was back at my ‘western weight’ of 22 stone - three months later I am down to 19 ½ stone - so it is official; darts is good for your health! So here I am, slimmer and still as focused as ever to go as far in darts as I can. Have I seen much improvement in the past year? Absolutely - I am now playing people down the pub, in tournaments and leagues who were giving me a hiding last year, I am now competing with these guys; winning some and losing some. Am I a great darts player? Resoundingly, no! I am still at a standard where I can’t help but be very pleased with myself when I hit a 180. I wonder if that feeling ever stops? Do great players just dump in that third dart and not bat an eyelid? I still average in the 60s most of the time I play and I see an average

however, it would not prove necessary against “Mighty Mike”. “Jackpot” secured holds of throw in the second, fourth and sixth legs to keep himself at level pegging, the latter coming thanks to a clutch 12 darter on an 84 finish after “MVG” missed double 12, just to the outside, for the perfect leg. That is what it takes to beat the world number one - relentless punishment for van Gerwen’s slightest imperfections. Another “MVG” imperfection missing double 16 for a 108 finish resulted in a critical break of throw for Lewis. A 122 checkout on the bullseye pushed “MVG” to the brink on a 3-5 deficit, but under pressure the Dutchman continued to pound the trebles. Within three minutes, “MVG” had taken out both 80 and 84 finishes both in two darts - and fired in two

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first nine darts, to secure an 11-dart break of throw and overthrow the Dutch darting tyrant. Had this match taken place on stage, it would have thrown any of the capacity crowds for which Lewis and “MVG” play each week into an uproar, as the players combined to throw 13 180s and played 11 superlative legs of darts in about 15 minutes. “MVG” recorded a 114 average in defeat. From the players’ perspective however, there was little unusual about this match. It was just another floor game; all business, no histrionics. The difference, however, was the astonishment of watching “MVG” be punished for slight mistakes for which he is normally excused. If Lewis can parlay that winning formula into success in long-format mat

tip darts promotions. We have, in the past, tested out a ranking system for one season (one year). “The winner of the season gained sponsorship for big tournaments, including the Malaysian Open that was organised by the Malaysia Darts Association.” When I asked Mr Doughty about future stars to look for, he reiterated my thoughts on Tengku Shah. “There are so many players that are worth naming, but my personal favourites that I believe and possibly will soon make Malaysians proud, and have the greatest potential are Tengku Shah, Mark Jumin and Eric Presley.”

“OUR FOCUS IS BOTH IN STEEL AND SOFT TIP DARTS PROMOTIONS. WE HAVE, IN THE PAST, TESTED OUT A RANKING SYSTEM FOR ONE SEASON” lovethedarts 51 Left: Finishing runner-up at the



PDC TOP 20

Form Rankings

By CHRISTOPHER KEMPF Photography LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC The LoveTheDarts Form Rankings attempts to determine, based on actual efficiency in winning legs, to what extent darts players are overvalued or undervalued by their rank in the PDC Order of Merit. To do this, we construct a rolling 180-leg dataset from players’ stage matches that is updated with each additional leg played (and, consequently, each additional leg dropped out of the rankings). From this data we can estimate how well a given player would throw if he played out every leg until he hit a winning double. This provides us a controlled statistical situation in which we can directly compare players’ strengths, weaknesses and overall form. In the table, those qualities are expressed by the average number of darts it would take each player to complete this hypothetical leg, stage by stage, and the “sandbox average”, the estimated average a player would record without an opponent over an infinite number of legs. Daryl Gurney’s Order of Merit rank belies his excellent form, for instance, as he would be ranked sixth - higher than half of the players in the Premier League - under a ranking system not based on prize money. Conversely, James Wade, who has xcollected enough ranking money to xplace him in the PDC top five, nonetheless has played mediocre xdarts, recording mostly averages in xthe low 90s, and drops 10 places to xx the point of having only the 15th best xcurrent form in the PDC. x The differences between players xare also illustrated by their xintermediary estimates for scoring, xsetup combinations and finishing. x Benito van de Pas, for one, may hit xbig trebles with slightly less xfrequency than does Robert Thornton, but makes up for that difference thirty times over by needing almost one fewer dart per leg to hit a winning double.

“WE DON’T WANT OUR PLAYERS x XXX - XXXXXX x

x x

x

x

x x x x LOVETHEDARTS RANKINGS - PDCx TOP 20 A 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

B 1 2 3 8 7 19 12 4 6 15 10 17 16 13 5 11 18 21 9 14

Michael van Gerwen Gary Anderson Peter Wright Raymond van Barneveld Phil Taylor Daryl Gurney Kim Huybrechts Adrian Lewis Dave Chisnall Benito van de Pas Mensur Suljovic Gerwyn Price Simon Whitlock Ian White James Wade Michael Smith Alan Norris Mervyn King Jelle Klaasen Robert Thornton

C 9.55 9.82 10.25 10.43 10.38 10.38 10.53 10.78 10.40 10.93 10.99 10.84 10.93 11.08 10.91 10.67 10.57 11.06 11.09 10.90

D 3.52 4.02 3.85 3.91 4.24 4.13 4.18 3.95 4.35 4.24 4.04 4.30 4.33 4.66 4.48 4.36 4.48 4.60 4.47 4.53

x

x

x

E 2.26 2.66 2.66 2.57 2.47 2.82 2.74 2.79 2.83 2.48 2.79 2.76 2.70 2.34 2.71 3.08 3.18 2.70 2.99 3.46

F 15.33 16.49 16.76 16.91 17.06 17.33 17.46 17.52 17.59 17.65 17.82 17.90 17.96 18.08 18.10 18.12 18.23 18.36 18.55 18.89

G 98.03 91.13 89.70 88.88 87.95 86.72 86.10 85.77 85.47 85.15 84.34 83.99 83.71 83.12 83.05 82.95 82.45 81.87 81.02 79.57

Column A: LoveTheDarts Form ranking Column B: PDC Order of Merit ranking Column C: Estimated no. of darts needed from 501 to reach three-figure finish Column D: Estimated no. of darts needed from first finish to reach a double Column E: Estimated no. of darts needed from first dart at double to check out Column F: Estimated no. of darts needed in total from 501 to finish Column G: Estimated long-run “sandbox average” Co lA

Co

Col A B

XX

Col A lovethedarts 53 B Col A


The Final Leg Chris Mason

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here was some good news for the BDO with the World Trophy being sort of salvaged at the last minute so to speak. It’s good for the players, but it’s a shame that there’s no television coverage for it at the moment, that they’ve announced anyway. But at least the tournament continues and I suppose if they can find a good place for it, then maybe they can think about increasing the prize money, getting some sponsorship and hopefully getting some TV coverage. You’ve got to feel for some of the BDO lads. There’s been tournaments cancelled and I think they were hoping the World Trophy was going to be televised and carry a decent first prize. It is what it is. It’s just good the event is taking place and the BDO have just got to promote it, push ticket sales and make it a success. Glen Durrant is the top seed for the World Trophy and he’s got the chance to complete effectively what you would call the triple crown, by winning Lakeside, the World Masters

and the World Trophy. The World Trophy is the only one that’s eluding him at the moment. It would be easy to be critical of the BDO and give everyone a hard time, but I think everyone has got to sort of join forces. Darts needs the BDO, it needs to survive. There’s still a lot of lads that just enjoy playing super league and county. There aren’t many players that didn’t start by playing super league and county and have gone on to greater things in the PDC. It’s invaluable in my opinion. From what I’ve read, unless he wins Lakeside again, Durrant is going to make the switch over to the PDC next year. It was interesting to hear that if he’d

“IF GLEN DOESN’T MAKE THE MOVE NOW IT MIGHT PASS HIM BY. HE WOULD BE A GREAT ADDITION TO THE PDC” 54 May 2017 lovethedartsmag.com

been offered an automatic tour card he would have gone in January. It was just the fact he was so exhausted. He was literally out on his feet by the time he won Lakeside and did all his interviews, he just didn’t have the energy to go to Q-School and try and get a tour card. If he doesn’t make the move now it might pass him by. He’s a great player and it would be the BDO’s loss, but the PDC’s gain. x x xx x x x x x x x x

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