This is a blog all about PDC darts. I am Jamie Barron and I am 18 years old from Yorkshire, England. This blog will contain posts about my experience and opinion of anything darts related as well as debates, player profiles and tournament reviews. I am writing this blog in order to share my opinions but also because I study A-Level Media and want to possibly pursue a career in journalism.

Previously at www.jambosdarts.blog.co.uk until 18/01/2015

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

First Round Round Up

I’m going to keep this as short and sweet as possible as I don’t want to interrupt your Christmas preparations too much but I felt I had to write about what has been an incredible first round at the William Hill World Championship. Less than 1 week ago, the tournament kicked off with 72 players battling it out for the title and now only 32 remain. In this time, seeds have been falling like snow should be at this time of year and I’m sure you wouldn’t have predicted this second round line up at the beginning of the action! 
From the opening game of the tournament where 2 time World Champion John Part exited the party with a 3-2 defeat to youngster Keegan Brown, the tone has been set. A total of nine out of the 32 seeds have headed out of the tournament before Christmas including Simon Whitlock, Mervyn King and Wes Newton. The quality has been high but the drama has been even higher with refereeing errors, 170 checkouts and even darts falling out of the board! The best match of the first round is hard to decide on but if you only get the chance to catch up on 3 matches, I would suggest the Max Hopp, Vincent Van Der Voort and Benito van de Pas games will set your Christmas alight! 
Despite the seeds dropping like flies, the main contenders predicted by Sky last Thursday all still remain in the tournament. Last night, Lewis showed he means business as he hit the highest average of the tournament (101.90) but he is only one of many players who have turned up on the big stage looking confident. I still can’t confidently predict who will win this year’s tournament but after the second round we will have a much better idea as big names are guaranteed to drop out. 
When looking at the next round, I was very excited about the matches ahead but also disappointed that such great players are meeting at this early stage. The highlight of the second round looks to be the clash between James Wade and BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting. This draw highlights how the seeding system doesn’t always work, especially when talented players transfer from the BDO. Although at the end of the day, only one player can win this great championships and to be the best, you have to beat the best! 
Looking ahead even further to potential last 16 ties and I think if both players make it through their second round games, Terry Jenkins could provide a huge shock as he takes on Michael Van Gerwen. Another potential last 16 tie is Adrian Lewis against Raymond Van Barneveld and if both players recreate their first round form, it will be the greatest third round game ever seen! 
After that brief round up, I will leave you to go back to stuffing your turkey, making your trifle or buying those last minute presents! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas from myself and everyone at Dartoid’s World and all the best in 2015. Thank you all for your support, views and comments over the last 12 months and I look forward to continuing my writing in the new year. 
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year but most importantly….enjoy the darts!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The William Hill World Championship

Finally, it is nearly upon us. It’s Christmas time again but that is not the highlight of the winter for the thousands of darts fans heading to London in the coming weeks. Instead, it is the period that 50,000 fans have been looking forward to since the tickets were released over six months ago. That’s right, it is the William Hill World Championship. The best and most eagerly anticipated sporting event in the world and it is an absolute dream to announce that I will be there. 
Going into the tournament, Michael Van Gerwen is the reigning champion and world number one but he is not favourite going into the event. This burden instead falls on Phil Taylor again after his World Grand Slam glory but I doubt it will affect him in the slightest! Despite the betting, Sky still chose to focus their pre tournament documentary on ‘Mighty Mike’ and it was excellent viewing for any darts fan. If I needed anything to get me in the mood for the action, then that was it! It was fascinating to see how Van Gerwen has risen to the top but lost his hair in the meantime! This programme showed how Van Gerwen only took up darts as he wasn’t good enough at football but it also highlighted the quality of present day darts with Van Gerwen stating he hit his first nine darter when he was 15 or 16. The fact he couldn’t remember exactly when shows how insignificant it is now as he has gone on to hit four more live on television. Towards the end of the programme, Van Gerwen explained that confidence is the key to his success as he knows that he can beat any other player on the big stage. He said ‘on current form I think I am the best” so will anybody be able to stop him? 
As darts continues to grow, so does the World Championship and again this year’s tournament will be bigger than ever before. This years prize fund has increased to £1,250,000 which is an unbelievable £1,186,000 more than the prize fund of £64,000 at the first ever PDC World Championship in 1994. In addition, with the majority of the 50,000 tickets sold for the event, I wouldn’t argue with Barry Hearn that “this event is the hottest ticket in British sport right now!”
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a ticket for the main event, there is still no excuse for missing the action! This year, the World Championship will receive better TV exposure than ever before. Not only has Sky Sports reflected the popularity of darts by dedicating a whole channel to the tournament but the channel will also screen exclusive programmes focusing on the sport's top names, as well as showing some classic games from the PDC's history. If that wasn’t good enough, the drama will also be aired worldwide with the PDC's international broadcast partners. Plus, fans with a LIVEPDC.TV International Pass subscription can watch live coverage of every game, with highlights of all matches available for all LIVEPDC.TV subscribers.
So, this year’s event kicks off on Thursday night with a potential shock in store as former World Champion John Part takes on the Grand Slam’s surprise package in Keegan Brown. Michael Van Gerwen also kicks off the defence of his title on the opening night where he takes on youngster Joe Cullen. The first round games will then entertain us up until the Christmas break and I’m sure there will be a few shocks in store. 
I think this year’s tournament is possibly the most wide open tournament we have ever had with numerous names capable of reaching the latter stages. However, if I was a betting man, I would probably put my money on the in form Gary Anderson. Since I told you to watch out for him on the 7th of September, he has gone from strength to strength and I honestly think he is capable of winning the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy. Next time I write for you, this wonderful tournament may be over for another year so the last thing I want to say is good luck, savour the moment and enjoy the action!

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Flying Scotsman steams ahead...

I’m no psychic but you may recall on the 7th of September I picked Gary Anderson as a player to watch out for. ‘I am very confident that Anderson will continue his form and he is definitely capable of a huge major success’ were my exact words! Joking aside, it didn’t take any darts expert to predict that Anderson would win a major as he has been in such excellent form all year. 
Anderson was the number 1 seed going into the Players Championship this weekend and he held on to that spot to lift only his second PDC major title. His only other major title was the Premier League back in 2011. Even the weekend before the main event, Anderson had shown he meant business by winning the final Players Championship Qualifier in Coventry. 
The tournament kicked off for Anderson with a tight 6:5 victory over Christian Kist in which he averaged over 110 and hit eight 180’s! He then went on to defeat Stephen Bunting 10:5 in the second round before knocking out Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in the quarter-finals. This was incredibly the first time in seven years that Anderson had defeated Taylor in a televised knockout match. In the semi final, Vincent Van Der Voort, the tournament’s surprise package, stood in Anderson’s way but despite a late comeback from 10:3 down, Anderson still went on to win the match 11:7. Finally, only two time world champion Adrian Lewis stood between Anderson and the trophy but it was a comfortable win for the Scotsman who came away 11:6 winner. 
This win rounded off an excellent tournament for Anderson who averaged over 100 in every match. He is now 4th in the Order of Merit and this triumph will provide him the perfect platform for success at the Ally Pally. Incidentally, the bookies now have him as third favourite to lift the Sid Waddell trophy. 
Another talking point from the Players Championship was the absence of both Phil Taylor and Michael Van Gerwen from the semi-finals. Incredibly, it was the first time since the 2012 European Championship that this had happened. Again, this shows that darts is getting more and more unpredictable! When the world’s top two players aren’t reaching the semi finals, it shows the strength of the full field. In one match, every player in the world’s top 30 is capable of beating each other and that is what is going to make the upcoming World Championships so exciting. For instance, who would have predicted that after a underwhelming year Vincent Van Der Voort would reach the semi-final of the Players Championship playing with such conviction? Similarly, did you predict that Wes Newton would turn his form around to also reach the last 4? Credit must also go to Terry Jenkins for knocking out Van Gerwen and to Jamie Caven who was extremely unlucky to lose 10:9 in the quarter finals against Adrian Lewis. Undoubtedly, Darts is in a better place than ever and I can’t wait for the action to begin. 
The Alexandra Palace is now officially the next stop on the PDC Circuit. The final qualifiers took place today and the draw takes place tomorrow. The only controversy dampening my spirits tonight is the rumours regarding Richie Burnett that are circulating on Twitter. It is worth noting that no official statement has yet been made and as far as we know, the reports could just be vicious rumours. I hope that this is the case and that Burnett can continue to compete on the main stage but if the rumours about potential drug use are true, I hope he is punished accordingly. The only other case of a darts player being banned for drug use was in 2006 when Robbie Green was banned for 8 weeks after testing positive for marijuana. However, I’m sure the PDC will release a statement in due time so lets turn our attentions to the best tournament in the world. It’s 17 days to go…I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Old vs Young

Old age is like everything really, to make a success of it, you’ve got to start young! Incidentally, Phil Taylor didn’t seriously take up the game until he was 26 which makes me think how good these young players could become today! The World Grand Prix 2014 however was a tournament which showed that age is just a number as Taylor overcame the competitive field to win his 6th Grand Slam title at the age of 54. Taylor’s triumph also made it 7:1 to the PDC in Grand Slam titles against the BDO but I won’t mention that or I risk being branded a BDO basher…again!
In my last post, I wrote that ‘Taylor’s year continues to disappoint his fans’. I knew I shouldn’t have said that. Yet again Taylor came back with a bang, like he always does, with one of his most successful tournaments yet. Taylor kicked off his campaign with a 5:0 victory over Richie George, son of PDC legend Bobby George, before beating Christian Kist 5:1 with an all time record average for the competition of 114.65. He then beat fellow Stokee Andy Hamilton in his final group match to top his table with an impressive +11 leg difference and 6 points. In the first knockout stage, Mr Taylor was initially losing to Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright but he eventually won the match 10:4 before crushing Michael Smith 16:3 in the next round. As a result, this set up a clash against old rival Mervyn King in the semi final in which Taylor led throughout the match and won 16:9. In the final, it was a repeat of the World Grand Prix final of 2013 as Taylor took on Chisnall and although it wasn’t a repeat of that hammering, the outcome was the same as Taylor won the match 16:13 with a 102.45 average which meant he averaged over 100 in every match throughout the tournament. Despite the predictable final result, it was an excellent match in which Chisnall showed he can battle it out amongst the big boys with a gutsy performance. He had bounced back from being 5:0 down at the beginning of the match. 
I think this tournament showed that darts is more open and unpredictable than it has ever been before. You may argue this with Taylor winning again but did you predict Taylor would win at the start of the week? Michael Van Gerwen and James Wade were the two form players going into the event but they both failed to make the semi finals. On the other hand who would have predicted out of form Kim Huybrechts would hit a 9 darter and knock out world champion Van Gerwen? This shows that no-one can predict what’s going to happen in the world of darts and that’s why its the sport we know and love. 
Therefore, I think this winter’s World Championship will be one of the most unforeseeable major tournaments that we have ever had. Maybe there is only about 6 or 7 players that can realistically lift the trophy but I believe that more than 20 different players are in contention for the semi final spots. Thus I am not going to make any predictions but the bookies have now got Taylor as the favourite at 7/4 with current world champion Van Gerwen at 2/1. 
On the subject of predictions, it was a tournament of limited success for my players to watch out for as Stephen Bunting and Gary Anderson both made it out of Group H. Ironically, it was the star of my previous article, Mervyn King, who knocked them both out! Anderson resoundingly lost 10:4 to ‘The King’ in the second round and after Bunting secured a fantastic 10:8 win against James Wade he came up short against King in the quarter finals by a scoreline of 16:9. Subsequently it meant it was another impressive tournament for Mervyn King who seems to be on his best run of form since moving to the PDC and I now believe that next year King will return to the Premier League and Bunting will make his debut.
However, in my opinion, these 3 players weren’t the players to make the biggest impact on the Grand Slam. I think they were Dave Chisnall, Kim Huybrechts and Keegan Brown. Chisnall is now a seasoned professional on the PDC tour having moved to the PDC in 2011. Since then I believe that Chisnall has shown potential without really threatening for the majors. This is summed up by him earning a Premier League place in 2014 but only achieving 7th place. I think he is similar to many players in the world’s top 20 who have the potential but just need that extra spark to win their first major. Will his run to the Grand Slam final provide him with this spark? He will need it going into the World Championships as he has never made it past the third round of the illustrious tournament. 
I think going into the Grand Slam, Huybrechts was in a similar position to Chisnall as despite having the experience of the PDC tour, he has never really lived up to his potential. Huybrechts also moved to the PDC in 2011 and it was predicted he would be one of the rising stars on the circuit but since then he has only reached one major final at the Players Championship. However, despite still not reaching another final at the Grand Slam, his run to the semi finals will give his fans cause for optimism. He caused the biggest shock of the tournament when beating Van Gerwen in the quarter finals in which he hit his first ever televised 9 darter and beat the world champion 16:10. Incredibly, he was leading the match 12:3 at one point which showed the level at which he was playing. Even Huybrechts’ exit from the tournament can be considered unlucky as he lost 16:15 to Chisnall in the most exciting match of the week. If Huybrechts can recreate this form at the Alexandra Palace, he will undoubtedly progress to the later stages. 
Keegan Brown was probably the biggest surprise package of the tournament. Before the tournament you may not even have heard of Keegan Brown and I didn’t even know much about him…but we do now! The 22 year old progressed through his group with a 5:1 win over two time world champion over Adrian Lewis before beating fellow youngster Rowby-John Rodriguez 5:3. On top of the world, he then beat Raymond Van Barneveld in the second round 10:7 before narrowly losing out to Chisnall 16:14 in the quarter finals. His celebrations in particular attracted even more attention but his results won’t have been a shock for Simon Whitlock. Whitlock is Brown’s mentor and saw him lift the 2014 World Youth Championship. I’m sure Whitlock is now wishing he could recreate the form of his apprentice!
Finally, the Grand Slam showed what an excellent position darts is in currently with talent stretching from all corners of the globe. The Players Championships are up next but my thoughts are already at the World Championships which is now just a month away. I’m hoping you won’t miss a minute of the action with Sky Sports new dedicated darts channel and I will be get to witness the event first hand at the Alexandra Palace. One thing’s for sure, if we can recreate the crowd noise from Wolverhampton it will be an excellent atmosphere but maybe the endless singing of ‘Hey Baby’ might not be necessary!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Return of the King?

He’s reached a Premier League final, hit 2 televised 9 darters and been a regular in the World’s top 16 over recent years but I still think Mervyn King hasn’t lived up to his potential. Well, not yet he hasn’t. Could this be his time though as he now seems to have put his high profile controversies behind him and based on recent performances, he looks ready to surge up the rankings once again. 
Mervyn King has been playing professional darts for 20 years but he only made his switch to the PDC in 2007 despite allegedly claiming to BDO press officer Robert Holmes that he would "rather pack up darts than play for the PDC”. However, during the 2007 BDO World Championships, when rumours surfaced about his switch to the PDC, he even threatened to quit the tournament. Eventually when he did move to the PDC, the BDO threatened legal action against King as because he had reached the Semi Final of their World Championships, he was then obliged to return the following year. 
Back to the dart board and King had a very successful first year in the PDC by reaching 2 semi finals and quickly climbing to number 13 in the world. He was even awarded the Best Newcomer Award at the PDC Awards Dinner. In 2009, his performances continued to improve as he reached the World Championship and World Matchplay Semi Finals and he therefore surged to World Number 6. In the same year, King also hit his first ever televised 9 darter which was followed up by another in the 2010 UK Open. However, the highlight of 2009 for King was undoubtedly his run to the Premier League final. 
Moving on to 2010 and again King reached the Semi Finals of the Premier League but this time Phil Taylor prevented him from reaching another final. Despite this, the rest of the year only brought limited success and he failed to qualify for the 2011 Premier League.
Since 2010, King has been a steady player on the PDC circuit without pulling up any trees. His lack of form towards the start of this period was possibly linked to his father’s death as his father was a regular presence at the major tournaments. As a result, It wasn't until 2012 that he reached another major final in the Grand Prix where he met future World Champion Michael Van Gerwen. However, despite leading 3:0, he went on to lose the match 6:4 and King was quick to blame the crowd for his collapse after they booed him on his doubles. This was only one of King’s many controversial moments.
His largest controversy to date was in the 2009 Premier League match when he threw a dart over Taylor as he went to pick up his flight. During the post-match interview, neither of them would look at each other in the eye. This resulted in King becoming somewhat of a target by the crowds boo’s and in another Premier League match this riled him to extreme lengths as he stopped mid throw and made gestures back towards the fans. Other controversies include him blaming the air conditioning and even the length of the oche for his defeats! Fellow players have even accused King of shouting while they were throwing and he exchanged heated words with John Henderson on stage during the 2010 Grand Prix. 
However, it seems like King has put the controversy behind him this year as he has returned to form by winning European Tour 7 in September, as well as reaching the final of the Dutch Darts Masters and the semi finals of the UK Open and European Championship. More recently however, last weekend he reached another final at the Unibet Masters where he defeated Van Gerwen 11:9 in the Semi Final with a fantastic performance. In the final, he came across James Wade and led 5:0 after the first session with a 110 average and he then moved 9:2 in front. Despite this, he couldn’t complete his maiden major victory as he squandered 8 championship darts to lose 11:10. This meant he still hasn’t won a major and therefore his doubters will still hold this against him. But my question is, with this being one of his most successful years, has he done enough to get back into the Premier League?
In addition to Mervyn King, Michael Van Gerwen and James Wade are also in fine form. At Crawley, James Wade won the 17th Players Championship and then lost to Van Gerwen in the final of the following tournament the next day. In the final tournament in October, Van Gerwen triumphed again in the European Championship in Germany as he hit a 9 darter against fellow dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld in the semi finals before defeating Terry Jenkins to claim another major crown. Incredibly, despite only winning his first major just over 2 years ago, at the age of 25, only Phil Taylor has won more major titles than him. Then as previously referenced, James Wade won the most recent major with a victory in the Unibet Masters. Surely now Wade has nailed down his return to the Premier League next year and if Van Gerwen continues in this vain, could he ever break Taylor’s records? 
In contrast, Taylor’s year continues to disappoint his fans. After a disappointing start to the year in the Premier League, he looked back on track when he won the World Matchplay in July but since then he has failed to kick on and failed to reach the final of the last 3 events. For the 1 millionth time, everyone will ask whether Taylor has come to the end but I have learnt never never to write him off. 
Finally, the Grand Slam of Darts is now on the horizon and the draw took place on Monday. It was an interesting draw which paired together Wade and King, for a repeat of their scintillating final last weekend, as well as Anderson and Bunting who are my 2 players to watch out for this winter. Again, this is one of my favourite tournaments with the group stage providing it with a unique selling point. Another reason why I love this tournament is it gives us the chance to see the PDC up against the BDO, so far it is 6:1 in terms of championship wins, favouring the PDC but that is largely due to Taylor’s 5 victories! So on the 8th November we begin this wonderful tournament and then it is only 1 month to go until all eyes will turn to the Ally Pally for another World Championship.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Does darts get better than this?

Last time I wrote an article it was on the eve of the best World Grand Prix we have ever seen. Wow. That was one hell of a tournament! If you didn’t enjoy that then I suggest you need a personality transplant! It had everything didn’t it? When I asked at the end of my previous article if there would be a 9 darter or a first round shock, I was only being optimistic, I didn’t really believe they would both actually happen! It’s like buses really, you wait 3 years for a 9 darter in double start format and then two come along in the same match! The match in which they came was in the second round between James Wade and Robert Thornton and it was one of, if not the, best darts matches I have ever seen. Incredibly, Wade was on the receiving end of the only other 9 darter in Grand Prix history in 2011 against Brendan Dolan and he repeated the feat himself this year with a perfect bullseye shot. Then only 2 sets later, Thornton replicated the feat with a 9 darter of his own. This feat was extra special for Thornton as he had come through an incredibly tough week because he attended his Mother’s funeral earlier that same day and I believe that every darts fan has huge respect for Thornton for continuing the tournament and performing to such impeccable standards. This is why many of us were gutted to see him miss 4 darts to win the match as both players thoroughly deserved to progress.
As for the first round shocks, they were provided by Gilding, Mansell, Painter, Winstanley and Burnett who all won against higher ranked opponents. Even Daryl Gurney had match darts to beat twice World Champion Adrian Lewis! But the shocks didn’t end in round 1 as Kevin Painter staged an unbelievable comeback from 2:0 down to beat Lewis 3:2 and then the biggest shock of the tournament came in the quarter finals when 11 time Grand Prix winner Phil Taylor was knocked out by in form James Wade on his way to the final. These shocks prove to me that this is definitely one of the most exciting and dramatic tournaments around and this is ultimately due to the double start format and the short matches. Also to make you aware that I’m getting better at these predictions! My players to watch out for, Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting, both reached the semi finals. #justsaying
However, despite all these shocks, it was still the World Number 1 and reigning World Champion Michael Van Gerwen who regained the crown. This tournament undoubtedly holds special memories for him as it provided him his first major tournament win two years ago. Once again, Van Gerwen showed that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come. In addition, this tournament was also a huge success for James Wade but he will surely be disappointed he couldn’t win his third World Grand Prix title. Despite this, this tournament gave us a glimpse of the James Wade we first saw when he broke onto the darting scene and it was wonderful to see him back to his best. I’m not going to lie, I have never been his biggest fan but he is a real asset to darts when he is at his best and he will surely regain his Premier League place if his form continues. 
On the other hand, there was a few slight disappointments in this tournament, on a personal level my favourite players all went out early in the competition. Furthermore, I was personally slightly disappointed with the crowds, was it just me or did they seem relatively quiet? Many people are suggesting the high ticket prices are to blame. Another way I think the tournament could further improve is with a slight tweak to the schedule. I think even the most dedicated darts fan would struggle to watch all the action of the tournament which occasionally went into the early hours of the next morning. Therefore, I know that there is a jam packed yearly schedule in the PDC but for the fans sake, I think it would be beneficial to somehow change the schedule to avoid the late school nights! 
Finally, it was also disappointing to see Van Barneveld “give up” on the big stage. However, the game is going or whatever the score is, no professional player should ever throw their toys out the pram. Yes he was struggling with a back problem but if it was that bad he should have pulled out of the game and if it wasn’t then he should have just given it his all! It is so frustrating as a big Van Barneveld fan to see him do this as he now risks dropping out the World’s Top 16 despite being Premier League Champion. 
So where do we go next? ITV are broadcasting the next 2 big tournaments with the European Championship in Germany being held at the end of this month and then the Unibet Masters at the beginning of November. This is then followed by the Grand Slam of Darts back on Sky Sports on the 8th November. I am still backing my players to watch to succeed again in these tournaments (See post on 7th September). However, It will be very difficult to recreate the drama and quality of the World Grand Prix but lets see what happens because after all. You never know what’s around the corner.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

World Grand Prix Preview

What is it that makes the World Grand Prix different from all the other darts majors? Is it the venue, the format or the crowd? I believe that every major tournament on the darting calendar brings something different to the table and the World Grand Prix is no different. 
Now, I thought long and hard about how to write this next article and decided that doing another conventional tournament preview would be too repetitive. It would probably lead to me making a fool of myself yet again with my predictions and lets be honest, the main competitors of this tournament won’t be any different to the previous ones this year. As a result, I decided that I would instead look at the history of this tournament and show why I think it is one of the best tournaments of the year. 
To begin with, the World Grand Prix began in the same year of my birth back in 1998 and the tournament was created as a replacement for the World Pairs tournament which had run 3 years previously. Originally, the tournament was held in Rochester, Kent for the first 2 years before being moved over the Irish Sea to Rosslare in the year 2000. Then, the tournament moved again the following year to the Citywest Hotel in the Irish capital of Dublin and this venue has been the home of the World Grand Prix for 14 years. I personally think it is the venue of this tournament that makes it such a success and before you ask…I am not Irish! However, the Irish crowd is one of the best throughout the world for their singing and passion while at the same time being respectful of the players. This is evidenced not just by the World Grand Prix but also by the Premier League as you won’t find many people who will disagree that Dublin is one of the best if not the best venue on the circuit. 
In addition, as the venue changed so did the prize money because throughout the years the huge crowds and Sky television rights have contributed to thousands of pounds being pounded into our game. Incredibly, back in 1998 the prize money stood at a total of £38,000 and £9,000 for the winner whereas for this year’s tournament, the money has risen by over 1000% to a total prize fund of £400,000 with £100,000 going to the winner! How much would you love to earn £100,000 for chucking some metal spikes at a board!? 
Thirdly, It wasn’t until I researched this tournament that I realised how much the format had changed over the years. Originally, the tournament began as a straight knockout tournament of set play darts before a group stage was introduced in 1999. However this was not a success as all 4 seeded players progressed from their group and therefore the tournament was reverted back to straight knockout for the 21st century. This led to numerous format changes before the right format was found in 2003 and we have stuck with this ever since. This consists of set play darts with each set being the best of 5 legs. This is especially exciting in the first round due to each match being the best of 3 sets so this can lead to surprise results and fantastic drama! Phil Taylor’s record in the World Grand Prix perfectly illustrates the difficulty of the first round games because before 2010, he had either gone out in the first round or won every tournament! Despite this, it is not just the short format which stands out for this tournament but its the double start format which makes it unique from every other PDC tournament. This format means any double trouble will be crucially punished and it lets the fans see who’s really been putting in the practice hours on their doubles. 
Another reason that contributes to the success of this tournament is the timing of the event. Situated at the beginning of October is the perfect time as it provides excellent entertainment for darts fans who are pining for the next major tournament. It’s been a long 2 months since we witnessed Taylor winning his 15th World Matchplay! Similarly, it is also a very exciting time for all darts fans as we enter the busiest few months of our sporting year in the lead up to another World Championships. Therefore, the World Grand Prix provides an outstanding opening for this period. 
Finally, I think I have shown why the World Grand Prix is well worth a watch and it is a tournament like no other on the PDC circuit. There have been many stand out moments over the years with Brendan Dolan providing the highlight when he hit the first ever televised 9 darter in a double start format in front of his home crowd in 2011. Moreover, reigning champion Phil Taylor unsurprisingly has an exemplarily record in this tournament with 11 tournament wins and it was Michael Van Gerwen’s 2012 victory which shot him onto our screens as a fan favourite and future world champion. This year there are many contenders to pick up the crown and again Taylor is slightly ahead of Van Gerwen as favourite to regain his title but don’t forget my players to watch out for as Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting both head into this tournament with a realistic chance of success. So that’s it, i’ve written it, hopefully you’ve read it and now it’s time to watch it! I have my wall chart at the ready and i’m anticipating a great week. Will there be another 9 darter, a first round shock or will Taylor emerge triumphant again? I’m ready to find out…are you? 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Players to Watch...

The X Factor UK has begun again and that only means 1 thing for all us Brits, it is the countdown to Christmas! It is easy to get excited at this point because by the time we reach the X Factor final, we will be only 1 week from Christmas but there is also many drawbacks to this time of year. British summertime is now over and it’s time to turn on the heating and get out those wooly jumpers again. September is definitely one of the most depressing months of the year for us students as we all return to school or college and are thrust straight back into essays and assessments. 
Despite this, it is a very exciting time for darts players and fans alike as we have many exciting tournaments throughout the autumn and winter which of course culminate in the William Hill World Championships in December. These tournaments of course also include the World Grand Prix, European Championship, Unibet Masters, World Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals. So, you may be asking yourself, who should I look out for in these upcoming tournaments? Well you’ve come to the right place! These are the 3 players that I think could be dark horses for success in the final months of the year. 
Kyle Anderson
26 year old Kyle Anderson is an Australian darts player who has made a huge impact on the PDC Circuit in the last 12 months. Despite not making it past the 1st round in the World Championships, he introduced himself to darts fans with a fantastic 9 darter against Ian White which showed he was not afraid of the big stage. Disappointingly Anderson also exited at the first round of the UK Open, his only other Major appearance this year, but he did reach the Semi Final of the 6th Players Championship in April. His most successful tournament of the year was at the end of August in his home tournament at the Sydney Darts Masters where he defeated Raymond Van Barneveld and Simon Whitlock before losing to eventual winner Phil Taylor in the Semi Final. There is no doubt that Anderson hasn’t achieved the consistency in his game yet and he is very unpredictable, summed up by losing 6:0 to Michael Van Gerwen only a week prior to his fantastic run in Sydney. However, you won’t find a player more passionate and committed to the game than Anderson and I think he can have a really successful end to 2014 and climb up the rankings. It may be too soon for him to win his first major but he has shown he is capable of defeating some of the biggest names in darts and there is no reason why he shouldn’t reach the latter stages of a major tournament this winter. 
Stephen Bunting
It was not an easy decision for me to pick Stephen Bunting as a player to watch out for but I had to listen to my head over my heart. It’s not that I dislike Bunting personally, but as a BDO basher, I would be gutted to see a BDO World Champion walk straight into success in the PDC. However, it is clear to see Bunting undoubtedly has the ability and mental strength to be a success and he has had a fantastic first 9 months in the PDC, summed up by him reaching the World Matchplay despite having less time to qualify for the tournament. Bunting, 29, also triumphed in his 2nd ever PDC tournament in the UK Open Qualifiers earlier this year. Finally, he is in good form after reaching the final of the Sydney Darts Masters last month and today he has reached another quarter final at the European Darts Grand Prix. I therefore think Bunting will reach the semi finals in at least 1 of the majors left this year.
Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson is the 2nd Anderson in my top 3 dark horses to watch out for this winter however just to clarify, there is no relation between the two! Perhaps you may not consider Gary Anderson as a dark horse as he has been a regular in the latter stages of PDC tournaments for many years. However, Anderson’s only major victory came back in 2011 in the Premier League and he hasn’t reached a major final since the same year. Despite this, Anderson, 43, has had a fantastic 2014 which he kicked off by winning his first ranking title in two and a half years at the German Darts Championship. He then went on to win 4 more ranking events at the UK Open Qualifiers and Players Championships as well as reaching the semi finals of the Premier League and World Matchplay. The Flying Scotsman is certainly in the form of his life after significantly improving his doubling and keeping up his relentless scoring. I am very confident that Anderson will continue his form and he is definitely capable of a huge major success.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dream Big, Work Hard

She may have been the most controversial Prime Minister in British history but Margaret Thatcher once said that “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work” and I couldn’t agree more with her message. I am also a strong believer in Tim Notke’s opinion that “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard”. I believe that you make your own luck in life, if you word hard, it will pay off.
The reason for my slightly philosophical start to this article is due to my life over the last 12 months. As many of you are aware, I took my GCSE exams this summer in the final year of high school and on Thursday, I received the results. Many students possibly see results day as an opportunity to compare themselves against their friends or even their enemies as to who has come out on top of the intelligence ladder. However I don’t have the same view. Firstly, the education system, particularly in England, doesn’t just judge your intelligence but more so it tests which student has the best memory or which student is able to write it down in the best way. In every class, each student is taught the same material and whichever student can regurgitate that information most successfully, will achieve the best results. Being successful in exams does not always mean you will be successful in life. 
On the other hand, I do think the exam season does replicate probably a more important aspect of life and that is hard work rather than intelligence. Yes, exams may be about memory but you aren’t born with a good or bad memory like some people believe. The only way to improve your memory is repetition and revision, there is no secret to hard work. In addition, discounting people with mental disabilities, I also don’t believe that anyone is born more intelligent than anyone else and I think it is your upbringing and work ethic that ultimately decides your fate.
You may still be thinking, why have I written this article for a darts website? But hard work is just about needed in every profession, hobby or sport. Without being big headed, I know if I set myself an ambitious but realistic aim, I will work hard and I will achieve it. It was about 12 months ago when I set my sights on achieving all A* and A grade GCSE’s and on Thursday, I achieved this aim with 7 A* and 5 A grades. Again there was no secret to my success other than hard work. In my opinion, my biggest success is not the grades, but I am happier about being able to say, I achieved what I aimed for and therefore, I strongly believe it doesn’t matter about your grades as if you achieved your aim, you have been successful. This is because learning to be able to achieve your objectives for the rest of your life is much more important than how good you are at analysing a Shakespeare play. 
Therefore, exams is about hard work, life is about hard work and darts is about hard work. Every single professional darts player has worked unbelievably hard to get as good as they are and I believe all that separates the best from the rest, is who works the hardest. One of my pet hates is hearing people say young players like Michael Van Gerwen or Adrian Lewis are naturally talented as they are young so haven’t worked as hard or as long as other players. Bullshit. It is actually totally the opposite as they have worked so hard that they are already so good at such a young age. Do you really believe that these people came into the world being able to hit 180’s? Yes, some people may be blessed with better co-ordination than others but dreams don’t work unless you do and the only way to improve your darts is practice and hard work.
Now I have achieved my GCSE aim, I will set myself a new target for the future. Hopefully I will get the chance to set myself a darting target soon but it is about balancing my priorities and right now, playing darts is not one of them. But once it is, I will set myself another aim and I will work hard and achieve it just like any of you have the ability to achieve any realistic aim you work hard for. ‘Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It’. You can be a future world darts champion, ‘Dream Big, Work Hard’.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

World Matchplay Review

Taylor’s Blackpool Love Affair Continues
After another tantalising tournament, Taylor has done it again. 19 years after his first World Matchplay title, Phil Taylor has extended his unbeaten Blackpool run to 7 years and an incredible 35 matches. How does he do it? 
In my World Matchplay Preview, I did what no darts fan should do and doubted Taylor’s chances of winning it again. I stated that Taylor was in ‘arguably in the worst form of his life’ and announced there was a new favourite heading to Blackpool. However, I will not take sole responsibility as I doubt the great man has ever even come across my work! The whole darting world was doubting Taylor before the tournament including the best pundits in the business. Therefore, we should all take responsibility as we should have remembered that Taylor thrives off proving people wrong. 
So again lets rewind to my preview of the tournament when I was so excited for the tournament that I said it promised to be one of the best World Matchplay’s ever and from the very first round, the tournament lived up to expectations. In the first round, Taylor easily overcame Darren Webster 10:4 with a confident display which showed that he really felt at home back at Blackpool. Also in the first round, my prediction curse struck again as all 3 of my predictions for this year’s tournament went crashing out. Firstly, Vincent Van Der Voort set the tone with a nightmare performance against fellow Dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld. This was then followed up on the Monday night with Peter Wright’s underwhelming performance against an inform Steven Bunting who showed he is going to be a handful following his move from the BDO. My final prediction was Jamie Caven who did provide me with a bit of hope when he led Gary Anderson but the Flying Scotsman showed he had just enough steam to force his way past Caven and win 10:8. So after those disastrous predictions I decided to keep my expectations to myself but after Adrian Lewis’ stunning 10-0 whitewash of Andrew Gilding, I did think there could be a different ‘Stokee’ lifting the trophy. 
I think however that bizarrely my failed predictions actually show darts in a very good light. I am not trying to divert the blame here but all of my 3 predictions had won on the European Tour this year and this shows how competitive all the darts players are today and this is what makes our sport so unpredictable and entertaining. This may seem ridiculous as the same man has now won the tournament 15 times but Taylor is a force of nature and his records will never be repeated.
Moving onto the Second Round, I was disappointed that my favourite player, Andy Hamilton was narrowly beaten by Dave Chisnall. In all honestly, I never had much faith he could win his first major as despite his 10:3 first round win, his opponent Wayne Jones only averaged 82! Meanwhile the other major headlines from the Second Round were Raymond Van Barneveld losing out to Simon Whitlock, Gary Anderson knocking out Stephen Bunting and Wes Newton edging out Paul Nicholson 15:13 after a titanic tussle. However, there was 1 headline bigger than all of these as Taylor hit his 10th televised 9 darter in his 13:6 win over Michael Smith who had ironically knocked Taylor out of the World Championship 7 months earlier. 
Onto the Quarter Finals which actually produced 4 clear winners in Van Gerwen, Whitlock Taylor and Anderson, with Anderson’s 16:8 victory over last year’s finalist Adrian Lewis arguably being the best performance. This meant that 3 of the top 4 seeds had made it to the Semi-Finals which again shows why the World Matchplay is such a great tournament as the long format really gives the chance for the quality to shine through. However, it was the semi finals which probably provided the best entertainment of the tournament as both matches were fantastic contests. After 26 legs between Whitlock and Van Gerwen, it was 13:13 before Van Gerwen showed why he was World Champion by winning the last 4 legs. In the other semi final, Anderson again put on a fantastic performance against The Power but despite winning 15 legs, it wasn’t enough as Taylor eventually pulled through to win 17:15 and secure his place against World Number 1 Michael Van Gerwen in the final. 
This meant it was the final that all darts fans dreamed of but disappointingly it was a very 1 sided contest. After winning the 2nd leg, Van Gerwen was only able to win 1 more leg out of the next 11 as Taylor stormed into an 11:2 lead. Van Gerwen wasn’t playing particularly badly but he wasn’t up to Taylor’s incredible standard of averaging over 110 for the majority of the match. From 11:2 down, it was almost impossible for Van Gerwen to mount any sort of challenge and despite a small comeback at one point, he went on to lose the match 18:9 as Taylor controlled the match fantastically to win his 7th World Matchplay in a row. As Taylor was given the trophy, it was lovely to see the delight on his face as he was able to share the moment with his grandchildren but it was equally as upsetting to see Van Gerwen’s tears on stage which showed how much passion he really has for the game. 
So what can we take from the 2014 World Matchplay? Personally, I have learnt that I need to work even harder on my predictions and I think that the whole darting world have learnt again that Phil Taylor is definitely not finished. Many other sportsmen can’t see what keeps up Taylor’s motivation as he has won everything there is to win including 16 World Championships and 15 World Matchplay's! But the reason he keeps going is because he is a winner, a champion and a special darts player who just can’t bare to see anyone else winning ‘his’ trophies. I honestly don’t understand some of the criticism of Taylor I see on social networking sites and forums as every darts fan surely must have the upmost respect for what he has achieved and how he has benefitted our sport. I understand everyone has their favourite players but Taylor’s career is extraordinary and whatever anyone says, he is one of the greatest sportsmen ever and undoubtedly the greatest player to ever play darts.

Friday, 18 July 2014

World Matchplay Preview

It’s that time of year again for all darts fans to turn their attentions to the seaside town of Blackpool for the World Matchplay. Every proper darts fan will know that the World Matchplay is not just any normal darts tournament but it is in my opinion the second biggest tournament of the year, narrowly behind the World Championship. So what is it about the World Matchplay that makes it such a special tournament? 
Firstly, I think the venue is a key factor for the success of the World Matchplay with many players including Phil Taylor calling it their favourite venue on the darting circuit. The Winter Gardens in Blackpool almost feels perfectly designed for the darts as Phil Taylor says, “It's a special place, it's a venue that everybody wants to play in and it has something magical about it”. Not only is the Winter Gardens a special place, but so is Blackpool and by staging this tournament in the middle of the summer, it gives the tournament a feel good factor as there is actually a chance it might not be raining! In addition to the venue, the format of the event also leads to its success as in my opinion, leg play is much more entertaining than set play as every leg counts. This traditional format means that the games are full of drama and the length of the matches also helps to make sure the best player on the day normally progresses into the next round. 
Next, lets rewind 12 months to July 2013 as we hit the build up to last year’s World Matchplay. Let me set the scene for you, Andy Murray had just won Wimbledon to be the first Brit to win the title in 77 years; Same-Sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales and The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince George. Meanwhile in the darting world, Michael Van Gerwen had won his first Premier League crown and Phil Taylor had won his 5th UK Open title. Therefore, the anticipation for the World Matchplay was extremely high and it did not disappoint. After a week of high quality darts, all 4 of the top seeds reached the semi finals before Phil Taylor overcame his apprentice Adrian Lewis 18-13 in one of the highest quality darts matches ever! While Lewis averaged an incredibly respectable 105, Taylor averaged over 111 which meant he had achieved an average of over 100 in every match of the tournament. Therefore, the overwhelming feeling coming out of last year’s tournament was that Taylor was still the man to beat as his 14th World Matchplay triumph means he has now won over 70% of all World Matchplay’s. Consequently, this shows how unpredictable darts can be as only 1 year later, Taylor is arguably in the worst form of his life and there is a new favourite heading to Blackpool.
So, back into the present day, what should we expect from the 2014 World Matchplay? Will it be the time for a new champion or will the advantage of experience be crucial? No matter who wins this year’s tournament, it promises to be one of the best World Matchplay’s ever as not only is it a memorable year because of the World Matchplay’s 20th anniversary, but I also think the strength of the whole field this year is stronger than ever. I honestly believe that you can make a strong case for more than 10 different players to lift this year’s trophy. My regular readers will know that after my disastrous attempt to predict some of the Premier League, I should probably veer away from the prediction trade…However, I am going to live in the moment and give it a whirl anyway! The bookies are heavily backing Michael Van Gerwen to be celebrating on the 27th of July which means it is the first time in my life I can recollect Taylor not being favourite for a major tournament. Despite this, I am not going to be cowardly and just predict the favourite for this tournament. My main prediction is Peter Wright who I believe can be a real dark horse for the title and at 22-1, he is a fantastic bet. After he won the biggest title of his career at the European Darts Open last weekend, he believes he is getting “better and better” and I think he can push on and win his first major title. Although, he has been given a incredibly difficult first round match against BDO World Champion Steven Bunting, if he can get through that match, he has a favourable draw through to the semi finals. Other players that I predict could provide a shock are Jamie Caven and Vincent Van Der Voort as even though they have difficult first round ties, they are both in excellent form after wins on the European Tour. My final player to look out for is Andy Hamilton, not so much a prediction, but as my favourite player, I would love to see him break his major hoodoo and become the second ‘Stokey’ to lift the World Matchplay trophy.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

What makes a major tournament?

After the World Matchplay draw earlier this week, I started getting excited for one of my favourite tournaments of the year. However, my excitement soon turned into a sense of intrigue as to how many tournaments are now classed as a major.
It seems to me that every televised PDC tournament is now classed as a major by pundits and commentators alike. If this theory is put into place, this means that there are now 10 major darts tournaments yearly and if you also include the Championship League Darts, which is broadcast on Youtube, this brings the grand total to 11! Now I am never going to argue with all these fascinating tournaments being broadcast to millions of viewers but I think that Barry Hearn seriously needs to consider which tournaments are classed as major’s. 
What do you think makes a major? Is it the amount and quality of competitors; the prize money or even the historical value of a tournament? This may seem like a rhetorical question but I honestly want to know your views on what you think makes a major because if i’m 100% honest with you, I don’t know myself!
Many of you may be thinking, why does it matter how many major’s we have, surely the more the better? However, I disagree with this, sometimes less is more. If you look at other sports such as tennis and golf, they have 4 major’s every year and this makes these tournaments special and hugely important. If we carry on increasing the number of darts major’s, we are in danger of losing the prestigious nature of our major’s as well as losing the integrity of our major winners as they will be so many of them, being named a major winner will no longer be such a huge feat. 
So, lets take a step back and look at out yearly darts calendar. In my opinion, the first thing the PDC need to do is come up with a definition for what a darts major actually is. Then they need to carefully choose which current tournaments fit the definition and should therefore be classed as a major. I think they probably need to decide on 4 tournaments that as well as being the 4 best darts tournaments in the world, also have a distinctively different structure to each other to make each major unique. By choosing only 4 tournaments, I don’t think this should affect the other tournaments as they should still be televised and the prize money from them will still play a decisive role in which players qualify for the major tournaments. 
As a result, after careful consideration, I would personally choose the World Championship, UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix to be the 4 darts major’s. Do you agree?

Monday, 23 June 2014

I have got my life back!

After 5 weeks and 25 exams, my time at high school is finally over! Due to the enormous amount of pressure heaped upon students today, exams have been at the forefront of my mind for the last 2 months. Now that time is over. Exams have finished. I have my life back! This means I am now able to get back to what I know and love…darts! 
However, for all us England fans it has been a miserable start to the summer, we have been knocked straight out of the football World Cup, our cricket team continues to lose and the rugby team have just been thrashed in New Zealand. We only even managed to come 17th out of 26 in the Eurovision Song Contest! Moreover, our form has been no better in darts and I am asking you whether you think we are coming to the end of an era and is English darts dominance coming to an abrupt end?
Since my last post after Raymond Van Barneveld won the Premier League Darts, there have been 7 more significant tournaments. Most notably the biggest tournament of the last month took place in Hamburg on the 8th June as we saw the Netherlands whitewash England in the World Cup of Darts final to win their first World Cup since 2010. Now, although Taylor and Lewis were massively outclassed by the Dutch pairing in the final, as a stand alone tournament I don’t think it is too worrying for English Darts as they still reached the final. However, when you look at 2014 as a whole, the Netherlands now hold the Premier League, World Championship and World Cup trophies. 
In addition, it is not just the major tournaments England are failing to win. Michael Van Gerwen also won the Dubai Darts Masters and even when he pulled out of the Austrian Darts Open this weekend with an ankle injury, Vincent Van Der Voort stepped up to the plate to win his first ranking title since 2011. This shows the strength in depth of the Dutch as if Van Der Voort can keep up this form then he can also become one of the best and most entertaining players in the world with one of the quickest throws in darts. 
Finally, it’s not just the Netherlands who England should be fearful of but the Scottish trio of Anderson, Wright and Thornton are also having fantastic results. After Peter Wright won the 9th Players Championship, Gary Anderson then went on to win the Players Championship 11 after he beat Robert Thornton in the final! This is definitely worrying for England fans as not only are they challenging England for the major honours but if Darts’ plan to become an Olympic Sport is achieved and Scotland vote ‘Yes’ in their independence vote later this year, we can’t rely on their help for a medal! 
Nonetheless, lets be optimistic, Terry Jenkins won the Players Championship 10 at the end of May to end a 2 year wait for a ranking title and we still have some of the greatest players in the world. The World Matchplay is the next major on the horizon so come on England! Give us something to shout about!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Premier League Final

Maybe I shouldn't take up a career as a predictor!
I was proven wrong in all 3 matches on Finals Night as it became an all Dutch Final as Raymond Van Barneveld and Michael Van Gerwen won their respective semi-finals. In the final Van Barneveld managed to win his first ever Premier League title by defeating the reigning champion 10:6. Congratulations to Raymond Van Barneveld. 
P.S. Sorry for the extremely short post and for the delay, exams have really heated up lately and it might be a while before my next post but from the summer onwards, you can look forward to some more great darts tournaments and some raving reviews! Thanks.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Premier League - Week 15

The Fantastic Four
After 15 weeks of scintillating darts, Brighton rounded off the League format of the Premier League 2014 and the night culminated in Michael Van Gerwen, Raymond Van Barneveld, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson all making it through to the finals to fight it out to be Premier League Champion. Unfortunately, due to the ‘lovely’ British exam board planning both GCSE History and PE exams the next day, I was unable to watch any of the darts but thanks to the terrific technology of Twitter, I was able to keep up to date with the action. 
Due to not being able to properly watch any of the darts, I am not going to try and describe the night based on what I have read as it is likely to be incorrect. Therefore I will just place the results of the night and averages below along with my predictions for the finals. Next week might also be difficult for me to watch the final of the Premier League and report on it but I will see where the tide takes me! However, I would like to say a huge thank you for all the support and comments I have received for this blog and at Dartoid’s World. I have achieved over 4500 views on this blog since its introduction in January, which is amazing seen as it is targeted at such a niche audience. It feels like I am coming to the end of an era with the end of the Premier League 2014 but I will continue to write the blog throughout the year and on Dartoid’s World.
Week 15 Results
(92) Dave Chisnall 4-7 Adrian Lewis (95)

(101) Gary Anderson 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld (96)

(95) Robert Thornton 5-7 Phil Taylor (101)

(104) Peter Wright 5-7 Michael van Gerwen (110)
Final Predictions
Raymond Van Barneveld is the only player in the top 4 that is yet to win the Premier League and I am going to stick my neck out and say he still won’t win the competition this year. Therefore, I predict that Phil Taylor will make the final but I don’t think he will win it. Neither do I think Michael Van Gerwen will win. Prepare for a shock darts fans! I predict that the outsider, the Flying Scotsman Gary Anderson will claim his second Premier League title. Tune in on Thursday night, to see if I am right! :P

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Premier League - Week 14

There is never a dull moment in Newcastle!
As the Premier League entered its final stretch, it was Newcastle’s turn to host the most entertaining darts tournament in the world! As all the players have now played an equal number of games, there was only 4 games on the night but it still didn’t make the night any less important. Incredibly, the occasion marked one year since I went to the Metro Radio Arena to see the darts myself and the Georgie crowd were exceptional again (even without my help!)
The first game of the night saw Gary Anderson take on Dave Chisnall with Anderson knowing that a win would hugely boost his chances of a play off place but Chisnall was only playing for pride. The match kicked off with a break of throw as Anderson showed his nerves by missing 6 doubles as Chisnall punished him. However, Anderson broke straight back on double 4 in the next leg. The next 4 legs then all went with throw and so did the 7th leg after a calamitous end to the leg where both players missed several doubles as the match more resembled a pub match than a world class tungsten tussle. Anderson then won the next legs despite miscounting a 74 finish before coming back to win the leg. The match finished 7:4 to Anderson as his play off hopes took a huge boost. 
Adrian Lewis then took on Robert Thornton in what should have been a meaningless match but no Scotland vs England tie is ever meaningless! Thornton went into the back of the game full of form after he won his last Premier League game and he won both Players Championship tournaments at the weekend! On the other hand, Lewis went into the game on the opposite end of the form scale having not won in the Premier League in 8 weeks. This form showed at the beginning as Thornton won the first 2 legs but Lewis bounced back as he then won the next 3 legs as he hit a scoring streak. Following this, there were 5 holds of throw in a row despite Lewis averaging nearly 15 points more than Thornton. In the end this payed off as Lewis won the last 2 legs after a perfectly timed 180 to set up a D5 finish and win the match 7:5. 
The most important game of the night and probably the whole tournament so far came next between Phil Taylor and Peter Wright as the winner knew they would take a huge step to guaranteeing their play off place. The match kicked off with 2 breaks of throw before Taylor punished 4 missed doubles as Taylor hit a 120, ‘Shanghai’ finish. Wright wasn’t downhearted however as he hit back by winning the next 3 legs to lead 4:3. This topsy turvy tussle then took another twist as Taylor hit back by winning the next 3 legs including in an 11 dart leg. The last 2 legs broke the trend of the match as they both went with the throw to finish the match as a draw. But it wasn’t all plain sailing as in the final leg, Wright required 150 and after hitting T20 and T18, he narrowly missed the double after choosing to do his trademark showboating turn to the crowd at just the wrong time. He got lucky however as it also seemed to distract Taylor who missed his double to let Wright take the draw. In the post match interview, Taylor said he wasn’t bothered by Wright’s showmanship and he was one of the nicest men you will meet off the stage. Wright’s destiny in this year’s competition now lies in the hands of his game with rival Michael Van Gerwen next week but Wright brushed off the pressure by saying he didn’t care what Van Gerwen thinks of him, he is going to beat him next week and he will be in the play offs on May 22nd. Is Peter Wright slowly turning from being an entertaining, crowd favourite to being too arrogant for his own good?
It has been the year of the Dutchmen this year as both Michael Van Gerwen and Raymond Van Barneveld have already qualified for the play offs and they went head to head in the final game of the evening. The crowd was clearly split between their favourite player as they traded chants of ‘Barney Army!’ and ‘Oh Michael Van Gerwen!’. The match kicked off all guns blazing as they shared the first 2 legs. In the 3rd leg, both players kicked off with a 180 and Van Barneveld finished off the leg in 11 darts. Both players then again traded legs but this time they broke each other’s throw and then Van Gerwen held his throw to leave the match level at 3:3. Van Gerwen then took control of the game by winning the next 2 legs and hitting 4 perfect darts along the way. After 2 more holds of throw, Van Gerwen rounded off the match on the bull to win 7:4 as he replicated the 132 finish he hit to win the Premier League last year.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Premier League - Week 13

Full steam ahead as the Flying Scotsman defeats Van Gerwen
The best darts players in the world headed to Birmingham for Week 13 of the Premier League. This year’s competition seems to flying by, so much so that the finals night at the O2 seems to be approaching as quick as my oncoming exams!
The night began with a high quality match between Robert Thornton and Dave Chisnall. Thornton already knew he couldn’t make the play offs before the match but it didn’t stop him making a flying start to the match with two 180’s in the first leg. After the first 2 legs went with throw, both players missed darts at doubles in leg 3 before Chisnall responded to the jibes of the crowd by hitting D4 to break Thornton’s throw. However, Thornton broke straight back in the next leg after hitting 5 perfect darts. The next 5 legs then went with throw despite Thornton averaging more than 10 points more than Chisnall for the majority of the match. This pressure paid off in leg 10 for Thornton as he hit D20 to break Chisnall’s throw again and guarantee a point. In the end despite Chisnall breaking straight back in the next leg, he couldn’t draw the match as Thornton ran out 7:5 winner. In this match, Thornton set the record for 180’s in the 2014 Premier League by hitting nine 180’s in the match which led to his average of 104.3. This loss for Chisnall realistically breaks his chances of a top 4 position and he went into the last game of the night against Phil Taylor knowing a loss would totally eliminate his hope for a play off place.
The oldest rivalry in the game was reignited between Phil Taylor and Raymond Van Barneveld in the second match of the night. After a poor first leg, the second leg sparked into life as Van Barneveld hit 4 perfect darts and Taylor hit 7 perfect darts before Taylor hit D10 to level the scores at 1:1. Taylor then built on this to win the next 2 legs to move 3:1 ahead before Van Barneveld returned the favour to level the scores at 3:3. Van Barneveld then showed the quality that has led to him guaranteeing a play off spot as he broke Taylor’s throw again with the minimum of fuss to lead 5:3. After Taylor broke straight back in leg 9, leg 10 summed up what was in truth, a very poor match as both players missed numerous darts at doubles before Taylor finally hit D4 to level the match at 5:5. The last 2 legs both went with throw as Taylor checked out 104 to draw the match. It meant that Van Barneveld is still to defeat Taylor in Premier League history and Taylor’s play off place still hangs in the balance. 
The next match of the night again saw a player who was flying high in the Premier League take on an opponent who was fighting for their life to gain a play off place. This time it was Michael van Gerwen against Gary Anderson. Going into the match, Van Gerwen had celebrated his 25th birthday earlier in the week and Gary Anderson was living up to his nickname of the ‘Flying Scotsman’ as he was in the form of his life. The match started off with 2 holds of throw before Anderson broke the world champion’s throw and then held his own throw with an excellent 108 finish to lead 3:1. Anderson then secured another break of throw in the next leg as even though he missed bullseye on a 170 checkout, he followed up to hit D12. After 5 barren legs for Van Gerwen, he eventually got another leg on the board to trail 5:2 but only after Anderson missed a dart to secure a point. However, Anderson did secure his point on D10 in the next leg and even though Van Gerwen then won the next 2 legs, Anderson rounded off the match with a 7:4 win. This loss won’t have hurt Van Gerwen too much but it is a vital win for Anderson as he is still in with a great chance of earning a play off place. 
Peter Wright went into his game against Adrian Lewis knowing he had to pick up at least a point to stay in the top 4. On the other hand, Lewis knew he had to win just to keep his miniscule chances of progressing alive. Wright was off to a bright start in the game as he broke Lewis’ throw before holding his own throw to lead 2:0. Then after Wright missed two darts at D20, Lewis broke straight back by taking out 122 and levelled the match at 2:2 by also holding his throw. The breaks of throw then dried up as the next 4 legs went with throw after Lewis missed 2 darts at double to break Wright’s throw in leg 8. In leg 10, Lewis did produce a break of throw and his timing was perfect as it also secured a draw for the man who had lost his last 4 matches. However, he couldn’t transform 1 point into 2 as he let Wright back in to win the last 2 legs and steal a point on D12. This result means Wright clings on to his place in the top 4 but it means Lewis’ chances of winning his first Premier League title are over. 
Phil Taylor and Dave Chisnall returned to the stage for the final match of the night in a repeat of the 2013 Grand Prix Final in which Taylor whitewashed Chisnall 6:0. Chisnall knew he was up against it from the outset as Taylor broke his throw in the first leg and Taylor’s determined celebration let Chisnall know that Taylor was in the mood for another whitewash. That whitewash certainly looked on the cards throughout the early stages of the match as Taylor won the first 4 legs with no reply. Chisnall had an opportunity to earn his first leg in the 5th leg but after missing 3 darts at D12, Taylor hit the same target to move 5:0 ahead. However, when Taylor missed the D16 on a 111 checkout, Chisnall did win a leg after he hit the D7. Despite this, Chisnall only won 1 more leg in the match as Taylor wrapped up the match 7:2. This rounded off a great night for Taylor where he picked up 3 points from his 2 games but it was a nightmare for Chisnall as he lost both his matches and as a result, lost his chance to get into the top 4. 
Last week I made a bold statement that the top 3 of the Premier League had all but been secured. I was wrong! We know that Michael Van Gerwen and his dutch compatriot Raymond Van Barneveld have secured their play off places but Phil Taylor, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson are left to fight it out for the 2 remaining spots. I now believe that Taylor and Anderson will win those spots as they are both in fine form and Wright’s run in looks increasingly difficult.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Premier League - Week 12

The Top 4 starts to take shape
After an eventful few days in Manchester, the Premier League Darts brought more drama to the warehouse city. There was a scare for all male darts fans before the night began as news broke that the walk on girls were struggling to make the venue due to traffic problems but they all breathed a sigh of relief when they walked out during the opening walk ons! It was a full house in the Phones 4u Arena as many Manchester United fans looked to recover (or celebrate!) from the sacking of their Scottish manager David Moyes.
However, the opening match didn’t do much to banish the memories of their previous manager as it was an all Scottish clash between Peter Wright and Robert Thornton! Both players weren’t in the best of form leading up to the match and while Wright knew a win would keep him in play off contention, Thornton knew he needed to take at least 3 points from his 2 games in Manchester to avoid being cut adrift at the bottom of the league. Thornton was off to a flying start as he hit 3 180’s in the first 2 legs and a 137 checkout. Despite this, Wright was also scoring well, narrowly missed a bull finish on a 167 checkout in leg 3 before levelling the match at 2:2. Wright then moved into a 4:2 lead in an exceptional 6th leg where Thornton hit 6 consecutive T20’s but still didn’t get a shot at a double after a fantastic 121 finish from Wright. But Thornton wasn’t willing to lie down and take defeat as he brought the game back to 4:4 culminating in a determined celebration. The next 2 legs saw 2 more breaks of throw as Wright hit the bullseye to punish Thornton’s missed doubles before Thornton broke back with a D10 finish. In the first of the deciding legs, Wright hit 5 perfect darts before breaking Thornton’s throw and he then won the match in the final leg on D8 after Thornton made it 13 missed darts at D20 in the match. Wright’s celebration showed that he realised it was a vital victory for his play off chances but Thornton will be wondering where it’s all gone wrong as even though his scoring has been superb throughout the tournament, his realistic chances of making the top 4 are over. 
Next up was the most important match of the night as Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson went into their games 4th and 5th place in the league. Both players were full of confidence going into the tie after last week’s wins and Taylor’s German Masters victory last weekend. Anderson showed his newly found confidence by winning the first leg in 11 darts but Taylor hit back by winning the next 3 legs to lead 3:1. Taylor was on the verge of another break of throw in the 5th leg but he missed 3 double darts as Anderson stepped in to hit D20 before Anderson earned a break of his own to level the match 3:3. Taylor then looked flummoxed in the next leg after checking out 139 before realising he only required 129 and it ultimately cost him as Anderson won the leg to go 4:3 ahead. But his lead didn’t last long as Taylor hit a 121 checkout to level the game which cued animated celebrations. In the last few weeks, Taylor has looked the most animated I have ever seen him and this just shows his motivation and love for the game has not quivered. As a result, Taylor broke again in the 9th leg with D16 after Anderson missed D15 on a 150 checkout but Anderson returned the favour in the next leg by hitting D20. Similarly to the first game, the match went to the final leg after Anderson guaranteed a point to lead 6:5 but he couldn’t earn a victory as Taylor won the leg to draw the match. The match still leaves the race for the top 4 wide open but Taylor will feel disappointed he couldn’t have cemented his top 4 spot after averaging over 105. 
The third match of the night saw the most consistent player in Raymond Van Barneveld come up against the most inconsistent player Adrian Lewis in this year’s competition. Even before the match, Van Barneveld’s place in the play offs looked very secure but Lewis was in need of a darting dream to also make it to the O2 Arena. The first 3 legs all went with throw before Van Barneveld hit D16 to break in the 4th leg and it was a well deserved lead as he was averaging 112 at the end of the same leg. Four consecutive holds of throw then followed to leave Van Barneveld leading 5:3 after Lewis missed a double opportunity to break Van Barneveld’s throw. Van Barneveld then kept his 100% record of holding his throw in the 9th leg as he guaranteed a point to lead 6:3. Van Barneveld nearly rounded off the win in perfect style after hitting 6 perfect darts but even though he failed to earn the 9 darter, he comfortably won the leg to win the match 7:3. It is now all but over for Lewis in this year’s competition after 4 straight losses but Van Barneveld has shown his brilliance again as he all but secures his play off spot. Could this be the year Van Barneveld breaks his Premier League duck? 
Mighty Mike was next up on the big stage against Dave Chisnall knowing that he needed at least a point to regain his place at the top of the league. The first leg started off with a surprise as Chisnall swiftly broke Michael Van Gerwen’s throw with a 100 checkout but the lead didn’t last long as Van Gerwen threw an incredulous dart to hit the bull and break straight back. The pair then shared the next 2 legs on throw before Van Gerwen was broken again by Chisnall who impressively took out 80. It was then a feeling of deja vu for Van Gerwen as he broke Chisnall straight back to level the scores at 3:3. But Chisnall would not let up as he hit D20 for the third time in the match to break Van Gerwen again and his aeroplane celebration symbolised the fact he was flying in the match. Predictably, Van Gerwen broke straight back again on D5 which meant that 75% of the first 8 legs were breaks of throw! There was more drama in the next leg after Van Gerwen again let Chisnall have darts at double but when he missed them, Van Gerwen came back to hold his throw.
Van Gerwen then showed why he is world champion as he punished Chisnall’s minimal miss of D16 to break his throw and confirm a point. In the final leg, Van Gerwen threw another miracle dart to hit D2, win the match and go back to the top of the league but Chisnall’s realistic hopes of a play off spot in his debut season are over.
The final match of the night saw Gary Anderson retake the stage to take on his 2nd Scottish opponent of the evening in the form of Robert Thornton. Anderson took the early lead in the tie by winning the first 3 legs before Thornton got onto the scoreboard but then Thornton returned the favour by winning the next 3 legs himself! Anderson then won the next leg on D20 to maintain his 100% record on the doubles. Switch your attention back to last year when Anderson was relegated from the Premier League mainly due to his double trouble. Meanwhile Thornton was known for his prolific D20 hitting in which now he is showing inconsistencies on! Despite this, the next 3 legs then all went with throw to leave the match hanging in the balance at 5:5. But Thornton’s doubling frailties came back to bite him in leg 11 when he missed double darts to earn a point but he still earned the draw in the last leg on D8. This meant that Anderson picked up 2 points from his 2 matches leaving him level on points with Phil Taylor. Thornton however will be disappointed with his tournament with only 1 win throughout which is unbelievable as he has actually scored and played well but his failure has come down to timing as he has missed crucial doubles at crucial times.
I now honestly believe that the top 3 in the Premier League are pretty secure and only Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson can realistically achieve 4th place.