Harrows Turn Up The Heat

‘The Heat’ is on over at Harrows. The classic darts brand has added Damon Heta to its official roster of star players.

Damon Heta

Although there appears to have been a long-standing connection between the two, Harrows trumpeted the formalisation strongly on social media yesterday:

After winning his Tour Card this year, Damon has wasted no time in picking up his first @OfficialPDC title, winning Day 2 of the Autumn Series

The Aussie claimed his first Pro Tour title during the recent Autumn Series and had been courted by at least two major manufacturers. Heta has impressed many with his performances both on stage and away from the cameras.

We have no doubt that he has a very bright future in the PDC and we are delighted he is part of the team!

Equally impressive is the approach he has taken and the sacrifices he has made in order to gain a Tour Card and undertake the Pro Tour. He has committed himself in a full-blooded way and even Covid-19 could only hold ‘The Heat’ back for a couple of months.

Damon posted:

Proud to be joining Harrows for my journey in the PDC #bringtheheat

Harrows are very selective in whom they offer contracts and they support their selections in a quiet but very successful way.


It will be interesting to see how far ‘The Heat’ will rise.

The Boardroom is supported by Catromeda Accountancy:

Unicorn: Cracking The Code?

Unicorn has become the first of the major brands to launch new 2021 products, at scale, with a staged social media release of a new range of player darts. Each has been reimagined under their ‘CODE’ moniker.


The main thrust of the range is that each of their main players has a ‘CODE’ dart to go along side their more familiar authentic or signature model. The grip is the main difference with more varied and, mainly, more aggressive grip than with their other models.

Colour variation is also added with even such a simple dart as James Wade’s given a splash of ‘CODE’ livery. This signifies the dual identity of the dart as well as marking them out clearly from the ‘Signature’ editions.

Finally their is a design flourish with each players name being spelt out in Morse code within the grip pattern.


The CODE range is then differently packaged and supplied with player flights, as well as a variety of stems, in a stylish boxed package.

Catdromeda Accounting support ‘The Boardroom’.

It is clear to ‘The Boardroom’ that Unicorn are adopting a core strategy of playing to their strengths. Thus their are re-enforcing them by widening the available options within each of their player ranges and brands. In the current times this may prove a very smart move.

In a way, it is a variation on an old Unicorn theme. a few years ago they reimagined many of their top player’s signature model by including another four-letter word on a range of regripped darts. The ‘HERO’ range was very well received and remain popular to this day. It seems that to go forward it is wise to look back.

Winmau Re-capture Bomber Brown.

Its been a seriously busy period for Steve Brown. The latest news for the Bristolian ‘MADfather is the extension of his player sponsorship deal with Winmau. Brown regained his Tour Card at the start of 2020 and has performed well since. Winmau seems to have been consolidating their reputation as a brand that covers all areas of darts, amateur, professional, global as well as youth and women players.

Steve Brown Signs New Player Deal with Winmau

from winmau.com:

Steve “The Bomber” Brown from Bristol has signed a new five-year deal with global darts brand Winmau, his first manufacturing contract in over 5 years. The new deal follows his stunning success at the 2020 PDC Q-School, where he captured World Darts’ imagination in making one of the sport’s greatest comebacks to the professional game.

Steve Brown said:

“I only entered Q-School as a way to really support my son John, who was entering and going up we knew that I was nowhere near Q-school fit, but I’ve always had great self-belief and mental strength.

“As Q-school begun my competitive edge returned quickly allowing me to gain some rapid points that even surprised me, yet also backed up what I feel about my own game.”

“Another factor that was in my favour was that this was first time in nearly five years that I’ve been playing injury-free and not throwing in pain, which clearly made a huge difference.”

Simon Hall, Head of Marketing at Winmau said

“Naturally we’re very close with Steve through his work at the JDC,

but this episode is all about Steve and his will to continue being the top-class professional,

leading by example and inspiring the children with whom his most darts passion lies.

“Steve not only fought his way through an exceptionally strong field, but he did so at the most media-hyped Q-school ever following the amazing success of Fallon Sherrock in the World Championships and her presence at Q-school.”

Steve’s presence of mind while humming along to Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” was even more outstanding when you consider he achieved qualification in three days and was on a plane to China before the final list of qualifiers were even announced. where Steve had taken the most monumentally unselfish decision to put the JDC first over his own professional playing career and it is this character and belief that we are so very grateful to be working with.

Steve will be in action fighting his way back to televised majors on the PDC tour through, you can follow him on Twitter @steve180brown

Anderson Loads Up With Shot.

Aussie ace Kyle Anderson has joined Shot darts after several years as a Unicorn team member. ‘The Original’ and his management team revealed the new arrangement on Monday.

Image result for shot darts
New Zealand based Shot darts are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a big name signing.

The Boardroom sees further evidence of Unicorn seeking to restructure their playing staff after departure of other big names such as Kim Huybrechts.

The move also seens to address a missing element within the Shot package. In recent years they have produced striking and distinctive models of dart, and forged an identity all their own, while missing the big named players to give their products a bigger global profile.

Shot declared:

At Shot HQ we have a real sense of celebration with Kyle joining our tribe,

and we can’t wait for the world to see what we’ve designed for him.

It may be that working with a company based nearer to his home base with help Anderson through what has been a tough couple of years.

The Boardroom is supported by Catromeda Accounting

In addition to struggling to maintain his stellar start, in the PDC, Anderson returned to Australia on multiple occasions for personal reasons. adding to these difficulties he contracted Covid-19 earlier this year.

Kyle added:

“a bright light in what’s been a difficult year, it’s opening doors for me again

and gives me something to look forward to in the rest of 2020 and I’m looking forward to hitting the reset button”.

The Boardroom see this as significant move for both player and brand. Shot have always been innovative and interesting but have seemed to struggle to break through outside their home markets. Could this be the step change that they have been looking for?

Image result for kyle anderson darts
Could Kyle Anderson return to his very best?

As for Anderson, he is a popular man and tremendous destructive player who adds a great deal to the top level of professional darts. It would be superb to see him firing on all cylinders again.

Williams Signing Confirms Target’s Youth Priority.

Lewis Williams has recently become the latest addition to Team Target’s playing staff. Eighteen-year-old Lewis has joined the Elite 1 team that could be described as Target’s development squad.


Although Lewis came to wider attention during the 2020 UK Open ‘The Boardroom’ has been aware for some time that more than one of the major brand names were keeping tabs on the Swansea youngster. It is with mild surprise that we note Williams will not follow the same path as other Welsh talents in recent years.

On a wider level, the signing seems to confirm that Target are focused more on the up and coming side of the game than they are on making more ‘major signings’. Recent times have seen the balance of ‘Team Target’ change from superstar heavy to a more balanced outfit.

Signing with Target Elite 1

The retirements of Phil Taylor and RVB together with the departure of Chizzy and Alan Norris marked a change in appearance. The Elite 1 squad, overseen by Daryl Fitton, has an impressive array of young talent, both UK based and international, many of whom have already made quite an impression.

Players such as Jared Cole, Leighton Bennett & Keane Barry have already picked up titles in their age groups and done damage at the senior level.

‘The Boardroom’ team are grateful for the support of catdromeda accountacy.

The Boardroom will be interested to see how this model plays out as the players mature and develop. There is an individual element to darts that can work against the concept of a ‘Team’ or squad. There is also the possibility that, as in football, the other manufacturers simply view Target as the nursery for their future signings?

Lewis Williams may provide a very good example of how this strategy will work on a long term basis. Judging from his previous success, and rate of improvement, it will not be long until he will be looking to enter the ranks of those who are sponsored under their own name and enjoy the privileges, and income, that this affords.

Board Room Update: Unicorn Going Early?

The Boardroom recently previewed ‘Launch Season’ for the darts industry and what it might mean for players, customers, and the companies themselves. It seems Unicorn will be the first to break cover with at least part of their 2021 product launch coming on September 4th.

The ‘grand old man‘ of darts brands is trying to achieve two ends with this move. They will be first out of the traps and, somewhat like at an audition, first or last are thought to stick in the mind of the judges (in this case the buying public). With the success of Dimitri van den Bergh at the Matchplay, they will look to capitalise on a huge boost of brand awareness.


In addition, it appears that Unicorn may have shrewdly chosen to coincide some, or all, of their launch with the upsurge in darting activity, and television coverage, that September seems to be bringing. This also applies to some European and Global markets.

The social media teaser that was dropped out yesterday does not give much away, other than the model that may be getting additions and or a revamp.

The Boardroom team are supported by Catromeda Accounting

A side benefit of launch season, and this lockdown, is that room needs to be made for new stock. This leads to clearance offers both direct from manufacturers and their retail stockists. Keep an eye at dartsworld.com for a review of some of the best bargains for those not driven by the latest fashion.

Bullet Going Solo.

Stephen Bunting, 2014 World Champion, has become the latest big name to take matters into his own hands.

Darts World has noted an increase in the number of top darts professionals who are intent on managing their own affairs. It seems that the changing model of elite-level darts, with no entry fees and costs being reduced in general, combined with the time and space presented by Lockdown has caused a rethink amongst some of the game’s biggest names.

Our The Boardroom section alluded to this in DW570 (order here) and suggested that players, manufacturers and management companies would make significant changes in the coming months. This appear to be the first visible confirmation.

Stephen announced today (via social media) that he would leave Nevada Sports Management and, although he would seek the help and advise of others, manage his own career:

Stephen’s statement:

After 7 and a half great years with Nevada Sports Management, my journey with them has come to an end. I would like to thank Jon Archer and Jacqui Moore who helped me fulfill my greatest ever achievement in darts to date becoming world champion.
We have had lots of fun and laughs throughout this time together and our friendship will continue to flourish.
Over the last few months due to the coronavirus, It has given me time to think about my future and I felt that the time was now right to give it a go and manage myself. I put this to Jon and he agreed and has kindly offered support and advice if I need it.
I would like to wish Jon, Jacqui, and all involved with Nevada all the very best for the future.

Pics: Taylor Lanning

Darts Brands Jungle Warfare.

“It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under…….”

So said Grand Masterflash & The Furious Five. At times the darts industry can be similarly challenging:

AS DARTS begins to emerge from the COVID-19 period it’s exciting to see that normal service will soon be restored at the ‘business end of making darts’ as well as many versions of the activity itself. Darts World’s equipment research outfit has studied the manufacturers and now is the time all are preparing for what has become their traditional autumn/winter launches to drive sales well into 2021.

Partly due to the playing calendar, and partly due to retail seasons and other factors, darts have always operated on a very cyclical basis. Major launches are scheduled for the Autumn to coincide with the UK’s start of darts league’s season and the build-up to the professional games televised seasonal climax over the Xmas period

As very close watchers we have noticed many nuanced variations between manufacturers and their approach as well as certain new features to reflect the modern sports market:

The Big Player Launch:

Whilst much rarer owing to contractual cycles and timing, these are becoming the ultimate sought after affair with bigger stage-managed productions that mirror the events in the football like transfer market. No longer is a player signed with a photo and handshake, and then a few months later a single dart and flight combo produced. It more like the announcement of Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

The capture of MVG, by Winmau, was perhaps the clearest overall demonstration of this concept and ‘launch’. Months in the planning, with an entire range fully market-ready on day one. These physical launch events featuring goodie bags, photo ops, and much more, are perfectly allied with the social media and marketing push. The result, even before lockdown, looked like a resounding demand-driven success.

Target pioneered this modern type of effort after Unicorn with their signing of ‘The Power’, a few years previous, using the already worked ‘appetite building’ and ‘revolution is coming’ launch styles for their revolutionary Carrera and Cortex Azzuri ranges.

New/Full Range Launch:

Our major manufacturer’s posture around the yearly launch to win the ultimate consumer bragging rights, which tends to culminate in their largest scale launches some featuring a catalogue full of new lines and innovations mixed in with existing products, several of which are repackaged or expanded ranges. This allows for a large positioned launch, which often sees Target and Unicorn attempt the big splashes first, as well as staged or mini launches at differing points of the year.

Darts from Harrows

Harrows are often next into the fray with a more selected launch targeting a specific product area, points for example, or a smaller but focused effort around a range or player.

Winmau seems to let the dust settle before starting their formal launch process perhaps driven by differentiated manufacturing cycles and their specific retail distribution as it works towards Christmas, with Red Dragon the only other big brand hitting the January launch in the year the ranges are designed for.

Emerging and Niche Brands:

Two approaches seem to dictate the approach of other, less well-known outfits who are rapidly increasing in number, choose to launch around the big guns, and attempt a ‘pilot fish’ strategy to gain from the massive increase in darts marketing and exposure over the periods. Others deliberately try to avoid these periods and run tailor-made launches in parts of the cycle not dominated by major releases or darts news that does not feature their chosen player, accessory, or product.

Changing Times:

Darts World has commented on various occasions that times are changing, in the darts ecosystem, and we expect COVID to have accelerated some of these changes. Management companies seem to be looking to remodel their operations, manufacturers may be more thoughtful of supply lines and the model of player/personality sponsorship and brand association is on a constant conveyor belt of change due to social media, manufacturer techniques, and intellectual property development. There are also looming threats from huge sporting conglomerates, from China and other areas, who regard the darts market with envious eyes.

Coming Soon:

Over the coming weeks and months, Darts World, and ‘The Boardroom’ team, will be reviewing every major launch and analysing the shifting sands of the darts business. We shall also be looking closely into the real effects of COVID and other factors on the infrastructure and financial health of various aspects of the darts industry.

The Boardroom team are supported by Catdromeda Accounting

If the traditional partnership, between Players, fans, media, and manufacturers, is to thrive going forward it will be important to ensure that all elements are in good shape and playing their part in the future.

Darts World will be looking at every angle of every launch and industry move of the coming months and we look forward to keeping all interest parties fully informed.

Unicorn Secure 3 Ds: Dimi, Dobes & De Zwaan On The Up.

Unicorn have opted to strongly support three of their current squad in order to consolidate for the coming years. The elder statesman of the darts industry seemed to have been shedding players recently with Kim Huybrechts departure and other rumoured changes. The statement below may show these moves in a different light:

Unicorn stated:

We are delighted to announce that three Team Unicorn stars have been promoted to our Maestro category of players ahead of the next phase of new products to be released for our Unicorn 2021 range.

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2020 ( PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG) Unicorn’s Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Belgian star Dimitri Van den Bergh, Chris Dobey and Jeffrey de Zwaan have all reached the landmark of entering the Top 20 of the PDC Order of Merit since the turn of the year.

Van den Bergh, last month claimed his maiden PDC televised title by being crowned World Matchplay Champion in the behind closed doors event in Milton Keynes, surging upto World no.12 in the process.

Dobey meanwhile, reached two major televised Semi-Finals during the latter part of 2019 and has risen to a career high World no.18 subsequently, showcasing his undoubted talent along the way.


Dutchman, de Zwaan, finished 2019 in 20th spot in the World after a sensational two years on the PDC Tour which included a run to the Semi-Finals of the 2018 World Matchplay in Blackpool, where he defeated Michael Van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis & Dave Chisnall along the way.

Both Dobey and de Zwaan will once again be participants in the PDC Premier League later this month, under the Contender/Challenger format which has freshened up the line-up of players over the past two years in the popular concept.

Player Liaison Manager Matt Rankin commented ‘’It has been incredibly pleasing to see the progression of all three players over the past 18 months or so, especially with Dimitri winning the World Matchplay. All three players are incredibly talented and fully deserve their promotion to Maestro and I am sure Chris & Jeffrey will be looking to join Dimitri in the Major winners enclosure in the not too distant future’’.

New products for our newly promoted trio will be released over the coming weeks and months > https://www.playwiththebest.com/darts/new-2021-launches.html

As ever, stay tuned to our website and social media platforms for further news.

The Boardroom: Darts Boom or Safety First?

In more conventional times this column looks at the business of darts and the development of our game. Since the very beginning, and like most popular sports, darts has been a partnership between players, fans, media, and manufacturers.

‘The Boardroom’ section of Darts World 570

Each plays an important role and if one suffers then the knock-on effects hit the others like dominoes on ‘record breakers’. 

You may think, then, that Covid -19 would have been a hammer blow to our industry. Amazingly this does not seem to have been the case. In fact, darts may be one of the few sports sectors to ‘benefit’ from ‘The Virus’.  Even the BBC has carried reports, of darts experiencing Christmas level orders, with a major manufacturer saying:  

“it’s gone completely crazy, we don’t have this level of demand for a major product launch or even a new player signing”. 

The Board Room has heard tales of staff members having stock in their garages or spare rooms, in order to be able to work from home, and of empty warehouses due to recent demand. Overall, many of the major brands adapted well and, importantly, have been seen to look after their staff, players and customers. Many deserve huge credit. 

One early casualty of the aftermath might maybe ‘managed’ players. At least one major promoter/manager is set to revamp their company model to accommodate the new ‘remote style’ events. More than one stable of players may well be dramatically cut, with the younger, unproven players being especially vulnerable. Complete remodeling of management models may not be far away.

It would be no surprise if leading brands also look to reduce the size of their commitments to players, especially those in faraway lands or those outside the elite echelon. The Board Room is, however, also beginning to hear rumors of a major exodus from one major manufacturer. Some were much slower than others getting ahead of the virus and its related difficulties.

A business insider said 

 “the virus affected some companies more than others”

“some have Chinese supply chains and/or don’t hold much stock”

“it’s often the biggest names that are slowest to adapt to change”. 

Fans, on the other hand, may be a major beneficiary of the ‘brave new world’ with a plethora of new events that are free to watch, via streaming sites, apps and other media, along with a re-scheduling of many events in the later part of this year or even early in 2021. 

To quote Gary Anderson: “you wonder if there will be enough hours in the day for all of it”. 

Broadcasters and the wider media, including magazines and websites 😉, will be faced with the challenge of covering this huge rush of events, and keeping the fans up to date and entertained, while not saturating what was already a busy market. Nimble and quick thinking manufacturers and suppliers may well get a jump on some of the more traditional companies. It will be interesting to see who alters there normal operations and timetables and who adopts a ‘steady as she goes attitude’.

In addition the birth of MAD, UKDA and other organisations, who are looking to remodel the amateur game, will add a similar dynamic to that of the early 1990’s. Who to back early, who to avoid and how to not be tarred with any specific brush will be another evolving situation that may provide those in our business with some tough choices.

PDC: Barry Hearn
PDC: Barry Hearn

Yet more interesting times will come when renewal dates arrive for TV rights deals. Will darts’ value have increased? Or, will the PDCs brand value have been diluted by the various new products available? 

These are exciting, yet complex, times for our business. Will fortune favour the brave? Or will ‘steady as she goes’ be the order of the day? 

We in The Board Room will keep our ear to the ground, and you fully up to date.

The Boardroom is a regular feature both online and in Darts World magazine. A fuller version of this column appears in Darts World 570 order your copy while stocks last.