The booming darts industry goes from strength to strength. In The Board Room, you’ll be kept on top of upcoming signings & transfers, innovations, product development & technology. Whether your a player, a fan or work within the darts business, this is the place for latest wallet saving, career-boosting and decision-influencing news.
Robbie Green appears to be moving darts supplier again. ‘Kong’, as Green is known, has had a difficult last few years whilst under the Winmau banner. Knee surgery and extensive rehabilitation have seen him struggle to maintain his previous level.
Originally with A180 King’s darts have had several incarnations over the years. The basic shape and dimensions have proven popular, even collectable, regardless of the manufacturer. Both Target and Winmau gave produced multiple editions.
The Liverpudlian hinted that there is more news to come. He took to social media to thank Winmau for their support.
Some big things coming this month as I say goodbye to sponsors for the last 4 years winmau who’s been brilliant with me,
big thanks to all the team at winmau 🙌👍 But exciting things ahead as I look to keep improving
It would be no surprise to see Kong return to the limelight. He is very talented and, if fit, seems have have periods of outstanding form.
Winmau meanwhile seem to be restructuring, their playing staff, after the arrival of MVG. I strongly suspect that a major ‘Ferguson-esque’ squad rebuilding is underway.
The William Hill World Darts Championship has been nominated for a fourth consecutive year in the Sports Business Awards.
The prestigious Sports Business Awards celebrate the achievements and hard work of individuals, teams and organisations in the delivery of sporting events and projects, and features a panel of judges from a wide range of sporting backgrounds.
The PDC’s World Darts Championship has been shortlisted as a finalist in two of the 2020 Sports Business Awards categories: ‘Best Sports Event of the Year’ and ‘Best Operations Team’.
At the 2019 awards, the World Darts Championship was named as the Best Match (or Game) Day Experience, having previously won the Best Operations Team at the 2018 ceremony.
“The William Hill World Darts Championship continues to grow in stature as a major sporting event, and these award nominations are testament to that,” said PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter.
“The 2019/20 event was a memorable one for so many reasons, and we’re proud to have delivered a magnificent spectacle for the tens of thousands of fans who attended and the millions watching on TV across the globe.
“Alexandra Palace is now firmly established as the place to be over the festive sporting season, and I am also pleased to see the hard work of our magnificent team recognised.”
Target darts have decided to proceed with their spring 2020 launch during the UK’s Corona Virus lockdown. In yet another sign that the darts industry is performing strongly whilst many have more time on their hands.
Launching new products at this time signifies Target’s confidence that their new wares will receive the exposure and sales levels expected and not be lost in lockdown!
First out of the traps today are the Bolide range this looks like a reimagining of the sandblasted grip style, many players like the feel of this finish, and with Target’s usual flair it may prove popular.
Target’s Summary; “Bolide features 5-barrel designs providing a solution for all grips and playing styles. Intricately constructed with precise radial grooved cuts and a hand-sandblasted coating gives the dart added grip and feel. Each barrel is finished with a yellow Pro Grip shaft and eye-catching flight exclusively designed for the range“.
Limited Edition Takoma (Fabric):
Three patterns with 1000 each only. This is a popular product that may benefit from a niche edition that players feel is more exclusive?
The Takoma holds a fully loaded set up and a selection of accessories with ease and is protective due to its shell design. Smaller than some fully loaded set-ups the Takoma has performed well in reviews and tests.
It’s been noticeable over the last few years that Winmau have stepped up the independent marketing of their premium board products.
After withdrawing from the supply/sponsorship of the BDO they have moved to a more direct model. This, in combination with the signing of MVG, has seen them seriously raise their game.
The brand’s latest promotional piece traces the evolution/history of the Blade over the years:
It’s hard to argue with much of that, (OK,OK, so the language is a bit flowery, but hey it’s their baby). With Unicorn having taken a bit of a PR beating, and other brands yet to really gain traction in the UK, it seems certain that these efforts will keep Winmau in the lead, with regard to ‘the darts space’, for a while yet.
Unicorn continue to consolidate their team of sponsored players with another extension. It has seemed to us for a while that they are trying to build a very solid base, especially of younger or non UK players, whilst keeping their elite team in place.
The latest extension is detailed below:
Latvian star Madars Razma has extended his contract with Unicorn Darts.
Razma, aged 31, regained his PDC Tour Card at European Q-School in January 2019 with a run to the final on the third day, which saw him finish first on the Order of Merit, giving him at least another two years on the PDC Pro Tour.
Along with his full-time commitment to the PDC Tour, Razma remains a mainstay on the PDC Nordic & Baltic Tour and via that route after topping the Order of Merit, he earned a prized spot at last years World Championship, where he was just edged by Team Unicorn stablemate Harry Ward in a second round thriller.
Razma is pleased to extend his stay with Unicorn ”I am very happy to be part of this great team since 2014. It is a huge boost for me to have the fantastic support and I’d like to thank everyone for their continued belief. We will continue the fight together”.
Player Liaison Manager Matt Rankin added ”We really admire Madars and his all-round positive attitude towards the game of darts in general. He is fully committed to playing in as many events as possible and he is a fantastic global ambassador for our brand. He is a pleasure to work with”.
‘Razmatazz’ has risen to 69th place on the main PDC Order of Merit and now has his sights set on another appearance at Alexandra Palace later this year after securing double qualification for two future European Tour events last week in Barnsley. His quest is well underway!.
Yesterday saw many of the biggest players in the darts business issuing statements of their intention to push through the current social, and economic, trials and tribulations.
Many have assured their staff that they are safe, in their jobs, and are also doing everything they possibly can to ensure their well being at work. Staff are being allowed, or even encouraged, to work from home. Wages and or sick pay are being smoothly handled and their seems to be a very strong spirit and positive attitude amongst people at all levels.
In many ways there seems to be an extension of the ‘darts’ family’ theme that we see in relation to the fund raising and charity efforts of many within the community
It seems to me that the darts industry deserve huge credit, and our thanks, for their serious efforts to accept the difficulties, of Coronavirus, but also to remain steadfast.
So if you have found yourself with extra time on your hands and are financially able, perhaps you could improve your darts whilst supporting our industry. Improve your darts space? Grab some shiny new kit or even (quietly) stock up on flights, stems and other small items easily posted.
Below are a selection of the statement issued by major darting brands over the last 24-48 hrs:
Red Dragon published an online statement of their efforts to comply with all recomendations for their staff and customers and how they would continue:
Our Customers, colleagues and communities are at the heart of what we do.
With the current concerns created by the Worldwide spread of COVID-19, we would like to reassure each and every one of you that Red Dragon is following all recommended protocols. These include best practice hygiene, cleaning work spaces, social distancing and working from home.
In these challenging times, we think that a little extra darts practice will help the time at home literally by!
We are therefore pleased to confirm that we are processing and dispatching orders as usual.
Please join us in following best practice advice so we can all get through this together…
Stay Strong, Stay Safe and Play Darts..
Very Best Wishes, Team Red Dragon
Team Harrows also contacted their customers and suppliers etc:
To all Harrows customers,
We would like to take this opportunity to write to you regarding what we are doing at Harrows during these unprecedented and challenging times.
The well-being of our staff and customers is of the utmost importance to us and we are rigorously following the advice of our Government and Public Health England.
In light of the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19 and from the experience of other countries, this is likely to mean that over the coming days we have to reduce the number of colleagues working at our HQ in Hoddesdon, in order to help the national effort in attempting to slow the spread of the virus within the UK.
We maintain the highest levels of cleanliness within our office, factory and warehouse and, with our products being manufactured here in the UK, we are confident that there will be limited disruption to our supply chain in the immediate future. We have made the appropriate provisions with our suppliers to be in a position to guarantee this commitment to you, our valued customers.
We are therefore continuing to run our business as normal and are currently holding very good stocks, meaning that we are able to deliver your orders as and when they are required.
That said, as this is a fast moving situation, with UK Government advice being updated daily, if you are currently planning to place an order with us it would be advisable to do so sooner rather than later, to further reduce any risk of us being unable to ship goods to you in the short term.
If you have any questions or require any support regarding Harrows Darts, our products or deliveries please call us on +44 (0)1992 300300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Target also sought to reassure its wider contacts:
TARGET UPDATE Dear Customer,
We know that the Coronavirus is impacting us all around the world and our priority at Target is to take care of our staff and to keep things running the best we can for our customers. With this in mind we thought it is important to share some of the steps we are taking.
We have adopted significant measures to protect our team who are located globally from the risk of spreading COVID-19. This is in place through a combination of testing, social distancing and asking colleagues to work from home if they can. These alterations have ensured we are able to continue producing products and that our warehouse is able to maintain the ability to ship goods.
As the situation is evolving constantly please see our website and social media accounts for updates. This is an uncertain time, though we want to reassure our darts fans that we are working hard to ensure we keep giving you the service and products you have come to expect.
Garry Plummer MD Target Darts
Dartscorner.com and A180 darts also contacted clients in an effort to assure that their determination to maintain trading was known and understood.
Having spoken to various representatives and staff of the major companies I am confident that the majority of manufacturers and suppliers are in strong positions and are capable of bouncing back as soon as the situation becomes more normal.
Credit too them and their staff in what seems likely to prove a strong demonstration of resilience.
JR Lott, and Target?, discover that the name of a product can have many an unexpected consequence.
Surfing around darting websites recently, I came across a bargain almost too good to be true. A full darting starter kit, of the highest quality, for two thirds or less of the previous price. This worked out to even bigger saving, on the items, if bought separately. In case it was a short term offer I snapped up a couple of the kits and awaited the email explaining why the company was out of stock (cynical or what?). Instead the items arrived, within 48hrs, and were exactly as described, what could possibly be behind it?
While unpacking the items I thought to myself that perhaps the makers, Target Darts, were planning on a mass change of their sponsored players. This seemed highly unlikely as many were very successful, and marketable, and some where recent signings. I even considered the idea that Target were having a spot of cash flow trouble, this seemed even less likely. Target have been expanding, developing, innovating and often leading the way over recent years and it seemed inconceivable that they would run into trouble. It turned out that one of these innovations might be behind the flash sale!
A few years back Target launched a board lighting system that did not require installation of extra light fittings or the precarious balancing of table lamps at unusual angles. This proved very popular and has led to many such ‘shadow reducing’ board mounted lighting sets being available.
Obviously, it makes sense for Target to combine these with their boards, and a selection of darts, cases and accessories from, your favourite of, their players, and package them in a single value box.
It took my wife’s shocked voice to reveal the problem and possibly the reason behind the large reduction:
“What on earth was in there?” She shouted, pointing at the partly obscured target Box in our hallway.
When I glanced through to see what she meant it was a clear as day:
Was the only thing visible on the box! A possible reason for the large discount became apparent, the word Corona had developed a strong negative reaction, just look at the issues faced by the Mexican Beer brand. Unluckily, Target’s lighting system is called Corona (as its round like the sun after a lunar eclipse) Vision!
The double-takes from my neighbours have been quite something after I put the box out for recycling! It now faces the wall and will be scrubbed before collection!
During 2019 word reached my ear that Winmau were making a major move in the ‘transfer market’. This came as somewhat of a relief as they had seemed in danger of becoming a shadow of their former selves. Upon discovering it was MVG, who was joining, the potential seemed obvious.
Winmau’s greatest asset was their board manufacture and reputation. Their player roster seemed a little stale and unexciting, times were about to change. It seemed to me that the tie up with the biggest name in professional darts opened doors to a style of sponsorship more like that of Eric Bristow, with Harrows, many years ago. Multiple products bearing Winmau and MVG logo’s and a much deeper tie-in across Winmau’s range of ‘your darts space’ items.
The following mini article appeared at winmau.com yesterday and gives some clue to how the long term operation may work:
Michael van Gerwen Talks Blade
13 March, 2020 Without the dartboard there is no darts, and this is the most essential part that affects the game whether it’s on TV, at your local pub or at home.
So, we asked World no.1 Michael van Gerwen about his earliest memories of Winmau dartboards, his experiences and the Blade in particular.
Michael said “As a youngster coming through the system in the Netherlands, then the Netherlands Darts Federation, I was just surrounded by Winmau boards all the time. There were other dartboards but we didn’t seem to notice them as much as every major event we played on was a Winmau board”
Michael’s career blossomed from the age of 14-15 as he began to take the game more seriously. It was not long afterwards that Michael thrust himself into the spotlight at the 2006 Winmau World Masters, becoming the youngest ever winner and claiming his first ever major title, played on a Winmau Blade 3.
“Yeah my first ever major was won on a Winmau Blade 3, although at the time you didn’t notice what version of the dartboard you played on,” said Michael “You just knew that if it was a Winmau dartboard there was that feeling of reliability and quality, like a great car such as a BMW or Ferrari.”
“Everyone who played knew Winmau and the brand name was so strong and synonymous with the game, so to fast forward 15 years and to have signed with such an iconic brand really is amazing.”
Winmau’s Blade journey has taken shape over 25 years and the company has invested heavily in the research and development of the Blade concept, which has delivered some huge benefits to the game of darts.
With the current evolution of the Blade, the dartboard has got to a point where dart-on-dart bounce-outs far out-weigh rejections from the dartboard.
Michael has now seen first-hand the production process which Winmau work to and said “Having been and witnessed how much effort, skill and obsession goes into creating such a fantastic board, it really is fascinating.”
“This obsession to be the best is probably one of the biggest factors that makes myself and Winmau a perfect match, I have an almost identical desire and drive to produce the best in my game”
Michael’s journey with Winmau began at the start of this year and Mighty Mike has hit the ground running, lifting the UK Open title last weekend in dominant fashion.
This is just the beginning of Michael’s story with his new Winmau darts and we are very much looking forward being part of the journey as he continues to hunt down major trophies at the top of World darts.
It seems obvious that Micheal’s deal will include a certain amount of cross pollination and it would not surprise if there were not many other original promotion methods used to tell a story in a more complete and varied way. You Tube, social media and many other assets will be leveraged to spread the word about the “World Best” combination.
The MVG / Winmau relationship may prove a model for marque signings in the future. Although darts often sees itself as following golf, in its development, it often mirrors tennis in many ways. It does not take much to recall how Bjorn Borg broke the mold with sponsorship deals and packages with Fila & Donnay and how this was elevated by Adidas with Ivan Lendl and then Nike with Andre Agassi. Darts is now a global game and, much like 1970’s/80s tennis, its stars will be rewarded at a higher rate. It will be for major darts (and other companies) to learn how to extract maximum value in exchange for their increased investment.
Ahead of the Ladbrokes UK Open which gets underway in Minehead later today, young Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan has penned a new long-term contract with Unicorn Darts.
Rising star de Zwaan who turns 24 at the end of this month, is tipped by many to make his way to the very top of the game and has already climbed upto World no.20 in just over two years after regaining his PDC Tour card at European Q-School.
JDZ showcased his undoubted potential during the recent World Championship at Alexandra Palace averaging a blistering 106.09 whilst defeating Dave Chisnall and then narrowly losing out to eventual World Champion Peter Wright 4-3 in the Last 16, after battling back valiantly from three sets to nil down.
The talented Dutchman who has become a regular in TV events, will once again play a part in this year’s Premier League as a ‘Challenger’ on his home soil at Rotterdam Ahoy, where he will look to gain revenge over Wright for that World Championship defeat.
Claiming a maiden PDC European Tour title is at the forefront of de Zwaan’s mind, whilst he has his sights set on a place in the World’s Top 16 and is also striving for a coverted place in the Netherlands World Cup of Darts team come June in Hamburg. He certainly has the ability and belief to do just that.
De Zwaan is delighted with the new deal ‘’I am honoured to sign a new contract with Unicorn. To be a part of such a big family company gives me a great feeling especially with the full support and backing they always give me. I am very excited for the future’’.
Player Liaison Manager Matt Rankin added “Spending time with Jeffrey and his management team in Holland earlier this week was an absolute pleasure and to conclude a deal which sees him remain with Unicorn for years to come, really is great news. JDZ is a supreme talent”.
Along with the new contract, Jeffrey will be promoted within Team Unicorn to our Maestro selection of players, where he will join Ian White, Joe Cullen & Seigo Asada. The promotion will fall in line with our 2021 range launch later this year, where a new portfolio of Jeffrey de Zwaan products will be released for sale.
Peter Wright revealed that there was great detail to the seeming madness of changing his darts so close to the World Championships, so we wanted to share Snakebite’s great insight, and his thinking behind the dual coated visual effect of his latest set of darts that ultimately helped deliver the 2020 PDC World Championship Title, and an immortal place in global darting history.
Peter spoke about why the darts were designed with such unique aesthetics and Snakebite explained that there was a technical reason to back-up his demands of hitting so many 180s and 140s.
Peter said “It’s to do with the angle that I get when I throw my darts into the board, especially into the treble 20. When I’m looking at it and the black front section is pinned in the treble 20, it gives sort of an optical illusion where it blends into the black of the board and the treble looks even more open and inviting.”
Although this may be a slight nuance in Peter’s game, we put this to the test at our practice centre and asked the World’s top technical darts coach if he could actually see the benefit that this effect gave.
Steve Feeney said “Everybody’s eyes work together to see one picture but in very unique ways, and having seen Peter up close and personal in practice there is no doubt in my mind that this does give him a visual advantage, that more importantly translates into a mental advantage as he’s clearly proved”.
DW Coach – This is nicely worded by Steve. We have tested this idea and it’s not as clear cut as Peter says indeed the exact opposite can be argued, that a contrasting colour is better for directing the eye where not to put the dart!
Wrighty has himself demonstrated this in his scoring game, smashing his way to the top 180 and 140 charts throughout the PDC World Championships.
Peter said “Without a doubt it was my scoring game that powered me to that World title, I was only a few 180’s off the record number hit at a World Championships and I’m gutted I didn’t get it, but I couldn’t let Michael have another set in the final!”
Peter’s latest darts have been designed for heavy scoring and proven for him on the World’s biggest stage of all – we hope that your power scoring can benefit from this extra visual clarity that Peter’s stunning World Championship edition darts offer.
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