Ones to Watch: Six of The Best (PDC) 2020 Games For Lock-Down Viewing.

As a fan of our ‘Ones to Watch‘ series James Smith got in – touch with his suggestions of the best of 2020, while his ambitions may seem a bit bold, his viewing choice is solid:

How many lock-down weeks until you reach MVG standard?

As a darts enthusiast, being trapped indoors currently does present one with a great opportunity to work on one’s throw, with the hope of giving Michael van Gerwen a run for his money when we are allowed outside again.

James Smith

However, there is only so long that you can kid yourself into thinking that you are good enough to become a World Champion. In the meantime, with no new (live) darts being televised, we are left only to look back over what has happened already.

So, to aid this pursuit of entertainment, here is a run down of the six most exciting PDC matches of 2020 so far:

6. Dobey vs Ratajski: UK Open 4th Round.

The early rounds of the UK open of 2020 were graced with some fantastic clashes, especially this contest between top-twenty players Chris Dobey and Krystof Ratajski. Both players are expected to start picking up serious titles this year, and this match showed why.

Both players averaged over 105 across a match that went all the way to the final leg. With Ratajski averaging 56.25% on his doubles, and Dobey 43.48% it is no surprise that this was a close-fought contest.

Ratajski broke throw early in the match to go into a 4 – 2 lead. Dobey responded brilliantly however, breaking throw twice to win four straight legs to go 6 – 4 up. This included a fantastic 121-check on the bullseye in leg nine to break for the second time.

After another break of throw, Ratajski then missed two darts at double sixteen to win 10-8, surprising given then quality of the match. With the pattern of the game continuing however, the Englishman hit the bullseye again, this time for a 92-out, in the final leg of the match, to break Ratajski and go to the next round. Darting drama right from the start.

5. Dave Chisnall vs Daryl Gurney: Masters First Round

Following disappointing World Championship campaigns, both Gurney and Chisnall arrived at the Marshall Arena at the end of January, with a point to prove. However, with the format of the tournament bringing the top sixteen of the PDC Order of Merit, neither player was likely to enjoy an ‘easy’ first round draw.

Both players showed in this first-round clash their undeniable class. Starting well, ‘Chizzy’ raced into a 5 – 2 lead, only for Gurney to bring it back to 5 – 5. The following six legs were then shared to make things 8 – 8, in this first to ten match.

With both players averaging in the low nineties, this wasn’t the highest scoring game ever. But missed doubles throughout the match, including Gurney’s four across the final two legs, meant that this game was full of darting drama from start to finish.

Chizzy emerged a 10 – 8 winner…only to be knocked out in the second round 10 – 0 by title-winner Peter Wright. A great contest as we get stuck into the list:

4. Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price: PC 5 (Final).

The first of two Players’ Championship events to make this list – the final of PC 5 saw newly-crowned World and Masters Champion Peter Wright, take on Welsh Number One Gerwyn Price.

The final saw the two Major-holders both average over 109 across the fourteen-leg match. This was a fitting end to a day of darts where ninety-one matches saw averages over a hundred – beating the previous world record (set in February 2019) by a staggering twenty-one matches.

Showing the eminent quality of both players, the first thirteen legs of the match went with throw, leaving Wright with a 7-6 lead going into the fourteenth. Then with Price sat on double top, after twelve darts, ‘Snakebite’ hit ‘The Big Fish’ (a 170 Checkout) to seal his first Players Championship title of 2020.

You will struggle to find a final of such consistent quality anywhere else from this season. In fact, Wright’s performance in the final meant that of his seven matches en route to lifting the trophy, he averaged less than one hundred on only one occasion:

3. Nathan Aspinall vs Dirk van Duijvenbode: Belgian Darts Championship Quarter Final

2020 is the first year that the PDC European Tour hosted an event in Belgium. The inaugural venue was the Expo Hasselt, in Hasselt, where forty-eight competitors took to the stage.

The final was won by Gerwyn Price, in an 8-3 victory over Michael Smith. Arguably, however, the game of the tournament came in the Quarter Final between Nathan Aspinall and Dirk van Duijvenbode.

With both players reaching averages of over 102, this match was full of quality, with the Dutchman edging his English opponent 6-5, as the match went right to the final leg. Having hit the twenty-five for a 170-Check, Van Duijvenbode was let off the hook as Aspinall failed to get a dart at a double from ninety-five. The Dutchman cleaned up on double eight to proceed to the semi-fianls.

Despite losing 7-4 to price in the semi’s, he must have been over the moon for his performance that weekend. As well as this being the Dutchman’s first final’s day at a PDC European Tour event, the financial implications are also clear. Van Duijvenbode last season earned £14,500 – after reaching the semi-finals in Belgium, he has already supposed that in 2020.

This is the perfect chance to watch one of the new greats of the game in Aspinall, coming up against a young player of whom much is expected in the years to come:

2. Nathan Aspinall vs Gary Anderson: P.L. (6)

Having not played a Premier League match in almost two years due to injury, Gary Anderson returned to the Thursday-Night tournament continuing to reach his former best. His match against Nathan Aspinall in Liverpool showed that he still has a lot left in the tank.

Gary averaged 94.27 across the match, and flew into a 5-1 lead straight away after Aspinall missed six darts at a double in the first leg. The man from Stockport rallied however, hitting eight maximums to bring the match back level at 5-5.

Aspinall then responded to the Scot’s ninety-five finish to win the final leg to claim a 6-6 draw with an average pushing 108. With both players coming off stage pleased with coming away with a point it isn’t hard to imagine how much quality the two of them were producing:

1. Michael Van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price: Players’ Championship Six Final

The second match in the list from the Players Championship events from Wigan this year – the final of PC Six saw the MvG lose to the ‘Iceman’ 8-7 in the most thrilling contest of the year.

With over 1,112 180’s thrown over the two days, as well as two nine-dart legs (from MvG and Steve Lennon) the Sunday final had a lot to live up to. It did not disappoint.

Price raced into a 4 – 1 lead, continuing to show the class that has brought him up to number three in the PDC Order of Merit. MvG managed to bring the tie back to 5 – 4, only for the Welshman to win to extend his lead to 7 – 4. As Price struggled to close the game, MvG won legs in eleven, fifteen, and eleven darts again to send the match to a deciding leg for what would have been his first title in 2020.

Price however, took the £10,000 cheque by hitting the bulls eye to complete a 94-checkout with the big Dutchman sat on double eighteen.

Price continues to ooze confidence and class – stating after his victory “I truly believe now that if I hit my double I will win matches against Michael, Peter [Wright] or whoever; my scoring game is up there, if not better than them.”

So there are James’s picks for the best viewing of 2020, so far!


Many thanks to James for his contribution. Perhaps you have a different pick of the 2020 crop? Maybe you have a ‘Six of the Best’ or ‘Ones to Watch’ of your own to offer to those currently stuck within four walls?

Get in touch with your suggestions: articles@dartsworld.com or @Darts_World

Hawaii 501 Offers Lock-Down Coaching Tips.

Former Premier League darts star Wayne Mardale, now a TV pundit, has often contributed to the discussion around how to help players improve.

Below he offers his latest set of video tips. This time they are centred around helping those with ‘snatcher’ or ‘loopy’ actions.

The video contains useful tips and illustrations. Give it a watch and then see, under the vid, how our resident ‘Coach’ evaluates Hawaii 501’s advice.

Coach’s comments:

Wayne start by looking at the ‘snatchers’ his description is pretty good! The comments, regarding how hard work it can be are true for many.

Even Pro darters are often looking to improve how easily they can perform, rather than their actual skills.

Wayne’s suggested fix is a rhythm and practising it. While this is OK it’s not really a fix. Many snatchy players are full of nervous energy and make rapid recalibrations for almost every dart. As well as rhythm a routine for each throw can help here.

Wayne’s next target is the looped throw. He again wants us to be more direct. Bullet from a gun rather than the more lobbed arc. His suggested remedy is to focus on the follow-through to ensure the aim is fixed and the release is in line. The ‘visual confirmation’ phrase is helpful.

Lastly, Mardle looks at the abbreviated thrower. He is very catagoric in his condemnation of this and insists on, an almost over, exaggerated follow through. Again his advice is good generic information and well worth giving ago.

Downsides:

Much of Wayne’s advice, and demonstration, is clear, simple and well presented. If you are a newer player, or mid level and have a specific issue, it is recommended.

For higher level players Wayne’s advice is too general and too catagoric. He himself acknowledges that abbreviated throwers and loopy ones, Beaton and Barney, have risen to the very top.

I have long suspected that height and reach have a large effect. Wayne’s example, of the full follow through, Phil Taylor was very short whereas both Beaton and RVB are big guys.

This may also be why Ted Hankey needs to throw from such a long way to one side. Taller players, with longer wingspans, may either shorten their extention or lengthen the arc distance.

Twice World Champ Ted Hankey has a very long throw and stands wide of the Oche

So give Wayne’s vids a try, especially if you are getting started or trying to develop, but remember that, despite Wayne’s effort at homogenization, players of all types, and with varied throws, have risen to the very top.

It’s one of the truly special things about darts and would be a bad loss.

Coach


Ones to Watch – The Surge! Too Hotty To Handle?

Today’s ‘One to Watch’ is a sprint rather than a marathon. Darts World’s ‘Resident Coach’ often refers to destructive darts. He also (repeatedly), states that outlasting, or surviving, ‘The Surge‘ and retaining your own composure is the key to many a famous win.

A fantastic example of ‘The Surge‘ was produced by Scott Waites during his group match against Adrian Lewis in 2010. It is one of the most destructive starts, to a high profile game, you will ever see:

Scott Waites demonstrates ‘The Surge’

Coach’s Comments:

It is clear that Scott has decided to pour his focus into this match. Pay attention, to his body language, and manner, during the ‘warm-up’ phase. Adrian is doing his usual relaxed, laughing and joking, routine, whilst Scott looks as if he is psyching himself up to burst from the gates!

Too-Hotty then reals off three big finishes. The 161 in leg two is the important, but the third a 137 finished on d10 is utterly destructive. Although the commentators concentrate on the back-to-back twelve dart legs, Lewis is denied three clear darts at 18, which he surely would have hit. This completed the most often seen example of ‘The Surge’. Three quick legs involving a Hold-Break-Hold (HBH) pattern.

From this point on you can see, despite his, Bristow/Taylor like, bravado, Jackpot’s resistance crumbling.

Scott eases the intensity off, a little, at the end of leg three a smile to the crowd, a shake of the head and a drink of water. Following the HBH simply sharing the next two, on throw, gives the ‘Surger’ 4 out of 5 legs. Although, Waites lost leg four, it was clear that Adrian was trying, much too hard, and as a result, all his natural weapons were not helping.

Returning after the break Waites could afford to stay within himself and force Lewis to find more. Thus the four, from five, are secured and Too Hotty moves 4-1 up, in the first too five. Although Scott falls for trying, too hard, to wrap it up quickly, the cushion he has earned from one of the best timed destructive spells, ensures he is able to survive a mini Lewis comeback and close out the match. He went on to win the event!

Some players seem naturally able too surge at the right time. This ability both enables faster wins, due to fewer legs played and easier ones due to lack of resistance.

MVG ‘s record setting Premier League game against Micheal Smith is another superb example. Smith is reduced to being a practice partner and not a very good one.

Had Jackpot retained more of his own game earlier who knows? Next time we will look at how to survive such an onslaught!


Drill Of The Day – Bob’s 27. A Doubling Classic.

If you have been trying, some of the many, new practise drills and games that have been dreamt up, you may be wondering where they came from. SwitchBlade, Middle For Diddle and Sprint (Pro) Half-It were developed by A.I.M:, to assist players they coach,and Kill Bull looks like a Mikko Laiho / Winmau game. Today you can hear, about one of the most famous doubles drills, from the man who invented it!

Bob Anderson Talk’s Through his Bob’s 27 Routine.

Coach’s Comments:

Now I must own up to a bias, Bob is a man after my own heart in many ways. He was also a seriously good player! As important is his understanding of the game and how to improve and or maintain your performance. It is no accident that Bob had a very long Professional career and still plays to a very high standard, in exhibition and competitive matches, aged over 70.

It may also be significant that Bob was one of the first to have a background in a different (athletic) sport. Gerwyn Price has repeated the trick in this era.

Bob’s first point is one of my favourite rules. Have an aim to your practice, don’t just throw aimlessly at the twenties etc. Bobs next tip is to focus heavily on finishing and hitting that double, his ‘Bob’s 27’ is legendary. Watch it through and give it a few goes. This sets your benchmark and then you should add it to your daily routine. Many players use it as part of their early session or near the start of a longer one.

If you want evidence of how this improves your game check out Bob’s efforts in the 1986 World Masters:

The Limestone Cowboy was as good as they come and, in spells, was outstanding! 151,120,150 & 154! Not often you see that even today. These were hit under serious pressure, on a round wired board, in a major tournament and in quick succession.

So if you want to improve your doubles/finishing listen to Bob Anderson!


This is what ‘Coach’ calls a development (or reset) drill. While high level players will play it as a warm up or settling routine, shorter sharper drills can be better for those at the top. Bob’s 27 gives equal focus to every double, great when your developing, whereas sometimes a sharper focus on those that are used most often is more beneficial.

Darts World will show you a few of these over the coming days and weeks.


Drill of the Day – Kill Bull

We often ask ‘Coach’, or our friends at A.I.M:, for ideas for your home practice, sometimes others come along that are too good to miss.

The Kill Bull Game from Winmau.tv is one of them. This one has been featured on social media so we had a look. Its a nice, quick, game to work on your bull hitting.

Coach says: “This is nice simple game that can be scaled up or down depending on ability/experience. This means different players can race to their own target while playing together”.

Simon Hall features on Winmau.tv ‘s Practise Zone

Our resident ‘Coach’ commented:

Downsides:Often those who try to devise games make then two hard or the consequences of a missed dart/s too great. This is one of those“.

Play the game two ways: “First play it as simply a chase the target or opponent game.” If your doing well, add in the penalty for missing. “When you first add the extra penalty in reduce your target.”

Darts World Logo

Overall though, its a good drill,if kept within a wider setting. The DW staff had a go and managed the 300 level reasonably soon even with the penalty. The higher levels were indeed tough and frustrating!

Too much time spent on one drill leads to complacency and or frustration. Neither of these is good within a practise session”.


Ones To Watch: When Your All Practised Out, Just Watch The Greats!

The DW resident ‘Coach’ often says that darts is a unique sport. Among many examples he cites the fact that “almost the entire history of our game can be watched or read. Not just with peoples opinion or commentary but with video, data , records and contemporary analysis.”

‘Coach’ regularly refers his clients to the record books to confirm whether their perceptions are true, or not, in order that they are not deluded into thinking that they are not worthy, or that they have some sort of flaw in their game.

One of his favourite things is to tell people to watch darts, but not just to see who wins. Watch the ebb and flow of the game, the momentum switches and the psychological tricks, swings and effects that take place throughout a match.

Check out one of his favourites below, it is a remarkable demonstration of elite darts. Coach is working on a commentary, and analysis of the match, for future use, but in the meantime just enjoy it for its own sake.

The ‘wee man’ was a little special!

World Championship Final 1989

Coach – ” You will rarely see, in any era, a performance as remarkable as this. Seven years after his first title and against a resurgent ‘Crafty Cockney’ “.

“I especially recommend the first five sets and the section that begins with Jockey’s second throw in the first leg!”

Darts World’s Resident Coach