In Darts World’s regular series looking at the legends of our sport, and their contributions to its success, JR Lott reviewed the remarkable worldwide career of Paul Lim:
Paul Lim may perfectly symbolize the future of darts. The legendary ‘Singapore Slinger’, now 66, is certainly the ultimate Hybrid darter. He has played big-time darts for almost forty years and been successful in every arena and format the game has offered.
His overall significance to the sport may outweigh any of his individual achievements, although there are so many it’s hard to be certain. Target’s ‘Legend’ has triumphed in the BDO as well as in the PDC, he has twice been a world champion in soft tip darts, almost twenty years and two different codes separated his 1996 and 2017 triumphs.
In between these individual efforts, Paul has represented four different nations in World Cups and team events. Darts World would not bet against him reappearing and succeeding, in the remote darts realm.
Lim burst onto the professional scene by winning the Australian Grandmasters in 1983 over the next half dozen years Lim made a plethora of quarter and semi-final appearances in major steel tip events, including the World Cup Singles and World Matchplay, across the globe. Then in 1990, Lim wrote his name indelibly in darts history.
John Lowe had hit the first TV perfect leg a few years before. Yet, none had been hit since until Lim stepped up to the Lakeside oche. Nine sublime darts later the Singapore ace hit a plumb double twelve to complete the first World Championship ‘Nine’! A brief look on YouTube shows just how clean and controlled his effort was. Lim was now an icon in the game.
Sadly, Paul’s great moment coincided with a decline in the TV coverage of steel tip darts, especially in the UK. Lim continued to play the biggest events but could not sustain himself with that alone. In an effort to boost his career and earning potential he combined his steel tip efforts with North American soft-tip tournaments. Again, his efforts paid off in a major way.
In 1996 Lim claimed his first World title. His victory in the Bull Shooter soft–tip World championships confirmed that he could play at an elite level in either format, something he has continued to the present day.
During the years that followed, Lim became what in other sports would be considered a’ journeyman pro’ he played the major events in both formats and in every country that he could reach. In addition, he demonstrated he could play in any company. From 1994 Lim played within the PDC system and competed with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley.
For most of this period he was based in either the USA Japan or his native Singapore. However, by the 2000s Paul was no longer reaching the later stages or collecting serious prize money and a great career looked to be winding down. Then something remarkable happened, in 2011 soft tip darts underwent a major makeover and guess who became its instant poster boy!
As part of a re-packaging, of the machine based soft tip game, a $1,000,000 World Championship was held in Hong Kong. In a field packed full of soft-tip super stars, and steel tip icons, Lim came through to claim the title aged 57 (something about that number Wayne Warren?).
In a remarkable piece of happenstance, the PDC arranged a commercial tie-up with the new DartsLive organisation, which Lim was already dominating, an extended an invitation to their champion to play the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally! The following year he qualified again via the Dartslive route.
By now Paul had completely mastered the art of playing hybrid darts. He seemed focused on soft-tip in Asia and still crossed back and forth to play PDC events including World Cups. His gentlemanly demeanor and iconic status ensured he became a firm favourite with the fans. But Lim was not merely a performing seal and not yet finished with creating moments of darting drama.
In 2017 Singapore pulled of one of the biggest shocks seen in the PDC’s World Cup of darts, when they defeated Scotland’s crack team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. They went on to defeat Spain in round-two and reach the Qtrs finals. The very next year Lim created a moment of almost perfect sporting nostalgia, the opponent/ Why Gary Anderson of course.
The 2018 World Championship saw Lim roll back the years and defeat former World Champion Mark Webster. His last 16 game featured a near heart-stopping moment. Lim seemed to be tired and started slowly, before suddenly producing six perfect darts. The crowd realised what could be happening, his opponent, Anderson, knew what was happening, but could it? Could lightning strike twice nearly thirty years apart?
Paul Lim, 63 years old was about to complete a phenomenal legacy of global, multi format, multi code and multi era darting glory. The perfect bookend to a remarkable journey!
The first two darts found their targets and with a near-hysterical crowd, Lim went to release the 9th dart. In a highly unusual moment, there was a very faint twitch and the dart missed the ‘double twelve’ bed. The disappointment was universal, Anderson looked almost as crestfallen as Paul! Despite the miss, Paul was lauded around the globe and the reminder of his remarkable career.
Just in case you think the story is over, think again! In 2018 the PDC launched their Asian (Steel tip) tour and yes, you guessed it the first Tai Pai weekend saw one player reach the final of event one and then win event two. That player? Paul Lim.
JR Lott writes a Lott! Follow him @JRLott2
Aversion of this article was originally published in Darts World 570 (order here)