Darts Legends Make Case for Annual ‘Founders Fest’.

The recent (virtual/remote) performances of Martin Adams, Raymond Van Barneveld, and Phil Taylor have, once again, raised the possibility of a large scale ‘Legends Event’ within darts, we suggest Founders’ Fest 2021!

BARNEY BREEZES PAST BEATON IN UNIBET WORLD GRAND PRIX
RVB seemed to enjoy his remote darts, perhaps he could be persuaded to make an annual appearance at ‘Founders Fest’

The Darts World ‘Coach’ thinks that such senior stars benefit from the lack of travel, sponsors commitments, and ranking stresses. This enables them to concentrate on producing their best darts for a short period with few external distractions.

Coach says:

Betway Premier League - Night 15 Round-Up
Phil Taylor is still throwing at a level that would win many events. (Pic: L Lustig / PDC)

I have thought for a long time that darts is in an unusual place as a sport, its rapid expansion, together with the demands upon players, and its relatively lesser physical demands mean that the best to have played can play at a very high level for longer than in most sports.

More often than not it is the travel and other demands that mean icons such as ‘The Power’ feel that they should retire.

We are also a sport that can see new players come through, aged fifty plus, after many years of playing high-quality darts but in different formats. You only have to look at Wayne Warren to see proof of that!

The combination of these two means that at an event such as a senior/legends festival might be both extremely popular commercially successful. Clever use of formats such as pairs or short course matches may level the playing field and perhaps two classifications or age ranges might add to the entertainment.

Dennis would represent what could be known as Gen 2 at Founders’ Fest!

An annual competitive screened tournament including Barney, Phil, Adams, Colin Lloyd, Ted Hankey in one section. John Lowe, Denis Priestley, Bobby George, and Bob Anderson in another. Others such as Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little might join to mix it up. Over time more players will ‘qualify’.

A well organised and professional founders and legends festival could be a lovely addition to our sports calendar whilst reminding us ‘from where we came!’

Founders’s Fest’ 2021, anyone?

Game of the Day – SwitchBlade! A Short Sharp Scoring Drill.

The Menace (above) was a SwitchBlade Master!

Today’s, darting isolation, drill/game of the day is called SwitchBlade. It’s a very simply way to get your eyes, & body, used to switching away from its main target. The art of ‘positive switching‘, to hit higher scores rather than from a maths views, was mastered and illustrated by Dennis Priestley, in his first World title run he amazed viewers with his habitual clocking of treble 18. This ensured he was swiftly ‘on a finish’ in minimum darts.

Players in the modern era (PDC and Sky TV), have developed switching to a fine art. Some such as Adrian Lewis and Micheal Smith almost seem to prefer it. Let’s get you more proficient, and automated, at this:

Game Overview:

SwitchBlade aims to improve your accuracy and fluidity when switching from one treble bed to another. This applies equally to switching due to vision blockage or to ensure leaving a finish.

Ideal Start?

As with many of our drills it is based around five turns at the board:

  • Turn 1 : Aim for Treble 20 with all three darts.
  • Turn 2: Aim your first two darts at t20 then your third at t19
  • Turn 3: Aim your first two at t20 then the third at t18
  • Turn 4: Aim your first two at t20 and the third at t17
  • Turn 5: Aim your first two at t20 and third at the Bullseye

Example:

  1. t20,s20,t20 = 140
  2. s20,t20,s19 = 99
  3. t20,t20,t18 = 174
  4. s20,s20,t3 = 49
  5. t20,t5,Bull = 125
  6. Total = 587

Variations:

You can vary this drill in many ways, you can use 1 dart at the treble 20 and two at the others or insert a treble you use often from scores such as 180 or 191. Most often used are t13 or t14.

N.B: The core skills are in the template above and that’s the one we use most.

Levels:

SwitchBlade can be played by any player and doing it regularly will improve your overall play. Higher level players should really push themselves to get this to be second nature.

Level One – For those starting from a lower bar the first order of business is to hit the target aimed for so the 2 in the 20 segment and then one in the aimed for switch. If you manage this for each segment you will gain a score around 299.

Level Two – You should be aiming to hit one treble 20 or one on the switch. Scoring visits should total around 100 (+/- 10). Thus the total will be 450+

Level Three – You should now be looking to hit two trebles quite often. When you don’t hit two you should still be hitting one. Scoring visits will be regularly 131+ and predominantly 91+. Scoring regularly over 550 will put you on a level with our best players.

Records:

SwitchBlade requires rhythm and calm, a competitive streak also helps! The highest score, hit with marker/witnessed, is 659. On this one, we shall keep the record hitter to ourselves. It was struck during a private prep session for a very big name a few years ago!

Enjoy SwitchBlade and drop us a line to tell us how you’re doing. Comment below or tweet us – @Darts_World


The Original Storm Dennis: When Priestly Blew Away The Legendary Generation.

We could not help but notice a social media post from Winmau this morning. The item made reference to Dennis Priestley in the context of the current weather front, battering the UK, nick-named Storm Dennis!

The Menace ( Pic: Winmau Design)

30 years ago, Dennis ‘The Menace‘ Priestley blew into the world of elite darts. He reached the News of the World final and then the final of the World Masters (1990) within months of appearing at the highest level. It should be noted that he was already a seasoned county player and was 38/9 years of age.

But it was the during the 1991 World Championship that Dennis really announced his arrival. On his way to claiming the crown he dispatched several notable players with ease. A close tussle in the Qtr-Final with Phil Taylor, was a sign that the next generation, in terms of experience, had arrived. With Taylor out of the way Dennis breezed past Bob Anderson in the semi-final and then whitewashed Eric Bristow 6-0 (sets) in the final.

Priestley demonstrated at least two unique features during the event. Firstly, he demonstrated a total impervious response to the efforts of the big boys to intimidate him. Eric was swatted aside in the final, despite holding all the external cards, with Dennis demonstrating an understated, fully focused style that owed little to the Crafty Cockney’s showman-like ways.

Secondly, and of huge importance, was Dennis’s use of the baord. Rather than a switch to the 19s, for evening the score or if badly blocked, Dennis appeared use treble 18s as a regular scoring alternative. This increased his scoring average and earn’t him additional darts at double, not that he often needed them.

Perhaps due to the ease of watching, for the TV camera, or simply because it seemed new, The Menace generated a lot of attention, from commentators and players alike, indeed the development of the heavy scoring, often switching game, somewhat used by Taylor but, honed by modern players such as Adrian Lewis can be traced to Dennis’s performances.

Next year will doubtless see a resurgence in interest in ‘The Menace’, indeed there has already been a special edition dart released in anticipation, but perhaps this will serve as a reminder that the inaugural PDC World Champion, and the first to win in both codes, was indeed a breath of fresh air, blowing out most of those who had gone before and bringing in a new era.


Devonshires’ Darts Discussion – The Challengers: A Missed Opportunity?

AS many of you will have seen I recently published a piece on the PDC’s ‘Challengers’ concept. Some of our contributors then added their selections to my own. This week the PDC published their choices for the 2020 slots.

William Hill World Darts Championship Preview
The Power vs Barney in Rotterdam? A Challengers / Legend tie to wet the appetite!
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Following the announcement, of the PDC Premier League Challengers, I wonder if more could have been done or a different path taken? Most selections were as predicted and could easily be accepted. What a missed opportunity for us darts fans to have seen something different in 2020.

The PDC could have reverted to selecting 10 players to play the league season with two relegated. Imagine if along with those ten players two legends were picked for each week to compete against each other!

Imagine Taylor v Barney in Rotterdam,  Beaton v Burnett in Cardiff, Priestley v Deller, Bob Anderson v Lloyd (with or without the horse!), Manley v Baxter the list could go on and on. Surely fans would support the chance to see the legends, after all they have helped the PDC on its journey.

Challenger on both merit and legacy?
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG STEVE BEATON IN ACTION

Many of the ‘Legends’ style players are also highly skilled in entertaining an audience and, although their desire to win is unbowed, they may well provide a different style in terms of personality and flair. Perhaps next year!

Original Article by Andrew Devonshire – http://www.dartsworld.com/challengers-challenge-pick-who-should-face-the-premier-league-field/


Follow Andrew: @A_Devonshire

MVG on the Move? Major Brands Shuffling Their Cards.

Rumours have abounded, for quite a while, that World No.1 Micheal Van Gerwen might soon be looking to maximise his profile with a change of equipment manufacturer. The evidence that this is true seems to be mounting.

On the move? MVG may be restructuring his brand associations.

The darts’ business is like any other that deals with talent or creativity. The personalities and their decisions are the highest capital. Their decisions and possible future plans are a constant source of worry, gossip and rumour to all those with a stake in the game.

It’s a bit like that moment in the Premier League Transfer Window when everyone is waiting for the big deal to be done so that all the others can be kicked into gear.

The current and future plans of MVG are currently of interest to many. Unusually, amongst multiple major champions, he has never been attached to one of the bigger darts brands. Try to think of another multiple World Champion who is not associated with Unicorn, Harrows, Winmau, Target or Red Dragon.

Micheal was signed to a relatively small Masterdarts in his early days and then he joined start-up XQ Max as soon as his second successful spell began. Neither of these can offer the exposure, distribution or volume that one of the biggest names can manage.

Indications have been building for a while that MVG will soon leave XQ Max and head for one of the biggest names in the business.XQ Max has also gone with the idea of adding new but lesser names to their roster. There have been few new MVG items from XQ in recent months and the many of their previous products are appealing in unusual places for reduced prices. This has been the case for almost twelve months.

MVG in his Masterdarts days. But would you want last years kit in your Xmas stocking?

This seems to be accelerating with retailers discounting many MVG products substantially. This is a bonus for fans in one way. They can pick-up special edition products for up to half price in the lead up to Christmas. On the other hand, some may be disappointed not to own the latest design. A bit like getting last years football strip for Xmas!

Target seems to be refreshing their line-up and focusing on the next generation. Unicorn may be forced back into the “transfer market”. Gary Anderson has not returned strongly, from injury, and may not recapture his imperious major event form. Harrows have, slowly but surely, reasserted themselves as a player again. Their association with Glen Durrant was a perfectly timed partnership. The capture of Dave Chisnall seems a very shrewd move and suits their brand style and image. They also have an interesting squad of younger but solid players, Josh Payne is a fine example, who provide strong support and may have their own day in the sun.

Chizzy – An Example of Life After Target?
PIC: LAWRENCE LUSTIG: DAVE CHISNALL IN ACTION

Finally, Winmau have been quietly reasserting themselves as an industry-leading force. They have a fine combination of legendary figures ( Rees, Priestley, Hankey etc.) and current/recent champions ( Gurney, Whitlock & Waites) on their books. They also have a wide range of products and excellent distribution networks. For many years Winmau seemed to lean toward the BDO side of darts. This was mainly as it was seen as a grassroots code. With Winmau wanting their boards, and other products, to be seen by as wide a cross-section of the darting public as possible.

Legendary Champion Dennis Priestley is part of the Winmau stable. Still inspiring new products in 2020.
Pic – Winmau promo

However, there is a gaping hole in the Winmau CV. They have no recent PDC World Champion. Although Dennis Priestley is a cross-code champ he was not with Winmau in his earlier career and for many he is at least as strongly associated with Harrow & the BDO. Their current stable includes at least 7 World Champions and multiple other finalists.

So, it appears to me that Winmau may well be best placed to capture MVG. He could join an already strongly established brand and both would boost the other. The extensive range of boards, cabinets, accessories, clothes and much more could be easily exploited. Winmau have recently shown a, previously unimagined, nimbleness and flexibility with their special edition ranges. Could they be about to fill that aforementioned gap by making a huge move?

So keep your eye out for MVG bargains in unusual places. Clearance routes and eBay often provide clues and opportunities. But in the meantime look-out for moves and reactions from the best-known brands in darts and for a big announcement from MVG.


J.R.Lott – Writes for Darts World Magazine, dartsworld.com and other outlets. He has extensive knowledge of the darts industry and simply loves all aspects of darts!

Pics: PDC or BDO (if not directly credited)

SnapShot Review: Red Dragon – Raptor (Points).

  • Product – Raptor (Points)
  • Brand – RedDragon
  • RRP – £8.90
  • Dimensions – 33mm (28mm exposed)
  • Features – Collared, Grooved & Barbed

Our resident coach is strongly of the opinion that “there has been little, or no, beneficial innovation in darts since the tungsten barrel”. He does, however, allow one notable exception, points!

Red Dragon Raptor Points – Perfectly paired.

Our friends at A.I.M: are currently conducting extensive tests on the various types of points on the market. Collared, coloured, grooved, coated and almost every other option available are being put through their paces. Some things have become obvious early on in the testing. The first is that Raptor from RedDragon is an exceptional product.

First Impressions: These points don’t come with flash packaging or attached to their own range of dart. However, it is immediately noticeable that they are unusual. They are plain and appear very well made indeed. They are 33mm long with 28mm exposed after fitting. The point is collared in style (to eliminate join between point & barrel), there are 4 grooves, from the collar downward, that allow for exact finger placement/grip. The lower section is slim and sharply tapered, for good board penetration and there is a small (2mm) barb for both finger feeling and board retention.

Fitting: We fitted Raptor points into three different brands of darts. The fitted easily and snuggly into all three with no complications.

Raptor’s grooves, barb and slim lower section all proved very popular.

Grooved Section: The grooves worked excellent for those who like to feel their finger in the same place but not to slip during delivery.

Lower(Smooth) Section: Testing showed that this penetrated the board well and was a good alternative resting point for those who like their finger on a smooth area.

Point Barb: Very unusually Raptor has a small, less than 2mm bard at the very tip of the point. This proved excellent in improving board retention, even the gentlest thrower had full confidence that their dart would stay in place. In addition, it proved very useful with those who naturally rest their finger at the point, Dennis Priestley style, for control.

Durability: The Raptor seems to have overcome one of the problems of newer complex points. Despite heavy usage, and a few drops, we have not broken one yet!

A.I.M: Independent Darts Consultancy

Player Quotes:

  • “Brilliant, much stiffer than my current collared point” – Serious Amateur
  • “Nice and not all flashy” – Elite level player
  • “All round winner” – Coach

Downsides: The only recorded downside was that they seem to be only available in this length. At least one player would move to them if a 30mm (external) option was provided.

The SnapShot: First impressions, and initial testing, reveal raptor to be an exceptional product, that raises the bar for modern points. The problems of over flexibility, breakability and clumsiness that affect some complex, or collared, points are solved in one go. Red Dragon have produced a superb product and the fact that it can be added, at point of purchase, to a huge range of darts, is a boon.

Winmau Product Launch 2019/20 – Innovative New Models & Special Editions

In, what has become, an industry tradition Winmau launched their new range of darting good with a social media fanfare over much of last Friday.

Latest releases from Winmau for 2020

The launch featured three main themes. There were a select number of new models with complex grip arrangements and highly distinctive cosmetics. Then came a group of special editions from Winmau’s stable of world-class current professionals and living legends! Finally, there were additions to existing ranges. Extra weight for darts and forthcoming accessory items.

New Model Highlights:

Sicario features a highly innovative grip design.

Sicario: These are an excellent looking dart with what appears to be a highly innovative grip/surface. The barrel shape was chosen, to debut this grip pattern, in order that a variety of throw styles might try it. Our resident coach is quite excited by the barrel surface. Currently, 23 and 25g weight editions are offered.

Majestic: A bullet-style dart with a number of grip and cosmetic features that make it stand out from the norm. The middle, sawtooth type, grip section may appeal to those looking for a shallow but noticeable grip style.

Other new ranges include Overdrive, Sabotage Black and Vanquish. Additional weights have been added to Aspria.

The full catalogue and new product range can be found here: https://winmau.com/brochure

Special Edition Highlights:

A stylish and sleek looking version of the Whitlock dart.
A range of Special Editions was a major part of the Winmau 2020 Launch

Simon Whitlock SE: This is an extraordinary looking dart. More different angles, grooves, milling and colour than we have seen before! The basic design is similar to the current Whitlock dart but the changing of grip surfaces etc alters the perception of this and turns it into a much sleeker looking piece of design. First impressions are that this is the highlight of the launch.

The Priestley Special Edition (SE) sticks with The Menace’s classic colour scheme while reimagining the grip and contouring.

Dennis Priestley SE: The menace is highly regarded by fans, players and darts business people. It is excellent to see his years of experience and reputation being utilised for modern-day players. The SE retains his red and black iconic colour scheme but refines the grip style on his classic design. DW has yet to see what weights are available but we are hoping for a model that’s 15g or less!

Other special edition sets have been made in celebration of Andy Fordham and new weights added to the soon to be reviewed Daryl Gurney SE

Win a set here: https://twitter.com/Winmau/status/1185214832569659395

Left-Right: Sicario, Priestley SE, Whitlock SE, Majestic, Fordham SE, Overdrive and Sabotage Black

Although these are the highlights, there were plenty of other products, tweaks or additions shown off today. It was a very solid launch which combined some new techniques, using Paul Nicholson to discuss the models for example, and some tried and tested social media work.

Check out the video launch with Paul Nicholson:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkLogHfxjfo

Darts World suspects that there is more to come from Winmau in the very near future, we would keep a very close eye out for their January 2020 activities.