This Week – Pentathlon Kings and Fairy Tale Princes.

JUNE 21-27 has been a mixed week over the years, some remarkable efforts and some almost barren spells. But Darts World’s ‘This Week’ has managed to locate a selection that includes a ‘Founding Father’, a Fairy-tale Prince, a ‘Dark Side Darter’, and one who is ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ for one more title. A random Scandinavian also manages a guest’s appearance.

Forty-Four Years Ago:

John Lowe captured the initial staging of an event that would become almost his personal property. The British Pentathlon involves playing a selection of different darting games, including round the board doubles, and it’s your overall performance that counts. A player capable of the consistency level showed by’ Old Stoneface’ should and did thrive!

Lowe receives his MBE last year. Perhaps it should have been for services to The British Pentathlon?

During the first dozen holding of this challenging event (1976-87), Lowe won an astounding ten! He was runner-up on another occasion (1981), defeated by Eric Bristow, and only in 1977 did he not make the top two. Before the 1994 split, only two others had claimed the event more than once. Eric and Phil Taylor. Surely no other tournament has been dominated in such a way from its inception?

Twenty Four Years :

The British pentathlon seems to spawn remarkable runs of domination. Perhaps its that the event rewards a set of qualities that are often held to extremes by only one or two players in each era? This week in 1996 Martin Adams picked up his second Pentathlon title. Not for the last time Ronnie Baxter was runner up in a major trophy, Colin Monk, father of, recent 9-Dart hitter, Aaron, was third and the Norwegian, Thor Helmer Johanson was fourth. Adams went on to dominate the event in a similar way to Lowe, but has been stuck on nine since 2011!

Fourteen Years Ago:

Darth Maple, John Part, was striding forth in the second qualifier for the PDC’s Las Vegas Classic. Part qualified, after a failed attempt the day before, by defeating Darts World columnist Colin Osborne, and Steve Maish, in the later stages. The outstanding feature of this effort was not his qualification, but the fact that he went on to win the main event the next day!

Coral UK Open - Day Two Round-Up
John Part has managed many ups and downs throughout his career, but fourteen years ago he pulled of a very rare feat! (Photo: Chris Dean/PDC)

The double World champion (later to claim the hattrick) had many peaks and troughs in his career, but this was another example of his knack of delivering on home turf. The Unicorn man clinched the crown after defeating Barney 6-3 in the final.

Four Years Ago:

A Challenge Tour event in June 2016 does not seem likely to have been a major turning point in the history of the PDC. But the winner of that year’s thirteenth second-tier event was engaged on a project, whether he knew it or not, that would validate the entire modern PDC system. On the way to a fine first PDC tournament win, the victor also hit a nine-dart finish.

It is safe to say that for a player who had broken through only months before, this was a decent effort in itself. Yet , after only another few months he claimed his tour card, via the CT order of merit, and twelve months after that he reached his first World Championship. Perhaps we should mention that the winner of CT 13 in 2016 was……………Rob Cross!

Rob Cross sealed his first PDC title as he won Challenge Tour 13 ‘This Week’ in 2016. Photo : Chris Dean

Look back through previous ‘This Week’ selections here.

World Champions Lead Tributes to Dave Kelly.

Tributes have been paid to experienced American player Dave Kelly, who passed away on Monday June 1 following a battle with illness. 

Tributes paid to US ace Dave Kelly | PDC

A World Masters semi-finalist in 1991, Kelly competed in the first PDC World Championship in 1994 and three times in the World Matchplay from 1994-1996.

He also continued to compete on the North American circuit, and also played in the PDC’s 2007 US Open and 2008 North American Championship, as well as at the Las Vegas Desert Classic Qualifiers.

Three-time World Champion John Part has led the tributes, saying: “Dave was a man whose talent and charisma made you believe anything was possible.

“His very presence at darts events gave the game that little bit extra that told you here is a sport, the sort of activity the best of the best can pursue with dignity.

“A fierce competitor whose passion doing so was only equalled by his magnanimity and leadership off the board, Dave was a beacon who easily drew people to himself and the game, and became the iconic American leader who rallied his compatriots to accept nothing less than equality in the world of darts, both by example and spirit. The ultimate teammate is gone.”

Writing on Twitter, fellow three-time World Champion John Lowe said: “Sorry to hear Dave Kelly passed away this morning, I have known Dave for many years, he always kept in touch, a great dart player and representative of America.”

1994 World Matchplay champion Larry Butler described Kelly as “one of my favorite people”, and former Sky Sports commentator John Gwynne hailed him as “a most likeable man”.

The PDC sends its condolences to the family and friends of Dave Kelly at this difficult time.


Features Pic – Bulls Eye News

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?

Drill of the Day – BullShift!

A new Drill from ‘Coach’ and our friends at A.I.M: This time we’re looking to improve your BullShifting.

John Lowe: A master exponent
of BullShifting? (pic: J Lowe)

By now you should have got stuck into the selection of tips, drills and games that Darts World, and friends, have served up So its time for a few more. Today’s offering is BullShift, (Careful! We know what your thinking) we’ll let ‘Coach’ tell you more:

There are several situations during a leg where a dart at the bullseye can be very useful indeed. Whether its ensuring your end up on a two darter, instead of a three, or to ensure you have a finish at all, its basically a cover shot with two possible outcomes, this is BullShifting.

Match Example:

If you are on 201 and your opponent is not on a score where adding pressure might be relevant and you hit t20 s20, with darts one and two, this leaves you with 121 remaining and a single dart. A dart in either the 25 or Bullseye ,(a BullShift) will leave you with a handy two darter (either 96 or 71) whereas a single twenty or a stray (caused by a deflection, obviously!) will likely leave you with a tricky three darter including more complex treble possibilities.

MVG is a fluent and regular BullShifter!

In addition there are many other situation where two at the twenties and one at the bull/outer will be required. These may include shots at 170, 130 to finish or 90, 105, 130, 145 or even 170 to set up a finish.

So its important to be be a bit of a BullShifter with your last dart!

Game Overview:

Although I like most drills to be based around five turns this one has to involve at least 6.

For each turn you will take two darts at the twenties and one dart at the Bullseye ring.

There are six possible outcomes if you hit the twenty bed twice & BullShift: 170, 145, 130, 105, 90 and 65. Each time you hit a score it is removed from scoring. As an incentive, and to give every throw mean, the Bullseye counts as 50, if hit with the last dart (LDB), even if you have repeated a score or not hit two in the twenty bed.

Perfect Example:

  • Turn 1: T20 T20 Bull – 170
  • Turn 2: T20 T20 25 – 145
  • Turn 3: T20 s20 Bull – 130
  • Turn 4: T20 s20 25 – 105
  • Turn: s20 s20 Bull – 90
  • Turn 6: s20 s20 25 – 65
  • Total – 705!

Realistic Run Through:

  • Turn 1: s5 T20 25 – 0
  • Turn 2: s20 s20 25 – 65
  • Turn 3: t20 s20 25 – 105
  • Turn 4: s20 t5 Bull – 50
  • Turn 5: s20 t20 Bull – 50 (repeat score)
  • Turn 6: s20 s20 Bull – 90
  • Total: 360

Variations:

You can vary this drill a number of ways. But beware of driving yourself into a fit of frustration.

I suspect Bully Boy would be superb at BullShifting!
PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG

A tough variation is to list the possible numbers on the marking board, 65-170 inc and then give yourself a set number of throws to knock them all out. Example: use 10 turns and mark how many 65’s, 90’s etc that you clock. But also mark how many times you miss the twenty bed with either of your first two and how many last dart bulls (LDBs) you manage!

Levels:

As you can see from the variations you can set your own level and then simply try to better your best. Total score after 6 turns, number of finishes hit after 10 turns etc. But here is a guide:

  • Amateur: 1 lower BullShift (65 or 90) and an LDB. 115 to 140
  • Pub Team: 1or 2 BullShifts and an LDB. 115 to 220
  • Higher: 2 or more BullShifts and an LDB. 250 or more
  • Elite: 3 or more Bullshifts and a LDB. 400+ (often!)

Records:

Who is the biggest BullShifter?

Top Score: 665 (145,130,65,170,0,50,105)

Fewest Turns: All six BullShifts were taken out in only 11 turns by a player who has flirted with the PDC top 32 but flew a little too close to the sun.

Enjoy Bullshift and let us know how you get on below or via @Darts_World

Check out some other Drill of the Days


Thanks to ‘Coach’ & AIM: @aim180ltd

Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen

Nine Dart Nuggets: Who’s Missing? Who Stands Out and Who Dominates?

Since the start of the 2020 season there has been much comment on the regularity of 9-Dart Legs. These perfect moments are one of darts unique features and, as such, they are the source of much discussion. While looking into them we came across a few nuggets of 9-dart news that were too good not to share:

Lewis & Barney Head HappyBet German Darts Masters UK Qualifiers
Lewis & Barney – Twenty Perfect legs between them. Pic: L Lustig

Nine: How many times Nine?

Competitive and authenticated 9-dart legs have been struck by 131 different players between today in 1976 and 2020. Only thirty-six players have done it more than once. fifteen three-plus times and The Power, MVG and Jackpot are alone in the ‘double figures club’.

Eight: Oatcakes are the Key.

Stoke-on-Trent is the ‘official’ home of the nine dart hitter! Potteries natives, and adopted sons, have collected over forty perfect legs between them. Phil Taylor (21) Adrian Lewis (11) Ian White (5) and Andy Hamilton (3) lead the line for ‘The Potters’.

Seven: Nowt for the Count.

A glaring ommission?

Missing from the list are a number of legends both past and present. Ted Hankey, for example, has not recorded a ‘niner’. Less surprising are those who rose to fame before John Lowe’s breaking of the bogey. Martin Adams does not seem to have claimed a perfect moment despite multiple world and major titles.

Six: One Shot John?

Old Stoneface may have fired the starting gun, hitting the his TV nine darter in 1984, but did not register another. Despite playing at the highest level for another twenty years, after picking up £100,000 for being the first, John Lowe only features once. Perhaps the drop in prize money was too big!

Duzza holds a special place in the 9-Dart annals. Pic: Christopher Dean

Five: On a Pair.

Glen Durrant has a unique claim. He and Claire Stainsby hit the 9-Dart doubles leg during the British international Open in 2013. Glen also appears, solo, in our list. Thus Duzza, is the only person to have officially recorded perfect legs as part of a pair and whilst standing alone!

Four: The Iceman Not Yet Cometh.

Gerwyn Price is the highest ranked player not to have made his mark on the 9-Dart bedpost. The Welshman famously hit a ‘unofficial 9-darter’ between sessions during a televised match in 2019 but he has yet to hit one in the heat of battle.

Unicorn Darts is voted Best Darts Brand 2016
Perfect Darts? Unicorn seem to dominate the 9-Dart stats.

Three: Chasing Unicorns.

Unicorn darts can easily claim the greatest success rate, and barrel style, even a casual look at the table reveals that the first TV 9-darter, the first live UK 9 darter, the first Ally Pally and many more were completed by Unicorn men. Taylor, Barney, Jackpot, Wade, Anderson and White have hit many with their Unicorn barrels. A rough count gives them over 50 of darts great moments.

Two: Original & Unique.

Kyle Anderson stands out from other players toward the top of the list. The Australian has hit 6 ‘niners’, in his relatively short career, placing him seventh overall . He is yet to win a major trophy or even reach the final. He has claimed only a single Pro Tour level win and has not troubled the elite rankings in terms of the top ten, or even top sixteen,and is currently ranked outside the top forty. It should be remembered that he is only 32 years old, and may well have more to come.

Even with new arrows MVG hits a perfect note

One: Mighty Impressive!

MVG appears set to blow a hole in most of these stats. He is still only thirty, and at the peak of his powers, but has already hit the youngest TV ‘niner’ and the first World Championship one with a varied the route (he went T19 on his 6th dart). Micheal heads most lists, for total 9-darters hit, and has already added a couple more in recent times. The fact he has hit one, or more, with his new weapons should bode well for those wishing to see records broken and new ground struck.


9 Dart Stats, all events from 1976-2020, courtesy of: http://dartsdatabase.com

Darts Finds New Lowe! Jason Shows His Talent.

Could another Lowe join the ranks of darting royalty?

It’s more than a dozen years since a dart player names Lowe was making TV headlines, this weekend the Ladbrokes UK Open featured a certain J. Lowe. No, not a comeback from the legendary ‘Old Stoneface’, but a superb effort from a Black Country darter named Jason!

For quite a while I have been telling anyone who would listen, and a few who wont, about an unusual dart player. He was brought to my attention four or five years ago. A number of players, who play in a very high quality darts area, and others whom I respect, said that there was one player who was head and shoulders above the rest of them and that he would manage the PDC with ease!

When I asked why I had not heard of him, or what he had won, I was met with some strange replies. “He doesn’t play opens” or “He just plays league darts” and lastly “…he doesn’t seem bothered”. Lowe seemed happy as a carpenter / builder, and wary of the commitment required to take darts more seriously. However, he was being slowly persuaded and it looked like he may come to that years’s Q School.

Again however events did not play out. Despite a decent spell within the BDO, he qualified for the World Masters and narrowly missed out on Lakeside, he still did not attend Q School that year.

Jason Lowe – Gained a tour card at this year’s Q School.

Having checked closely with a couple of other high level players I decided to keep an eye out for this ‘resurgent star’. I was even approached to offer advice on how to prepare for the change in intensity, preparation, match duration and standard. Thus it’s fair to say I have always had an interest in the success, or otherwise, of Jason Lowe!

Jason had played in PDC events as far back as 2006, indeed he had reached a Pro Tour Qtr Final, but there was no where enough money in the lower levels of the game to consider a professional career. He thus returned to his day job as a builder and carpenter. This seemed to be the reason for his supposed reluctance to step forward and have another go.

2017 proved to be the turning point, Jason entered Q School and made the attempt to gain a Pro-Tour Card. This provided me with a better opportunity to look at what all the fuss had been about. Strangely I found myself in the opposite corner at least once! It did not take long to see what Lowe was capable of. He ran to the last thirty-two, defeating several quality players, on the first day.

Colin Osborne brought Lowe’s initial Q School effort to a close in 2017.

The rest of Q School did not go so well and Lowe failed to get a card. Jason tried again in 2018 and again came up short. However, the opportunity to play the 2018 Challenge Tour did not pass him by! The first weekend of that year’s tour provided the Cradley Heath man with a Semi Final appearance and he began to settle.

Next up were the UK Open Qualifiers and the following TV event. Lowe seemed to finally find that performance level that all those sources told me was natural too him. After picking up a few qualifying £’s the (then) 47 year old produced a superb run to the Semi-Final. A Qtr final thrashing of Adrian Lewis should have sent a signal to those on the look out for new/blossoming talent.

Lowe made his PDC major debut the next month, and performed steadily, he reached the last thirty-two. This seemed to be the start of somthing significant. He hit the gas on the Challenge Tour reaching a final and then repeated that form on the Pro Tour. Over the next couple of months he performed well at every PDC tour including reaching the later stages of a European Tour event.

Then it all stopped. Jason did not play the tour again during 2018 and nothing is recorded for the 2019 season. Jason’s disapearance mirrored the rise and ‘fall’ of another midlander from a few years before and many feared another ‘Scott Rand’ situation.

Remarkably the situation has completely reversed again. At the last minute Jason decided to enter Q School 2020. He had a decent run on day one and blitzed through to claim an automatic card at the second attempt.

Lowe seems to relish playing Jackpot and proved so again at the 2020 UK Open.

He has started the Pro Tour well and pocketed £3,500 from the early events. Yet again though, it was the UK Open that has kick started his return to the fore. He came nicely through the early section until drawing Jackpot (Adrian Lewis), not for the first time Jason brushed him aside (10-4) advancing to a tie with MVG!

Jason suffered early and went down 0-5 in session one. Its not unusual for the lesser known player to get off to a slow start, what happened next was unusual. Lowe hit back and levelled the score at 5-5. The rest of the match was nip and tuck but the forty-nine year old probably edged it. At the last moment, in the deciding leg, Lowe hit a big 4 while attempting an 86 finish and did not earn a dart to win the match. The vastly experience MVG closed out with minimal fuss.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN IN ACTION

Despite the sad ending, it may be that the UK Open is a fresh launch for the career of another Back Country darter.

Jason Lowe is exceedingly calm, appears unruffled by anything and has a simple but very interesting throw. Could it be that, after twenty plus years, the PDC has found another supreme darter with the surname Lowe?


Old Stoneface Gets The Special Edition Treatment!

Two for One? Lowe Classic & Phase 2.

One of the noticible things in the darts industry over recent years has been the growth of the special or collectors editions sets. Often they are simply a variation on the players current dart or specially packaged, souvenir type, product to mark an occasion or achievement. However, Unicorn have just released a unique pack. Not one but two sets of darts marking the remarkable career of John Lowe!

A Moment Of Darting History

In 1984 John Lowe MBE became the first person to achieve a 9-dart finish on television, in a match against Keith Deller at the 1984 World Matchplay. John hit two 180s with his first six darts, before finishing on 141 with treble 17, treble 18 and double 18 to complete the perfect leg. With this feat, John earned himself a place in darting immortality, as well as £102,000.

The John Lowe MBE Limited Edition darts are presented in deluxe packaging and come complete with two sets of darts, the first of which is a Limited Edition Replica of the dart John used to throw the perfect leg. His Phase 1 barrels are 90% natural tungsten, with Limited Edition 9 Dart engraving. The shaft and flights are a modern replica of those used on that famous day, a Silver Moulded SlikStik shaft and ULTRAFLY Rainbow Blue flights in Xtra shape.

2019 New Year’s Honours

Lowe receives his MBE from Prince William.

On the 2nd May 2019, the three-time World Champion was awarded an MBE by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for services to the sport of darts and Charity at Buckingham Palace. John’s incredible career spanned across four decades of darting excellence, in which he became the first man to win three World Championship Titles across three decades, defeating Leighton Rees in 1979, Eric Bristow in 1987 and Alan Warriner in 1993.

The Phase 2 set of darts include a Limited Edition replica of the dart John used when he received his MBE. The 90% tungsten dart with gold titanium coating and Limited Edition MBE engraving also includes Gold Premier Aluminium Shafts and Gold John Lowe MBE ULTRAFLY flights in Plus shape.

The classic barrel with a 1984 set up.

In total there are just 501 sets of the John Lowe Limited Edition Set, spread across the three weights, meaning there are just 167 Sets each of 21G, 23G and 25G available. Available only from Unicorn at www.playwiththebest.com or from John Lowe MBE himself.

Each John Lowe MBE Limited Edition Box Contains-

  • Deluxe John Lowe MBE Packaging
  • 2 Sets of Limited Edition John Lowe Darts – 1 x Set of Phase 1 Natural John Lowe Darts and 1 x Set of Phase 2 Gold John Lowe Darts
  • Limited Edition Engraving
  • ULTRAFLY Flights
  • SlikStik and Aluminium Shafts

Full product and purchase details available here: http://www.playwiththebest.com/john-lowe-mbe-9-dart-special.html

Darts World Logo

This Week – Darts World’s Dip Into The Arrows’ Archive.

This Week on the darting calendar has varied considerably over the years. In the early days it was a barren time but by the middle of the 1980s it contained a classic event, in more recent times the PDC Pro Tour season has been underway:

A certain ‘Crafty’ thrower was busy claiming another TV title this week in 1985!

35 Years Ago:

The Dry Blackthorn Masters was at its peak. The tournament was similar to ‘Masters’ events played today or those held in Snooker and other sports. Sixteen top players were invited to do battle in front of the camera’s to provide TV with a, relatively short but, high class event. The tournament’s seven year history produced only four winners, but the list tells its own story.

John Lowe claimed the first title in 1983 before losing the next two finals to Eric Bristow including this week in 1985. John then reclaimed the title once more before the ‘Crafty Cockney’ completed a hat-trick in 1987. The final two titles were claimed by Mike Gregory and Bob Anderson completed the roll of honour. Only two other players even reached the final, ‘Big’ Cliff Lazerenko and Mick Manning being the only two to disrupt the legends dominance.

10 Years Ago:

This week marked a high-point for Darts World columnist Colin Osborne. ‘The Wizard’ reached a career high, so far, ranking within the top ten. Over the previous twelve months Colin claimed the Championship League of Darts and reached the UK Open Final. The superb run of performances were matched away from the TV cameras, Colin claimed a pair of Pro Tour Players Championships and would go on to a very fruitful rest of 2010.

20 Years Ago:

At the turn of the century Bob Aldous claimed his most significant title. The Scottish Open is on of the UK’s most valued Opens, its latest holding was claimed last weekend by Jim Williams. In a battle of two Englishmen Aldous defeated ‘The Pie Man’, Andy Smith, in the final. Later in the same year Bob reached the semi-final of the Finnish Open and qualified for the World Masters. He finished this great spell by reaching the last 32 in the 2001 World Championships losing out to the legendary Steve Beaton.

Last Year:

2019 featured a remarkable rise from The Asp.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG NATHAN ASPINALL IN ACTION

Featured a remarkable rankings rise from Nathan Aspinall. This week, in Feb 2019, had The Asp ranked at number 34 in the PDC rankings, and that was after his semi final appearance at the World Championships a few weeks earlier. Fast forward twelve months and Nathan is now ranked No. 8. To move up twenty four places, at the highest end, is remarkable and to do it without a previous career in elite darts makes it unique. Along the way Aspinall has claimed his first major title, a 9 darts and floor tournament victories. It’s a testament to the rash of darting fairy tales, Rob Cross for example, that Aspinall is not regarded as the story of the recent times!


MvG and Taylor Draw With An Anderson Double

10 Players of the Darting Decade – Phil Taylor.

More of dartsworld.com ‘s look at some of the players of the last decade continues with “The Power”:

Taylor and Van Barneveld to meet in UK Open Round 4
Taylor has managed to dominate a third successive decade.
Pic: PDC

Phil Taylor managed to dominate the majority of the decade despite it being his last as a competitive professional. Only MVG claimed more World Titles through the decade whilst Phil claimed multiple World Matchplay(6) crowns in addition to his two World Championships which brought his total to an untouchable sixteen.

His contribution to the raising of darts general profile is often underappreciated. Taylor was nominated for Sports Personality of the Year and interviewed on mainstream chat shows during peak time. His broadening of the game is an undervalued feature of his remarkable reign.

Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen
Long time rivalry? Taylor and MVG battled for more than a decade.
Pic: PDC

Despite the huge increase in tournaments, and prize money, available toward the end of the decade “The Power” was only out earned by Micheal. It’s doubtful this would be the case if sponsorship and exhibition income were included.

Taylor’s complete transformation of equipment, from a longer straight dart, to a bomb or John Lowe style dart opened up new avenues for manufacturers. Unicorn exploited this superbly and a mini revolution in pricing, marketing and player recruitment has followed. His switch to Target also started a high profile ‘transfer window’ type market that has proved a boon for players and their earning capacity.

William Hill World Darts Championship Preview
Phil managed to hand the trophy over to Rob Cross and complete a darts perfect transition.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Taylor even managed to hand over the torch in style. His final season included a superb TV triumph, his victory at the World Matchplay included a demolition of MVG that turned back the clock at least five years. His valedictory World Championship in 2017/18 saw him reach a remarkable 21st final. His handing of the torch, to the fairytale debutante Rob Cross, could not have been scripted better for the future of the game.

“The Power”‘s contribution to the darting decade, and the game overall, is unquestionable. His efforts extended much more than can be included in this snapshot. It is quite remarkable that a case can be made for him being the best, and most significant, player in three consecutive decades.

Who knows he may even have a role to play in the 2020’s?

The Winmau World Masters Returns to the Bridlington Spa

This Week – Masters of The Eighties! 20th-26th Oct.

THIS WEEK’s glance into darting history we are going to visit, that glorious darting decade, the 1980’s. We feature Eric, John, Dave Whitcombe, and a certain Peter Evison. A Masters pattern emerges along the way.

1981 – Bristow Claims Hatrick at The Masters

The ‘Crafty Cockney’ was in superb shape in the early 80s, indeed much of the legend that is Eric Bristow was formed during these years. This week in ’81 part of me thinks Eric was simply trying do-over, John Lowe, again! The previous year Lowe had become the second player to claim more than one title. Being as they met, one more, in the final Eric must have wanted to exert his dominance and again set records.

Serious players should watch the final as an example of match play, set play, game management. Both players are aware of the threat from the other. Eric subdues much of his flamboyance in order to ensure consistency. Lowe does tremendously, too hold on and produces some superb single legs. Watch it here:

In the end, though, I suspect that this game is a perfect summary of the two players. Both outstanding but, all other things being equal, Eric had that little more.

Claiming Majors in Dave Whitcombe’s peak time was not easy. Dave claimed his 1st ‘This Week’ in 1985!( Pic: Dave claiming the News of the World event in 1989).

1985 – Whitcombe Joins Multiple Masters!

Dave had managed to break the dominance of Lowe and Bristow, in The Masters, during 1982. This week, in ’85, he did it again! In claiming his second title he joined the club of players, yep you guessed it, John & Eric!, to have picked it up more than once. Whitcomb had a mixed run to the title. He had to defeat Mike Gregory in the Qtr-Final and then Bob Anderson in the Semi.

In the final, however, he faced Ray Farrel. Ray was having a superb run, reaching his first, and only, major final. It is fair to say Dave was a different class of player, from those Ray had met so far, and he wrapped up a 3-0 win in style. Dave has often been overlooked due to the remarkable players in his era. But you don’t win Two Masters’ and The News of the World Title, against those guys unless you are a top draw player.

1989 – Fenn Tiger Tames Legends.

Sticking with a Masters theme, how many players can claim to have won their first major by defeating Phil Taylor in the semi-final and Eric Bristow in the final! The diminutive Peter Evison, aka ‘The Fenn Tiger’ did just that this week in 1989.

Peter is perhaps the only player to “come from nowhere” twice! Almost a decade after this superb performance he did it again. In 1997 he returned to his very best and claimed the PDC World Matchplay in the qtr final he produced an 8-1 thumping of a certain Mr Taylor! He also had to squeak past Dennis Priestley to claim that one. A bit of an expert, in taming the legends, was Mr Evison.

Following Peter’s win, in 1989, none of the quartet of early darts greats; Eric, John, Jockey or Bob claimed another Masters title. Even Taylor claimed his only title in 1990.