Our resident coach has eyes and ears all over the darting scene. For a little while he has been telling us about a few players he feels may come through to the next level. One of those he keeps coming back to is Rob Collins.
Collins’ record shows potential but is nothing to really get excited about. Yet ‘Coach’ is adamant that he is one to watch. Last year saw a definite improvement in his results and his late season BDO and open form was certainly eye catching.
Rob claimed the New Forest Masters, which is a tough, long standing event, at a cantor and seems to have attracted the interest of Red Dragon darts at some point, so perhaps ‘Coach’ is on to something.
We will keep an eye on Rob at Q School this year and see if he is ready to add to ‘Coach’s rep as a talent spotter!
The latest of our “Choose Your Weapons” section features a world record hitting dart used, at times, by the new World Champion:
Product: Darts (Steel Tip)
Brand: Red Dragon
Model Name: Euro 11 – Element Blue (Peter Wright)
Variation / Edition: 24g
General Summary:Element Blue are a superbly built, and finely engineered, addition to the, Premium Player, section of the market. Originally commissioned to celebrate the World Cup Peter & Gary Anderson’s World Cup of Darts win. Also used by Peter Wright in setting his 2019 World RecordAverage from on-line specialist Red Dragon darts.
For such a seriously gripped and engineered dart it has a remarkably slim feel and look. Later the Red Dragon Element (Fusion Diamond) Grip was added to an edition and know it has been coloured blue! The grip is both impressive and unusual.
Element Blue will suit most players, especially those with a lighter grip. Direct throwers will be captured!
Cost: At just under £70 (here), ‘Blue’ are a premium piece of design, production, and performance that you would expect.
What’s In the Box:
Snakebite Euro 11 Element (Blue) come in the recent type, Peter Wright styled, pull-out box. Inside are three barrels, three nitro stems (White) and a set of Peter Wright, std shape, flights.
“MVG might get even better with these, especially worn in ones” ….Our Serious Amateur
“I love the grip, it’s quite aggressive yet, it feels less likely to stick than deep/sharp grooves” ….. Our Pub Player
Testing Process:A.I.M: used three different players, one elite, one strong amateur and one ‘pub’ player, and subjected ‘Blue’ to a variety of throw styles, conditions and set ups. In total over one hundred legs with a four-figure total of darts thrown. Our testers used ‘Element Blue’ in competitive practice, training drills, over a weekend for social games, a practise session and a league knockout.
In addition to the supplied set up, Snakebite Flights & Nitro Stems, players were asked to try their preferred combination or any other set up they felt might work.
Variations: Element Blue is available in soft tip at 20g as well as the 24g steel tip tested here. The traditional silver/grey model is also available in a 20g version.
The Results: All three of our testers were impressed with the general look of the Element model. The diamond grip intrigued them whilst the blue/purple colour was deemed attractive and “not too harsh on the eye”. Two of our three players liked the initial feel of the dart in their hand. The words ‘different’ and ‘corse’ were popular.
Downsides: Our players rated the looks, production and initial feel, of the dart, very highly. However, it became clear that the ‘Element Blue’ took a bit of getting used to and that some players would not adjust. The diamond fusion is more a surface than a grip and some felt unsure of its feel. A firmest holder also felt it was just too aggressive, the sheer complexity of the grip gives the impression of a fatter, not consistent, middle section of the dart although he did accept that a worn set might be perfect!
The Tech Bit: For a heavily engineered dart ‘Element Blue’come in at a slim 6.5mm wide. The distinctive cosmetics and grip pattern combine to create the impression of an even slimmer model. The 54.6mm length is at the longer end of the spectrum and is advantageous to the direct thrower. The slightly rounded ‘nose cone’ area is essential on a long dart with pronounced grip as it enables a confidence in “going at the target”. The diamond coated(blue coloured) ring grips provide high quality grip that will mould to the user over time.
Blue are supplied with a ‘Player Set Up’ of Snakebite Blk Flights & Medium Nitro Stems. This set up works well for the majority of throwers and is very high quality for an included item. The length of the dart seems to lead to no nonsense set ups. Two of our testers preferred a shorter stem version of the set-up, claiming a significant improvement in fluency.
Durability: Blue stood up very well over the 1000+ darts that we subjected them to. The diamond grip does cause an increase in marks to the smooth areas of the darts, diamond is seriously hard after all! The colour scheme, and styling, of the ‘Element Blue’ seemed to distract from this in a better way than the silver/grey versions.
The Snap Shot: All our testers agreed that the ‘Element Blue’ is a superb looking dart, a considerable upgrade on the looks of std version. It was also agreed that those who throw very directly will buy in most. The grips are quite aggressive and take a little getting used to. The cost, whilst high, is definitely justified by the tech and design that has gone into the end result. A firm thrower, who has a lighter grip will benefit most ironically an MVG type might gain the most! It is possible that a worn set of ‘Blue’ may well be even better than a sparkly new threesome.
Wayne Warren, a fifty-seven year old roofer from Wales, has become the latest World Darts Champion.
‘Yank‘, as Wayne is known, claimed the BDO version of the title late last night at the O2 (Indigo) in London. Warren had been in strong form throughout the event, defeating several tough opponents, clinched the crown with a 7-4(sets) win over compatriot Jim Williams.
It was a perfect start for ‘The Quiff’ (Williams), recording just shy of a ton average as he bounded into a two set lead early on. Warren remained in contention going into the interval as he smashed out a superb set of his own to set the seed of doubt in Williams’ mind.
The 58-year-old Welshman would make it 2-2 as the momentum continued to shift in his direction. That advantage would be increased as Warren got his nose ahead for the first time as he went 3-2 to the good.
Williams would return the favour with a whitewash set of his own, meaning the two would go into the half time interval at 3-3. Warren would return from the break reinvigorated, finding the heavy scoring game that had got him to this stage.
‘The Quiff’ would steal one more set before Warren unleashed his best darts. Williams has been a front-runner throughout the tournament and for much of his career, but the chase was a hard graft and Warren appeared to have too much in the latter stages.
Warren began to pull away after the nine-set mark, firing in 11 and 12 darts legs in front of the packed Indigo at the o2. As they entered the final set, Warren took a two-leg advantage, a slack leg then let Williams in with a chance.
But that would be the end of the story for Williams as Warren nailed tops to claim his first BDO World Championship title at 57 years of age, a truly magnificent achievement.
Warren adds his name to a famed list of Welsh darting legends, from Alan Evans and Ceri Morgan on to Leighton Rees, who claimed this very title in 1976, progressing to Richie Burnett and Mark Webster in the modern era. With Williams as runner up, and Johnny Clayton and Gerwyn Price performing well in the PDC, the principality is in superb shape to continue such a proud record.
If you’re a darts fan or just a twitter devotee, you may believe that a thirty-four-year-old Welshman is the devil in a dart shirt. However, if you know anything of the history of sport you may see a character familiar to the development of most highly popular professional games. That of the marmite competitor or perhaps pantomime villain?
Six years ago, Gerwyn Price was a Rugby player coming toward the end of an up and down career that had many highlights but had not quite reached the elite levels he may have wished. However, he had discovered a talent for darts and determined that he would make it in a second professional game. By 2014 he had gained a professional tour card, at his first attempt, at PDC Qualifying School.
Price’s first year on the tour resulted in moderate success, reaching semifinals of Pro Tour events and qualifying for several European Tours. Reaching that year’s World Championships, at the first time of asking, was another landmark. During this time many, including the author, noted the impressive way Gezzy had adapted to pro darts, and how he did not seem to be bound by previous conventions, we put this down to the professional attitude, and strong mentality, that he had developed playing a physically dangerous sport that involved serious risk if not properly respected.
Now known as “The Ice Man” Price was starting to provoke grumblings. “Too aggressive”, “Over the Top”, “Bolshie” and other slightly surprising remarks were heard around venues. Many viewed this as a positive. Shaking up the status quo, not letting established stars intimidate you, trying to get the game onto your terms and other such counter remarks were offered by some.
2016 marked a real gear change for “The Ice Man” (even the choice of nickname was not without controversy!). Gerwyn claimed two Pro Tour titles and reached the later stages of European Tour events. He also made good progress at The World Matchplay, European Championship and Players Championship Finals. More bridges were to be crossed the next season.
Price reached the final of the 2017 UK Open, ‘including a superb comeback and 160 outshot to defeat Ian White, and lead Wales to the Final of the World Cup of Darts. A combination of these successes and his strong image, as a battler with a totally different style of play, gained him a place in the 2018 Premier League.
This was a remarkable story, a player with no experience whatsoever goes from unknown to the Premier League in four years! It is also highly unlikely Price would have gotten as far or been selected, for the PDC’s premium showcase, had he have been a run-of-the-mill character. Other players have had superb spells of form and achieved similar results to Price. None of them had the back story or the onstage attitude of the fighting Welshman. These last two qualities propelled him from outside the top ten into the Premier League. In short, the PDC had a strong hand in making, and encouraging, Price.
The Premier League is hugely demanding and requires yet another stage of adjustment. It may well have been a bridge too far. In reaction to this, Price made a few poor choices. Social media proved to be a pitfall, not exactly unusual, as comments made in frustration and disappointment caused a fan backlash and sanctions from the games disciplinary body. Safe to say the Premier League had not gone well for ‘Iceman’.
Showing huge mental strength, perhaps learned through rugby, Price finished the main tour season like a train. He claimed victory in the European Open as well as reaching the Qtr-Finals of both the World Grand Prix & The European Championship. His form was superb and his competitive juices seemed seriously fired up. These factors, both positive and negative, all came to a head in the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts!
Price started the event playing well, but clearly keyed up, possibly in reaction to the Premier, or just another illustration of Price’s highly developed desire to win. Playing a sport in which physical harm is a daily risk gives a different perspective to ‘throwing sharp things at a round thing’.
By the Qtr-final stage matters were coming to the boil. In a tough encounter, with Simon Whitlock, Price was cautioned by the referee. It appeared to be for ‘over celebrating’ and or failure to keep within the designated playing bounds. A superb and dramatic match finished was settled by a deciding leg and, a hot under the collar, Iceman continued on. A relatively straight forward win over Mensur Sulijavic saw Price reach his first major final. Normally, this would be a completely positive story, but the encounter with Whitlock had seen the Wolverhampton crowd turn against Price, adding fuel to an already smoldering fire.
The long and short of the 2018 Grand Slam final is that Price won, from well behind, Gary was upset, the crowd booed and the PDC reacted by fining him most of his winnings as well as issuing various statements and warnings.
In years to come however, the trophy will simply read 2018 – Gerwyn Price. He appealed the judgements, the fines were substantially reduced, and simply continued on. That years’ World Championship proved tough, with the crowd being especially ruthless. Yet, the PDC decided to include him in the 2019 Premier League, you do the math?
Price’s response to this chain of events has been exemplary and very impressive. He put up a far stronger showing in the Premier League whilst kicking his Pro Tour up another gear. He is now one of a select band to claim back to back events on what is an incredibly high-quality tour. His consistency improved, during the middle season, before he again seeming to hit the accelerator near year’s end.
During September he put together a superb run to claim another European Tour title, before claiming a third Pro Tour title for 2019. Price then excelled at the European Championship. He reached another final and was looking even better than twelve months previous.
The circle of sport was completed with Price returning to Wolverhampton as the reigning Grand Slam of Darts champion. Determined to show he was not a fluke, or had only won due to underhand tactics, he blasted through the event to reach the semi-final stage, defeating Anderson along the way, and an encounter with MVG.
Despite all his improvement Price had yet to beat the game’s standard bearer, and world number one, in seventeen attempts. If Price was to again progress, he would have to get over this (psychological?) block. Get over it was exactly what Price did. Not some nervy last gasp win, but a sixteen – twelve decisive victory.
All that was left was to win the title and win over the crowd. Gezzy, obliged with a demolition of Peter Wright in the final. The presentation could not have been different to 2018. The back to back champion was joined on stage by his family and cheered by thousands.
Price swiftly followed up with a final spot at The Players Championship finals soon after, this time losing out, to Micheal van Gerwen, in a nail-biter that deserved a final leg. His results in the last few months have elevated him to No.3 in the World and second favorite in for this year’s William Hill, PDC World Darts Championships.
Bearing in mind that no Grand Slam Champion has failed to win a World Championship, perhaps all of us should keep an eye out. The Iceman Cometh!
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