Lorraine Winstanley interview.

Pioneering Darts Online – How Far We’ve Come and How To Get Started!

The explosion of virtual, or online darts as it has become known in recent times, has reminded one of our readers, Shaun Rodgers, of the early days of such events. In addition, he thought you might like some handy tips on getting started!

The year is 2008 and, on an online darts forum (yes, forums were big at the time!) called Double16, myself and a group of friends decided we would run a darts league online, using webcams and darts software.

An early pioneer of online darts? Mark ‘Mile High’ Hylton (Pic; L Lustig / PDC)

This was quite a bold move at the time and the league received mixed reviews. Excellent players including Lorraine Winstanley (then’ Farlam) known as Dartchick and Mark ‘Mile High’ Hylton (above) took part, but issues soon cropped up. Webcams were not of as good a quality as they are today and sadly this led to cheating being widespread. The software was adequate but fairly limited in terms of capability, and the whole idea of online darts was generally ridiculed.

Fast forward 12 years and the world has changed. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in online darts drastically taking off with leagues, tournaments and general recreational play taking place all over the world. I was recently shown a Facebook group that has over 1,000 players taking part in a knockout tournament which runs for seven days. In addition, numerous leagues have popped up offering monetary prizes for the winner, funded by entry fees. Online darts has come a long way since the days of our small webcam league in 2008.

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Software has advanced significantly since 2008 and there are now a number of websites and applications that provide dart players with the ability to play against another opponent online from anywhere in the world with minimal technical intervention. Players can now, not only see their opponent’s board with a 1080hp quality camera, but they can also see them throwing the darts and chat with them using Facebook Live or Google Hangouts. We never dreamed that software like this would be available so soon. This doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of cheating however, and this was confirmed to me just a few days ago when a player who typically has a 3-dart average in the late 50s hit a 9-dart finish against me and finished with a 87 average!

Anyway, enough of the cheats, let’s move on to how you can start playing online darts!

Set-up: The most important part of the set-up is the board; it needs to be as well lit as possible. Advancement in dart board lighting is now at its peak with the fantastic Target Corona Vision Lighting System leading the way, whilst the XQ Max lighting board surround has never looked brighter. Conventional ceiling lights can work reasonably, but the important point is your opponent should be able to see your board clearly.

Camera Location: There are two potential options for your camera. Firstly, and most recommended, you could adopt the normal left-hand-side view that is used with televised darts. For this approach, the camera needs to be level with the board and be in such a position where it is easy to see where your darts have entered the board. The other option is to place the camera in a front-on position. There is a notable trend that this position, whilst satisfactory, does tend to lead to more questions about where your darts have landed.

Throwing the Darts: You don’t have to position the camera to show you actually throwing the darts. You can if you wish, but this is down to personal preference. Some people use the split-screen system on streams to show both the board and them throwing the darts, but what’s most important is the ability for your opponent to see where your darts enter the board.

The Russ Bray App has been updated during Covid and has millions of downloads.

Application/Website: There are a multitude of options available, but we at DartsInStoke would recommend godartspro.com. This is a brilliant product, both for matches and practice sessions. However, to experience the full benefits and be able to play against an opponent you will need a premium account (DW Note: This feature and more is available on the improved from our own Russ Bray!).

It is often worth purchasing an upgrade as you can access valuable practice sessions and track your statistics. If you don’t want to spend much money then Nakka n01 is our first choice. This used to be a downloadable software but is now available online and you can play anyone across the globe with a capacity of over 3,000 players playing at the same time. Unfortunately, Nakka n01 does not show webcams, but if you make arrangements with an opponent to play, you can set a chatroom for them to be in and add a password so that only they can join you. Also on the market is Pro-Darter which is quickly growing in popularity. One key benefit of this product is that you can assign a Google Hangouts account, which means when you play your opponent you can see their board and chat with them at the same time, a website that offers all in one package and it is entirely free to use with no subscription fee.

In summary, online darts is here to stay and will continue to grow. There are some great products on the market. Remember to maintain darts etiquette when you’re playing online and no cheating!

Good luck and enjoy your darts!

Featured Pic: BDO / Tip Top pics

Light Editing: James Lincoln (for DW)

DW: Thanks Shaun for your informative and fun piece. We should have known that it would be so, hailing from the capital of darts, Stoke-on-Trent, you have to know your stuff up there!