Jonny Clayton won Group Eight of the Unibet Home Tour, as the home-staged tournament continued on Friday night.
Former televised finalist Clayton produced a trio of solid displays as he went unbeaten all night, defeating Adam Hunt 5-2 in the group opener.
The Welsh World Cup representative followed up with a 5-3 win over Richard North, before the final game of the evening saw Clayton clinch his place at the top of the table with a 5-2 victory against David Pallett.
The Unibet Home Tour continues on Saturday night with Group Nine, which will see Premier League star Michael Smith in action, along with Harry Ward, Matt Clark and Martijn Kleermaker.
Unibet Home Tour Group Eight – Friday April 24 Jonny Clayton 5-2 Adam Hunt David Pallett 5-2 Richard North Adam Hunt 5-3 David Pallett Jonny Clayton 5-3 Richard North Adam Hunt 5-1 Richard North Jonny Clayton 5-2 David Pallett
Group Nine – Saturday April 25 (1930 BST) Michael Smith v Martijn Kleermaker Harry Ward v Matt Clark Martijn Kleermaker v Matt Clark Michael Smith v Harry Ward Harry Ward v Martijn Kleermaker Matt Clark v Michael Smith 8
Welsh darting brand Red Dragon have a lot to shout about already. Major champions, innovative models and a solid reputation for service and value. Yesterday they moved to a new level. We pestered Red Dragon’s Simon Hall for his thoughts before the final took place:
With World Titles meaning so much to every player, and those behind them, the chance of three in one year is nothing short of breathtaking
Simon Hall – Red Dragon
With the crowning of Peter Wright, earlier this month, RD put the cherry on a long baked cake. Over the past decade they have developed a model and put together a group of players that rival anything seen previously. It results in World Champions!
Wayne Warren lifting the BDO World Professional Championship gives the Bridgend based company a unique trio of World Champions. With Snakebite already holding the PDC crown and Luke Humphries capturing the World Youth title (PDC) it’s been a bumper few weeks. It may also make all the difference in the annual manufacturer rankings!
The RD model is not overly complex. The select their players carefully, work with them closely and stick with them for the long run.
A Celtic Flavour?
In addition, to Warren, Red Dragon have Gerwyn Price, Johnny Clayton, Jamie Lewis and Barrie Bates all from their home pricipality of Wales. In addition, they boast a clutch of Scotsmen lead by Robert Thornton and backed up by John Henderson and Ross Montgomery. previous players include former world champ Richie Burnett. If you know sport you will understand that the Celtic passions work well in harness with sporting talent.
Like all manufacturers RD have been keen to find and nuture young talent, they were the first sponsor for Adam Smith Neale, backed Richard North and have supported Jamie Lewis through thick and thin. But RD are not in thrall to youth. During the last decade they took considered risks on older, seasoned player who were coming on strong. Mark Hylton, Ian White and indeed, Wayne Warren were all in there forties or older when they were first signed up.
Back Your Decision
Those who make the decisions at RD seem to stick with them and are not afraid to throw the rule book out of the window if it may help a player or kick start a relationship. The Peter Wright story, and ever changing equipment, might have driven some companies over the edge. Instead Red Dragon have invented a totally new model for Peter and his sponsorship.
John Henderson has had ups and down as well as injury, Gerwyn Price has had much publicised disciplinary issues and Luke Humphries has well documented mental health concerns. Yet all are still with RD and have had multiple deals often renewed during tough times as well as good. This approach seems to allow players time and space to flourish at their own pace or to adapt to new circumstances.
Initial signing decisions are a combination of analysis, external reports, observation and consultation. There is no fixed recipe for pursuing, or signing, a player but a number of differing factors can influence a decision. A good network of informative and reliable sources, very good data and carefully honed instincts all play a part.
RD are not the sort who sign a player as soon as he/she does anything of note and then reject them if they don’t hit that high spot again instantly. Instead they take advice and are prepared to move earlier at times and be more long term in their thinking. This has occasionally seen them miss out rather than make an error.
A good example is David Evans. ‘Stretch‘ is a fine player with huge potential. Several of RD sources pointed him out a while ago. Yet, other sources recommended a step by step approach as that thought he needed time to develop and adapt. The last twelve months, and his recent World Championship efforts, suggests that they were correct.
Red Dragon’s collection of a threesome of World Champions means they have reaped the rewards of a program, and a belief, that dates back well over a decade. It would be a wise move to keep an eye on their future signings and those already on their books.
We’re so lucky to have these great players out there fighting to win & carrying the Red Dragon Name
Simon Hall of Red Dragon Darts
More than just luck Simon! In the meantime congratulations are in order! Well done indeed.
Red Dragon moved to retain three of their most talented players during the past couple of weeks. In agreeing to extend the contracts of Johnny Clayton, Luke Humphries and Richard North, RD look set to consolidate their recent success in player recruitment.
Clayton is the highest ranked of the three, currently at 13 in the PDC system, and recently claimed a second Pro Tour title in Barnsley. His efforts, both on the Pro Tour and in major events, have seen him rise, through the rankings, rapidly since his 2015 PDC debut. The Welshman also has a decent record against, World No.1, MVG. Surely, Red Dragon is hoping he goes one better than at the Players Championship Finals in 2017.
Richard North also extended his arrangments with RD recently and has continued to thrive with their support. Richard currently sits inside the top 40 (PDC) and has had several high points in his career since joining the Welsh darts manufacturer. His appearance in the later stages of TV majors, toward the end of both 2017 and 2018, have served him, and his sponsors well. The Swindon player will be looking to widen these efforts, in an attempt to climb further, over the next few years.
Luke Humphries’ superb run in the 2018/19 World Championships, and some solid Pro Tour form, have seen head toward the world’s top 50. His efforts, and multiple titles, on the Development Tour, seem to indicate a consistency level, and potential, even greater than his recent successes. Berkshire’s “Cool Hand” celebrated with another bumper weekend on the Development Tour.
All in all this activity suggests Red Dragon is continuing with their slightly unusual recruitment model. For some years they have signed a wide variety of players who differ from the obvious. Willing to take a risk earlier than some major names, but relying on spotting talent coming through via less conventional paths. As Clayton, North & Humphries demonstrate you don’t have to have won major events, or recorded impressive stats, to have potential in modern darts or value to a major sponsor.
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