Kasumi Sato is the latest big name from Asia to sign for the world’s leading darts manufacturer.
Kasumi Sato is the latest big name from Asia to sign for the world’s leading darts manufacturer.
Sato, aged 28 from Akiruno in Tokyo will join fellow stars Seigo Asada and Toru Suzuki in Team Unicorn, bringing together a now strong representation in Japan.
3 times Ladies Perfect Tour Champion, Sato was the surprise package at the recent Rest of the World Women’s Qualifier for the World Championship, as she pushed her compatriot Mikuru Suzuki hard in a keenly-contested final leading 4-3, before Suzuki claimed the last two legs to seal her spot at Alexandra Palace.
Sato reached the World Masters Semi-Finals in 2019, last month appeared at UK PDC Q-School as she looks to further her career in both steel and soft tip formats.
Unicorn Production Director Lee Parker is delighted to welcome Sato to Unicorn Darts
”Having followed Kasumi’s progress over the last couple of years we all delighted to warmly welcome her to Team Unicorn.
This signing sits perfectly within our growing team of stars in Asia and as 3 time Perfect Tour women’s champion it completes the dream team with men’s champion Seigo Asada.
We look forward to working closely with Kasumi and developing a range of products befitting her championship winning credentials”.
The full range of Kasumi Sato products will be released in due course. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for full details.
The 2019 PDC Unicorn Development Tour runaway winner Ted Evetts has signed a new long-term contract with Unicorn Darts.
Evetts, aged 22, claimed a magnificent eight titles during a sparkling year, which took his overall tally of career wins on the Development Tour to twelve.
Having recently joined the Sportsman Management Company, which includes stablemates Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kyle Anderson, ‘SuperTed’ is excited by both the future and his new deal ”I am buzzing to extend my stay with Unicorn, more than happy with all of my equipment and I’m looking forward to my best year yet”.
Unicorn Player Liaison Matt Rankin added ”We are extremely pleased to extend our relationship with Ted, he has a great future in the game. Ted is one of the most talented young players around and we look forward to seeing him progress further in his career over the coming months and years”.
Dependant on his playing schedule for the main PDC Tour during 2020, Evetts plans to enter as many events as possible once again on the Development Tour to continue what is already an incredible success story for the man from Stockton.
Evetts will kick start his new season campaign this coming weekend, as the Pro Tour resumes with Player Championship events 1 & 2 taking place in Barnsley.
More of dartsworld.com ‘s look at some of the players of the last decade continues with “The Power”:
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.
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.
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?
One of the most frustrating things, about being a passionate darts fan, is the refusal of people and organisations to take the game seriously or give credit for the game’s achievements and the progress it has made.
A fine example was a recent article in The Economist. The title (Bull Market) and the sub heading – A Pastime’s Journey From Pub to Prime Time – suggested that this would be a serious and even positive look at the modern game.
In seven bitter paragraphs, disguised as a serious business article, darts players, its business model and fans are disparaged or belittled on multiple occasions. As much doubt as possible is then cast upon its likely long term success.
“Bear bellied blokes” , “peculiar British pastime”, “staggered out of the pub and onto television”, “loutish reputation”, “Britain’s biggest pantomime”, “pint swilling fans”, “Results of the matches don’t matter”.
The above remarks are just examples from a piece, that claims to explore the likelihood of Darts and the PDC model being successful in the USA, in one of our major (business/politics) ‘serious’ publications.
It is amazing how often the press resort to lazy stereotypes, when looking at darts, and how infrequently they comment on the huge potential of such an inclusive, diverse and equal professional game. No one is suggesting that some of the points are not valid, or have elements of truth in them, but the imbalance and sloppiness is shameful. No effort appears to have been made to explore the progress made or the increasing professionalism of all involved.
Surely, Barry Hearn, on behalf of the PDC and its players, should pen a rebuttal to this and send it to the editor in the hope of representing the positive elements of their remarkable efforts in the last fifteen years or so. In addition the PDPA and the major darts manufacturers should also be up-in-arms at the way their efforts and investments are dismissed perhaps they could demonstrate the true nature of the industry to our friends at The Economist.
Finally, I feel that the author, editor and The Economist in general should have a good look at themselves to see if they have fallen for the ancient error of dismissing something that they feel is beneath them. The piece stinks of the basic forms of snobbery.
Perhaps the powers that be feel that any publicity is good publicity. In this case I sincerely hope not!
Luke Humphries took glory in the 2019 PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship with a superb 6-0 whitewash of Adam Gawlas in Minehead on Sunday night.
Newbury’s Humphries, competing in his final game at youth level, followed up his success in topping the PDC Unicorn Development Tour Order of Merit in 2018 and 2019 by claiming the £10,000 World Youth Championship title.
Humphries was in ruthless form against Czech teenager Gawlas, a 17-year-old who only took up the sport in February and was making his first appearance in front of the TV cameras.
Two missed doubles from Gawlas in leg one allowed Humphries in to break throw, and he took out 112 for a 3-0 lead before a trio of 14-darters – each begun with a 180 – secured the coveted title.
“It’s been a dream of mine so I’m over the moon,” said Humphries. “In the last three years, in my opinion, I’ve been the best youth player and this has been a long time coming.
“There was a lot of pressure on me and I had to be ruthless. To win 6-0 is amazing and it was a great win for me. I played well but maybe the scoreline is a little bit harsh on Adam.
“He’s a great talent and it’s amazing to think that he’s only been playing the game for nine months, and I’d love to see where he is in five years.”
Humphries added: “The Development Tour has made me the player I am and I want to thank the PDC for what they’ve done to bring this system in.
“This is my last ever youth tournament and it’s time to take the step up, but it’s a fitting end. It’s special to lift this trophy in my last ever youth tournament.
“I worked hard to win this and I think it was my destiny to win this in my final year as a youth player. It’s my ambition now to be the first player to win the World Youth Championship and then the World Championship so the hard work starts now.
“It’s time to start upping my practice because on my day I think I can live with anyone, and on the big stage is where I play my best game.”
The 24-year-old has spoken publicly about his struggles with anxiety this year, and hopes that his triumph can be an inspiration to those in a similar situation.
He said: “A lot of people out there give up and six months ago I could have walked away from darts so I hope people can look at this and realise what you can achieve.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In 1988 Bob Anderson claimed his World professional title. At the time his dart was distinct from the other star players of that generation. Bob used a narrow, quite long looking, dart with a smooth, slim nose-cone and a simple, but fine grip.
B&W 18g Original Bob Anderson
Smooth Nose Cone
95% Tungsten (Natural)
Consistent ring grip
0.5cm Stem Blank
Bob’s dart was produced by B&W darts and had been so for a while. With the benefit of hindsight, they should be considered a premium piece of both manufacture and design. Very few modern darts are made in similar dimensions today, even most stems are two wide for them and leave an annoying lip at the join.
The 95% tungsten content ensured that Bob’s dart could be as thin as possible whilst still being dense enough to carry 18g in a 50mm barrel. The smooth nose was superbly reduced to as close the point junction as possible and certainly close than the early Unicorn models managed. The short blank at the stem end ensured strength was present even at maximum thinness.
The ring grip is quite fine and was originally quite deep. This gives an edge when newer, good for very light holders, but also allows the darts to age and wear with their owner.
But, unusually, Bob switched company to, the biggest name at the time, Unicorn darts. Initially, Unicorn produced a similar dart but shorter and wider (Phase I).
Unicorn 20g Bob Anderson (Phase I)
90% Tungsten (Natural or Gold)
Smooth Nose Cone
Consistent Ring Grip
0.9mm Stem Blank
Soon Bob switched back to his traditional design. Unicorn produced an updated version (Phase II), of his signature dart. This was closer to the B&W dimensions but regarded as a lower quality version of the B&W original.
As he got older Bob required more grip on the barrel and so changed his grip style with the aid of the Unicorn boffins. The basic barrel is similar but the grip patter created a far less smooth feeling and less consistent dart (Phase 3).
Although relatively popular, Phase 3 is a different dart. It turned out that there was a loyal demand for the original models.
The B&W model has become more & more sought after and even more so with the original case and or accessories. Often similar darts are presented on eBay, or in collectors groups online, as being original B&W Bob Anderson darts. Very few actually are and it pays to have a close look and ask for proof of the length, width. If possible some provenance to back up the dimensions would be ideal.
At least one niche manufacturer is now making a high-quality, hand made replica of this dart. At around the £60 mark, they are a, less costly, nice ‘tribute’ to this classic set. They may not be the last model to be replicated in this way.
Many sports or leisure activities revert back to their classic vintages at times. Perhaps these ‘Hidden Gems’ will see the spotlight again.
If you have a classic set or an unusual collector’s item with a back story, drop us a line here: email@example.com
A picture/image or two or to illustrate why your fond of them might be useful.
After Jelle moved to Unicorn in 2018, his main signature dart underwent a sever redesign. Unicorn may have been reluctant to lose the popularity of The Cobra’s distinctive, and successful, previous design. The 2018/9 Silver Star version of his dart has much in common with Jelle’s previous models. It is also 90% Tungsten whereas many in the series are 80%.
Unusually for a SS series dart, it is quite complex and has three separate sections of multiring type grip. The contoured barrel has a lower stiletto shape section, a mid barrel scallop and a ridged stem sector. At around the £40 mark, they are costly for a second stream dart. However, being 90% Tungsten and very complex manufacture, it is perhaps better to see them as a great value first rank product.
Elite players tend not to be keen on using other players signature darts! So for this test, we drafted a county standard amateur, an up and coming lady player and a keen, if limited amateur. The Jelle SS were put through their paces over a couple of weeks and in a variety of circumstances. Everything from a boozy midweek practice to a decent standard open event. 100+ legs and somewhere around 2000 darts.
The supplied set up, of Gripper stems and Unicorn Std Flights (Silver Star livery)was tested along with any that players thought might prove successful.
First Impressions: All of our testers were impressed, and slightly surprised, with the look and complexity of the dart. They fancied trying this style of the barrel and were impressed that they could each find a way to comfortably hold it. “Interesting and unusual” were the most heard words.
Performance: Our serious amateur was, perhaps, the least impressed. Initially, he struggled to get the dart to consistently fly in a way that he was comfortable with. Our female tester was surprised and very impressed. After a very short adaptation period, she was able to get very close grouping and feel very comfortable indeed. Our keen, but limited, player enjoyed trying out various ways of throwing the dart and soon found a method that suited.
The Tech Bit: This heavily engineered and shaped dart has a multitude of dimensions but is 47.3mm long and 7.3mm wide at its widest point. If you have seen Jelle or Simon Whitlock, throw you will know it is still possible to group these together very well indeed. The ridged section toward the rear is unusual and may not suit all throwers. The section between mid scallop and point is more traditional and has simple ringed grip. Some players use the scallop to place their thumb and generate force from that area. This is a very flexibly designed dart that may require a little patience to discover your perfect grip. It is also a great way to see if your throw can suit this style of dart without going to the extremes of expense and styling.
Downsides: The barrel style and the differing pronounced grips do tend to increase wear on the flights and regular change was needed, even from our less able players. The Jelle SS can take a little while to get used to and will not suit all styles.
Durability: These Jelle SS survived the 100+ legs in very good shape. They do begin to look a little dulled and dinted after a while but clean up exceptionally well very quickly. The more social of our players barely made a mark on them. The serious level player made a few surface marks and the odd dint. This is not surprising due to the increased contact.
Out of 10: The 8/10 is a reflection of the ‘love it or loathe it’ factor this type of barrel inspires. Our female tester was very impressed and has switched to a very similar barrel in her preferred weight. Meanwhile, one of our two amateur players was also impressed and enjoyed finding his way of getting the most out of the dart. Our other more serious player was totally unable to adapt to the dart in a consistent way.
In conclusion, this is a very unusual set of dart for this type of range. They are more like a premium dart in many ways. There are also similarities between Jelle SS and the post-2016 Whitlock darts from Winmau but are these slightly more ergonomic.
The Gripper Stems and Silver Star Series flights are fine but a fixed-wing set up helps to give these some stability, L Style or similar seems to do a good job. A tapered stem seems to give a little more lift for some throwers.
A.I.M: would recommend testing these in a dart store before purchase or trying a similar shape set used by a friend or teammate.
Loopy or wristy throws seem to be naturally well suited to this dart, others have to work more. We would recommend ladies with a very low to high throw give them a go as well.
The Japanese star is the latest in a batch of new talent that Unicorn has added to their players’ roster in the last few months. The trend of widening the global reach of classic darts brands seems to be accelerating. Harrows, Red Dragon and Unicorn have all joined Target in the far east market.
Unicorn summarised the signing as follows;
The 32-year-old from Yamanashi is delighted to be on board with the World’s leading darts manufacturer and follows in the footsteps of close friend and practise partner Seigo Asada in being the third Japanese star to represent the brand ”Unicorn is a very famous worldwide dart brand and I am so honoured to receive this opportunity.”
Masakazu Fukunaga and Yoshikazu Arai from Felix Corporation the Unicorn Distributor in Japan echoed those thoughts: “All of us at Felix Corporation are delighted that Unicorn has given Toru this opportunity. Their knowledge and help will play a crucial part in his darting development.”
Asada commented “Toru is an amazing player and his natural home is with Unicorn. He is joining a fantastic team!”.
Suzuki, who finished 5th & 3rd over the last two years on Japan’s Perfect Tour, also claimed three victories during his 2017 campaign. He will be playing a full part on the PDC Asian Tour alongside Asada this year, with his ultimate aim in the future to claim a coveted PDC Tour card.
Unicorn Player Liaison Manager Matt Rankin said: “Toru is destined for bigger and better things and Unicorn will be with him every step of the way.”
Lee Parker Unicorn’s Production Director added “We are very pleased to have Toru join the Unicorn Team. My development and design engineers are working with Toru and myself to create his first Player Edition Unicorn Dart Set. This is planned for globally release later in 2019. These are exciting times for Unicorn Japan and Unicorn Worldwide.”
Darts World Asia darts specialist and other sources suggest that this pick suggests Unicorn have backed what they see as potential and a strong business case. Other more notable names are available, or soon will be, due to changes in the manufacturer landscape. Yet Unicorn has taken what appears to be a risk on Suzuki.
Ian ‘Diamond’ White is one of the best players in the game. It is time he was given an extended chance to show it.
Some of us have been making the case for Ian White’s inclusion in the Premier League line-up for a while. For me, it is a combination of two things. Firstly Ian is a tremendous player whose full potential is yet to be seen. His recent European Tour performances have begun to turn this around and his tremendous Pro Tour record just keeps going from strength to strength.
Ian has been consistently in the top 16 for the past few years and has reached the last 8 of many of the top events, including the Matchplay and World Championships. He is also a former News of the World finalist, a fact often forgotten in the PDC dominated era, and England international.
It should also be noted that Ian has huge success, in short(ish) format matches. On the floor, in the best of 11, he has been superb for more than five years. But also in these Euro events with staged increases from best of 11 to best of 15 in the final. Surely it will not take him long to settle into the Premier League.
In addition, he can produce, quite regularly, performances the simple destroy even the very best. He defeats MVG twenty-five-per cent of the time and has inflicted 6-0,6-1 and 6-2 defeats on Micheal in raking events.
Secondly, Ian has been both dreadfully unlucky and, arguably, poorly treated. On more than one occasion he has been in the running, for a PL place, when the ‘powers that be’ seem to have worked against him. Perhaps the best example was in 2015. White was ranked inside the top ten and in reasonable form. A decent run in the last part of the year would have seen him selected. Instead, White was placed in a group with three former World Champions at the Grand Slam. The event was PDC ranking for the first time. Whitey had to deal with Martin Adams, who was under no pressure at all, and two others who were also out for the raking points/£s. In contrast, Micheal Smith had to deal with the sentimental return of Andy Fordham and only after Adrian Lewis had dealt with the initial emotional match, and the lower ranked Wayne Jones.
This favouring of others seemed to show itself again when Smith was given another Premier League outing, in 2017, despite poor performances and placing, in his first year. It seemed to many that Ian had again been harshly overlooked.
This is not to say that Ian could not have done more to force the door open. He should have done better in that 2015 Grand Slam. The former BDO guys sometimes find it tough to play their former, or current, friends and comrades. He also suffered a couple of early World Championship exits that set him back. If you are not the biggest character in the game, or young and dynamic, perhaps you have to do more than the rest of the contenders?
However, surely we are seeing the tide turning in Ian’s favour? He is back in the top ten and likely to rise further before the years’ end. He is winning events, on stage against the very best opposition. Surely it is only a matter of time before he goes on a similar run in a TV major.
If, and when, that happens it will be time to finally give the ‘Diamond’ his chance to shine.
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