Column #CM8 The Silly Season?

Thursday, September 15, 2016
Column CM8
The Silly Season?

Well, not exactly a “silly season”… not anymore.

Until some years ago, the period after the World Matchplay in Blackpool used to be the beginning of the “silly season” in darts. Players went on holiday, probably to the Continent to lie on the beaches, recover from all the tournaments, and play some leisurely darts – maybe even soft darts – just for fun. Dart site owners could take a break as well – there was no need to fear you would miss anything and that the site might fall behind when there were no updates. The fans were on holiday and played with their children instead with their darts…

And now?

One tournament chases the next. We had a really hot darts summer!

It may be that some players and fans still manage to take some time off but the top players travel around the world and play in tournaments like the International Darts Open, European Darts Trophy, Sydney Darts Masters or Perth Darts Master. There are CDC tournaments in America, a qualifier for the PDC World Championship in Canada, WDF tournaments in Belgium, Mongolia, Sweden, France and lots more. Most of the tournaments are streamed somewhere, darts is on every weekend.

It’s boom time for players, fans and dart site owners.

We saw a brilliant playing Phil Taylor finally winning over Michael van Gerwen in the Sydney Darts Masters while the same Phil Taylor, still playing brilliantly, lost in the Perth Darts Masters to the upcoming and inexperienced new Australian star Corey Cadby – which the green Dutchman won. We heard with surprise of an (internationally) unknown Canadian player named Ross Snook who won the North American World Championship Qualifier against the likes of John Part, Larry Butler and Darin Young and who will now represent North America for the first time in the PDC World Championship. Kim Viljanen dominated the Scandinavian Circuit and was rewarded with a return to the Ally Pally.

When the sizzling hot August ended, and – at least in Germany – the sizzling hot September started with three European Tour events in Germany in a row! It looked as if several of the PDC top players needed a time out and the first European Tour event in Riesa lacked top players – no Taylor registered, no Anderson or Lewis either. James Wade had to withdraw – he had been ill in Australia. Raymond van Barneveld didn’t bother to enter the first two European Qualifiers. Even the omnipresent Michael van Gerwen stayed at home due to an ankle injury. This opened the window wide for a surprise winner, especially when it became evident that widely-travelled Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright were not at their best either.

So the tournament in Riesa was the tournament of the well-rested like Kim Huybrechts, James Wilson, Benito van de Pas and of course – leading the way – Austrian Mensur Suljovic who finally managed to get a win in a PDC tournament. The German surprise packet was Dragutin Horvat who won against Ricky Evans, Gerwyn Price, and Ian White before he was stopped by Kim Huybrechts. When the German MC and commentator Elmar Paulke – who is always very swift and often rather hasty to nail a person as the new German darts ace – asked him whether he now intended to turn professional, Dragutin answered that he had only won three matches, was still light-years away from being a professional, and that he played darts just for fun – and that was all. The answer definitely earned him a lot of sympathy among the crowd!

One week later, the green Dutchman was back and managed to win the tournament against Mensur Suljovic who showed another strong performance. Van Gerwen was neither as dominant nor as brilliant as we are used to – maybe a break could revive his sparkle as it could enliven Peter Wright who seemed to be a little bit dull as well. There was no German surprise packet so we here in Germany will have to be content with the fact that Mensur Suljovic is at least German speaking. But we again saw a rather strong and determined Kim Huybrechts who only just lost to Michael van Gerwen and a really strong playing Jelle Klaasen who was the only one who was able to reignite his fellow Dutchman. Quite impressive were James Wade and Gerwyn Price as well but none of the qualifiers survived the second round – the top players are back in business.

There will be another European event this weekend still without Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor – but maybe Raymond van Barneveld will be in, should he qualify. Only a few days later, three Players Championships will be played midweek in Barnsley – Anderson didn’t register for those either while all other top players at least have done so. Canadian John Part hasn`t registered either – it looks as if he’s resigned from the PDC, although he has a Tour Card until the end of the year. What a pity…

The crowning end of the month will be on the BDO side the WDF Europe Cup in the Netherlands and, on the PDC side, the new Championship League of Darts – a tournament played for the first time this year in which only the top eight of the PDC Order of Merit take part. The really new thing about this somehow not really promising tournament is that it will be televised as first PDC tournament by the BBC. This means all people who can receive BBC on their TV can watch it for free while Sky Sports – which usually broadcasts the PDC tournaments – is pay TV.

So the summer will end as sizzling as it began before darts really starts into the new season with all the darting highlights like the World Grand Prix, the Grand Slam of Darts and the two World Championships.

And although it will probably go unnoticed by the most (not a big problem in the times of the Internet) – I will take a break…

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Charis Mutschler
The founder of Global Darts, darts journalist Charis Mutschler hails from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. A regular at most major PDC tournaments, a lover of literature, dance and music and cats, Charis' popular writings about darts and its players often transcend the usual. She brings something unique to the chroniclers of the sport we all love.
Charis Mutschler

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