Column #CM74 Interview with Gabriel Clemens

Monday, December 9, 2019
Column CM74
Interview with Gabriel Clemens

Gabriel Clemens has competed on the BDC circuit since 2017 but has played in GDC events since 2007. He now takes part in PDC events in Europe. In 2009, he qualified for the first time for the World Masters. He increase his activity in 2016, reaching the final of the Luxembourg open and taking part in several European Tour Qualifiers. In 2017, he stood in the limelight for the first time when he reached the semi-finals of the World Masters. In 2018, he took part in the PDC Qualifying School and won the fourth tournament. Now he plays the PDC Pro Tour and has reached the later stages several times. This year he for the first time stood in the final of a Players Championship. He qualified for several European Tour events but has not yet been as successful as on the Pro Tour. Via the Grand Slam Wild Card Qualifier he qualified for the Grand Slam 2019 – he won his group but lost a very close match against Glen Durrant in the Last 16. As as participant in the Superleague Germany he took part in the German Darts Masters – an event of the PDC World Series of Darts – and stood in the final. In both 2018 and 2018 Clemens qualified for the UK Open. In 2019, he for the first time took part in the PDC World Championship – reaching the last 64.

The following interview was conducted during the Grand Slam.

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Was it difficult to qualify for the Grand Slam by the qualifier?

I felt it was very hard, there were a lot of strong players in the qualifier.

What did you think about the group draw?

My first thought was “it could have been much worse!”

Until now you always defeated Brendan Dolan – do you approach a match differently with that knowledge?

Is that true? I had no idea. I only had a feeling I might be able to beat him.

What do you think about the format of the Grand Slam? Is it more relaxed with the group phase?

I would say it is more relaxed. And I think it is a great format. It is the tournament I watched almost every time. This mixture of BDO and PDC players makes it very interesting.

And do you think including women is a good idea?

I think it is a very good idea. Lisa Ashton and Mikuru Suzuki are really good players.

Would you have a problem playing against a woman on stage?

I didn’t think about it, but probably not. Though it is unusual. But many male players really are somehow afraid to lose to a woman.

You survived the group phase – what did you do on your day off?

Well – first I went into town. But Wolverhampton has not much to offer. Then I had a TV engagement. And after this interview I have to go to my room and pack my things. I couldn’t prolong my stay in this hotel as it is booked out. So I had to move.

When you look back on your career in darts so far what was for you your biggest achievement?

I think to reach the final of the German Darts Masters was my biggest achievement so far.

You already played in the first GDO events in Germany but after that concentrated for some time on BDO/WDF tournaments – why?

At that time I had never thought about earning my living by playing darts. And I never thought about joining the PDC. I just played darts for fun.

It seems it didn’t take long for you to settle in the PDC – what for you was the biggest difference to the BDO?

For me one of the biggest differences was that you only play one match a day during the big events.

Would you say the standard is really higher in the PDC than in the BDO?

No – I am not sure whether that is true. In the BDO the formats usually played are much shorter. And besides there are only very few BDO players who really earn their living by playing darts – that to be sure makes a difference.

Would you say you improved by playing in the PDC?

Oh yes, I really improved a lot. But I play much more than before. And I practice much more as well. For example, here in the hotel we have a dartboard and I played frequently on it – most of the time with Martin Schindler.

Are you now a full time pro who earns his living by playing darts?

No, at the moment I am only dispensed from work – so in a way I am living by playing darts.

Did you set yourself goals for your career?

I would like to be in the position to really live from playing darts. I mean to be able to give up my job and earn a good living by playing darts.

And what about sponsors?

It wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. I have got some and I am especially grateful for Hylo Eye Care and Prowin – my two local sponsors.

Did you ask them to sponsor you?

No, they approached me.

When you look at the PDC calendar it looks like a rather tight schedule – does it mean stress?

It is some stress and often enough I have more or less now time in between at home. But in summer we had a rather quiet time and I really sometimes didn’t know what to do with all the spare time.

How much do you still have for practice?

When I am at home I practice a lot. I usually start between 8 and 9 am and practice till 4 pm. I have my own room for practice. Intensive practice will be around four hours.

And what do you practice? Have you some kind of practice schedule?

No, nothing of that kind. I normally practice what I am up for and that practice doesn’t get boring. I play a lot of 501.

Do you prefer to practice on you own or with a practice partner?

Normally I practice on my own. Where I live it is not so easy to find a practice partner. But from time to time friends or mates visit me for practice.

Do you do some kind of mental practice as well?

Yes, I have got a mental coach. He is a kick boxing trainer.

And how does the mental practice look?

It is more about being able to talk to somebody – for example about playing on stage. We don’t analyse my matches or anything like that. We also do breathing exercises and relaxation training.

Do you do something for your fitness as well?

I didn’t do anything in the past. Now I try to cycle three times a week. And I pay heed to healthy eating. Not a diet – just healthy eating. I lost 20 kg lately. But healthy eating is difficult when I am on the road. I often really just don’t know what to eat here in England.

You have got your equipment from Evolution Darts – that’s a German dart manufacturer. Which darts do you play with and are you somebody who fiddles around with your set-up?

No, I don’t fiddle around at all. I play the Gabriel Clemens darts everybody can buy in 23 g. They are a little bit different form their predecessor.

Was there a reason why your older darts weighed 20.6 g?

There was no reason at all. It just happened during the manufacturing process. We took away a little bit here and there until it felt right. And that was the case when we reached a weight of 20.6 g.

Kühn – the owner of Evolution Darts – once told me he sometimes tested his darts in a wind channel. Were your darts tested?

He told me that as well. And showed me all the documents. But as far as I know he didn’t test my darts.

As L-Style is one of your sponsors as well I suppose you use the flight system?

In the past I played with “normal” flights. But now I use the L-Style system and I like it much better. I prefer it because now my flights always have the 90° angle.

This year there will be some more big tournaments – are you more nervous before a big tournament?

I don’t feel a difference. And I don’t prepare different either. I believe it is better for me not to vary from routine.

What do you think who will be World Champion this time?

Well – I would say there of course are several players who are in line for it. But to be sure you think of Michael van Gerwen first.

Do you like to play on the big stage?

I really like it, it is something completely different. All the lights which make it very bright and very hot on stage. The crowds.

How difficult is it really to play in front of those noisy crowds?

One always tries to block out the noise. When the noise is more on a permanent level one can manage it even when the noise consists of boos. What really bothers are single calls or loud whistling.

Whom do you take with you for support – the manager, friends, your girlfriend?

When she has time I take my girlfriend with me. Her support is very important for me. I don’t have a manager.

You are by now a small group of German Tour Card holders. Do you travel together or share your rooms etc.?

We don’t share rooms but we usually are together as a group. We practice together, we go to the restaurants together.

And how about the British players?

We don’t feel any rivalry when we are not on stage. We get on very well with the other players but we don’t really mix together and probably we’ll never be bosom friends.

In former years you were a successful soft-darts players as well – do you still play and do you think soft-darts is real darts as well?

Soft darts is real darts. And it is not easier. it is just more widely spread in Germany then steel darts. I still play soft darts when I find the time. And then you can find me at Friday nights at the Bezirksliga.

And do you still find time to play in the DDV Bundesliga? And do you like being part of a team?

I always like to play in the Bundesliga very much. Especially playing in a and for the team is something I like. And when I find the time I still play the league days in the DV Kaiserslautern.

Somehow you even managed to squeeze Superleague Germany into your schedule – how important is Superleague for you? And who do you think will qualify from Superleague for the PDC World Championship?

For me Superleague is really good practice time. For most of the other participants the chance to qualify for the PDC World Championship is most important. But what for me is great practice – so many successive matches is for many of the other participants sometimes a problem. They are just not used to it. I had my fingers crossed for Martin Schindler.

What would you say is your strength? And what your weakness?

I think in some ways it is the same – that I keep calm. That can be very positive but negative as well as I have a problem to push myself…

What fascinates you most in darts?

Well, perhaps this 1:1 situation. It is a little bit like you shoot one penalty after the other. And I like it as well that you are in control of your own destiny.

Do you have other interests outside of darts?

I am interested in football. I am a fan of the FCS Saarbrücken – our local football club – even though it only plays in the fourth division. But even so Saarbrücken defeated Cologne in the DFB Cup recently.

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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.