Column #HR284 As the Darts World Turns…
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
As the Darts World Turns…
The longest daily “soap serial” in the USA was The Guiding Light. The daily program ran for 72 years on radio and television. The Guiding Light is only topped for longevity in the USA by the Grand Ole Opry which started in 1929 and is still going. A sister show to The Guiding Light (As the World Turns) ran for 54 years.
What in the name of all get out does this have to do with darts? Has the Old Dart Coach finally gone around the bend with any chance of redemption a longshot at best?
Probably, but wait…
The definition of a soap opera is a serial dealing with domestic situations characterized by melodrama and sentimentality. “A crucial element that defines the soap opera is the open-ended serial nature of the narrative, with stories spanning several episodes.”
Those darters in the Motha Country may recognize the definition of a soap opera, especially the melodrama and sentimentally aspects, with the events surrounding the rise, stumble (and probably) fall of the British Darts Organization.
From world domination of the sport in the 70s, 80s and early 90s the BDO today is not only skinned but a mere cork in the ocean appearing to aimlessly bobble along. This decline saw the BDO lose control of the World Dart Federation which they had enjoyed for ruling for eons.
It does no good to look backward to fight past battles as hindsight is always 20/20. The past is gone, and any energy devoted to it is a waste of time except to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated. Kung Fu has affected all sports and with no tournaments, and dart leagues at a standstill, the sport of darts is naturally plagued by revenue decreases.
The BDO doesn’t have Covic-19 as a crutch to explain its apparent demise.
Reports on the BDO are like fleas on a dog. They are plentiful, hard to ignore. One gentleman associated for years with darts in the UK is Roger Nickson. Nickson was the “Governor” of three highly successful darts pubs (Morning Star, Cricketers and Lewiston Arms) in the London area. He also managed the London Countryside and then served as the first General Secretary of the original Players Association.
Nickson calls ’em as he sees ’em with perfect vision. In short, “he tells it like it is.” The ODC leans on him for BDO information.
Nickson writes: Wow, what a month for darts. The BDO commercial arm “Enterprises” goes into liquidation with Des Jacklin (BDO Chairman) saying ‘None of this insolvency is what it seems.’ The former headquarters, Muswell Hill home of the Croft family, is sold and the final link with the original BDO is severed. Currently three separate bodies are competing for the support of inter-counties darts.
The latter was a base that always seemed sturdy. Today, Nickson moderates the new Facebook group “Darts from the Past.” Really good stuff.
With the formation of the World Professional Dart Players Association (1980) the handwriting was on the wall for the BDO. In the USA, the introduction of electronic darts at about the same time was a warning shot across the bow of the American Darts Organization. Both organizations had little or no opposition up to then so they became nonchalant (or arrogant) assuming “things would always be the same.” Both never learned how to act; they only knew how to re-act. In the competitive sport marketplace innovation and sponsorship rule and “those who snooze lose.” The “leadership” of the BDO and ADO slept while their organizations burned.
Credit should be given to the PDC for keeping darts alive in this period of Covid-19 worldwide panic. Like boxing shows from Las Vegas held in a “bubble” the PDC held a 5-day event in Milton Keys in a “bubble” inside the Marshall Arena. No fans, just players. Each day offered a total of a £75,000 with £10,000 going to the winner.
Opening day saw the top two players in the world in the final as Michael van Gerwen faced Peter Wright. It was a new look for Wright as he was wearing glasses but in the end they didn’t help. van Gerwen broke on top to lead 5-2 only to see Wright go on a roll with a 116-check while van Gerwen missed to lead 7-5. van Gerwen’s 72 finish then followed with double 2 for a decider. Wright’s T80 got him close at 64 when van Gerwen turned out the lights erasing 76 with tops.
The second day saw familiar names except for Ryan “Who?” Joyce who took home the winner’s check. To reach the final he took out former world crampon Gary Anderson 7-3. Joyce fell behind Dave Chisnall 6-2 and 7-3 in the race to eight. A person who writes on darts has called Dave Chisnall a “choker” – a handle that is completely unfair except this day against the little-known Ryan. While leading, Chisnall seemed to have trouble breathing. Mouth-to-mouth arrived too late for him as he missed 5 match darts losing 9-8. The win puts Joyce in the World Matchplay July 18-26 in the Marshall Arena “bubble.”
On day three “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen emerged on top. His first 4 games saw him lose only 7-legs. For those keen on averages he averaged 107 during his 7-4 win over Chris Dobey. To reach the final van Gerwen took the semifinal 6-4 over Canadian Jeff Smith, North America’s only entrant. Facing Portugal’s Jose de Souza in the final van Gerwen fell behind 2-0 which could well have been 3-nil except for a missed top on a 117-check. When you come to “Kill the King” you’d better kill him. de Souza didn’t and lost 8-3.
The “real” James Wade has been absent or inconsistent at best. Wade emerged on the fourth day with a superb performance and his first 2020 win. He had 100-plus averages including a 6-0 Snyder of Michael Smith. Wade’s semi was a walk in the park as he prevailed 7-4 over Ian “Diamond” White. There is a rumor that “Diamond” White is actually a cubic zirconia. Rob Cross strolled 7-2 over “Good Guy” Mensur Suljovic, including a 9-darter.
Wade and Cross split the first 4 legs when Wade caught fire, including 108 and 156 checks, on four consecutive legs for a 6-2 lead and an 8-2 win.
Day 5 went to World Champion Peter Wright who hardly broke a sweat with his semi win of 6-5 against Nathan Aspinall the only close call.
When Matchplay begins (July 18-26) defending champion Rob Cross has a good first round draw against a debuting German Gabriel Clemens. Michael van Gerwen gets Brenden Dolan as World Champion Peter Wright gets a red-hot Jose de Sousa.
The moral of this story?
If As the (Darts) World Turns you’re an organization with a Guiding Light that’s just a burned-out match, then your best bet is to run to find a menu…
…and order your last meal.
Stay thirsty my friends.