Column #CM104 Interview with John Michael

Thursday, December 16, 2021
Column CM104
Interview with John Michael

John Michael has been a player for decades.  So far, he is the first player from Greece to establish a reputation.  He is the first, and so far only, Greek with a PDC Tour Card.  Before the PDC World Championship 2021/22 (his fourth PDC World Championship) he kindly answered for me a few questions…

John – you certainly are a darts legend.  How did you come into contact with the sport?

Thank you for the compliment.  Well, when I was a teenager – I used to riding so I met a lot of English people who played darts for fun of course.  Then I stuck – I liked the challenge that darts makes you feel, and I found a darts team where I could play for more than fun.  And that was it.  I kept darts in my life, and I tried to play professionalyl and do more and more for the sport that I love.

Is the sport of darts widespread in Greece and is it more soft-tip or steel- tip?

No, unfortunately it is not.  There are more people than in the past who play darts, but Greece can’t compete with central Europe countries in that field.  Steel tip is the most widespread.

Are there some young and upcoming players in Greece we can look forward to watching?

Yes, we have twins, Dimitris and Hilias Tsalikis – fourteen years old, who are playing already very good and we try to support them and their darts future.

You’ve been around the sport for a long time – how do you manage to stay interested?

I always try to win and to reach my personal goals. In every single moment I try to exceed myself.  I‘ve loved darts since I was a little boy and every time I stand at the oche-line I feel like it is my first time playing.  I have the same love and passion as the very first time. My secret is to win for myself!

Do you still practice and if so, what do you practice? And do you do something special to prepare for the World Championship?

My practice is based on doubles and combinations with high finishes from 121 and up. I also use metal training and I try to gain physical stamina with swimming.

Do you know your opponent and is it for you in any way important who you are playing against?

Yes, I know my opponent – we met in the past.  For me, with the respect I have for any opponent, it doesn’t matter who is the opponent on the line. The opponent for me is always John Michael. You see, we have first to control and win ourselves – then the real win will come.

You are a Tour Card holder – how difficult is travelling at the moment for you due to Corona?

Very difficult with or not Corona!  You see, Greece, like all the countries that are not in central Europe – they all have big travelling issues. The transportation is expensive and with many middle stops.  So, that causes players to have an extra tiredness, especially when the tournaments are frequent.  Corona causes all the players an extra “cost and effort“ to keep the distances, to be careful not to have any contacts before the travel. We must be careful to be able to participate. This situation is everywhere, it’s global, so we must to comply with the rules.

I suppose you are not a full-time professional – do you have a sponsor or sponsors who support you financially?

I am a full-time professional, but I also have my sponsors.  Will Lazard’s ZWA sport management is my basic sponsoring company, and Will Lazard is my manager.  Trhere are also Dartsline.com (my e-eshop) and DEHOLL physiotherapy institute. 

What is your profession?  And how are you able to combine your job and playing darts?

I have my own darts e-shop – dartsline.com. This job is flexible, and it can fit in my schedule because I don’t have a specific business time to work – I can work remote or at night. My wife also helps me when I am abroad and this how I combine job and darts.

You often show strong matches when playing on stage.  Do you prefer playing on the big stage to playing in floor tournaments?

Of course, I prefer to play to big stages instead of floor tournaments. The feeling is so phenomenal that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Are there many tournaments in Greece? And are some played on the stage in front of a crowd as well?

Unfortunately Greece hasn’t many tournaments. Only local events and these are quite small.

When you look back at all the years in your career – are the players now better then when you started to play?

The level is higher than in the past, and as every year passes the level becomes higher. This is our challenge as professionals players – to become better than the last year and drive professional darts to a unique spectacle. 

And would you say, you yourself dveloped as a player and can develop still further?

Yes definitely. I feel that I have a lot to give the darts community. I try to develop my personal skills year after year and I feel that people haven’t yet seen my full potential.

What for you was your biggest success in darts so far and what do you still hope to achieve?

I have forty-one titles and it is very difficult to decide what was the biggest success because the effort was remarkable for all of them.  I hope to achieve my participation in the World Championship every year from now on.

 

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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.