Mark Hylton on the world of darts
Hylton^s Frequent Flyer!
A regular look at darts from a man with over 30 years of playing experience throughout the UK. Join The PDC New Player of the Year & multiple major Qtr finalists on his quest for darting success and a look at the world of darts from a truly unique perspective.
Mile High @ The PDC
News, reviews and other snippets from Pro Tour and other events hot off the press from Mile High^s own experience.
This week sees a break from the regular Pro Tour series of events. The Grand Slam of Darts 2011 is well and truly underway and despite my obvious disappointment, last 16 in the qualifier meant last year was not to be repeated, I wish all the players the very best of luck and would advise all, especially the wildcard qualifiers to try to gain as much enjoyment and experience as I did. The Grand Slam is a unique event and a brilliant bonus for the less experienced player, 3 games minimum in the cauldron atmosphere of The Civic Hall is irreplaceable experience and should be fully exploited. My practise partner Ian ‘Diamond^ White has qualified as the reserve due to Simon Whitlock^s unfortunate injury. Ian proved himself immediately in his defeat of Barney and also played strongly against Lakeside runner-up Dean Winstanley. I look forward to his game on Tuesday against `The Count^ with great expectation it should be a cracker! (Indeed it was a superb game, a shame for Ian that Ted put in his best performance for some time!) As for myself I am starting to prepare for the business end of the season in earnest, practise sessions Open competition and League and Super League darts, all with the aim of peaking twice in a month during December! First though will come the final 2 Pro Tour events in Wigan these will be very tense as many players have a huge amount riding on them, tour card places and major finals qualification are always up for grabs and there is usually at least one last minute drama. Last year Wayne Mardle looked like causing one on the final day with a run to the semi finals! Had he have won the event he would have come from almost nowhere to gain last minute place in the worlds. I believe it very important for as many Pro Tour card holders as possible to enter these events and shall be fully prepared and determined to do as well as possible prior to the Players Championship Finals in Doncaster.
In Your Corner
Most professional sportsmen / women have a support team of one type or another. From the huge back up teams in cycling or football, to the smaller but incredibly intense groups who assist tennis professionals. In golf it may be a swing coach, caddie and driver, tennis players are known to employ fitness, technical and psychological coaches as well as full time chefs! In darts this culture is not fully operational and its very much each to their own. Some players appear to have full squads of support while others merely have a friend or partner to drive them or provide moral support. In this section we shall have a look at the support roles, the benefits they can bring and maybe one or two of the personalities that fill them!
Let^s start with what appears to be the simplest role, transport is one of the most important aspects of professional darts. Getting to places on time with the minimum of fuss and the maximum relaxation and then getting home again, to gain the most time in your own surroundings is just as important. Some players have a regular driver and some a few who share the load. The driver seldom remains just that for long. He/she is usually a friendly face and a confident not to mention the general assistant for the event. In an ideal world a professional driver can be retained for all events or all UK ones for example. However the vast expense of professional darts does not always allow this and the usual is a good friend happy to assist and be looked after where possible in return. Like all area^s of life things will occasionally not go to plan and how both player and driver deal with these hiccups is also vital, no panic or recrimination will lead to a swift rebalancing of the plans. It is a very unsung role but one if done well that can make a huge amount of difference. I have already seen and played in major events where the efficiency and reliability of The Driver^s role has been of huge advantage to myself and other players. So a special thanks to ‘The Drivers^.
The 3rd Way
We are constantly asked about the path to the professional darts game, how do I turn Pro? Where do I get the money? What^s the best practise? How do I know if I am good enough / ready or simply how do I get better?
The 3rd Way (named such as it rarely has connection to either established code) can help. Every week we shall look at darts on the Open Circuit, this unofficial tour can provide many insights into players, tournaments, form and has recently shown itself to be a strong alternative path for less well known players to both make an impression and develop their games for the step into the PDC. To see the advantages of this the PDC careers of Nigel Hayden, James Richardson, your truly and even youngsters now on the PDC youth tour can be observed and seen to blossom.
Every week we shall look at the movers and shakers in out there in independent land as well as passing on tips and information to assist you in enjoying or making the most of the vast informal breeding ground for future stars.
The Open events scene has been busy these last few weeks, a double16.com double header in Chesterfield and Doncaster was perhaps the highlight, with £1000 for the winner each day and good other prizes. A star of the open scene recently has been Wayne Pepper, although you wont find much on Wayne in the usual channels, he has made a number of open appearances over the last 12 months or so and seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Highlights for Wayne were a victory in the Friday event and a final place on Sunday. Tony Randall returned to win the Strictly WMC Open and The Potteries Open 3 was won by Ian Jones who has a tremendous record at open events. Always worth keeping an eye on in the draw! This event is always strong in depth and last year provided an early glimpse of the form of Andrew Gilding. Johnny Haines is another name to watch at these events, mainly in the south west but often all over the UK. Along with Stuart White and Martin Perring these guys were all part of a group of darters who did remarkably to get most of their number qualified for the UK Open earlier this year. Open events at Harlow & Bully^s boardroom in Loughborough as well as Weoley Castle in Birmingham provide annual highlights in terms of set up and field. Paul Barham amongst other has gained great experience and notoriety during this years peak season for Open^s! Red Dragons own Peter Wright and the newcomer, to some, James Richardson had a tremendous run of results.
‘Mile High^s Open Tips : ‘ Remember that Open events are long days if you intend to win them!^ go steady on the alcohol and don^t forget regular food and fluid intake^
Mile High Memoirs,
After almost 2 years on tour it may be the time to reveal some of the best moments that are not always seen by the darting fans, this fun and informative section of Hylton^s Frequent Flyer should bring a smile to your face as well as some very real clues as to the off the wall challenges players may face!
A corner for the unsung hero^s there are many throughout the country who give huge amounts of time and enthusiasm, purely for their enjoyment of the game or to facilitate for others. Players, organisers, secretaries, youth team organisers and more besides. Each week we shall find a gem hidden beneath the surface of Pro or Amateur darts and give them the credit they deserve. If you know someone who fits the bill, send your nomination to ……………. And we can see that they get acknowledged and maybe even a little token of our esteem can be arranged?
Although we all know that you can prove anything we statistics, perhaps they still have the ability to surprise shock and inform us all, we shall see every week with the stats chart!
In the race for the Ally Pally the stat that will matter is £^s per comp. From The Pro Tour events in Canada to following the 2 Crawley events several of those aiming to get to The Ladbrokes World Championships have made late moves: Ian White & Michael Smith have earned £4000 over the period and Sean Griffiths & Matt Clark £3,400. A telling stat could be with 2 events left 2 players already have £1000+ for count back purposes. In the Players Championship Finals race a very noticeable stat is the record of Nigel Heydon, ‘The Undertaker^ has regained his strong form and reached 4 Qtr finals since September. Could one step further be on the cards and leave Nigel within shooting distance of the final place?
Finally this week – Mark Webster! Have a check into Marks results between September & January. A superb professional strategy or mere coincidence? You be the judge!
Thanks to Dartsdatabase.co.uk for making this section easier!
A different perspective on the ranking relevant to a professional darter or those aspiring to be, every week we shall take a look at many of the ranking lists available and try to select the relevant news from each. Also included will be Under The Radar, who is playing well and not getting a break? Who is about to make a ranking move? Or who has achieved but not been noticed.
Contributions to this newsletter are made by Team Hylton & others and do not represent the views of Mark himself or Red Dragon Darts. The Mile High @ The PDC section is written by and approved by Mark.