The A-Z of Darts: A McCoy’s Premier League Darts bluffer’s guide
A: Average, or the average score per three darts thrown. For a long time anything over 100 was considered exceptional but it’s been taken onto a new level in recent years, so when it comes to McCoy’s Premier League Darts, the average is often way above average. The incredible Phil “The Power” Taylor set a new record of 117.35 last month.
A is also for Gary Anderson, the Premier League Darts defending champion. He got wiped 8-1 by Phil Taylor a couple of weeks ago, but we won’t remind him about that tonight.
B: Bullseye. The exact centre of the board, which has a score of 50. It may be less than the magical Treble 20 but there’s no better site in the game than finishing a leg with the bull.
C: Cards. No, not the yellow and red variety – darts is a non-contact sport – but the blank cardboard signs handed out liberally to encourage audience interaction. A special prize goes to the first lad in the crowd at the O2 to get a “The Wife Thinks I’m At Work” card onto Sky Sport’s live TV coverage.
D: Down Under, the Men At Work tune which will greet the entrance of Australian darts star Simon “The Wizard” Whitlock this evening. It’s an absolute classic. Well, any song that includes the lines “Do you come from a land down under/Where women grow and men plunder?” – women grow? Grow what? – is a classic as far as we’re concerned anyway.
E: Eric Bristow CBE, aka The Crafty Cockney, and one of the maestros of the game in its first televised heyday in the 1980s, winning six world titles between ’80 and ’86.
G: Girls! Darts has come a long way from its parlour-game origins. There’s plenty of glitz and glamour nowadays, much of it provided by the comely maidens who accompany the players on stage at the start of each game. If you’re heading along you might want to bring some ear-plugs to muffle the catcalls and wolf-whistles. Either that or you could always just join in. When in Rome…
H: Andy Hamilton has enjoyed a fine couple of years, culminating in his appearance in the PDC World Championship final on New Year’s Day and his graduation to the McCoy’s Premier League line-up. The Hammer meets Simon Whitlock tonight
I: Ireland! You’re on JOE, so it’s probably where you are. The Premier League has been in Northern Ireland before, with a regular stop-off at the Odyssey in Belfast, while the World Grand Prix has been a staple at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel for the past few years, but tonight at the O2 is the first time McCoy’s Premier League Darts has visited this part of the world.
J: Jackpot, or Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis. The man with the glitziest nickname in sport is also now the two-time PDC World Darts Champion, having lifted the top prize in the game in 2011 and 2012. He’s a Stoke-on-Trent protégé of Phil Taylor, too. Must be something in the water.
K: Jelle Klaasen, the Dutchman who became the youngest ever world darts champion when he lifted the BDO version in 2006, aged 21 years and 90 days. Things have not exactly gone according to plan for Klaasen in the six years since then, however – he made the move into the PDC but has struggled to get competitive in that arena. He is currently ranked 35th in the world, and is not part of the Premier League.
L: Legs. This is the key factor in the Premier League concept – it’s played in a whirlwind flurry of legs, each of which is vital, rather than the longer form sets of other tournaments. It’s best of 14 legs format, so first to eight legs claims the two Premier League points, while 7-7 ties are not such a rare occurrence at all.
M: McCoy’s Crisps, of course. The sponsor of Premier League Darts, and the people behind a product that we’ve enjoyed sampling here in the JOE office for the past few weeks. Bacon Sizzler is our favourite. Or maybe Flame-Grilled Steak. Decisions, decisions…
N: Nicknames. You can’t be a professional darts player without a brilliantly contrived nickname – and we’ve been putting together loads of nickname-based features, and you’ll get all eight links down there at the bottom of the page.
N is also for Nine-Dart Finish. Along with golf holes-in-ones and 147s in snooker, this is one of individual sport’s most iconic achievements. Phil “The Power” Taylor made history two years ago by hitting two nine-darters in one match, and he has already hit one nine-darter in this McCoy’s Premier League Darts, in Aberdeen back in Week 2 (below).
O: The Oche. That’s the line behind which you must stand to throw the darts. Also, the O2 Dublin, where tonight’s event takes place. And Outshot, which the announcer will, er announce when a player is faced with a number that he could reach within three darts, while at all times finishing on either a double or the bullseye. The maximum three-dart outshot in darts is 170 – two Treble 20s and the bull.
P: The Power. The one and only. The O2 will go mental for Phil Taylor tonight, not just because he’s the greatest darts player ever and a 15-times world champion. He’s also in the form of his life, having dipped below a 100 average just once in the six rounds of the 2012 McCoy’s Premier League Darts season so far. Another ‘P’ in the 2012 McCoy’s Premier League Darts line-up is Kevin Painter, whose nickname is “The Artist”. (Well, it beats “The Decorator” any day.) Painter takes on Adrian Lewis tonight.
R: Rival codes. The PDC, or Professional Darts Corporation, which runs McCoy’s Premier League Darts, is now recognised as the number one darts organisation, the one to which all of the best players graduate. But it’s not the only one – the British Darts Organisation (BDO) is still going and runs its own world championship at The Lakeside, Frimley Green, which takes place, somewhat ill-advisedly, a week after all the razzmatazz of the PDC version. The split happened in the early 1990s, with the 1993 Embassy World Championship the last time that a darts world title was played under a unified banner.
S: Scots. Darts is a preserve of this part of the world – and Holland, for some reason – but Scots have their own storied history. Jocky Wilson was a legend back in the day and Les “Braveheart” Wallace was a dazzling player with less than dazzling teeth. Another Scot is Gary Anderson, who takes on Raymond van Barneveld tonight.
T: Treble 20. The lipstick, as Sid Waddell, the legendary and wildly unpredictable but sadly now retired darts commentator, might call it. And you can expect it to be battered tonight. Speaking of which, if you had one dart which of these mugs would you throw it at?
V: Van Barneveld. Or Raymond van Barneveld to his mammy. Or Barney to darts fans everywhere. Barney, the sweaty Dutchman who won five world titles between 1998 and 2007. He plays defending Premier League champion Gary Anderson tonight.
W: The Wizard of Oz, Simon Whitlock, who meets Andy Hamilton at the O2 Dublin tonight. He burst onto the scene by getting to the final of the BDO version four years ago* and has quickly become one of the game’s top players. The O2 will be rocking to “Do You Come From a Land Down Under?” as he takes the stage this evening. ‘W’ is also for James Wade, who has long been seen as the best player never to win a world championship. He probably should have brought an end to that wait in the PDC world championship at Christmas, but he must still be having nightmares about the way he collapsed from a 5-1 winning position against Adrian Lewis in the semi-final.
Tonight’s McCoy’s Premier League Darts fixtures:
Andy Hamilton v Simon Whitlock
Adrian Lewis v Kevin Painter
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm
Here are our McCoy’s Premier League Darts special nickname pieces: