The GOAT series: The World of Darts

Archie H (Year 12), Chief Contributor

When we think of sports across the world, we tend to lean towards some of the most physical examples. Soccer, Rugby, AFL are immediately sports that we think of because they require a decent amount of physical fitness to be able to succeed in it.  

Then we have darts.  

Darts is not an inherently physical sport. The beauty of Darts does not come from how fast or strong a player is, or a rigorous training regime to ensure top physical fitness, but by how well someone can throw a metal stick at a sisal fibre board. But what exactly is Darts and why is it so loved? 

To put it simply, darts, or dart-throwing, is a competitive sport in which two or more players barehandedly throw small sharp-pointed missiles known as darts at a round target known as a dartboard. Points can be scored by hitting specifically marked areas of the board, though unlike in sports such as archery, these areas are distributed across the board and do not follow a principle of points increasing towards the centre of the board. The board is split into 20 sections, with each section being worth 1-20 points, and each segment has an outer target on the edge of the board worth double points, and an inner one worth triple. There are 2 centre circles on a board with the outer circle being worth 25 points and the inner circle being worth 50.  

Each player gets three throws at the board at a time, alternating with their opponent. The game ends when one player can get EXACTLY 501 points, as going over 501 resets the score back to their last throw. Despite its somewhat complex nature, Darts is exceptionally popular, and nowhere is that shown more than in Europe.  

The European atmosphere of darts is unmatched by any in the world. Of the top 10 darts players in the Profession Darts Corporation [PDC] circuit, all of them are European based. As such, it is typical for the PDC dart pubs to be filled with spectators cheering and roaring loudly as a player hits a 180 (the highest three dart score throw in darts). And no player do they cheer more loudly for then Dutch born Michael Van Germen. Ranked 3rd currently in the 2023 rankings, Michael may be considered one of the greatest dart players to ever live. Michael began playing darts at age 13, and by 14 he was the Netherlands youth champion. He entered the PDC in 2007 and by 2014 he was already World No.1. But what stands out the most is that he would retain that title for No.1 for the next 7 years, beating the former record of English Phil Taylor who retired 2 years after Michael joined the PDC. This cemented Michael’s legacy, and he would become an icon in the Netherlands and in Darts.  

When explaining the excitement of darts, it is not solely about the excitement of watching some of the fittest people on the planet, but more of watching a master of their craft and the excitement of the atmosphere.