Saturday 11 August 2018

Melbourne and a few other thoughts

Was kind of surprised to see Cadby lose out to Whitlock in the opening round, which would have set up a mouthwatering potential clash against Michael van Gerwen, was also generally surprised at the low number of legs won overall, at least compared to the New Zealand lads the previous weekend - sure, Damon Heta edged out Kyle Anderson in his game, but outside of that and the Cadby game the six players averaged less than two legs a piece, only Ray O'Donnell (no, I don't know him either, but he seems to have had a string of alright results on the domestic circuit) managing more than two, which looks to be more down to Barney missing every single double on the board more than anything. I doubt I'll watch any of it - I didn't watch last night and tape delay really doesn't cut it when ITV4 could be showing it live instead of five episodes of Pawn Stars back to back. I may watch Smith/Cross on catchup, which Smith just edged 10-9 with a 122 out in the decider - I want to know if the 18 that Cross hit with his last dart at 50 before that was an attempt at bull or a set up. I guess it was a shot at bull (dartsdata pointed at small 18 at least), but setting up would have been so cool to see. It also had a crazy leg where both players were on double after 9 darts, oh my.

While talking about Australia, there was talk on the Weekly Dartscast this week about whether Oceania should get its own PDC ranking event. Burton and Alex were very much in favour of this, and I think it'd be a decent idea, but it would need to be thought out very carefully.

Firstly, it's a very, very crowded calendar already. I don't think you could run something like this in addition to the World Series events, I think it would have to be one or the other - keep one of the Australian ones and have the ranking event replace the other.

Secondly, the logistics would have to be a nightmare. It's one thing to invite eight big names over, who are easily making enough money from sponsorship and the game in general to be able to go halfway around the world for an exhibition. If it's a ranking event then you need to allow the PDC players in general the chance to qualify. Let's say they did it on the scale of a European Tour event - have the top 16 in Pro Tour order of merit seeded, 16 from a general PDC qualifier, and then 16 from domestic qualifiers (perhaps consider having 2-4 from an Asian qualifier to integrate the tours a bit more?) - now if you have it on the same prize scale as the European Tour, let's say that some random guy that doesn't necessarily have a huge amount of sponsorship qualifies. I don't know who, let's say someone like a Stephen Burton, Peter Jacques or Chris Quantock. Not unreasonable to say that that sort of level of player could make it, you only need to look at who comes through the UK qualifiers for the Euro Tour events, none of them bad players but none of them a household name. Are they really going to want to spend god knows how much in flights, hotels and time to draw Cadby in the first round, lose 6-1 and pick up a grand for their trouble? They're probably going to make a loss on the event unless the PDC or sponsors kick in a healthy bit of cash to compensate, either that or they have the prize fund at a level somewhere above the Euro Tour but below a major, which would be kind of ridiculous.

Finally, it would suck for the majority of the PDC's viewing audience. You either show it live at a not great set of hours (particularly for a afternoon session) or you do it on tape delay. Neither's going to be that attractive for either the audience or the sponsors.

Elsewhere in the BDO, van Tergouw managed to win the other event in Belgium last weekend. Now that's notable as the best young player in last year's FRH awards has managed to get a win at the senior level, and he's been quiet this year (apparently he hasn't been playing as many events), and he took some big scalps - the guy that knocked out Baetens the round before, Jim Williams, Mandigers and then Durrant in the final. Maybe now he'll kick on and really make an impression, but the BDO seems to be imploding - they had a cancelled event this month, there's rumours that the worlds won't be at Lakeside and they're nowhere near a TV deal... maybe imploding isn't the right word as that implies a sudden collapse, whereas the BDO's been a trainwreck waiting to happen for years. It'll be interesting to see what the new chairman who's known only as the guy that isn't Chisnall's manager will do.

I think the key thing is to make tournaments that are more attractive to viewers, and develop a connection between the players, but at the same time not go mad and try to do something huge. Personally I'd like to see them try something similar to the Premier League, albeit on a smaller, more condensed scale. I think it'd be feasible to have a ten player event coincide with a series of ladies knockouts over three nights - have four boards, one stage and three set up in a UK Open style, and stream the lot. Top four men and the top two performing ladies return to a finals day, which you could then look to get TV coverage for. It's a lot easier to get some channel to cover for one evening rather than the five bloated days that the World Trophy was. The initial nights would be pretty easy to schedule as well - something like this:

With careful fixture scheduling you can get every single mens' player on the stage of an evening as well as the ladies final. Quick race to six matches, you can get it done within three hours pretty comfortably. Having a series of three events will also allow the opportunity to get to know the players a bit more on a regular basis, it certainly doesn't help the BDO that they've got a pretty huge churn rate (be it players leaving to the PDC, becoming old or crap, etc etc) and most viewers will not watch the BDO outside of the worlds and will have no idea who 80%+ of the field actually are. Still, it remains to be seen what they do in order to try to stay relevant.

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