10 reasons why darts delivers...

The World Championship has provided drama on the oche, mayhem – and fancy dress – in the crowd and shown a sport hitting 180, writes Jack Pitt-Brooke

The spectators are more important to the darts than to almost any other sport – they are loud, creative, ritualistic and fickle. Every night 2,500 come into to Alexandra Palace, and there have been 40,000 through the doors this year. Each night 25,000 pints of beer are sold. Seats cost between £20 and £45 in the tiers and between £30 and £55 on the tables. Those in the cheaper seats naturally taunt those at the tables as being insufficiently fun.

2 The costumes

The darts has replaced Test cricket as Britain's foremost sporting fancy-dress party. This year has been better than ever. There have been the usual throngs of the predictable – Santas, nuns, monks, bananas, Mario and Luigi, cowboys and farmyard animals. But there were also Oompa-Loompas, and Where's Wallys. There was a Kermit the Frog and a Miss Piggy. And, best of all – a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.

3 The characters

With such a partisan crowd, darts has tried to build up the public "characters" of some of its top players. These invented personas can grate but every top player now has a nickname, walk-on music and their own conspicuous shirts. Michael van Gerwen is "Mighty Mike". Peter Wright is "Snakebite", Kevin Painter is "The Artist" and Robert Thornton is "The Thorn". Mervyn King, though, is not "The Governor" but merely "The King'".

4 The Power

Towering over the tournament, in this year as in every other, is Phil Taylor. With a statistical domination of his sport matching that of Don Bradman, "The Power" is competing for his 16th world championship title this evening against a man 29 years his junior. He is the most relentless, ruthless competitor in the game's history. He scores high but the key to his success is consistently completing difficult finishes.

5 The rivalries

For all the raucousness, there is a quiet tension to darts. Mentality is more important than technique and nothing is more precious than momentum and confidence. Mind games can spill over into unpleasantness at the oche. At the end of their semi-final on Sunday, Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor exchanged words as Taylor pulled away from Van Barneveld's embrace. Taylor has since apologised but that tension is one of the reasons darts is so compelling.

6 Alexandra Palace

It was a difficult decision when the World Darts Championship left its spiritual home – the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, a nightclub, near the Dartford Tunnel. But since the 2008 tournament it has been held at Alexandra Palace; a larger, more accessible venue in north London, usually used for live music. The move has been a complete success. Last year the PDC signed a new three-year deal with the venue.

7 The trophy

This is the first world championship since the passing in August 2012 of Sid Waddell, the legendary television commentator and voice of the sport. In his honour, there is a new prize for the winner, the newly commissioned Sid Waddell Trophy. The trophy has six silver rods rising from a base made of black granite and rare red Eritrean marble. The trophy will be presented to the champion by Sid's son, Dan.

8 The Professional Darts Corporation

The World Darts Championship has not always been the peak of the game. In 1994 some senior players broke away from the British Darts Organisation to form the World Darts Council and play their own world championship. The WDC is now the PDC and 19 years on from the initial rupture, the PDC (shown on Sky Sports and in 3D) has far out-stripped the BDO in terms of professionalism and prize money. The prize pot for the world championship is £1,000,000, with £200,000 for the winner.

9 A global game

Traditionally the BDO was more popular in continental Europe but the PDC is getting increasing exposure. This year there is a Dutch finalist – Van Gerwen – as well as a semi-finalist in Van Barneveld. This world championship has broken viewing figure records in the Netherlands and also in Germany, where the European Championship is being held in July, in Mülheim. It is being shown in Australia, New Zealand, across the Middle East and in eastern Europe.

 

10 Rest of the calendar

Tonight is just the start of the darting year. The PDC calendar has eight other premier events, the best of which is the Premier League Darts. The eight best players tour the country over 14 Thursday nights before the play-offs in May at The O2. The winner takes home £150,000, making it the second-best paying tournament.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?