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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Audit Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Graduate Opportunities are available at a lead...

Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor

£12000 - £14400 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Account Manager

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are proud to be on...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project