From Challenge Tour streaming to the return of the World Masters, ALEX MOSS gives us his darts wishlist for the year ahead…
CHALLENGE TOUR TO BE STREAMED
After being split between the UK and Europe in 2021, the PDC Challenge Tour returns to the single tour setup this year.
A 24-event schedule will see the opening weekend take place in Milton Keynes in less than three weeks time (January 21-23), before a double header in Hildesheim, Germany (April 1-3 and July 15-17), followed by two weekends in Leicester (September 16-18 and October 15-16).
With two events in one day for most of the season, introducing a streaming board might prolong an already long weekend for the players. But if there is a possibility to bring live coverage from the Challenge Tour, I’m sure it would prove popular with darts fans.
WORLD MASTERS RETURN
More than two years have now passed since the last staging of the World Masters. The oldest active major in darts, which was first held in 1974, now run by the WDF, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
At the end of 2020 the WDF unveiled their grand plans for the World Masters, moving it away from the UK for the first time and to Assen, in the Netherlands, and the same venue which hosts the Dutch Open.
From my experience of attending the 2019 edition, and seeing what it meant to the players who made it to the televised stages at the Circus Tavern, not to mention the eventual men’s champion John O’Shea, it is an event which is still held in high regard by a lot of players.
Here’s hoping 2022 will be the year that the WDF are able to get their majors on and we’ll see World Championship darts return to the Lakeside, as well as the long-awaited next installment of the World Masters.
A WOMAN TO COME THROUGH Q-SCHOOL AGAIN
I should start this by saying I don’t just want one woman to win a tour card at Q-School. I would like to see several make it through the field.
Obviously Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock are the standout top two players in the woman’s game right now, and both have had opportunities to play on the PDC main tour over the last two years.
Ashton made history by coming through Q-School at the start of 2020, while Sherrock has played in two PDC World Championships, last year’s Grand Slam and several World Series events.
Putting all the talk of whether Sherrock should be included in the Premier League to one side, all I’m interested in seeing right now is that female representation in the 128 tour card holders continue in 2022.
THE FIRST WORLD SENIORS TO BE A SUCCESS
The inaugural World Seniors Darts Championship is almost upon us. Next month will see 24 players, including the 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, step on to the Circus Tavern stage to compete for the first world seniors title.
It is an idea which has been thrown around by darts fans for a long time, particularly after the League of Legends, screened on Setanta Sports in 2008, did not continue.
The line up of players assembled by Jason Francis and Jason Thame is impressive, with a host of former world champions all signed up to play. From champions in the 1980s such as John Lowe, Bob Anderson and Keith Deller to more recent stars like Martin Adams, John Part and Richie Burnett, the event’s launch and build up has certainly caught the eye.
With coverage secured on the BBC’s online platforms, it will be easily accessible and should attract a healthy audience. Hopefully it will be the first of many occasions we see these legends playing for the top honours at the senior level.
AMATEUR ASPECT OF THE UK OPEN TO RETURN
For obvious reasons, last year’s UK Open went without the usual tribe of Riley’s Qualifiers. The lockdowns here in the UK meant in-person darts with 100s of players in one room just wasn’t going to happen.
Heading into 2022, it’s still up in the air whether we’ll see this aspect of the UK Open return.
The hospitality sector has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and last summer four Riley’s venues closed their doors.
Is there enough time to organise an alternative system for amateur players to enter to win spots at Minehead? I’m not sure, but I hope something can be put in place so we get to see the next Rob Cross or Barry Lynn story unfold in The FA Cup of Darts.
ADC RANKINGS TO APPEAR
This part of the wishlist had been reserved for MAD and wishing to see some form of rankings appear from the organisation this year.
However, as you will have seen recently, MAD is no more. Amateur Darts Circuit (ADC) has taken its place and we look on with interest to see how this new incarnation will fare in the coming months.
One of Matthew Kiernan, my co-host on the Under The 128 podcast, and mine’s biggest bugbears with MAD was the absence of any rankings.
Fingers crossed this will be rectified under the new organisation and we’ll be able to properly follow the results and rankings under the new ADC structure.
MORE DARTS TO RETURN
I mentioned earlier about the WDF’s major events, well, you can add plenty more to that list of ‘darts tournaments I want to see return in 2022.’
High up on that list is the PDC Asian Tour, which was not held in either 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. Hopefully it will make its return sometime this year.
Looking at the PDC calendar, which has been released up until the end of October, what jumps off the page straight away is the European Tour. It has been a truncated tour for the last two years, but 13 events are on the slate for this year, which would be great to see happen.
Got to mention the World Series event in New York too. That has been cancelled for the last two years, hopefully it will be good to go in 2022.
Away from the PDC, I hope it will be a busy year for darts at all levels of the game. Fingers crossed more leagues, opens, tournaments and tours will come back at some point over the next 12 months.
In 2021, the Weekly Dartscast reached the 200-episode milestone and this year we’ve got our sights set on hitting the 250 mark.
Later this month we will celebrate our five-year anniversary of our very first episode, back in January 2017, which Burton and I find hard to believe that we’ve been able to keep this show going for that long.
We couldn’t do it without the support of everyone that listens in each and every week, as well as all of the guests from the world of darts who give up their time to talk to us. Thanks to you, to them and to everyone behind the scenes who helps out. Here’s to episode 250 sometime in May or June this year!
MOSS V SINCLAIR AND MOSS V KIERNAN
We started off this list talking about the Challenge Tour and the WDF circuit. We’ll finish up with darts of a more modest quality, in particular my own!
I’m hoping to get my arrows out and play in some events in 2022. I haven’t played in any competitions now for a good five years, so it’s well overdue.
But while doing so I would love to take on Inside The WDF’s Andrew Sinclair and long-time contributor Matthew Kiernan on the oche.
We have crossed paths online last year, but nothing beats a game of in-person darts. I know Andrew and I are lining up the postponed Lakeside week to have our game, so just Matthew to pencil in the diary to get this one ticked off.