It's been awhile since we've covered Darts here at The Loop, and frankly, that's upsetting. Night Four of the 2020 Unibet Premier League in Dublin provided enough content to last a lifetime, but we'll do our best to sum it all up below.
First up was one of the great feats in darts, and perhaps all of international sport: a nine-darter. Michael Smith of England was the latest to pull it off, throwing a nine-darter in the fourth leg of his best-of-12 match against Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney. It was, as they say in Europe, great "scenes":
For the darts noobs, the game is called 501, which is the amount of points both players start with. To win you have to get down to 0, and one of the quickest ways to do that is to hit the "treble 20" which is the spot Smith hits on the inner ring his first six throws. Each treble 20 is 60 points (60+60+60=180), so after hitting three of those your first three throws, you go from 501 to 321 (501-180=321). When you do it again, you go down to 141 (321-180=141). Those first six darts gave smith the opportunity to close the game out, which he does by hitting another treble 20 (141-60=81), then a treble 19 (81-57=24), leaving him with 24 points. In order to finish off the leg, you must hit the outer ring, which is worth double points as opposed to triple, meaning double 12 (12+12=24, #math) would end the game.
Smith of course hit the double 12, sending the crowd into a delayed frenzy thanks to some poor camera work. Smith's nine-darter, which is the first of his career, is the 55th televised nine-darter since 1984. Michael Van Gerwen, who has the second-most with six in his career, threw the most recent televised nine-darter this past November in the Players Championship Finals. More than a year earlier, Dimitri Van den Bergh threw his first in the Grand Slam of Darts. This is a good time to remind you that the GOAT, Phil Taylor, threw 11 in his career.
Thank you for allowing me to ramble on about nine-darters for four paragraphs. Now, on to the real reason for this post: entrance music.
Baseball has walk-up songs. Wrestlers have their walk-in music. Those are both cute. But no sport, NO sport does entrance music like darts. In darts slang it's actually called a "walk-on," and one of the all-time great walk-ons happened in Dublin on Thursday. Ireland's own Willie O'Connor strolled to the stage to "Zombies" by The Cranberries, and the atmosphere was electric. I don't care how overused "electric" is. If anything is electric it's this:
A few other angles, including one from a fan's perspective:
Brilliant. Class. All the great European slang words that they do so much better than us rolled into one. O'Connor put up a good fight against Van Gerwen, the No. 1 player in the world, but wound up losing 7-4.
Yes, I have more epic walk-ons for you. Here's one of the most iconic from Raymond van Barneveld:
Bagpipes? We got babgpipes!!
And who could forget Ricky Evans' "Baby Shark" walk-on:
Ok, maybe not the best crowd response on that one. We'll finish with Phil Taylor's final ever walk-on. Talk about SCENES:
I'm making it my life mission to get to one of these things in person.