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  • John marshall

Equipment Check

By John Marshall

Darts equipment, manufacturers, and brands seem to draw more focus than ever nowadays, and social media is full of people showing off their latest purchases, trying to sell used darts that haven't worked, and chasing discount codes to try and get a little bit off the latest players' tungsten.

With the launch of the new Matador Darts equipment podcast “Talking Tungsten,” I decided to look during this two-part series at some of the player's most famous (or infamous) for equipment tinkering and those who have chosen to leave well alone, all in the never-ending pursuit of darting glory.

Powering Through

The best place to start is with Phil Taylor, the most successful darts player of all time. There's no need to list all his accomplishments here as we are all well aware of his victories, yet depending on whether you faced him in the ’90s and early noughties, or from 2007 onwards, the darts that fill your nightmares will vary greatly.

Early on in his career with Unicorn, Phil used a classic straight barrel, very standard flights, and medium stems. This brought huge success with multiple world titles, majors, and that televised nine-darter in Blackpool. We can all picture those barrels in a variety of different colored platings. Still, defeat in the greatest match of all time to Raymond van Barneveld, and an indifferent year that saw him lose to an emerging James Wade in the Premier League, started the cogs turning of a genius darting mind,

He started researching and consulting with experts and straight away the barrels took on the torpedo/bomb shape that most would associate with the great John Lowe. The flights got slimmer and were interchanged with kite shapes and even swapped in with flights that were famously trimmed by The Power himself with scissors! He seemed to be searching for that ability to almost float the darts into position and go back to his famous stacking technique. He requested extra weight on his barrels and said in interviews that he needed more stability from the dart as he got older.

Suffice to say it worked out very nicely and soon enough more world titles and majors followed suit against a new list of young talents. This included those two unforgettable 9 darters in the Premier League final, and halting the rise (temporarily of course) of a certain Mr Van Gerwen in the 2013 World Final.

Like pretty much everything Taylor did during his career, the effort and application bore plenty of fruit and showed how he could move with the times. He did shock the darting world again after he split from long-term partner Unicorn to get his darts made by Target in 2014 and although it did not lead to any more world titles, it shows how far Taylor would always push the limits to gain any small advantage, and why he will always be remembered as the ultimate competitor.

Points to Prove

There have always been different dart sets, but one of the most significant changes in the last few years has been the focus on the shape and length of the dart point. Some people wanted it for added grip due to how they throw, and others wanted it to grab the sisal, but it was one fella from down under who really got the ball rolling.

Simon Whitlock is a darts switcher himself, with a huge variety of different barrel shapes being used for his unique throw and his quickfire grouping ability. While playing around with tapered barrels, Whitlock realised that long points made it easier for him to slide alongside the dart, but he had to modify them to be stable at the same time.

Cue the Aussie heading down to the garden shed and manufacturing his own stunning, violently aggressive, and abrasive points himself! They would chew up boards and destroy them during a single match, usually frustrating opponents and commentators alike as large chunks of treble twenty fell onto the floor.

Since he first started bringing his creations out of the lab, a lot have been outlawed and rules adjusted to minimise the damage done by them. You have to say that he opened the door to all the modern points systems players from the pub to the Premier League add to their setup.

Far From Harrowing

I think it's important to finish part one of this on somebody who decided to jump away from a long-standing manufacturer to an entirely new partnership. Dave Chisnall may not change his barrel shape or type all that much, or even his setup, but he did have a long-running partnership with Target that had seen him reach the top levels of the game as a Premier League player.

Nowadays, a switch from that level of trust can be as much of a revolution as adjusting the weight and feel of your dart. Darts companies usually play a huge part in promoting and boosting a player’s career from a young age, so it's a bold choice to step away into something new.

Dave has been so close as a major runner-up but was starting to risk falling behind some new, exciting players and missing his chance to tick off that major title.

Since the swap in 2019, Chisnall set out an early marker with a sensational performance to dismantle Michael Van Gerwen in the World Championship. He has gone on to pick up multiple big titles on the Euro Tour and Players Championship. With him topping so many stats tables on the different tours and being a great floor player, it's only a matter of time before it bears fruit for Chizzy and helps him land the big one.

That wraps us up for part one of this look at the tweaks and changes that the top professional sportsmen in darts will go through to get that extra one or two percent. Make sure you come back for the second part where we look at a prolific major winner who never changes their darts, the current hot property in darts who had made their first big move, and perhaps the most infamous equipment swapper in the game.

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