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  • Writer's pictureConnor Watkins

University Darts, the new breeding ground for PDC stars?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

By Connor Watkins (@Watkins180, Twitter)

Over the last decade, darts has developed from what some would describe as ‘an old man’s game’ to a diverse and inclusive sport; the university darts system has played a big part in this progression of the game. The University Darts UK (UDUK) is an organisation set up by the players, for the players across the United Kingdom to bring together university darts societies into a competitive format and break barriers whilst doing so. The system, supported by ambassador Matthew Edgar, will be producing some of the next big names within the darts scene in the next few years.


Former PDC Tour Card holder and star of the EdgarTV YouTube channel Matthew Edgar is an ambassador for University darts, seen here playing on stage at the Varsity darts event on March 3, 2023. One name that shines from the UDUK system is Adam Warner, who has recently gained his PDC tour card with plenty of support from the University of Sheffield. Known for his cream chinos in the University Darts scene, Warner has had several successes in the UDUK and remains a big supporter of the University of Sheffield team where his journey started.

In conversation with Warner, he told me that the university darts system was the first real piece of competitive darts that he had taken part in, saying that he particularly enjoyed the system’s primary focus being to simply have fun, regardless of how good you were. Warner also told me that “the UDUK provided regular competitive match practice which meant something so one thing it really helped with was being able to perform under pressure – especially in the latter stages of big events where you’d have dozens crowded round the board giving it large!”

The crowd was packed at the recent Varsity darts on March 3, 2023.


Warner’s UDUK successes include:

- UDUK Team Cup Runners Up – University of Sheffield (2018/19)

- UDUK Northern Championship Runner Up (2019/2020)

- UDUK Northern Pairs Runner Up – (2019/2020)



Since moving on from the university darts scene, the cream chino chucker has gone on to have a large amount of success within the Yorkshire ADC competitions. He then went one further and won the Modus Super Series week 8 final before the icing on the cake being gaining his tour card at the start of 2023.

So far, Warner has enjoyed some well-deserved success on the professional circuit, as

he made the last 32 of Players Championship 3 where he beat some considerable competition in Danny Jansen, Darryl Gurney, and Steve Lennon until bowing out to Josh Rock, who lost to the eventual winner Kim Huybrechts in the Quarter Finals. Warner’s success has highlighted the impact of the UDUK in creating a generation of players who can make names for themselves in the world of darts. I wish Warner the best of luck with his tour card and will always remain a supporter of his career.


Warner however, is not the only one making a name for themselves since utilising the university darts system. Other names include Ryan O’Connor (who also went to Q-School in 2023 and is now playing the development and challenge tours), a former UDUK Northern singles and pairs champion.

Alongside O’Connor is Conall Doughty (a development tour player), who is also a former UDUK Northern singles champion.


Other than producing great players, the UDUK has produced some of the next generations in darts media. Jack Garwood, a graduate of Nottingham Trent University and former UDUK committee member, is now a website and live lounge content creator for Online Darts (@OfficialOLDarts) and social media content creator for the new senior’s darts organisation (@SeniorsDarts). Jack originally played pool until his university pool society was joined by the darts team, which resulted in him attending 5 varsity events between Nottingham Trent and the University of Nottingham and developing skills as a referee for many UDUK events. In discussion, Garwood told me that he was also fortunate enough to have met his former housemate and PDC player Kyle Anderson through the UDUK scene at a competition in his university’s practice venue. Jack’s development from a university player to being a vital piece in the wider darting jigsaw puzzle highlights the endless amount of opportunities that the university darts scene brings for its members.


The League

The UDUK runs leagues which consist of geographically based regions across the country with over 450 members. Utilising triples, doubles, and singles formats, match days are a highly competitive but enjoyable occasion to take part in.

Universities are allowed to have more than one team based on ability, with many opting to have an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ team, whilst the University of Leeds chose to take this one step further with an additional ‘C’ team due to the increased interest in competitive play following a variety of give-it-a-go sessions. Typically, each team consists of 6-10 players.


This season, we have seen an increase in the competitive standard with all leagues providing some close games and top darts.


We have so far seen 100 maximums, with Jonny Litler from Leeds hitting 6 and Musa Ali from Oxford hitting 5. Alongside these 180’s, Dan Horrocks has the shortest leg of 14 darts and holds 25 “sheet legs”. Sheet legs are 501 legs below 21 darts and 701 legs below 30 darts.


There have been over 50 100+ checkouts with Dom Renouf (Warwick) and Sam (York) both hitting the highest checkout so far, at 160.


Current league updates:

- The northeast division sees Durham’s B team sitting in the top position with York (A) in

pursuit, holding a few games in hand.

- Meanwhile, the north central league sees a highly competitive season in 2021/2022 winners

Leeds A failing to retain their title as Lincoln (A) and Sheffield (A) fight for the top spot with

just one point between them with two games to go!

- Lancaster (A) takes the northwest league title with just one loss, whilst Bangor (A) sits in

second, just two points behind them with all league fixtures completed.

- The midlands league portrayed a tungsten tussle with just one point separating first and

second, where Warwick (A) narrowly take the top of the table ahead of Nottingham Trent

(A) in second and University of Nottingham (A) in third!

- The southwest league sees Oxford and Bath (A) battling it out for the top spot with a few

games left to play.


So far, the UDUK has held a variety of competitions for its members. Congratulations to the winners listed below:


- UDUK Merseyside Open (Northwest Singles) – Connor Watkins / Jonny Litler*

*Final yet to be played due to time constraints

- UDUK Merseyside Open Ladies – Abbi Sargeant

- UDUK Cotswolds Classic (Southern Singles) – Musa Ali

- UDUK Cotswolds Classic Ladies – Bronwyn Flook

- UDUK Scottish Championship – Aidan Sutherland



The UDUK has also seen gender barriers being broken within the game of darts. The University of Leeds darts society held a give-it-a-go session which encouraged members to bring a member of the opposite gender to the darts for a night to encourage a wider variety of people to get involved with the game. This was the first (although not the last) gender stereotype-breaking university darts event in the UK, marking a landmark in the progression of the sport.


Accompanying this, society secretary Eleanor Pettem broke more barriers by being the first lady from the University of Leeds to take part in the PDC Women’s Series in February. There are roughly 20 ladies actively partaking in the UDUK league and this will only increase with time.



Another almost broken barrier was the illustrious 9 darter attempt by Dan Horrocks just weeks ago. The highly rated member of Lancaster’s ‘A’ Team missed the double 12 for a moment in UDUK history, where he would have become the first player to have hit a 9 darter in a competitive league game. I am sure this will not be the last time we hear of Horrocks and many others hope the double goes in.


You are able to keep up to date with the latest news and events that the UDUK are hosting by following their socials and through their website listed below


https://www.uduk.co.uk/

Instagram - @udukofficial

Twitter - @UDUKOfficial

You can get in touch with the UDUK by emailing committee@uduk.co.uk


Thank you to the following people who have provided images for this piece:


@jameschal_ (twitter)

@Iwan_hughes01

Jack Kimber

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