The Big Interview with KEVIN PAINTER

Unicorn Darts prize winners:
Roger Dupuis, Shuckfu and King of Dartness
All win their choice of Unicorn Darts.

kirk

From Dave McCallum (Dave 33) : Hi kevin , do you think that the format of the Premier League next year should be changed to include more players/and or different game format?

KP: Yes I think it should be changed and it has. I think the general feeling is that there should have been 8 players from the start. The format seems to work quite well as it is though.

From JW Macdonald : Hello Kevin, After what you've acheived against Phil Taylor (and how hard it was just to get to that point) ,How hard is it to end up 1 dart away from a life changing trophy and end up 2nd -Or how do you mentally recover from that and move on to try and do it again ?

KP: Obviously I was disappointed to have lost that final. I get asked this question a lot and I never actually had a shot to win the title. If I had and I had missed, it probably would have been worse.

From Roger Dupuis (Canada) : I am amazed at how much skill, precision and focus it takes to be a world class darter. How old were you when the reality hit you that you could and would be a pro ? Describe the moment that you knew, was it after a big win, your beliefs, something someone said? What was that lightbulb moment ? Was there anybody in particular that mentored you or provided the encouragement you needed ?

KP: I started playing when I was 17 or 18 and I got good very quickly. As you do you see people on TV playing Darts and think "I could do that". The reality is very different of course. I kept playing well and really began to fancy my chances in my early 20s. I started to play full time on the circuit when I was 26 and first qualified for Lakeside when I was 28.

From Rudy (Holland) : Kevin, in the PDC world championships you have, so far, reached higher than in any of your 7 Embassy appearances. Is this because your gameplay has improved since your move over to the PDC or because you might have reached the Embassy final as well, were it not that no less than 3 times you lost to a later finalist (Ron Baxter, Ritchie Burnett and once even the winner Ted Hankey)?

KP: A bit of both really. In my last 2 years in the BDO World Championship I reached the quarter-finals so I was making progress. As soon as I moved to the PDC though I felt a pressure to do well. I am the sort of player that responds well to pressure so that was good for me.

From LMoffat : Hello Kevin, Before a tournament, how long will you practice for? Do you have a drink to relax or are you 100% sober?

KP: If you are talking about a major tournament I will arrive at the venue 5 or 6 hours before I am due to play. I always like to be early. Then I just have a steady practice accompanied by a drink.

Andrea Martin : Hi Kevin, what do you think about players from other countries than England joining Team-Unicorn and the PDC Championship? Do you think, that in a few years it is possible to find more "internationals" in the top 20?

KP: Possibly. The talent there is in Holland we all know about. The game is also growing in popularity in the USA for example. I wouldn't be surprised to see Team Unicorn growing more internationally over the coming years.

From King of Dartness : Does the pressure of near misses have a cumulative effect on your performance or is every dart for you just as important as the next dart and the previous one?

KP: I think if you miss a key double it's only natural that it stays in your mind for a short while. However it's important to get over it very quickly or you can soon find that you have lost the next leg!

From John' unlucky' Wenzel - Hello Kevin, as one of the best players in the world, was it a strange feeling losing against Micheal van Gerwen? Do you think he has the talent to be a big one in the scene like Adrian Lewis or James Wade?

KP: I think Michael van Gerwen is already a big name. It's actually not strange to lose to anyone over 5 legs though. I knew he'd be difficult to play. Disappointed obviosuly but you move on.

From Bongodrum :What I'd like to know is who chose your nic "the Artist" and if you could chose another nic for yourself what would it be and why?

KP: My manager came up with it. If you don't have a nickname then Sky will come up with one for you but luckily I didn't have that problem. I can't think of another one, maybe "Hothead" (laughs) because I can tend to be a bit hot-headed sometimes!

From Sunshine: How would you earn your money if you hadn´t become a dart-pro and if you had the choice, would you become a dart-pro again or anything else?

KP: Before I was in the building trade. Perhaps if I had my time again I would try and be a Footballer simply because of the financial rewards on offer. I enjoy being a Darts Professional and would do it all again. If I could change one thing it would be to be 10 years younger and just starting out now as a pro. I think we are just approaching a strong era for darts where great rewards will be on offer to the players.

From Dart-Schlang :Hello Kevin,aside from winning and losing, what were your best and worst moments in darts?

KP: The best was reaching the world final and showing that I could hold my own against Phil. Actually reaching the final that year really pleased me as I had played so well all week. I guess the worst moment was losing it, especially in a 'sudden death' situation.

From Miles "Bim" Liddell : Since the injury to your knee and ankle what adjustments have you made to your stance at the Oche to help alleviate the stress on your weight bearing leg and what effects did this have on your darts?

KP: I have made no adjustments to my throw. Once I had recuperated from the injury I was fine.

From Nico Kuhz (Berlin) : As a beginner in Darts I would like to know if you have any Idea how long I have to practice until I`ll find my very own style. Is it usefull playing all day long, or is one hour of practice enough?

KP: I think when you are first starting out you have to put quite a lot of time in. I remember when I was 15 or 16 I was practising for four or five hours a night.

From Schukfu : Hello Kevin, my question is if you heard that the Dart-scene in germany is growing incredibly, and that the last world championship had more than 700,000 viewers. Are you surprised about that and do you think that Darts could be as big as in the UK or the Netherlands?

KP: I am surprised and I'm not. Darts is getting more popular all over the world now but 700,000 is a great figure and I'm surprised it was that high. More so because I know the soft-tip game is big in Germany but didn't realise that steel tip Darts had caught on to this extent.

From Draconus : How much of an influence do you think the world wide web has had on the sport and indeviduals such as yourselves? Do you think that the sports current approach to this technology is well placed, or could more be done to make use of this international media?

KP: I think it's a great advantage to all players to be able to promote themselves. It's a great way of letting people know about exhibitions for example.

From Cubby Blues ( U.S.A. ) - How important is it to pros outside the United States to further the game over here? What lengths are the pros and sponors like Unicorn going to to grab the attention of the U.S. mainstream? Ray Carver has gotten the ball rolling, but experienced pros like yourself are integral to shaking the "pub game" myth, so where does promotion rank in your career?

KP: Well we have 2 tournaments now in the USA – the Las Vegas Desert Classic and the World Series of Darts. I think the Americans need to see us performing well. Also it's important how the American lads do in these competitions to keep up local interest. I think it will grow but take time as America is such a vast country.

From Hotshot78 : Which of the 7 major PDC events including The Premier League would you most love to win?

KP: The World Championship for obvious reasons. Plus I always generally tend to play well in that competition and it's based in Essex my home county.

From Brownie : Appreciate that you've no doubt learned many aspects of the game through your tournaments and travels and adapted to become very successful but what have you had to change personally to reach such heights? Anything in particular, perhaps psychologically, that you have consciously added to your persona to compliment your ability? or perhaps something you wish you could add but to date have not?

KP: The main thing I've had to do is recognise the need to practise more. Previously I used to think that if I felt mentally okay, then I would perform okay. Also as Darts has progressed and more is at stake, the very late nights have become a thing of the past. A lot of Pros now havve earlier nights so they are properly prepared.

From Al Fairhurst : What is your favourite and least favourite PDC venue?

KP: My favourite is the Circus Tavern. It just has an amazing atmoshpere, a bit like a Football match. My least favourite this year were Blackpool and Bolton. They were just too hot. The venues are nice places but the heat this year was unbelievable and affected players' performances.

From Scaum : I was wondering do you think the pdc and the media put the focus on Phil Taylor too much and not enough on the others as every time I see darts mentioned on the television, Phil's name is always there alongside. Also on the adverts phil is on every one of them. I know Phil is considered the greatest of all time but shouldn't others be given more publicity especially as it would be good publicity for the people who also have to make money outside of tournaments in exhibitions etc?

KP: I think you have expressed what all the pros think. We have the greatest respect for Phil – as he's the best. But for example when John Part won the World Championship a couple of years ago, the opening credits the following year were all featuring Phil again. There are 32 or however many players involved in a tournament and we all have to make a living and the publicity should be more balanced in my opinion.