It will be the busiest and most eventful year in the history of darts….of that, there is no doubt!
More tournaments, more TV, more questions than answers and more controversy, speculation, rumour and gossip!
But above all, more top quality tungsten delivered by the very best in the business.
In 2007, we saw Barney crowned World Champion…..we saw Taylor go a whole year without winning a ‘Major’ PDC TV Ranking event…..we welcomed King, Van Gerwen, Van der Voort, Klaasen and Eccles to PDC stages around the world….we saw the big breakthrough for James Wade….we saw ITV Sport returning to big-time darts at the Grand Slam…..we crowned John Part World Champion for a third time and we witnessed young Kirk Shepherd living the darting dream!
So, what will 2008 throw up and can it match a golden year for the sport of darts?
One thing’s for sure – darts will see more TV exposure than ever before and it is amazing to think that by the time the 2008 Premier League wraps up at the end of May, around 70,000 fans will have witnessed a mad crazy night somewhere in the UK.
Think back to 2005 when the Premier League started in civic halls like Stoke and Blackburn and leisure centres in Carlisle and Reading and look where it is now….that speaks volumes for where darts now lies in the affections of the Great British sporting public.
The expansion plans are starting to take shape and several top players are expected to head to the likes of Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia and all points East during the year to promote darts to a truly global audience.
The Grand Slam of Darts will return in November, Holland will stage the brand new European Championship/Open, whatever you want to call it! And of course next January, we will witness the first ever Players Championship Finals, with all three of these big tournaments to be shown on TV in the UK.
Darts fans have certainly never had it so good and it seems the PDC will continue to quench the thirst for more and more and more!
But that begs the question – are we reaching saturation point? There is a good case to be made warning of the dangers of boom and bust and the doom and gloom merchants will quite rightly use the example of snooker back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when that sport suffered a spectacular fall from grace, as ‘live’ audiences and TV companies simply lost interest.
However, I am in the glass half-full brigade when it comes to the tungsten and passionately believe that the sport will only continue on its upward spiral. Why shouldn’t the players become global stars, why shouldn’t the TV companies cash in on the massive popularity of the sport and why shouldn’t players earn the big bucks that they clearly deserve.
There looks like being over 60 days of top PDC darts on TV over the next 12 months and that doesn’t include the internet coverage of the UK Open Regionals, as well as other tournaments which may be screened during 2008.
Let’s enjoy it while we can! Barry Hearn pledged last year that he was in it for the long-haul, so there is no reason for darts to suffer the same fate as snooker.
But hey, if you prefer to be in the glass half-empty camp, then that is your choice!
2008 will see Taylor finally win another big one……but the old crystal ball says not a 4th consecutive Premier League!
Barneveld will finally settle on the best set of darts for him and will prove it on the oche, while John Part will enjoy another good year and will win at either Bolton, Blackpool or Dublin.
Adrian Lewis will finally win a ‘Major’ and we will see a new name on one of the big trophies this year.
How am I doing so far!?
I still believe that Gary Anderson will finally take the plunge….it’s interesting to see that SkyBet were offering odds on Anderson for the 2008/09 World Championship at the Alexandra Palace!
It would be good to believe that darts politics takes a back seat during the year but darts wouldn’t be darts without the odd big row or fall-out and lets be honest, darts fans wouldn’t be darts fans if they didn’t enjoy all the controversy and speculation that seems to go hand in glove with the sport we all love.
Players to watch out for in 2008…….Mervyn King for the top 10, Kevin McDine for the top 32 and Michael van Gerwen to finally remember how to win again and how to enjoy his darts again.
What do YOU think?