Tuesday, 26 March 2013

League Finals Match Report - 25th March 2013

It wouldn't be the Royal Standard if everything went without a hitch and the Finals Night was no exception as Darren withdrew due to illness. This left eight players which is ideal for a knockout draw so the preliminary qualifying match between Natasha and Anne was ditched in favour of both players being included in a revised first round. The draw was still determined by the final league positions with top playing bottom and so on.

First Round
Andy (1) v Natasha (8)
Sam (4) v Ben (5)
Ram (3) v Tom (6)
James (2) v Anne (7)

The first match of this season's finals saw Sam take on Ben in what the league results suggested should be a close match. Sam threw first and built up a comfortable lead while Ben was slow off the mark, even scoring 2 with one throw. Ben caught up after Sam struggled to find her finishing double to check out 36 for the first leg. Neither player managed to break 100 but there were some solid scores and Sam scored the night's highest checkout 67 to take the second leg. It was close in the third leg and came down to both players needing a double to win. Ben hit the target first to go through, winning 2-1.

Top-of-the-table Andy played Natasha in the second match. Natasha made a good effort but Andy proved too strong and she didn't get to a finish in the first leg. Although she closed the gap in the second leg it wasn't enough and Andy won 2-0.

The third match of the first round was Ram against Tom. A dangerous opponent when on his game, Tom couldn't match Ram's scoring and although he had chances it wasn't to be and Ram won a comfortable 2-0.

Rounding off the first-round should have been James and Anne, but Anne withdrew at the last minute for personal reasons. With the consent of James and the other players, Sam took Anne's place and so got a second chance in the competition. This was a fast-paced, high-scoring match with James throwing several ton-plus scores including a couple of 140's, and Sam also scoring a 120 with two darts when her first bounced out off the wire around the treble-20. This close match came right down to the wire with another shoot-out on doubles to decide it 2-1 to James.

Semi Final Round
Andy v Ben
Ram v James

After a decent first round performance Ben felt that he had a chance and despite being over 100 down seized that chance when Andy missed several attempts at a checkout in the first leg to take an early lead. Andy came back strongly to win the second leg against some poor throwing by Ben including another 2 and a 3 that left him floundering way back. A switch from 20's to 19's by Ben proved to be an inspired decision as his darts found treble-19 throw after throw and this kept him in contention in the third leg. Finally, Andy was left on double-16 while Ben was looking at 117 with the darts in hand. Another treble-19 was followed by a big 20 to leave one dart at double-top for a place in the final... which bounced out off the wire! Andy finished up with his next throw and won 2-1 for the first slot in the final.

I expected a lot from the semi between Ram and James and wasn't disappointed. Ram was an utter powerhouse in the scoring department while James wasn't far behind and this match saw both players hit 140's. The first two legs went with the darts meaning we had another deciding leg. Ram threw first, opening with a 125 while James couldn't find the treble-20. A couple of scores in the 80's and a 140 put Ram in a commanding position on 75 after 12 darts with James left needing well over 200, but at that point Ram lost his focus and allowed James back into a match that should have been all over. That was enough for James who took the leg against the odds to win 2-1 and face Andy in the final.

Final Round
3rd Place Playoff: Ram v Ben
Final (best of 5): Andy v James

Ram recovered quickly from his frustration to take on Ben in the playoff for 3rd place. With the pressure off, both players took things a little easier and it was a reasonably close match with decent scores, ending up 2-1 to Ram.

With the midnight bell ringing for time the final got under way between the league's top two players. James had a point to prove after losing 3-0 to Andy in a previous knockout and came out keen to have his revenge. The quiet man, Andy, maintained his cool and threw steady darts, as did James. The scores were back and forward with neither player gaining any clear advantage as we went into the fifth and deciding leg, Andy with the advantage of the throw. It all came down to the final checkout again with James showing steadier nerves to clinch the title 3-2.

With a 3-way split for Highest Score (140), £2 each went to James, Andy and Ram while the £5 for Highest Checkout (67) went to Sam.

3rd place and £10 to Ram
Third place Ram received £10.

Second place Andy received £25.

First place James received the trophy and £40.

2nd place and £25 to Andy
A really big thank you to everyone who played in both the Winter League as well as our knockouts through the season: it couldn't have happened without you, and I hope you'll all be back for the next season.
1st and £40 to James
Next Week
Next Monday is Easter Monday and there will be an open knockout from 8:00pm. £2.50 to enter with cash prizes for 1st and 2nd. All welcome.

Summer League
Sign up for the new summer league over the next two weeks. Talk to me in the pub if you are interested in joining in, and come along on Monday 8th April to put your name down. This league will start on Monday 15th April.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pairs Knockout - 18th March 2013

A good turnout last night for our last knockout before next week's finals: ten players drawn at random into five pairs. Nice to see a couple of people take part who aren't among our regular league players: Matt and Sid.

Match Report
The evening kicked off with a preliminary round match: Darren & Matt played Andy & James. Yes, you did read that right: our top two league players were drawn together. If this caused any nerves they weren't in evidence as Matt in particular kept his pair's scores up there with the favourites, but as is so often the case it was the doubles that made the difference and Andy & James ran out 2-0 winners.

Next up was the first semi-final featuring Tom & Ram against Ben & Sid. Ben suffered from the inconsistency that has dogged his game all season and struggled to find his trebles but Sid scored well to keep things fairly well-matched against the steady performances from Ram & Tom. Ram proved too accurate on the doubles though and he & Tom won 2-0 to get the first spot in the final.

The second semi-final saw qualifiers Andy & James take on girl power in the form of Sam & Anne, who put up a spirited fight and kept pace with some strong scoring, forcing the match to go to a deciding third leg. This leg was also a close one but it was Andy & James who were first past the post to win 2-1 and complete the line-up for the night's final.

Unlike the earlier rounds, the final was best of 5 legs. The first two were close as all the players suffered spells of loose throwing but Andy & James hit their checkouts to go 2-0 up. The third leg saw Ram up his game and find the treble-20 with more regularity, and he & Tom took one back to keep their hopes alive, but it was James who hit a rich vein of form at the key point with a succession of 80+ scores and a sharp checkout to win the fourth leg, the match and the competition.

Next Week
Monday 25th is Finals Night - the League Final Knockout followed by presentations to the winners. The draw is based on final standings in the league and will be as follows:

Preliminary Round (Match A)
Anne v Natasha (best of 3 legs of 301)

Quarter Finals (best of 3 legs of 501)
Match Q1: Match A Winner v Andy
Match Q2: Tom v James
Match Q3: Darren v Ram
Match Q4: Ben v Sam

Semi Finals (best of 3 legs of 501)
Q1 Winner v Q4 Winner
Q2 Winner v Q3 Winner

Final (best of 5 legs of 501)

3rd Place Playoff (best of 3 legs of 501 between losing semi-finalists)

Easter Monday Knockout
The week after the finals it is Easter and there will be an open singles knockout on Monday 1st April. This is not a joke!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Match Report - 11th March 2013

Last night was the seventh and final round of our Winter League so all that now remains is the playoffs to crown the champion. But before I get onto that there's the small matter of the matches to report on.

Match Report
Unfortunately Natasha was unable to play last night but with the agreement of all the players Tom stood in as a substitute for her two fixtures, against Andy and Anne, to allow us to complete all the matches. The first of those two fixtures, against Andy, got things under way. All eyes were on Tom after Andy's defeat by Anne in last week's knockout but despite keeping the scores close, the checkouts went Andy's way and he won 3-0, securing the top spot in the table.

James's laid-back style against Sam in the next belied the determination of both players in a match that saw some good scoring including a 113 from James and several 80+ totals from both. James had the upper hand in the scoring and with good accuracy on his doubles he took the match 3-0, hitting the night's best checkout of 74 along the way.

Anne played her first match of the night against Natasha's substitute, Tom, who led in the scoring, but Anne proved too hot on the doubles, gaining a well-deserved 3-0 victory.

A powerful performance from Ram saw him beat Darren 3-1 in the fastest-scoring match of the night which saw both players scoring ton-pluses including a 121 from Darren and a 135 from Ram.

It was the second match of the night for both players next as Sam faced Anne, and tiredness was evident as they both struggled to find the level of accuracy seen in their previous games. That didn't stop some good-natured banter between the two on the oche and there were flashes of brilliance including an excellent 140, the night's highest score, from Sam who won 3-1.

Bringing the night and the league to a close were Ben and Tom. Tom was well-practiced after two previous matches representing Natasha and started well, outscoring Ben who struggled at first to find any consistency. However, Tom had trouble on his doubles leaving the door open enough for Ben to catch up and take the match 3-1.
Darren focuses on his target
Next Week
There will be an open knockout competition next week, and if the number of players is appropriate it will feature pairs matches. Anyone who is interested is welcome to take part: just turn up on the night (Monday 18th) from 8pm. £2.50 per player to enter and the winning pair (or winner & runner-up if it is singles) will receive cash prizes.

Finals Night
The League Finals will be played the following Monday 25th March and will take the usual format of a knockout with the draw decided by league standings.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Knockout Match Report - 4th March 2013

Match Report
It was a decent turnout for the knockout competition with 7 players competing. To shake things up a bit we had a change from the usual 501 format and instead played best-of-3 legs of 401 with double in. This format usually produces a few upsets and tonight was no exception.

Round 1
The draw for the first round was Ram v Ben, Tom v Natasha and Anne v Andy, with James having a bye. First to play were Tom and Natasha. Natasha got off to a good start in both legs, hitting her opening double before Tom and building a lead which she maintained with some steady scoring. Unfortunately she didn't have as much success at the end of the legs and Tom checked out to win 2-0.

Ram played Ben next and it looked like it would all be over early for Ben as he failed to even get off the mark in the first leg while Ram powered ahead to a 14-darter. After switching from the troublesome double-20 to double-16 Ben's fortunes improved and he put the opening leg behind him to take the next two legs and a place in the next round.

The last first-round match saw league-leader Andy drawn against underdog Anne. Anne started well, hitting her doubles to start and getting some good scores to keep the game close. Andy must have been feeling the pressure because double-trouble set in and dart after dart failed to hit the mark. This was too good an opportunity for Anne to let go and she nailed her checkouts to cheers from the spectators, winning 2-0 and knocking the defending champion out in the first round. Definitely the match of the night, a major upset for Andy given their league results, and a very popular winner.

Semi Final
Ben played Tom in the first semi and his form from the opening match continued. Good scores and sharp shooting on the checkouts sealed the result: 2-0 to Ben.

James faced dark horse Anne for the remaining place in the final. The first leg was close but James's scoring advantage was key and he checked out to win it, but Anne's form slipped in the next leg and she struggled to get off the mark while James romped ahead. It was too much for Anne to catch up and James won 2-0.

So it was an interesting line-up for the final as an in-form Ben faced off against James. It was an well-matched contest with both players looking good on the doubles and several 80- and ton-plus scores, but James had the edge in scoring which proved decisive as he checked out both legs while Ben remained on a 2-dart total.

Some great darts in the matches tonight and most players can be proud of how they played, with particular mentions to the two ladies, Natasha and Anne, who played their best matches of the year so far. Congratulations to winner James who received the £10 prize and to runner-up Ben who got £5.

Next Week
It's the final round of the league next week with six matches instead of our usual five, so I'd appreciate it if we could get things started a little earlier than the usual 8:30. The fixtures will be:

Andy v Natasha
Anne v Natasha
Ben v Tom
James v Sam
Ram v Darren
Sam v Anne

I look forward to seeing you all there next Monday night as we round up this league. If there is anybody who can't make it there will be a chance to play their fixture(s) the following week before we have our Finals Night on the 25th March.