It was a good night of darts to get everybody in the mood for the new league starting next Monday. We had eight players altogether which is ideal for a knockout, including newcomer John. First round and semi-final matches were played as best-of-3 legs from 501, while the final was best-of-5.
Getting the competition underway were James and Ben. James threw steadily while Ben was slow off the mark, barely reaching a possible 3-dart checkout total before James took the first leg. A good start in the second leg saw Ben take an early lead on the scoreboard but his inconsistent throwing allowed James to catch up and check out to go through 2-0.
Joining us for the first time was John who played Darren, returning after a couple of weeks off. Darren threw some decent darts but was eclipsed by power scoring from John who hit at least one treble-20 with almost every turn at the oche. An impressive performance and a well-deserved 2-0 win for John.
Ram had been drawn against Anne in the third match, and he got off to a pedestrian start which allowed Anne a chance to seal the first leg with a quick checkout on her last double. The second leg was also close with both players having chances to take it before Ram checked out to level the match. The deciding leg was less close as Anne started to lose her focus and Ram got into his rhythm to win 2-1.
Concluding the first round were Tom and Andy. Scores were close in the first leg and both players suffered from double trouble as they ended up stalled in the madhouse, double-1. It was Tom who broke the stalemate in the first leg, but there was a repeat of the double-1 shootout in the second leg as well which Andy won to equalise. It was a better performance from Andy in the deciding leg as he reached his last double first and checked out with little delay to go through 2-1.
James faced John in the first semi and didn't sound confident going into this match after seeing John beat Darren earlier. However James continued to throw steady darts and John, although hitting decent scores again, didn't match the heights of his first match. Both legs were close but it was James who held his nerve on the checkouts to go through to the final 2-0.
Ram played Andy in the other semi. Andy didn't look like the same player who topped the table in the last league as Ram banged in 80+ and ton-plus scores and built up a lead of nearly 400 in one leg while Andy struggled to find even single-20 at times. A comfortable 2-0 victory for Ram.
Two well matched players in the shape of James and Ram, it was James who won the throw in the first leg, but Ram who delivered the goods and took the second leg as well to go 2-0 ahead. James was looking at a whitewash and this spurred him to pick up his game and he took the third leg with the throw, breathing a sigh of relief at not having a zero on the scoreboard. His momentum continued and he won the next leg as well to set up a tense deciding leg at 2-2. Tiredness was evident in both players and their aim wasn't as tight as earlier legs, but both showed a real determination and kept the scores close right to the finish. In the end it was Ram who brought home the bacon, winning the fifth leg for a 3-2 victory and £12.50 prize money. An impressive effort from James as well, who took home the second prize of £7.50.
Next Monday sees the return of our Premier League darts for the summer season. Most of last season's players have already signed up - Anne, Ben, Darren, James, Ram, Sam and Tom - and I was pleased that John accepted my invitation to join us. There are still a couple of places available if anybody wants to join in - send me a message or speak to me in the pub before Monday if you're interested.
There will be a small change to the points system next season. Bonus points will remain for the highest score and highest checkout in each round, A draw (2-2) will be 1 point, a win will count for 2 points but there will be an extra bonus point for winning 3-0. I am keeping the entry fee at £2.50 a week: no price rises for darts night at least!