Darts: party after pandemic: British bash after chaotic years

Nothing should bother you this time.

Darts: party after pandemic: British bash after chaotic years

Nothing should bother you this time. After two world championships massively influenced by the corona pandemic, the party-mad darts world is preparing for a return to normality.

Normality means madness from Thursday (8 p.m./Sport1 and DAZN) in London’s Alexandra Palace: Teletubby meets Queen Mom, Superman drinks with Grinch and up to 3000 fans celebrate with plenty of alcohol, singing and bawling. The pandemic-related restrictions in the past two years hardly fit an event that is often at least as much show and staging as sport.

The sport of darts after the corona pandemic

The stars of the scene are happy that normality will finally have returned in 2022. So does world champion Peter Wright, who with his colorful look symbolizes the crazy spectacle on the disc. "We're all super grateful to be able to play darts and travel the world again. When I won the European Championships two years ago, there were 150 people there. They were breathtaking, but there were only 150," said the Scotsman to the Deutsche Presse- Agency before the World Cup, which lasts until January 3rd.

The Welshman Gerwyn Price won the 2021 World Cup in front of a ghost backdrop because the British government had imposed tough corona measures. A year later, a lot was relaxed for the public, but player after player was caught with positive tests. Top favorite Michael van Gerwen (Netherlands) and Englishman Dave Chinsall lost their chance for the title because the hygiene concept was insufficient. The world association PDC entrenched itself and hardly communicated during the crisis. "It left everyone speechless what happened there," says Max Hopp, describing the conditions from the previous year.

This time it should again be about the sport that Germany's best Gabriel Clemens described in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" as "permanent penalty shooting". "It goes back and forth, one against one, that's what makes it so exciting," said Clemens. In Germany, too, the TV ratings are likely to rise sharply between the years, when after the World Cup and before the return of the Bundesliga there is hardly any winter sports and darts in the British capital become one of the few live sports attractions.

Clemens and Co. have so far failed to achieve great successes at the World Cup. Although the "German Giant", as Clemens is called, beat Wright two years ago, the most important tournament in the world has never reached a quarter-final. And there is no real hope that a real sporting coup will succeed at the start of 2023 either.

Clemens, placed 25th, comes from a weak year. Martin Schindler has not yet won at the World Cup, the former handball player Florian Hempel could meet co-favorite Luke Humphries in round two. "There is progress visible, the development is always going on. It remains to be seen to what extent that will be enough for the top and the world class," said Hempel. Others in the scene are more explicit. Top player van Gerwen demands in no uncertain terms: "They have to improve."

Clemens could meet 18-year-old Beau Greaves

The focus of the general public should once again be on the women who compete in direct duels with men at the World Cup. Three years ago, Fallon Sherrock secured two wins and made history. This time it should also be about the only 18-year-old Beau Greaves, who excels on the women's tour and could now meet the German Primus Clemens in round two. "I fear no one because just being there is a bonus," said Greaves.

Further individual victories for Greaves, Sherrock and Lisa Ashton seem possible, but the big title contenders are different. Defending champion Wright, Primus Price and the longtime dominator van Gerwen are mentioned above all when it comes to the 25 kilogram Sid Waddell Trophy. "I want to defend the trophy and my points because I want to keep first place," Price told Sport1 in advance.

In order to have a happy holiday, the favorites in London must first clear a first hurdle. For Wright it starts this Thursday, the other contenders start in the coming week. "The most important thing is getting through the first game. That's the hardest thing, but once you get through that you can enjoy Christmas," added Price.