2017 Partypoker U.S. Darts Masters
July 18, 2017
Like many dart players I know, I spent some of my time last week following the 1st PDC Partypoker U.S. Darts Masters in Las Vegas as part of the PDC World Series of Darts. I really liked this event and hope to see it return next year. Steve Brown did a great job of keeping us updated on the results at the ADO's website as well as providing us links to updates on the PDC's website. Fox Sports picked up the coverage for three consecutive nights, allowing us to watch many of the games on TV. Although Fox didn't air most of the matches in their entirety, I suspect that we will be able to find these on You Tube pretty soon.
Ultimately, the event featured 8 top North American players matched up against 8 top European players. To get to that point, U.S. players spent two days (Tuesday & Wednesday) qualifying for these eight spots. Before these eight players came up against the Europeans, they played each other on Thursday in a North American Championship where Willie Bruguier (South Dakota, U.S.) defeated David Richardson (Canada) to claim that title. On Friday, it was the 8 North Americans pitted against the 8 European players in the first round of the U.S. Masters. Only two Canadians made it to the quarterfinals, and they were subsequently knocked out in that round.
I haven't played darts outside Alaska in nearly 15 years. It was my first time seeing many of these North American players. It was inspiring to watch 21 year-old Dawson Muschell's performance through out the event. And Willie Bruguier's ability to overcome deficits in some of his matches was impressive. He nearly made it past Gerwyn Price in the 1st round.
Fox Sports teamed up a couple of their regular sports casters with John Part and Darren Young to give the viewing audience a well rounded viewpoint of the event. I thought they did an awesome job. John Part's experience at that level allowed him to narrate details that even experienced dart players could pick up on to improve their game. During the match between David Richardson and Max Hopp, I saw Max hit a triple 20 with 124 left to leave 64 with two darts in hand. He then hit the triple 14 with his second dart and narrowly missed the double 11, landing just inside the wire on the double 8. Darren Young mistakenly told the audience that Hopp had made a mistake in math and had shot at the double 8 by mistake. In fact, what Max was doing was assuring himself a shot at a double by shooting his second dart at the triple 14. Had he hit a single 14, he would have had a shot at the double bull. The only mistake, in my opinion, was Hopp deciding to go that route while Richardson was on 215. I think the best move would have been for Hopp to throw at the triple 16 with his second dart to leave a better double, as he was assured to get another turn. As it was, he missed the double 3 on his final turn and allowed Richardson to win the game.
Of course, everyone was talking about Michael Van Gerwen's 132 out in his final leg against Chris White. Van Gerwen went double bull, double bull, double 16 to check out. Many darters are aware that a first dart at the bull with 132 remaining gives you great odds at a double with your third dart, but some will move to the triple 14 if they nail the double bull with the first dart. If you have a good lay in that double bull, it actually makes a lot of sense to "stack" another one along side it. John Part talked about stacking during the event, and I have written about it on my Check It Out page. When Hollis Versyp, on facebook, told me I should write something about that on my website, I replied to him that I actually had stated on my Check It Out page that it was my preferred shot for 132.
We saw a couple 170 outs during the event, but another great outshot was Daryl Gurney's 154 out against Dennis Sayre in the Top 16 round. Gurney went triple 19, triple 19, double 20 to finish. It was another beautiful example of stacking darts and my preferred out for 154. Gurney went on to play against Michael Van Gerwen in the finals for his debut in the PDC World Series event.