Paul Nicholson discusses the need for a potential team darts championship on the PDC calendar.
In the fifth and final instalment of a special mini-series about new tournament ideas that could shake up the PDC circuit, the Sporting Life darts columnist explains why he thinks the a team event - in addition to Pairs - would be a hit with supporters and players alike.
Part 5: Darts can be a team game
This obviously goes along the same lines as the Pairs – which I’m a huge fan of – and it’s something I talked about with John Part a few years back.
He was under the impression that the Premier League was getting stale and thought the whole concept of getting the most popular 8-10 players every year to tour the country in the same way had become monotonous.
How could we change that up? And the answer lies with what modern amateur darts is doing right now – a franchise system.
If you look at the NFL for instance, or any major American sport, you can get people behind the team pretty quickly but we don’t have anything like that in professional darts, especially not on TV.
The concept for a Team Championship would start by having the world’s top eight players - according to the rankings at the start of the year - and make them the captains for each team.
They would then select three players each to join their teams – and that process in itself would be a great TV programme straight after the World Championship, just like a draft in the States.
I think another stipulation would be that at least one member of each team would have to be female just to add a bit of extra spice and also a player from the Development Tour – or an age requirement that one player has to fall into.
When the teams play against each other, you’d have the top ranked players up against each other, the next highest ranked players facing off, then the two Development Tour players and then the female players. At the end of the four matches, you’d have an overall team winner – or a draw if it finishes two wins apiece.
Obviously you could throw a Pairs match or two in there as well, but this is just the general idea of how a Team Championship could work.
Part of the fun would be the team name and the shirt, which would rally darts fans into picking their favourite and become supporters.
There are so many possibilities such as whether the franchises would be city-based with a specific ‘home’ venue, how many fixtures could be played in one night and how long the season would be.
You could go down the route of having a Dutch team with MVG as the captain but what would happen in the future if there wasn’t a Dutch player in the top eight – would you have Gerwyn Price, for example, as its captain?! No. Therefore I think it’d be more sensible to come up with teams that weren’t associated with a particular region.
I’d love to get the thoughts of Rod Harrington on this as well as Barry Hearn and the other board members, because I’m sure there’s some mileage in it.
As a fan, I’d love to watch the best players jostling for position at the top of the rankings towards the end of the season because they’d be desperate to be a team captain in this – and then it’d be equally fascinating to see how they handle the selection process and which players they opt for.
Some people might read this and think it’s too similar to the World Cup, but it’s not. There’s so much you can change about this idea to take it down a different path to the one I’ve suggested, but ultimately a team tournament would give us something fresh and exciting.
When I talked to John Part about this, he was of the opinion it should replace the Premier League because it’s not ranked, and I agree with that to a certain extent.
There would need to be very long meetings about the logistics of a team championship and I can’t see it materialising any time soon – but it’s definitely one to consider.
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