Paul Nicholson discusses a potential new idea for the PDC that would be music to the ears of those who love wrestling – and perhaps even those who don’t!
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As the double-start World Grand Prix draws to a close, would you like to see the PDC host more tournaments with unique formats in the darting calendar?
In the second instalment of an ongoing mini-series, Paul Nicholson puts forward one of the craziest of the lot, but also one that would undoubtedly capture the imagination and get the crowd on their feet for a night of guaranteed drama...without the script.
Let’s Get Ready to…Royal Rumble
The whole idea of having a Royal Rumble-style darts tournament floated around on social media over the summer months and I am going to give credit to Matthew Edgar from Edgar TV, because he released a little video on his channel about how it would work.
Being a wrestling fan myself – I don’t have much time to watch it anymore - but I love the idea of having ‘mystery’ opponents coming out on stage and I think the PDC have missed a trick by never doing it before.
Instead of Challengers during the Premier League season, they could have unveiled one unknown opponent behind a curtain each week, and when their music hits, there’s a huge reaction from the crowd and then the player on stage.
That’s a great idea in itself, but Matt took it one step further by thinking of a way to create a full Royal Rumble out of it.
He thought of having four different groups, with a seeded player in each waiting on the board for his first mystery opponent. The winner of that match stays on for another mystery opponent and so on.
All four winners during an afternoon session would then advance to the semi-finals and final during the evening.
I’m sure you’d agree that there’s a lot of potential in this, but the PDC and media would have to keep it a secret without leaks in order to maximise the excitement and drama for the fans.
Imagine Rob Cross, for example, wins a match, the arena goes quiet in suspense and then Phil Taylor’s music hits! Where did that come from!? Social media would go into meltdown with surprise twists like this – let alone the crowd in the arena.
If it’s a one-day gig, not taken too seriously and includes some players plucked from retirement, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t enjoy this.
My own personal take on this Royal Rumble idea is as follows.
Firstly, it would be a one-night tournament played just once in the entire season.
If there were 30 players involved like the original Royal Rumble in wrestling, you’d definitely need the top 10 in the world involved, then there would be a qualifying event for another 10 spots - but preferably held secretly – and then there would be 10 wildcards selected by the PDC and the chosen broadcaster to maximise drama and ensure shock factor. Only they would know.
On the night itself, one player from the qualifiers is drawn randomly to start on stage and his opponent comes out and they play a best-of-three 501 match. It has to be cut-throat and short. I wouldn't want the matches be best-of-19 legs for instance – that’s too long and you need fans really engaged from the off.
As soon as the match-winning double is hit, a big countdown clock in the arena starts ticking from 10 to 1, with the crowd chanting along with it. As soon as it hits zero, the curtain lifts up and the next player’s music hits.
It's so important that the audience and social media do not know who the first two players are too. As soon as they see the walk-on of number one, they think “oh he's got to go through all of this whole thing to win it.”
And then there’s the drama of who he plays first. There’d have to be a social media blackout backstage so nobody lets the cat out of the bag.
Like the Royal Rumble, it has to be unfairly hard for the players at the start so there’s no breaks either.
I’d personally have 32 players in this tournament and if you happen to be the 32nd one coming out onto the stage, you do only have to win a best-of-three match to win the title!
Imagine MVG coming out as number one and getting all the way to the very end only to lose that last match!
Whether the draw is created to incite extra drama – or completely random – you could argue the case for both. It’s all about having fun, rather than being taken too seriously as a ranking event.
Finally, I’d have this event staged in Scotland or Ireland to make it as mad as possible. It can’t be in England as they have a plethora of events already.
I want to commentate on this thing so badly. It gets my juices flowing and we are screaming for this right now. This has got to be done.
I think darts as a product is fantastic as it stands but the constant evolution of our sport does hinge on how we intensify things in the future.
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