COLUMN: The time seems ripe for a bigger darts tournament in the United States

The return of the US Darts Masters to Madison Square Garden in New York was a resounding success. The United States looks set for a bigger tournament.

The event again received a lot of media attention and seats were packed at the US Darts Masters. More than three thousand American fans had come to the tournament each day, where eight of the world’s best players competed against eight of the best North American darts players.

The North Americans didn’t just show that they served as tournament filler. Reigning world champion Michael Smith and world number two Peter Wright were even kicked out of the tournament by Jim Long and Jeff Smith respectively.

The latter became the man of the tournament. After his victory over Wright, ‘The Silencer’ also recorded great victories over Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries. Just before his duels against Aspinall and Humphries, Smith had already won the North American championship.

After winning five matches in one day, however, the reservoir was found to be empty in the final. The Canadian was unable to offer a game to Michael van Gerwen and went 8-0 against the Dutchman.

However, this did not change the conclusion that North American Darts has taken another step. Not only in terms of level, but also in terms of attention to sport. And so the question arises whether a larger tournament could not take place in the United States, for example a televised tournament that counts for the world ranking.

The PDC already ventured there at the beginning of this century. At the time, several Players Championship tournaments were also played each year in North America, and one major tournament (Las Vegas Desert Classic) was also played. And at the time, despite Canadian John Part’s three world titles, the sport was not as popular there as it is now.

As far as I’m concerned, there are three options for setting up a ranking tournament in the United States. The first option is a new tournament on the Masters schedule at the end of January. A tournament over three or four days with 32 players. Invite the 28 players who performed the best the previous season, so only the prize money earned in the second year on the PDC Order of Merit. After all, this ranking is based on results over a 24-month period. The four remaining places can then be allocated to four North American darts players, for my part the two best Americans and Canadians.

Another option is a similar tournament at the site of the World Series of Darts Finals in September, this event is, in my opinion, the most pointless tournament on the calendar, along with the Masters. Invite to this tournament the 28 players who have performed the best in the first seven or eight months of the season, supplemented by four other local darts players.

A final option is to move one of the existing majors to the United States. The World Grand Prix seems to me to be a good choice for that. However, this choice does not seem obvious. The step from a two-day tournament to a seven-day tournament is perhaps still (too) big.

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