Three years ago the idea of a type of constructors championship, for darts, was floated among the darting forum and social media world. It is fair to say it was not very well received.
It always struck me that the idea had some merit. Reward always motivates companies, as well as people, and the thought of being able to claim to be the best manufacturer might prove tempting.
It was, therefor, with some glee that I came across the framework for, the soft tip darts organisation, Dartslive. “The World” event that they run includes a section for constructors, with registered players being asked to provide not just their generic dart sponsor but their supplier of ; Barrel, Flight, Stem and even tip/point!
Obviously as most of the fast expanding darts activity happens outside of the UK and Europe it is other manufacturers who have taken up the baton in terms of development. L Style, Cosmo, Monster and others currently lead the way. The PDC, BDO & WDF could all be missing a trick here. Surely Unicorn, Target, Winmau & Red Dragon would develop their player sponsorship and product development strategy if their reputation was at stake each year, with the new players snapping at their heals it would be a very interesting first few years.
A few years ago this may have seemed a limited excercise. Due to the dominance of “The Power” Unicorn would have dominated to a very large extent. RVB,Lewis and Wade ensured that the majors and most other events went to “The Big Name in Darts”. Yet even then there were signs that different approaches were happening and different constructors were making waves.
Red Dragon had opted for a niche marketing idea, signing many up and coming or popular players. Target was developing interesting designs and the dart art type of styling, while quietly planning on gaining some major names. Cosmo had just launched the Fit Flight system and Masterdarts/XQ had a strong stable of European players to lead their brand.
A glance at the situation now reveals a different story. Unicorn managed to retain a good position through signing Gary Anderson and retaining RVB. Target have built an exceptional stable including “The Power”, “Jackpot”, “Chizzy” & “The Bullit” whilst also driving sales through excellent cosmetic appeal and innovation.
The previously mentioned L Style, Cosmo and Monster are beginning to make waves by either, supplying accessories to noted players or complete set ups to a select group of established players or those with potential. Pipe, Part & Mansell to give a few examples. Players who are becoming true global professionals are also backed by this group of manufacturers. Larry Butler is perhaps the best current example, his global travelling a success in all formats mean he provides remarkable value for money!
In the coming season I shall operate a manufacturers league table. Keeping it simple, early on, it will include the full PDC Pro Tour and major events. From the Qtr Finals onward points will be awarded to the dart manufacturer and accessory companies where possible. To begin with we shall simply award points based on £’s for the dart manufacturers and half of the £’s won for the accessories manufacturer. Only ranking events will be used and each event will only count upon its completion.
How will the biggest names fair? Who is developing the most talent? and what combination seem to give an advantage. Hopefully the table will give us a few thoughts through the season.