Darts knockouts can be a daunting place to attend for someone who has never attended one before, in today's blog piece i'm going to go over my tips and do and dont's when attending a darts knockout for the first time.
Now a quick disclaimer these are my own views and my own experiences, everyone deals with events differently so just because something either worked for me or didn't might not be the same for you.
So you have decided to attend your first darts knockout, this could be because your friends have asked you or you feel its time to take the next step from pub darts to knockout darts, which ever it is the main thing is you enjoy the day. Before you leave for the knockout do some research into the venue and area and also your travel arrangements. My first ever knockout i attended way back was at a sports hall in Wolverhampton, i had no idea where i was going before hand no idea where i was going to park etc so make sure you do your research first.
Registration time can sometimes be different from doors open time, events i have been will open doors to the venue at 10am but not open registration till midday and then have reg open for 2 hours possibly this can then be a long time between practice darts and competitive darts so plan your time wisely. Also note just because the flyer says toe the oche at say 1pm this will mean that the draw will be done around this time and depending on entries and boards available you could still be in for a wait to play your match. The big events like the British open give you an estimated board time to come back to the venue but the pub knockouts cant do this so you have to wait your turn, so a tip from me would be to see what board you are on find out who is on 2 games before you and try and locate them this way you will then have time to prepare. One of the worst things is sitting around and then hearing your name called to a board, try and go from the a practice board to the oche if you can.
Another thing to bare in mind now is that you have been called to your board, if you arrive and there is no one there start to practice there is nothing in the rules that says you cant, you will normally get the custom 6 or 9 practice darts but as soon as you get to the board if its empty get some early darts in. Then you have the anxious wait not just for your opponent but the marker, personally i never try and concern myself with my opponents warm up darts they are just that once the game is on everyone changes despite what we say.
If after a few throws you dont have a marker alert control or the organiser asap you dont want to keep waiting for him or her to come and mark, it just builds the tension up in your throw all you will want to do at this point is play your match.
Enjoy the match if its your first time dont over play the game in your head, at the start of your practice darts work out which way you will come away from collecting your darts, generally its the side of the marker but some venues can be tight with boards and this is not an easy option so get your return sorted early. Normally you will be provided with a table to place your case and drink on, at these events its often best to place your darts case on top of your glass but what some do that i have always done is drop one of my flights into my glass, its not gross its a new flight and its not like im going to swallow it. Once your match is over if you have won shake your opponents hand and i would always encourage anyone that comes with me who has not been before to shake the hand of the marker also, its the decent and right think to do they have lost and are out but still were good enough to mark the game. Once won head straight to the control desk and report your result, dont go the bar or the toilet let them know you are done so the next match can get started. Now if you have lost its a gut killer yes, you possibly just want go home but do the right thing and mark the game, pack your darts away pop them in your pocket and stand by the board ready to mark the game. As discussed in other blog posts some events let you put £3 on the table if you dont want mark for someone to come and mark for you, if this is your preferred option leave the money but alert control that you have done this so they can call out for a volunteer marker.
Now i step back to research part of what i talked about earlier if you have won, you could be in for a wait for the next game, i have been to knockouts with friends who have won in Rd1 and then had to wait for over 1hr30 for there next game, so plan your time well here, get food so look at what is close to the venue is it in walking distance can you drive there without hassle and stress. One event i went once in Manchester me and a friend both passed our Rd1 games and were told it was estimated an hour wait for the next games, and the venue had only one practice board in use so we had done our work and spotted there was a pub about 10 min walk we could go get food and they had a board for us to practice on which was great but if they call you then you want hear it as you are at least a mile away and these events dont do texts telling you your game is coming up. So if you are going to walk out the venue make sure you have a good idea on time and where you are going, games on your board and draw side might go quick and there could be some byes with players who have won leaving (oh it happens) so its always a risk to leave the venue but sometimes can be a good thing to regroup yourself.
If you do stay at the venue in between your games make sure you can here the control desk call your name a given really, but for me i take a book and read in between games settle my mind in all the chaos of a darts knockout can have, some just go the bar and drink its your own personal preference really. Once at the British Open a chap i had been practicing with the day before was more stressed as he had only put 3hrs on his car parking ticket and was worries about it expiring so if you are driving be mindful of time you might be there for over 5hrs you could be done in 30 minutes it all depends on how the event is run.
My best tip for a knockout is speak to other players get involved with chat where possible the darts community is great and yes there are some who are in the mindset of dont speak to me im here to win today that's fine let them be but most are up for a chat and then when you attend other knockouts in that area of close bye you will become friendly with them i still have friends now in the midlands and Manchester that i got chatting with and enjoy speaking with them when i see them at events. When you are on a practice board get involved with routines with others if they are happy for you to join in, if not find out what the routine is and join in on your own so if they are playing 10 up 1 down what ever the player in front is throwing for you either go 1 down or 10 up if they got it etc try not to just spend time throwing at the 20's when your at the board it might be a 9 person snake to throw them 3 darts so use them wisely if you are not involved in any routine set challenges to yourself.
Once the event is over and you are done, most of the time players will stay around and have a game of killer or ATW stay and get involved with these games its good practice and you again will get to know the players a little more, if you see the event host thank them for their time, most dont get paid or kickbacks for running darts knockouts they do so for the love of the game. Give feedback to them both good and bad, what you felt was good about the knockout what could have been improved about the event and venue, it will only make them better.
Confidence is massive in darts and more so when you attend your first ko on your own, but just enjoy the game you love because no matter if there is 15 or 150 other players there they all enjoy a game of darts as you do.
* Plan your journey
* Arrive in good time but not too early, it could be a long day
* Register as soon as you can, it gets it out the way
* Find out who is on 2 games before you so that you can prepare right
* Get to your board early if you like to get the feel of the throw
* If you win, register your score ASAP
* If you loose, stay by the board ready to mark the next game
* If you leave the venue, dont stray too far and perhaps inform control
* Enjoy the darts and the experience, once you have done one you will do more
Till we chat again, enjoy your darts and mind the oche folks.
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