Sunday, May 31, 2020

Darts in Furlough, a welcome return and distraction


Back in June 2019 I picked up my darts for the first time in 2 years to get back the love for the game I once had, two months in and i was enjoying playing darts again and remembering the enjoyment the game has whilst being cruel at the same time. My average was getting stronger by the day, i would practice a few nights a week for a couple of hours after i got in from work and started to look to play in local teams again. 

Then sadly come August i ruptured my achilles tendon (not darts related) so was in a cast and medical boot till October/November time not being able to throw a dart but just watch videos and read books on how i can improve my game ready for when i could.

However when i was able to play again my game had left me, i was struggling to score anything over 40 per visit, my match averages were in the low 40’s if not lower so i threw my darts away and decided it was not going to happen for me, i had lost all confidence i had in my game and was embarrassing when i would try and play in the pub or the local leagues.


Fast forward to March 2020 and the dreaded COVID19 and getting furloughed from work made me wonder what to do whilst i was at home, so sitting at home again like i did for the back end of 2019, i looked at my wall and decided as i could now walk ok after healing up, let's give darts another go.


So i purchased a new board online before everywhere sold out, dusted off the darts that i did retrieve after i chucked them, made a new set up and got practising for a few hours a day, which then turned into 3-4 hours everyday of the week, then the emergence of the online darts community meant i went from doing practice games like Bobs27, Round the Board and the JDC challenge to playing games vs players from across the globe and my love for this game was back and so was my game, my averages at the start of Lockdown were around 45-48 at best now so many weeks later its between 64-67 a great improvement. 

With not being able to go out and see family and my friend this meant i had something to occupy my mind away from the distractions of what was happening in the world, i could focus on the game, focus on where i needed to improve what areas of my game could i make better to make me better at darts.


I now have a practice schedule each week that I try to stick to and once i return to work i can amend to suit the smaller time frame i will probably have available to play. I have spoken with my darts captain and explained that when we get back to league play I want to come and apologise to my teammates and try again to play this wonderful game. The darts community at times can be a cruel and lonely place but one thing that this current period has shown me is that a sport we have passion for can bring people together and help people grow better in that sport, which is what darts has done for me during Furlough and hopefully beyond.





Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
Facebook - facebook.com/dartsinstoke





Sunday, May 24, 2020

Playing Online what is best to use ?



So we are all now playing darts online until we get out of the lockdown and the pubs can reopen, when that will be no one for sure can say, but us darts players continue to make the most of our time at home and have been playing darts by the millions, playing players from all across the globe in this great sport.

So the most common questions that i see get asked across various Facebook groups and twitter feed's are what camera should i use, what site can i use, do i have to pay.
Well i'm going to talk about my own set up and experiences, now these might not be for you but i can assure you if something can be done on a small budget i will find a way.

Camera


So what camera do i use, well i use my Android phone and i use the iVCam app from the Google Play Store.

Link - https://www.e2esoft.com/ivcam/


Cost, its FREE to use 

Then on my laptop device i connect the app to my laptop this now makes my phone a webcam, so step one complete.

The iVCam app is a product that is free to use but can also be upgraded if required, there is also various features it comes with where you can increase resolution and exposure etc as well as flit the camera angles.

All in all this is the best webcam app i have come across to use with mobile devices and if you cant afford a go-pro or another type of camera this is the best next option for you.

Camera Mounting

How do i mount my camera well i brought a very cheap phone holder off eBay


It cost me about £3 with shipping and does the job as i have it connected to my table which is under by dart board and my phone is sturdy enough on it to show my board, now one tip is to make sure the camera position does not block your view of the board as you throw, but to make sure that the camera shows enough of the board to start with.


Scoring Software

There are plenty to use that is for sure, some have been around for years and some ave only just come onto the market since we hot the lockdown. If you have been a regular reader of my blogs you will know we played darts online many years back before it become popular we use to use a piece of software called DartNo1 and you had to download it and then make sure a certain port on your router was open to connect to your opponent but now its so easy to connect to your opponents.

The best i have used to play vs another player LIVE online is,


lidarts.org - https://lidarts.org/


LiDarts has it all, you can play using webcams which are automatically brought into your game providing you have it connected, games can be arranged quickly as you can send out a public challenge, you can build up a friends list of teammates and players you can trust and enjoy playing games with. You can play 101-1001 and standard start or double in. You can also play Cricket the North American version of the game but this is still very much a work in progress part of the site, with the 01 side been the more played games on here.

The stats after a game are good and what you would expect and i know the devs behind the scenes are looking at ways to improve the way these can be better presented but currently it shows all you need it to.

The interaction with your opponent over a webcam is brilliant you can have their board on main show or half and half with your own its up to you and your preference.

Nakka is a go to for most players now but a few things that nakka lets its self down on i feel is that you wait a long time for a game to connect, the latest updates allowing webcams is a massive improvement for nakka but after months of playing both i now find myself drawn more to lidarts for a online game.

Now lets not forget there are other sites as well, lidarts is just my personal preference, you can also use

GoDartsPro
Dart Counter
Webcam Darts Association
Pro Darter

plus more links which can be found at https://www.dartsinstoke.co.uk/darts-training

But as far as the software for you to use its totally your preference what you go with but there are plenty of free sites to use.

Etiquete

Something i have talked about before in regards to when you play in the pub or at a competition and the same goes for when online.
Something i have noticed when playing players from Europe who's English is not the best the common phrase to use is "Good Darts" use this before the match, and i have had it said at the end of the match as well.
Try to remember that if you are having a chat with them after a match and they dont speak much English then it will be lost on them.

During your online match try and keep the amount of chit chat to a minimum and also any distractions to a minimum, i have played players recently where they have had someone else in the room with them and been chatting to them which as a player playing them with headphones in can be distracting also loud music is another, when we are in the pub their are distractions for sure but now online think about your opponent before you have some heavy dance music on in the background we just want to play darts.

When you have thrown before you enter your score announce the score its just decent to do so, also if your opponent asks to see the darts before you take them out, move your camera closer to show them, but providing you have set the camera up close and correct to the board you should not need to.

Apart from this its just the same as you would if you were playing vs someone be polite and respectful towards your opponent.

So to sum up you can get started playing darts online very quickly and at very little cost, yes this way of playing will require 2 devices which can not be easy for most to get but if you can pick up a old tablet as long as the camera works you can use that it does not have to be an up to date tablet or new as long as it connects to the internet and PlayStore you will be ok.

As i have stated the above is just my set up and it works for me for you it might be different but its what we can make work during this time. 

Till we chat again stay safe and enjoy your darts and as always mind the oche folks !


Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
Facebook - facebook.com/dartsinstoke

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Will we soon loose the Chalkboards ?


The days of turning up to your darts league match or attending a darts knockout and dreading the fateful mark of the night could soon be over with the advancement in scoring technology and the introduction of the Darts Connect system.

Lets be honest we have all been there at some point during our darts journey where we have realised its out turn to mark and we have that fear moment of well i'm ok with the adding up part but its then the take away side i struggle with. There is not a darts player who has not had this moment i'm certain, no matter how good a marker you might think you are.

But with the recent surge of darts online i'm sure there are players out there who will now be saying to their leagues and pubs lets get a tablet for the wall instead of the chalk that we can use to keep scores on.

One of my local leagues banned the use of scoring machines from league matches and these were the ones that did not show you the previous scores we all know the ones i'm on about

they can be a pain for sure especially when the marker is not confident in the score he has just put in or can not keep up with the pace of the match and inputs the score on the wrong side as they did not press the enter key and then all hell at times can break loose, with old John in the back ground shouting "you cant go wrong with a piece of chalk son" and how right he is, the scores are there to be seen you can see if they have wrote down the first score of 60 and have put down 431 (i have seen this!) as the score left. The Darts Connect system and NakkaNO1 allow the users to see what scores have been inputted and the AI does the maths part for the players then by taking that score away from what they had left so there is no shouting to the marker " that's the wrong score" obviously when you take your darts out the boards if you confirm with the marker what you have scores then what they input should not have any issues.
If they input the incorrect score, because we are only human after all and like myself i have fat finger syndrome as i like to call it when i enter a score wrong or type a word wrong, we an easily on the screen tab up to the last inputted score and re enter the correct score and the AI does it for us and we are back to normal.

When i first started playing darts all them years ago my landlord at the time popped a calculator on some string next to the board, when i arrived one Tuesday night and asked why his reply was "it was hilarious watching you try work out the scores when you last played lad so felt i would help you" fair comment when we start playing and your no good at maths it can be tough, but the best way to learn the game i was told and still say to people is to do the marking as you will learn what you have left after certain scores and also work out the better ways to checkout because you are working them out on the job if you will, but with the introduction of technology to do the scoring for us i feel this will disappear and a new generation of darts players now will never know the pain of marking with chalk and getting it all over your cloths and rubbing the incorrect score out with your hand as you cant find the rag, or wiping the board down with a rag that has been left in the River Trent for the last 3 weeks with the amount of water its held.

Will leagues change there approach on technology once we come out of lockdown and back to playing in pubs and clubs i think they will, and we will see more places with a tablet mounted to the wall to be used of a old laptop cut in half and mounted to what was the chalk board. The use of nakka and DartConnect will not show leagues that's not only is it better for players but also for averages for the leagues that use averages and highest checkouts etc.

As i write this one other think that gets you thinking is would leagues look to have comps that are played using these devices online vs another pub from our the area, now that's something totally different to think about for another day. 

To sum up, have the chalking days gone, not currently but i cant see them staying around for too much longer despite how much players and leagues will try to keep players chalking. 

Till we chat again Stay Safe, enjoy your darts and as always, mind the oche folks !


Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
Facebook - facebook.com/dartsinstoke

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Can Online darts hold its Place.


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We posted a blog many months ago about how we used to play online darts and how playing darts online was seen to a few as a joke and that it opened the world of darts to cheats etc


Now all i can see across my social media feeds is people advertising darts knockouts for online play and the most i have seen so far has been £15 to enter a event with it been a money in money out event. If someone had asked you in January to play darts online and pay £15 for the privilege i'm sure you would have told someone where to go. However with the current climate online darts has become the only way to play the game we love but are you willing to pay £15 to play from the comfort of your home. Personally for me its a no, i don't mind chipping in to a £3 KO for charity but i cant see the value to paying the higher price to play online when there is so much that can go wrong.

We have run 5 knockouts so far online and they have all been received very well by players in our area and a little further afield with on average 24 players playing in each one, when we put these out to the players i had many messages sent to me asking how i was going to admin the event and police the event, and my reply was simple.

Don't Cheat and i wont have to do anything !

We have all probably said the phrase over the last few weeks when talking about online darts 

"You are only cheating yourself"

This is the most true comment ever but there are them players/people out there not just online but as i have seen in pubs and clubs that have also cheated took a S1 out and said it was in the 20, with online darts and depending how their camera sits and quality this opens this up to more possible cheats claiming the big scores.
I start games slow at times and my scores for my first 12 can be 41, 59, 45, 60 and then i can find my game and hit 121, 140, 137 etc and this gets me wondering is my opponent sitting their thinking hes gone from hitting 41's to 137's what ever pal!
Yeah i can see how it looks and even with my board shown on my phone camera it does play on my mind, personally i don't look at my opponents board, if they are putting in scores of 25,37,140,157,180,26 that is up to them but on the flip they could have also been the same as me slow to get into games but with a money paid event are you willing to accept that your opponent was slow to get going despite the fact you don't know if they are throwing from 5ft off a bar stool with a pint in hand.

All in all online darts has grown massively over the last 8 weeks with the sales of webcams up and also extendable phone holders on amazon been brought up and of course its not just for using with darts but i'm sure a good portion of these are been used to play darts with.

This all been said if we are told come August that the pubs are going to reopen and we get back to some form of normality and our local darts leagues start up again what happens to online darts will people still play online now that they have found it, i think the answer is going to be yes, most will now see that they can play a game of darts at home with a beer same as in a pub and doing it this way some coin will stay it the pocket more. Of course we all want to play in live events and leagues and this will never change but if you play Tuesday and Friday nights you could now play in a online league Wednesday or Thursday to stop the partner from moaning about going out for another night of the week, yes i do speak from experience here.

So what will be the process moving forward be, the use of Facebook now over websites and forums is massive and growing more and more, dont forget that DartsInStoke use to be a internet forum before we closed it due to lack of use and moved to a website and social media. What is needed is a central hub on Facebook for all online events of darts instead of the 27 groups and pages you have to follow and then miss out on posts on these pages because your friend has posted a picture of his dinner on your timeline.
We at DartsInStoke will always try and bring all local and just outside our area events if they be online or live but i can see a shift soon to groups advertising just online events more than the physical events even in 18 months time.

To sum up as we do, online darts has given us players a chance to carry on playing, for me to fall back in love with my game and to meet and chat with new  players from aroudn the globe.

Good luck and enjoy your darts online, and please Stay Home where possible and Stay Safe

Till we chat again, enjoy your darts and mind that oche folks.


Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
Facebook - facebook.com/dartsinstoke