Embracing an unlikely spectator sport at the Danish Darts Open

Expect a football game atmosphere at Brøndby Hallen as the players take to the oche

Tomorrow is the start of the 2018 Danish Darts Open, bringing Europe’s best players to Copenhagen to compete for the title.

But many might be surprised to hear there is a professional darts circuit and wonder why darts is such a big deal in some countries.

As such, this is a guide for the curious and those who might be interested in attending the tournament when it gets underway at Brøndby Hallen.

The basics
Although many people will almost certainly have had a go at throwing darts at a board at some point, particularly in countries where the sport enjoys popularity, there might be less of an understanding about how it’s played.

Although there are many different formats of darts, the most common on the professional circuit, as well as the most viewed, is simply called 501.

The aim of the game is simple. Players start at the figure of 501 and try to work their way down to zero by hitting the numbers on the dartboard until they are in range of making the winning double. The dartboard is divided into 20 numbered sections, which range from 1-20. The sections are divided by circular wires establishing single, double and triple sections. At PDC events, players will play a best-of-11 game format where the first to reach six games is the winner.

The holy grail in darts is the nine-dart finish, which is when a player only uses nine darts to finish a game. The feat is often compared with a perfect game 300 in tenpin bowling or scoring a maximum 147 break in snooker.

The culture
Those not familiar with darts would definitely be surprised if they ever attended a tournament. While the typical image of people playing darts usually features a pub, the crowds at professional tournaments are more reminiscent of a football match.

The atmosphere is lively, and the drinks are flowing as thousands come together to watch the best in the business play. This same climate can be expected for the Danish Open where there should be a healthy gathering of people having a drink and a laugh, often in fancy dress.

The top players
The tournament will have no shortage of top quality players, as many are ranked in the top 10 in the world. This includes players such as Peter Wright (#2 in the world), Michael Smith (#9) and Daryl Gurney (#5).

But the true headliner at this event will Michael van Gerwen, the number 1 player in the world, who has absolutely dominated the sport over the past five years.

Top ranked Michael van Gerwen is looking for his sixth win on this year’s PDC European Tour (Photo: Facebook)

Nicknamed ‘Mighty Mike’, the Dutchman was the youngest ever player to throw a televised nine-dart finish, and so far he has annihilated his opposition during this year’s European PDC tour, winning five of the first seven events.

His dominance along with the general acceptance of his place among the greats makes Van Gerwen comparable to the likes of Lionel Messi in football or LeBron James in basketball.

So, if you find the prospect of gathering in a large group to watch a bunch of grown men toss darts at a board while putting back beer after beer exciting, the Danish Darts Open is definitely right up your alley.

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