No longer purely the domain of pubs, garages and man caves, professional darts has developed into an immensely popular spectator sport, as well as a TV sports juggernaut. The coronavirus pandemic initially put darts on the sidelines, but a handful of virtual leagues have emerged in recent weeks to ease fans’ and punters’ COVID-19 malaise.
Legendary figures Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld squared off in a ‘Darts From Home’ match on 9 April to raise money for the NHS. Five-time world champion van Barneveld came from 6–3 down to edge out 16-time champ Taylor 7–6 in the novel encounter.
Full-scale tournaments – with mic’d up players slinging their arrows on webcam from the safety of their own homes – are now in full swing, with darts odds available on all matches. The atmosphere may not be the same without a beer-swilling crowd in the background, or the announcer bellowing ‘ONNNE HUNDRED AND EIIIIGHHHTYYYYY!’, but it’s still an absorbing watch as we navigate the current live sports wasteland.
MODUS ICONS LIVE LEAGUE
The Modus Icons Live League was the first darts tournament cab off the rank and is now into its fourth week of competition.
Featuring some of darts’ biggest names and rising stars, the invitational competition plays round-robin leagues from Monday to Saturday, with the ladder leader at the end of the week declared the winner.
Dutchman van Barneveld was the star attraction in week one, but he finished second-last in a field of six competitors to foil many experts’ Modus Icons Live League tips. David Evans edged out Wessel Nijman for the week one title after both players won 15 of their 20 matches; it came down to legs for-and-against, with Evans a mere one leg ahead.
Four new players came on board in week two, which saw Jason Askew dominate his rivals from his Surrey abode. Askew won 15 of his 20 matches to finish four victories clear of the field.
Paul Nicholson – one of only two players to feature in each of the first three weeks of competition, alongside Andy Jenkins – surged to the week-three title with a magnificent 16–4 record.
🏆🎯 Congratulations to our columnist Paul @TheAsset180 Nicholson for running away with the Modus Icons of Darts Week 3 title!
🔥 20 matches, 16 wins and 10 points clear of second!https://t.co/lH6tiKUiNg
— Sporting Life (@SportingLife) April 25, 2020
Three-time women’s world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova is among the new faces for week four. All matches are available for a Modus Icons Live League bet.
PDC HOME TOUR
The Professional Darts Corporation unveiled the first round of PDC Home Tour matches on 17 April.
A total of 128 Tour cardholders were pitted in four-player round robins each night, with the 32 winners advancing to the second phase.
World number 57 Luke Woodhouse nailed the first nine-darter – the Holy Grail in the sport – of his career to put his name in the PDC Home Tour spotlight on the first weekend of the competition.
— Live Darts (@livedarts) April 18, 2020
The Home Tour’s first phase is nearing the halfway mark, with group 12’s four competitors vying to advance on Wednesday morning (AEST).
PDC Home Tour odds are available for individual match head-to-heads and group winner futures.
REMOTE DARTS LEAGUE
The World Darts Federation is also running a tournament, the Remote Darts League, which kicked off on 18 April.
The RDL featured 10 players, who faced each other once over nine nights, with five games played each night. After the round robin was completed, the top four qualifiers lined up in semifinals and a final.
James Richardson parlayed his top-of-the-table finish into Remote Darts League title success, thrashing fellow Englishman Paul Hogan 10 legs to 3 in the final on Tuesday morning (AEST).
After a four-day break, 10 players – including all four semifinalists – will reconvene for RDL2.
Not to be outdone, the lower-profile Czech Premier League of Darts has now also started.
Sportsbet has darts odds and tips for active competitions, including Modus Icons Live League betting options. Bet now.