You better lose yourself in the [darts], the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
Kevin Painter is the Eminem of Darts.
He’s not the Eminem of darts in that he’s making an ostensibly black art form more palatable to an American white majority, like Elvis before him, or showing that white dudes can be street [puke]. Anyway darts is an ostensibly white art form crying out for an infusion of black culture. Hip Hop Tungsten.
He’s the Eminem of darts because he’s got one shot, one moment, and he is well aware this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.
Painter has had a sniff at previous Premier League’s but never made the cut. A perennial quarter-finalist, although regarded as one of the biggest talents in the game, especially where his finishing is concerned, he never did anything spectacular enough to warrant Premier League inclusion; a shot at the elite of darts.
And then he won the Players Championship finals. A pokey little tournament supposed to be the culmination of a year’s hard work on the pro-tour, the regular floor tournaments that take place up and down the land from glamorous Wigan to glamorous Barnsley. When he won that, he won a Major title and everything changed.
Darts is strange. Pretty much all tournaments broadcast on television are regarded as Major tournaments. If you win on telly you’re a Major winner. You don the green jacket of tungsten.
Golf has four Majors; Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (rudely referred to as the British Open by our American former-colonists) and the PGA Championship.
Tennis is likewise parsimonious in it’s distribution of Major status; Wimbers, U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open. Four again.
Darts is complicated by the existence of two competing - competing is a generous term in this context, the BDO are competing with the PDC like a rotting corpse competes with a vulture - organisations that have their own tournaments.
BDO Majors; Lakeside World Championship and the Winmau Masters.
PDC Majors; World Championship, World Matchplay, UK Open, Grand Slam, Grand Prix, Grand Dad (this one not real), Premier League, Players Championship. Some may even argue for the European Championship. So that’s nine or ten Majors.
There is a reason we took this particular detour. Kevin Painter’s inclusion in the 2012 PLD was due to his first Major title. He had finally delivered. On the big stage.
And if the Players Championships are hardly oozing with prestige, if the field of players in December were distracted by the looming World Championship, so what?
No one can tell Kevin Painter the Players Championship title is not a Major, is not a major deal.
You can understand where this comes from; the if it’s on telly it’s a Major, attitude. Many of the players at the top of the game experienced their formative years when there was but one darts competition broadcast on TV annually. Just the Lakeside. So of course it was a Major.
And when darts got it’s act together and the sport started to grow, the reasons for which we won’t repeat here, and tournaments began sprouting on telly like an over-zealous fungus, it was natural to call them Majors.
Darts isn’t on it’s arse anymore; it’s booming. A whole reappraisal of the status of the tournaments in the PDC calendar is required. We’ll leave the dysfunctional BDO out of this. They have their two Majors and god bless them.
Darts should have four Majors, like tennis and golf; World Championship, Premier League, World Matchplay, and UK Open. That’s it. Winning a tournament on TV will always be special; call the triumphant players televised tournament winners. Leaving a truly elite cohort of players at the top of darts who have achieved a portion of sporting immortality by lifting one of the four big prizes.
This is not to undermine Kevin Painter’s achievement. He is a televised tournament winner. And this will always mean something in a sport that only twenty years ago was never on telly, and could not provide a livelihood for it’s participants; let alone create the multiple millionaires of the modern era.
Painter won his Major. He got his chance in the Premier League. And is proving week after week that he belongs to the elite. The Artist sits third in the PLD table behind Phil Taylor and current champion Gary Anderson. Barney, James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Andy Hamilton, Simon Whitlock all trail in his wake.
And while we need a rethinking of the status of the regular tournaments on darts’ calendar, Kevin Painter has taken his one shot, seized his opportunity of a lifetime. Yo.
If you liked this have a look at these other darts stories
You can follow Lenny on Twitter @Lenny_Boyle, and read more of his words about Darts at Tectonic Tungsten
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