A Cultural Phenomenon: The Rise of Professional Darts

Once considered a pub pastime, darts has evolved into a global spectacle, captivating audiences with its electrifying atmosphere, larger-than-life personalities, and intense competition.

February 26, 2024

In the realm of sports, few have undergone such a remarkable transformation in recent years as professional darts. Once considered a pub pastime, darts has evolved into a global spectacle, captivating audiences with its electrifying atmosphere, larger-than-life personalities, and intense competition.

Darts World Championships celebrations as Michael van Gerwen reigns supreme

Michael van Gerwen celebrates winning the PDC Darts World Championship.

At the heart of this evolution lies a perfect storm of factors, from the rise of social media to the emergence of young talents like Luke Littler, all contributing to the meteoric rise of darts as a cultural event. So, how did darts become the cultural phenomenon that it is today?

The Rise of Professional Darts

The journey of professional darts from humble beginnings to mainstream prominence is nothing short of extraordinary. While the sport has been played for centuries, its transformation into a professional spectacle gained momentum in the latter half of the 20th century, thanks in part to organizations like the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British Darts Organisation (BDO).

Gary Anderson celebrates at the PDC World Darts Championships.

Gary Anderson – One of the sports’ biggest stars who’s played a huge part in the evolution of darts! (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons).

However, it was not until recent years that darts truly entered the mainstream consciousness. With annual events such as the PDC World Darts Championships as well as the Premier League, darts is now bringing some of the world’s biggest broadcasters the table, such as Sky Sports and DAZN, to platform what has now become one of the most popular, lucrative sports in the world.

Luke Littler: A Rising Star

One of the defining moments in the recent history of darts occurred at the 2023 PDC World Darts Championships, when then-unknown teenage sensation, Luke Littler, made an improbable run to the final.

Luke Littler celebrates a 170 checkout at the Premier League Darts in Newcastle

Aged just 17, Luke ‘The Nuke’ Littler has taken the sporting world by storm! (Photo Credits: Luke Littler – Instagram).

Despite ultimately falling short, Littler’s captivating performance captured the imagination of fans worldwide and served as a testament to the sport’s ability to produce unexpected heroes. Overnight, Littler became a household name, symbolizing the newfound excitement and unpredictability of professional darts.

Not to mention, it has proven to be no fluke from ‘The Nuke’, who has since gone on to win the Bahrain International Masters after convincingly beating the legendary Michael van Gerwen, as well as holding his own against the top 5 in the PDC World rankings.

Interested in watching Luke Littler live in the flesh? Find out more about our Darts hospitality packages here.

5 Memorable Darts Moments

The history of darts is filled with unforgettable moments that have left an indelible mark on the sport and its fans. While opinions may vary on the top moments, here are five that stand out as particularly iconic:

  1. Eric Bristow’s Nine-Dart Finish (1984): In 1984, at the MFI World Matchplay, Eric Bristow achieved the first-ever televised nine-dart finish. This perfect leg of darts, consisting of nine consecutive perfect throws (three triple 20s, followed by triple 19, followed by triple 18, and closing with three bullseyes), solidified Bristow’s status as one of the greatest players of all time and remains one of the most celebrated moments in darts history.
  2. Phil Taylor’s Dominance: Phil “The Power” Taylor’s unparalleled dominance throughout his career is itself a series of historic moments. With 16 World Championship titles and countless other major tournament victories, Taylor’s reign as the undisputed king of darts has left an enduring legacy on the sport. His ability to consistently perform at the highest level, coupled with his fierce competitiveness, set a standard that few have been able to match.
  3. The Lakeside Final (1983): The 1983 Embassy World Darts Championship final between Keith Deller and Eric Bristow is legendary in darts lore. Deller, a 23-year-old qualifier, stunned the darts world by defeating Bristow, who was at the peak of his powers and a five-time world champion at the time. Deller’s unexpected victory, capped off with a 138 checkout on the bullseye, remains one of the most memorable upsets in darts history.
  4. Barney’s Nine-Dart Finish in the Premier League (2006): In 2006, Raymond van Barneveld etched his name into the annals of darts history by hitting a nine-dart finish during a Premier League match against Peter Manley. Van Barneveld’s flawless performance, which included two 180s and a 141 checkout, marked the first nine-darter in Premier League history and showcased his immense talent on the biggest stage.
  5. Michael Smith vs. Michael van Gerwen – 2023 PDC Darts World Championships Final: “I can’t speak!” are the three words etched into every Darts fan’s mind. The 2023 PDC World Championship Final between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith captivated audiences with its intensity and drama. One of the most memorable moments of the match came when both players were on the brink of achieving a nine-dart finish simultaneously, showcasing their incredible skill and nerve under pressure.

    Michael Smith edges out Michael van Gerwen to what is the most iconic 9-dart finish in Darts history.

    WATCH: Michael Smith Nine-Darter – The Best Leg Ever! (Photo Credits: Professional Darts Corporation – YouTube).

The Evolution of Atmosphere at the Darts

Central to the allure of professional darts is its unique atmosphere, characterized by raucous crowds, pulsating music, and an electric energy that reverberates throughout the arena. Unlike traditional sporting events, where silence is often enforced, darts embrace the cacophony of cheers and chants, creating an immersive experience that transcends the boundaries between player and spectator.

Fans celebrate at the PDC World Darts Championships

The electric atmosphere is what lures fans into arenas every week for the darts.

This infectious atmosphere has played a crucial role in attracting new audiences to the sport, as fans flock to arenas around the world to be part of the action.

Embracing traditions: Fancy dress and drinking culture

While darts has embraced modernity in many respects, it has also remained deeply rooted in tradition. Nowhere is this more evident than in the sport’s enduring love affair with fancy dress and drinking culture.

Darts fans celebrating in fancy dress

From elaborate costumes to pint-fueled revelry, these traditions add an element of spectacle and camaraderie to darts events, fostering a sense of community among players and fans alike. While some may view these customs as frivolous, they are an integral part of the darts experience, contributing to the sport’s unique charm and appeal.

Mainstream Popularity: Darts’ Household Names

In today’s digital age, social media has emerged as a powerful tool for athletes to connect with fans and elevate their profiles. Darts is no exception, with some of the sport’s biggest stars boasting millions of followers across various platforms. Players like Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, and Gerwyn Price have leveraged their social media presence to engage with fans, share insights into their lives, and promote the sport to a global audience.

Michael van Gerwen at the 2022 Cazoo Premier League Darts

2022 Cazoo Premier League Darts at Mercedes-Benz-Arena Berlin

This unprecedented access has helped propel darts stars to superstardom, transcending the confines of the oche to become household names around the world.

Attending the PDC Darts World Championships with Corinthian Sports

Are you ready to be part of the excitement? Join us for VIP hospitality at some of the biggest darts meetings in the world, including the prestigious PDC World Darts Championships. Experience the thrill of the oche up close and personal, surrounded by fellow enthusiasts and top-tier hospitality. Don’t miss your chance to witness darting history in the making. Book your VIP experience today and be part of the action!

Corinthian Sports offers premier VIP experiences at the best sporting events in the UK and overseas exclusively for guests who want a unique, high quality and memorable day!

We are proud to offer exclusive hospitality across some of the most prestigious darts tournaments in the world such as the PDC Darts World Championships.

Our PDC World Darts Championships packages include:

  • Silver (table of 6), Gold & Platinum (table of 10) packages available
  • Prime table positioning with table service
  • Three-course Michelin-star menu (package dependent)
  • Complimentary bar & welcome drink (wine, beer & soft drinks)
  • Mid-session light bites
  • Souvenir programme

Are you interested in attending a darts event? Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

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