The Heat Is Off

Red Dragon Darts

Affairs were as high stakes and high tension as ever on the oche at the World Matchplay this July, but there was one noticeable change as far as the heat was concerned.

No, not Aussie thrower Damon Heta, who made the second round and produced reactions with his walk-on antics. The literal and physical heat of the place and the intense temperatures are commonly experienced by those inside the venue.

It is typically so acutely felt by those in the arena that Raymond van Barneveld has suggested he prepares for Blackpool with the heating on full blast.

That is a move perhaps more familiar to the sorts of preparations we’d see an Antarctic explorer endure to stave off his or her body shutting down.

Last year, it was compounded by the successive days of extremely hot temperatures incurred during a heatwave experienced in the UK.

But is it really all that, or a myth exaggerated and built through time?

(Editors Note: Classic Lawrence Lustig photos of players pouring with sweat and using towels between throws would suggest at leat some evidence of it being reality)

It seems that this year things were different.

During the time I was there, it seemed that every player that walked through the door was surprised by how much cooler things were.

Gary Anderson suggested to the press after his first-round win that he hadn’t seen rain in Blackpool for three years before this.

Anyone who has endured this great British summer will perhaps not be too surprised to hear that rain featured in this year’s edition, as well as markedly cooler temperatures.

For all I have heard of the famed sizzling Blackpool temperatures, I can’t say I was personally taken aback by the heat in the arena itself. It was relatively cool, as was the backstage area that the players come through to get into the main floor.

Perhaps the milder temperatures took the edge off what can be quite an intimidating on-stage atmosphere at the Winter Gardens.

If the venue had some of its aura dimmed, even temporarily, it may have served in the fresher and less experienced players’ favour.

Or maybe that is wishful thinking. There was only one debutant in the draw this year, Mike De Decker and he was dumped out at the first stage.

At the very least, it is one less excuse or justification for struggling up there. The pressure will perhaps be felt less in the climate of the hall and more in the tension of the occasion.

It may well prove to be a temporary change. But, perhaps, at least for a while, Barney can turn his radiators down.


Images: L Lustig

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