Old China Hand, Clerkenwell - 07 Jun 2019
Dress: Hipsters v Despots
DAM 2018/19 - The best final ever?
Echoing shades of England's fortuitous WC 2019 win and Edgbaston 2019, the people's tournament 2019 final may go down in the annals as the best four-man head to head match DAM had ever seen. Possibly in the whole of darts too?
5 hours earlier, however, a different scene was unfolding as the sleeping giants of the game blew two years worth of dust from their quivers and gathered themselves for the reckoning that was Dam 2019, hipsters v despots. Before The Power's retirement he had been accused of being slow, overweight and lazy and the assembled cast showed nothing to dispell the pundits' similar theories about today's matches. But we know there is a difference between an 18 time champion past his prime and pub-based fancy dress darts - RUM - it energises, enthuses and turns mere mortals into gods. Despite this, few would have dared to predict the drama about to unfurl.
Darts Innovation or the end of the world?
As we all know Darts never stands still and innovation is rife, consider the aluminium shaft, the rotating flight or even the knurled grip - I rest my case. The Trident, DAM's organisers, had been promised the dawn of a new era, the birth of LISA (Lardydarts Integrated Scoring Assistant) Lardydarts' answer to the Silicon Valley behemoth Amazon's artificial intelligence (AI) assistant Alexa but with a mind a zillion times more powerful - Carol Vorderman and Stephen Hawking's lovechild.
But with changes to the working environment of the lead engineer and unable to muster the same level of engineering resources afforded to a FAANG, her birth was aborted - for now. The start of the end of the world was to be delayed.
Never fear, with minds not yet showing signs of dementia, scoring was in safe hands.
How it unfolded
The usual suspects arrived; Bungle, Splash, The Hero, The Heatseeker, The Matador, Limey and The Walrus. Various good, bad and non-existent outfits were worn but the immediate chat amongst the bookies was who would win? With over 14 majors between a few of them, this could be over very quickly. With the obvious oche time guaranteed the smart money was sure to be placed on a seasoned professional, one able to last the course, the pace and the rum. But as dartists know, a cornered Colin Montgomery is a dangerous beast, we all start out as virgins.
First things first, fines and the customary warmup - rum (£4.20 a shot).
With the energy of a morning turd the first round draw was made. Two groups of lackluster pugilists.
So who won?
Ding ding round 1
WMD - Limey and The Heatseeker find their enriched uranium whilst The Walrus and Splash appear embarrassed in front of a House of Commons Select Committee.
Sinclair C5 - The Hero and The Matador drive away as happy as Sir Clive on Tomorrow's World, Bungle takes home an aging Maggie Philbin.
Round one playoff
Nathan Barley - The Walrus and Splash get the fast train to Hoxton, Bungle forgets his Oyster
Ding ding semi-finals
Genocide - The Heatseeker and Limey open fire, Splash - "THIS IS MY SREBRENICA"
Shell suits - The Hero and The Matador get static, The Walrus combusts
With time ticking on before we had to hand back the secured darts area could the final happen in 45 minutes? Could one of the four men hit 3 doubles in that time? Who would walk away wearing a second World War German helmet and title of the people's champion? Limey, The Hero, The Matador or The Heatseeker.
Nerves were jangling but as WC Field once wrote :
"Set up another case bartender! The best thing for a case of nerves is a case of Scotch"
Yes, that's right, 8 shots of £4.20 rum for the finalists. Would it provide the power or be the undoing?
Leg one, The Hero races out of the blocks and takes the first leg.
Leg two, The Matador takes it
Leg three, The Heatseeker sneaks one in
Leg four, The Hero takes another and is on the verge
As we know, the beauty of sport is its unpredictability and having covered rum-based darts for over 20 years one knows that when The Captain (or his £4.20 a shot equivalent) enters the room stats, theories and rational explanations are torn a new one. Time to dance.
Leg five, Limey, with nine-plus £4.20 rums now coursing through his veins, explodes into life and with a change in strategy starts on lady darts - downtown! With the energy rarely seen on an oche since fartgate, the raw power Limey put behind those southpaw efforts forced a double and the final took off.
Who would win? Who could hold their nerve? The Hero looked dominant early on but rum (£4.20 a shot) has caused paralysis and with every player now a whisker or two from victory a classic was on the cards.
Squeaky bum time.
Leg 6. Matador raises his cape, teases the opposition and delivers the killing blow. One away from victory too.
Nails bitten to shreds.
Leg 7. With Limey continuing to channel lady darts and consistently mentioning drug-inspired art installations - a lethal combination - his darts proved too much. One away.
Three players one leg away from glory, the darts equivalent of the superover.
Nerves. of. Steel. Required
Leg 8. It happened in a flash. 19, treble 19, 19, 19, treble 19. Using Paul Hardcastle's lyrics as inspiration Limey eased his tungsten tip into a soft welcoming double bed and wheeled away in ecstasy - DAM 2019 Champion.
Onlookers gasped, closed their eyes, took a moment, breathed in the stale air and, whilst exhaling, just appreciated. I was there, I was there.