Darts has been around for years but its popularity continues to grow. In Europe, it’s one of the most-watched and commercially lucrative sports while its notoriety around the world has increased thanks to major global tournaments and a flamboyant talent pool featuring some of the sport’s greatest ever players. But there remains a small group of countries where the game has, over the last few decades, enjoyed enduring appeal, ultimately producing the professionals who have become icons of the sport. Here we check out the most darts-obsessed countries in the world.
It was an Englishman who helped transform the sport in the 1990s, helping it become the worldwide phenomenon it is today. That man is Phil “The Power” Taylor. In his native country, darts is not only a major attraction on sports TV channels but one of the most-played amateur games thanks to local and regional leagues and a dart board in almost every pub you happen to walk into. Voted the sport with the highest integrity, a number of the world’s top professionals have emerged from England thanks to its widespread popularity including current stars James Wade, Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall, Glen Durrant, Ian White and Rob Cross. And, with the prestigious PDC World Championship taking place at Alexandria Palace in London, England remains darts spiritual home.
With so many successful English players, it’s no surprise to see darts’ popularity spread to all corners of Great Britain. In Wales, darts enjoys the same appeal as its neighbouring nation; you’re just as likely to see casual players hitting the oche in Cardiff as you are in London. An easy and cheap sport to play, darts has been widespread since before the Second World War and when it became a big TV event in the 1970s and 1980s, Wales was responsible for some of the game’s most notable players such as Ceri Morgan and Alan Evans. Leighton Rees, Richie Burnett and Mark Webster are two of Wales’ most notable champions since with Gerwyn Price currently the country’s top ranked player.
Scottish darts has enjoyed a period of increased notoriety thanks to Gary Anderson’s rise up the world rankings. Flying the flag for his home nation, the man from Musselburgh gave Scots plenty to shout about with back-to-back world championship titles in 2015 and 2016. A major amateur sport with many pubs having their own teams, darts enjoys a massive fanbase and it’s set to get even bigger following the nation’s first ever triumph at the World Cup of Darts in which Anderson competed with Peter Wright.
Raymond van Barneveld has been an inspiration to Dutch players for years, ultimately culminating in the outrageous talent that is Michael van Gerwen emerging to take the sport by storm. The current world number one is arguably the best man to ever play the game. At the age of 30 he already has three world titles, two World Matchplay wins, four World Grand Slams, and has triumphed in dart’s Premier League five times. Regardless of the tournament, you only need look at sportsbet.io’s professional darts odds to know how dominant van Gerwen continues to be after his compatriot van Barneveld took Dutch darts to another level before him, helping the game grow in stature in the Netherlands. This is highlighted by a number of top players currently enjoying success on the professional circuit such as Wesley Harms, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Richard Veenstra.
With the likes of Dimitri van den Bergh, Mario Vandenbogaerde, Kim Huybrechts, Roger Janssen and Brian Raman emerging as top 100 players, Belgium stands out as one of the “best of the rest” outside the dominating British nations and Holland. Last year, at the World Cup of Darts, the Belgium team knocked out the English, one of the tournament favourites, in a competition they’ve enjoyed plenty of success in having never lost before the quarter finals.
Nearly a million people watch the World Darts Championship finals on TV in the UK alone, revealing how popular darts is today. The amount of TV coverage it gets is massive with weekly tournaments successfully competing with Premier League football in European markets. Crowds are on the up, prize pots enormous, and standards getting better and better. It’s no surprise these five countries are darts-obsessed, just as it’s no shock to see the game continuing to attract more and more people to its unique thrills.