Friday, October 18, 2019

Utterly Painful Evening

“I am a man more darted against than darting.”
- King Lear

A recent outing to the Monday night singles league resulted in a full roller coaster of emotions for me, as a darter, but in the end I went home mostly content.  As a dart player, historically speaking, I am used to winning most of the games I play. Not all, but most. Even if I am up against a quality player I walk into the match with a full expectation of winning. I am not sure where this confidence comes from.  Probably from 16 years of competitive play. I am no longer intimidated by swagger, a quality visit from my opponent, or even by a player who routinely beats me. In baseball they talk about “post season experience” as a way to describe a teams ability not just to rise to a higher level of play, but also their ability to not buckle in the face of a formidable opponent. I think I may have a little bit of this in darts even though I really have only ever been a league player. I am certainly not the best dart player in my league, not by a long shot, but at the very least I am not intimidated by anyone in it, and it has been years (probably more than a decade) since I have walked into a match expecting to lose.

My last visit to Monday Single League shook my confidence a little as a darter. It started out quite poor, very poor in fact, then reached a high crescendo in the space of two or three games, and then crashed down to the lowest I have felt in recent memory. I lost games I had no business losing, mostly because my finishing suffered tremendously. I spent literally dozens of darts missing doubles, including the Double 1, in several games. The silver lining is twofold:  first and foremost I never once lost my composure or showed any outwardly visible signs of dejection or distress. I remained as cool as a forest after a spring rain, which I think is a pillar of professionalism.  Secondly, and more importantly, one of the players I lost a best-of-three match too, and who is almost always at the shoots and almost always does poorly, was absolutely elated at his win. I have not seen him that happy ever. His smile was ear to ear and he was even shaking people hands (unusual for him). His elation was infectious, and I went home a happy, but defeated darter.

Here is how the evening went. The format was a Best-of-3 SIDO 501 Round Robin tournament. My first opponent was certainly the best player in not just our little league, but probably in the entire PNW. Despite this, I expected to win. I know I am capable of it, as I have beaten him before (tho rarely). However, in this case I most certainly did not.  We played two games and in both legs I had 262 remaining when he took out his double for the win.  Despite the identical results, my second leg was poorer than my first!  In the first leg I hit a solitary lonesome triple for a score of 68. In the second leg my highest round was 41, and I hit that score four times. A miserable way to start a shoot.

My second opponent was Cornfed. He seems a good guy and I think he might be the same species of dart geek as I.  He has a large collection of darts paraphernalia dangling from his belt (I might take a picture of it sometime), he has a "I've got this" confident swagger, and he throws a rare and expensive Target branded dart (which I also want to get a picture of).  My first leg against him started poorly: 25, 45, 26.  But then I hit a 125 and then followed that up with three rounds of 60.  The closest I came to an out shot was my last round.  I was sitting on 160, which would have been a spectacular out for me (but I have done it (once)) but I hit a 60 to leave 100, and he took out 53 in his next visit. Game over.  The next leg was worse.  My highest round was 85 and the rest were lower, and my one shot at the out was a 68. I started with a Triple 20, missed inside on the Double 4, then missed inside again on the Double 2, leaving bones.  He took out 40 in his next visit.  Game over.  At this point in the evening I have not won a single leg.

It is also worth noting that at this point I either never got to an out or I only had one shot at a multiple-dart out, so it is difficult to say that my "finishing suffered".  It will tho!

My third opponent was Karim.  This was scored the old fashioned way: on a chalkboard, so there is no DartConnect recap I can rely on to jog my memory.  All I really recall is that I lost in 2 games and scored a Ton-80 in the mix.  I was elated at the Maximum, of course, and it took the stink off an otherwise painful evening.

My fourth opponent was Tom, and I do not recall how this match went either.  My impression is that I did not win it.

My fifth opponent was Mike.  This was my only successful best-of-three match of the evening and I took it 2-1.  The first leg wasn't so bad. I opened with 83, and snuck in another Ton mid-game. In the end I had 70 remaining, hit a 52 to leave 18, and then hit the 18 with my first dart on the next visit. A nice win.  The second leg was quite middling until I had 152 left.  I hit a ton to leave 52, but then proceeded to spend 21 darts whittling it down to 2, and never managed to take it out.  Here was another instance of my finishing suffering greatly.  The third leg was another one I would describe, maybe generously, as fair-to-middling until I had 170 remaining.  I was hopeful, but then only scored an 80 to leave 90, and then spent 18 darts whittling it down to 12.  I did take it out though so while it was a win, I think it is fair to say that my finished still suffered.  This has been the theme of the evening, I think.

My sixth and last opponent of the evening was Ronny.  Normally I do well against him but not tonight.  The match was a 1-2 loss, and here is how it went.  I opened the first leg with a clean ton, but then settled into the middle range of scoring until I had 90 left.  Then, I a single 20 to leave 70, a triple 20 to leave 10, and then missed the double 5 outside.  Next visit I missed the double 5 outside with all three darts.  Next round I missed inside to leave 5, cracked that with a 1, and then missed the double 2 on the outside. On the next visit I finally hit the double 2 with my third dart.  In all that totals to 12 missed shots at the double ring so while it was a win, my finishing again suffered.  The second leg I also opened with a clean ton, then middled my way down to 155. I hit an 80 to leave 75, then, somehow flubbed my way into 40 to leave 35 (I do not believe any of those darts were aimed at the double ring).  Next visit, I hit a 3, and then missed the double 16 twice, once inside leaving 16. Next visit I missed inside three times leaving 2. Then I missed the double 1 for two more full rounds before I lost the leg. 11 darts that were aimed at, and missed, the double ring.  My finishing suffered.

My last leg against Ronny was more of the same.  I opened (very coincidentally) with another clean ton, and managed a 125 a few rounds later.  Then I middled again, and eventually spent 23 darts missing the double ring to an eventual loss.

So what is my take-away from all of this?  Finishing cannot suffer

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