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The 9-darter. The perfect leg of darts. The holy grail of darting achievement.
A 147 snooker break = 300 points in 10 pin bowling = 6 sixes in a cricket over = a nine dart finish = sporting perfection.
Once upon a time a nine dart checkout was a rare thing, hardly ever hit and never on television. Then along came John Lowe who picked up Â£102k on October 13th 1984 in a match against Keith Deller as he hit the less common outshot of T17 T18 D18 with his last three darts to make darting history.
Lowe's 9-darter was not broadcast live, however. It would be another 18 years before this happened when Shaun Greatbatch secured a new nickname as he performed the feat on live Dutch television in 2002 in a match against Steve Coote.
Later that same year Phil Taylor finally treated the British TV audience to a live 9-darter when he it one at the World Matchplay in Blackpool. The Power currently has a rather apt nine televised 9-darters to his name. He has even hit two in one match! Against James Wade in the 2010 Premier League final.
Perhaps the most famous televised 9-darter was Paul Lim's in 1990. Lim hit perfection against Irishman Jack McKenna and for his efforts won more than twice the amount that the eventual World Champion received - Â£52k. Times have changed since those days when such a feat was scarcely seen.
Nowadays a nine dart finish is almost expected and the rewards are much less. But there were 19 years between Lim's moment of glory and the next World Championship 9-darter, despite the fact that there are two World Championships running in parallel every year.
Raymond van Barneveld made his own bit of history in January 2009 when playing Dutch compatriot Jelle Klaasen. Barney recieved Â£20k for his 9-darter and then hit another in the same calendar year. This one came in December at the next World Championship and for this Barney earned himself Â£25k.
The next perfect leg in a World Championship came from Adrian Lewis in the 2011 final against Gary Anderson, netting Jackpot 'only' Â£10k. We see the trend in prize money awarded dimishing every year.
As the quality of dartboards and darts equipment has improved over the years the standard of play has increased - less bounce outs, higher averages, and the bar raised by the sheer quality of players like Phil Taylor have meant that 9-darters have become more common. Hit a perfect leg of darts today and you are likely to receive Â£400, or even just a share of it.
In 22 years (between 1984 and 2006) there were just 7 televised 9-darters. Since then there have been 25, coming at an average of 5 a year.
Away from the TV cameras the trend is even more dramatic with 17 coming before 2007 and a whopping 88 since!
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