The opinion that darts needs to become a recognized Olympic sport is shared by darts players of all levels as well as fans across the globe. Even the World Cup-winning former coach for England Rugby has expressed his admiration for the sport, stating that “Darts should be an Olympic sport. No, seriously…the Olympics is evolving, and I want to see darts in the Games.”
The forthcoming 2020 edition of the Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo, will contain five new (and one returning) sports, among them skateboarding, surfing and karate. Darts, unfortunately, has been passed over once again.
Meanwhile, the recent news that the discipline of competitive video gaming, aka eSports, has been able to secure an Olympic-sanctioned tournament in the run-up to the games next year has started a debate amongst fans of ‘arrows’. Disgruntled darts lovers the world over believe that their favoured sport has more of a reason to be included in the Olympics than video games.
The debate continues, however, and on closer inspection, it seems that there are quite a few similarities between the two different disciplines, not least their global popularity and diehard fanbases. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Both sports create mathematical geniuses
Well, maybe you won’t find the next Pythagoras, Euler or Terry Tao amongst the ranks in a video gaming or darts arena, but the chances are that the top players in both disciplines are pretty good at numbers.
Having a fundamental grasp of mathematics is necessary for most things in modern life, but successful darts players – and more recently – eSports players are renowned for their sharp maths skills. If you can’t quickly figure out 501 minus triple 1, how do you know what to aim for? Similarly, eSports players have to keep tally of things like hit points and physical damage, as well as make superfast calculations on things like Critical Strike Chance when executing major objectives.
Both sports have equally loyal fanbases
Going from a pub game to world domination in a relatively short space of time has meant that darts has grown a loyal following amounting to millions. During the 2018 PDC World Championships, 1.4 million people in the UK tuned in to watch Rob Cross finally scoop a title win, accompanied by a 2.7 million German audience.
Some eSports tournaments have also been rumoured to generate viewing figures that compare only to the Superbowl (easily one of if not the most-watched event in the sporting calendar). Whether or not that’s actually true, there’s no denying the sheer popularity of the discipline with specific demographics.
And as far as the industry goes, large numbers of loyal fans equals big bucks, especially when it comes to secondary income streams. Darts betting, for example, is immensely popular and most of the leading bookies will open numerous odds and betting markets for darts events.
Much like darts has created its own sports betting markets, so too has eSports. According to stats laid out in the best eSports betting guide from CasinoSmash, by 2023 the discipline will have over 600 million players participating worldwide, leading some analysts to believe that eSports betting revenues could become the largest income stream in the industry.
Both sports generate unique atmospheres at events
You may not think that a discipline that, until the last decade, was mostly carried out in participants bedrooms would translate well in a stadium environment. However, when it comes to eSports, you’d be wrong.
With some events offering combined prize pools in excess of $30 million, the atmosphere at an elite-level tournament is a mixture of camaraderie (many of the games are played in teams), spectacle and competition. Audience members feel at home with hundreds of thousands of strangers because they are united in their love of all things geek. Watching an eSports tournament is in many ways the ultimate indulgence of geekhood.
The unique and buzzing atmosphere at a darts competition is, of course, renowned. Staying true to its pub game origins, even darts world championship events still manage to have that loud atmosphere.
See for yourself in Singapore
You don’t just have to take our word for it when it comes to the similarities between darts and eSports. Hop on a plane and head to the Bountie Arena in the heart of One-North, Singapore. This 6,600 square foot “premier eSports and gaming lifestyle venue” has both eSports and darts playing facilities all under one roof. The new arena has a main gaming area that features 60 ASUS Republic of Gamers desktops alongside five state of the art Phoenix Darts digital darts machines.