BACK IN THE DAY WITH: Justin Pipe: famed for methodical style but a former top-10 player

In this column, we regularly go back in time with a particular darter. Today we do so with the Englishman, Justin Pipe.

Justin Pipe was born on Nov. 9, 1971, in Taunton. In his youth he was a boxer, but also had a passion for darts. An avid anti-smoker, he refused to play darts in the local pubs because it caused eye strain. When a smoking ban was introduced in British pubs in 2007, he decided to give his old love a second chance.

Through a qualifying tournament he managed to qualify for the UK Open in 2008. After wins against Geoff Wylie and Lionel Sams, he failed in the third round against eventual winner James Wade. After this tournament, he became a permanent member of the PDC and a year later he was there again at the UK Open, this time losing in the third round to Andy Jenkins.

In 2010, he managed to qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts via another qualifying tournament. In a group that also included James Wade, Vincent van der Voort and Tony O'Shea, he was left without a win. Pipe performed excellently at the smaller tournaments and could thus prepare for his debut at the PDC World Championship 2011. In the first round, however, things immediately went wrong after a 3-1 defeat against Mark Walsh.

First ranking title

Pipe also made his debut at the 2011 World Matchplay, scoring his first win at a major in the opening round by beating ninth-seeded Mervyn King 10-6. One round later, however, Pipe had to acknowledge his superiority to Wes Newton. Later that year, he recorded his first ranking title by defeating Phil Taylor 6-5 in the final of a Players Championship in Dublin. Buoyed by this success, Pipe won two more Players Championships that same month.

BACK IN THE DAY WITH: Justin Pipe: famed for methodical style but a former top-10 player
Because of his past in the fighting world, Pipe was nicknamed 'The Force'

Pipe started that year's Players Championship Finals as the first seed thanks in part to his three tournament wins. That ended in disappointment, however, because after six missed matchdarts, he lost 8-7 to Mark Webster in the second round. A month later he recorded his best World Championship result. After victories against Sean Reed and Wes Newton, he lost to Terry Jenkins in the last 16.

Player of the year award

In early 2012, Pipe was voted PDPA Player of the Year due to his strong performances, a vote that came from his fellow players. Almost immediately after, he won the fourth Players Championship of his career by defeating Paul Nicholson 6-0 in the final. In April of that year, he also won the Austrian Darts Open, where he beat Raymond van Barneveld in the semifinals and beat James Wade in the final.

Pipe, meanwhile, had risen to the top-16 in the world rankings and was thus automatically qualified for almost all majors. In the coming years he reached semifinals at the Players Championship Finals (3x) and the World Grand Prix and quarterfinals at the World Matchplay (2x) and the Masters. However, he never managed to win a major.

Car accident

Due to a severe car accident, during which he could not use his throwing arm for three months, his action has changed a bit. Pipe was also known throughout his career for his very slow style, which could sometimes irritate his opponent. "It works for me, though, so I don't see any reason to change that," he said.

BACK IN THE DAY WITH: Justin Pipe: famed for methodical style but a former top-10 player
Pipe was working as a tree surgeon before his darts career

Incident at World Championship

In 2018, Pipe took part in the World Darts Championship for the penultimate time. In the opening round, he took on New Zealander Bernie Smith. When his opponent had matchdarts, Pipe was coughing behind his back. It earned him much criticism from fans, but according to Pipe, there was no malice. However, the disciplinary committee thought otherwise and fined him 3,000 pounds. By the way, Pipe won that match 3-2, but had to pack up a round later after a 4-0 defeat against Phil Taylor.

In the following years Pipe slipped further and further down the world rankings, in 2020 he was there one last time at the World Championship, but after a 3-0 defeat in the second round against Daryl Gurney he was soon allowed to return home. In early 2022, he lost his PDC Tour Card and since then he did not attempt at Q-School to regain it.

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