Nicholson sees multiple new major winners as being down to rising standard after UK Open shock: "Hence why we are seeing a free for all"

Paul Nicholson summed up the weekend's action in a five points article for the PDC surrounding the UK Open including a nod towards Luke Littler and Thomas Banks.

"The fact that TWO 16-year old schoolboys played in the UK Open is fantastic enough. The fact that they both won multiple games and worried established talent speaks volumes in many ways," said Nicholson to PDC.

"Not only natural talent being harnessed at a bullet train rate, but obviously the route to success for these kids has been correct. Just think back to what you did as a dart player or fan as a 16-year old, and tell me that the system isn’t working."

"On the flip-side of that argument, you have people well over the age of 50 still contending with a never say die attitude, he continued.

"I don’t even need to mention that the champion is over 50, but look at Richie Burnett with all of his ups and downs, ins and outs.

"And I am sure Gary Anderson would love me for putting him in this bracket but he is 52 now, and at times he did look pretty darn good, so watch out world, The Flying Scotsman might not be done yet."

High averages mean nothing

Also he points to the fact that high averages don't always mean prizes.

"Remember last year when Danny Noppert averaged 84 in the final? People keep bringing it up, but why? Let us focus on how amazing he was in the last leg when he needed to be, and that’s exactly what happened when we had another 11-10 scoreline in the championship game in 2023.

"Let us all put something into perspective. Where was the winner in the averages list when the last dart was planted? 43rd. Where was the runner-up in that list? 14th. What does that mean? NOTHING."

New major winner again

He also pays no notice to the notion that the standard has gone down with different major winners and only points at an upward trajectory.

"We had a new Masters champion in each of the last three years, new World Cup champions in 2022 as well as a new Grand Slam champion, new World Champion and a new European Champion."

"Some people have given their opinion that the standard of play hasn’t risen in recent years, and I do not believe that. What I believe in even more is that more players are of a better standard than ever, hence why we are seeing a free for all on the big stages now.

"This will be very frustrating for the likes of Terry Jenkins to see, and for existing big hitters who haven’t broken their duck yet, but it should be motivational to see fresh fingerprints on silverware. It shows that the possibilities are there."

"Just because you win a big title like this doesn’t make you a shoe-in for Premier League berths. Andrew Gilding already knows that, and so do Noppie and Ross Smith."

Stream board success

After the success of the streaming boards, Nicholson believes that in time the demand will be there for more tournaments to follow the model.

"It was refreshing and it gave everyone the chance to both play in front of a watching audience, and it gave fans an opportunity to see their favourites in a mad hatter atmosphere that only showed snippets in previous years.

"They can be very sure they will have to do it again next year as all of the people I have spoken to have said they want to see more.

"By more, I don't just mean the next UK Open too, I mean people want to see this at Players Championship events, the Challenge Tour and even the Development Tour.

Money talks though, and if it is viable, do not be shocked to see it again at the very least in 12 months' time."

No fluke for Gilding

For Nicholson too, the mantra of hard work pays off certainly is on display for Andrew Gilding.

"Do not think that winning a title is a fluke for Gilding. He made three finals last season alone and he produced some daily performances that made people take notice.

"The fact that some pundits within the game actually thought this was possible speaks volumes.

"We could all learn a thing or two from Goldfinger. He not only decided to change his work ethic, but he now does a little bit of fitness work, mental training and obviously puts in the time on the board."

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