In darts, pot-bellied men throw arrows at targets and look like their fans. At least that’s the first impression. But how does the sport that really inspire the masses work between Christmas and New Year?

Today at 7 p.m. the Darts World Cup starts at the famous Alexandra Palace in London. This time without the crazy viewers. These are the rules of “pub sports”.

Two people play against each other in darts. You are not part of a team, but an individual athlete. Almost all of them have a nickname. The Scotsman Peter Wright for example called “Snakebite”, the German Max Hopp calls himself “Maximiser”.


An ordinary dartboard. (Source: image / Panthermedia)

The red point in the center is called the “Bull’s Eye”. A hit in this field is worth 50 points. The green circle around the “Bull’s Eye” is called “Bull” and scores 25 points.

The other fields show the number of points next to them. As an example, let’s take the area at the top center with the “20”. If the player hits the top or bottom black square with his arrow (see arrows), he gets 20 points.

Each number also has a double field, it is the outer ring. Whoever touches this field gets double the number of points. In this example 40 points.

There is also a triple field, the inner ring. Whoever hits this field gets three times the number of points. In this example that would be 60 points, the maximum number of points that can be achieved with one throw.


The players take turns throwing three arrows at the disc. A minimum of zero points is possible and a maximum of 180 if the player hits the triple 20 field three times. By the way, that’s when the fans cheer on the crowd and hold up their board with the 180.

Fans hold up signs with the 180: at these moments ecstasy breaks out in the audience. (Source: image images / Jan Huebner)Fans hold up signs with the 180: at these moments ecstasy breaks out in the audience. (Source: Jan Huebner / image images)

There are different ways to play darts and different modes. We explain the “set mode” that is common at the Darts World Cup.

This is how “set mode” works

Both players start with 501 points. The goal is to be the first to have zero points. So every hit subtracts points. For example, if player A rolls the triple 20 on his first roll, then a normal 17 and finally on the bullseye, that’s 127 points (60 + 17 + 50). Of the 501 points, 374 would remain (501-127).

Important: the players must throw themselves exactly to zero. If you get too many points, you have to try again. Example: Player A is still eight points short. He scores ten points, two too many. In his next round he again has eight points.

Also important: with professional darts “double-out” is used. That is, the last hit must be a double field. Example: If there are four missing points, the game must be ended with a double-two (see image below). An easy four would end the attempt.


Whoever is the first to get zero points has won a “leg”. In the Darts World Cup, a player needs three “legs” to win a “set”.

This is done in “best of” mode. The “best-of-five” mode applies to the first two rounds. The object of the game is to be the first to win three sets. Whoever succeeds has won the game and is progressing.


1st round: “Best of Five” (three winning sentences required)
2nd round: “Best of Five” (three winning sentences required)
3rd Round: “Best of Seven” (four winning sets required)
4th Round: “Best of Seven” (four winning sets required)
Quarter-Finals: “Best of Nine” (five winning sets required)
Semi-Finals: “Best of Eleven” (six winning sets required)
Final: “Best of Thirteen” (seven winning sets required)

To fully understand the game, you could do it yourself here watch a full match between pros Peter Wright (Scotland) and Dmitri van den Bergh (Belgium).

Note: In this example, the game is played until one of the two has won seven legs. This is common in daily competition due to the shorter playing time.

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