The Rileys UK Open Amateur darts qualifiers are nearly upon us. Hundreds of players across the UK are set to take part in the plethora of tournaments taking place at Rileys Sports Bars in the coming weeks. The winners will get the chance to play with the pros at the UK Open at Butlins Minehead in what is often dubbed the “FA Cup of Darts” . You can find the full list of Qualifiers HERE
But what can you expect to experience at a Rileys UK Open Amateur Qualifier? Whether you are a seasoned County or Super Leaguer, a complete novice or somewhere in between, here is your complete guide as to what to expect.
The Big Names
As with any tournament, heads quickly turn at the muttering or a visible spot of an established name or a star from previous years. And if you enter then you may well see a familiar face or two. Former top 32 player Lionel Sams has qualified twice through Rileys in the past, and seven-time World Championship competitor Steve Maish won through twelve months ago.
Last year at Rileys Victoria, two-time World Championship semi-finalist Dave Askew took part, while Alex Roy eventually prevailed to keep his run of competing at all the UK Opens ever held firmly intact.
Two-time Lakeside semi-finalist and multi-time PDC quarter-finalist Chris Mason has said he will also be in action this year.
@ryanesler87 Im gonna play some Rileys UK Open qualifiers and a few BDO opens and then do some Challenge tour events,
— chris mason (@Chris180Mason) 18 January 2017
You may of course be bumping into stars of future too. Rileys Qualifiers from 2014 certainly stand out. Chris Dobey (pictured) is now ranked 42nd in the world and reached the last 32 of the PDC World Championships last month. Simon Stevenson was also in the tournament, having won five matches to reach that stage. Paul Hogan, who had match darts to beat Glenn Durrant at Lakeside, has qualified for the past two years. PDC Development Tour Winner Dean Reynolds was a Rileys Qualifier back in 2014.
Don’t expect to see anyone who is competing at PDC Q-School however, as Q-School entrants and PDC tour card holders can’t enter these competitions. Those with Challenge Tour Status only however can compete.
See what happened next for last year’s Rileys Qualifiers HERE
Practice makes perfect as they say, and nothing says Darts Tournament more than neatly lined queues of players at each board with their darts cases over their drinks at the side.
Whether you practice way in advance or just a few minutes, extra practice boards are on hand in addition to the match ones in order to accommodate the high number of entries.
Tip: If you are practicing on the match boards, why not spend a few throws on each one to get used to the different setups. Queues and time permitting of course!
The Dress Code
Remember this is an event played under PDC rules and regulations. In this case, pay attention to rule 15 under the rules available HERE
“Players are required to wear a collared shirt/polo shirt, trousers and shoes. Jeans, trainers and round-neck t-shirts are not permitted to be worn by players. No player may wear clothing, or use flights bearing advertising that conflicts with the PDC or its official sponsors during any round.”
Tip: When practicing in the build-up to the Rileys Qualifiers, practice in the same or similar attire to that you would to play in the tournament with. And that includes your shoes of choice! It may sound daft, but James Wade had shoe problems at the 2014 World Championship, and it very nearly cost him…
— James Wade (@JamesWade180) 22 December 2013
The draw will be made 10 minutes after the registration closes. This will either be read out on the microphone or printed and displayed. Either way, keep you wits about you to ensure you know who your opponent is. All games are called up to their board on the microphone so make sure you always within earshot. Remember it’s a completely open draw, so everyone is on an equal footing.
Tip: It isn’t just hearing if you are playing in the early stages, you may also be called to mark a game (Or “Chalking” in old money). More on that now…
There are no electronic scorers at any of these events, so if you lose a game or get nominated you’ll have to manually mark the game accordingly.
Tip: If you aren’t familiar with chalking, incorporate it into your practice routines pre-tournament. A great way to get used to the process when the pressure isn’t on!
The first key element is align yourself with the chalk or whiteboard so that you are within easy reach as well as being able to clearly see the board. Standing side-on is your best bet. Then….stand still. The worst thing you can do is move when a player is throwing. You are in their eye-line and it massively disrupts their throw if you move. The only time you should be moving is when you writing up the score.
The next stage is drawing up the scoreboard. Draw 3 vertical lines and grab the initials of either player when they warm-up. If it’s a wipe-board they may be drawn up for you already (pictured). Once they have thrown for the bull, put the winner of the “Bull up” on the left of the board, and the other on the right. Then just count the scores as you go along.
In terms of recording the scores, put the figure in the left hand column of each player and then work on the subtraction. The new subtracted score goes in the right hand column. Never try to subtract until you’ve got the score confirmed and have written it on the board. If you are in any doubt as to what the score is, don’t let the player retrieve their darts from the board until you have confirmed it. The player will often help with this. Don’t blindly follow what the player says however as they may be incorrect – they are in the heat of the battle after all. So take your time, the score being right is the important thing.
Tip: If you lose your game, you must stick around to mark / chalk. If you don’t then you will be barred for future Qualifiers.
The Endurance Factor
With high entry levels and with sometimes two qualifying spots available at some venues, the first round especially may take an hour or two to complete. Therefore it is important to remain patient and have the endurance to last.
Things that will help speed up the tournament is ensuring you there when you are called to play (If you aren’t you might be timed out) and ensuring that if you lost you are there to mark / chalk right away.
One way to last the tournament, is to ensure you are suitably fed and watered. You will be given a drinks voucher upon arrival which you can use at the bar to get a free beverage (or a cashback voucher in Scotland). The bar will also be serving food throughout the tournament so you can keep your energy levels up!
If you get a chance, why not stick around and watch the Final? To think you could be seeing potentially one of the giant killers at the UK Open itself. Like Barry Lynn for example, who had that incredible run to the last eight last year.
After each match you play, win or lose, remember to thank the marker for your game. Also before you leave the venue spare a moment for the event organisers who work tirelessly to keep the tournament running to time. Remember to thank them too, it would be very welcomed!
Enter the Rileys UK Open Amateur Qualifiers HERE