The vast majority of televised professional darts matches consist of single games, or legs, in which the object is to score exactly 501 points, ‘straight in, double out’. What this means, in plain English, is that players require no special shot to start scoring, but must finish scoring on a double or the bullseye. The minimum number of darts required to score 501 is nine, so a nine-dart finish is considered the pinnacle of achievement in a single leg of darts, akin to a ‘maximum’ break of 147 in a single frame of snooker (for all that, in the latter case, a break of 155 is theoretically possible).

The first player to achieve a televised nine-dart finish was John Lowe, who did so at the MFI World Matchplay on October 13, 1984. In his quarter-final match against Keith Deller, Lowe hit 180, 180 to leave 141, which he finished with treble 17, treble 18 and double 18. According to Unicorn Darts, Lowe lists the bullseye as his favourite double but, to finish 141 that way, he would have needed to score 91 with his first two darts. Of course, that’s possible, but less than straightforward, so he can be forgiven for taking the route that he did, particularly as he collected £102,000 for his trouble.

Anyway, the youngest darts player to play a perfect televised leg was Michael van Gerwen, who was just 17 years and 298 days old when did so against compatriot Raymond van Barneveld in a semi-final match in the Masters of Darts, at the Expo Center Hengelo (ECH) in Hengelo, Netherlands, on February 17, 2007. ‘Mighty Mike’ began his effort, in the second leg of the fifth set, unconventionally, hitting treble 20, treble 19 and treble 19 for a total of 174 on his first throw. However, he followed up with 180, to leave 147, which he finished in conventional fashion, by hitting treble 20, treble 17 and double 18. Apparently, of the 3,944 different ways of scoring 501 with nine darts, 782 finish on double 18, which is second only to the bullseye, which is the target for the last dart in 2,296 combinations.