John Scott discusses World Championship, travelling across Europe and the BDO crisis

There are very few, if any, more dedicated to the BDO circuit than John Scott. The former PDC tour card holder from London has travelled across Europe for well over a year now, vying for success wherever his plane may land.

It’s been quite the season-and-a-half for the diehard Arsenal supporter, having competed in countries from Luxembourg to Slovakia and lifted his first two rankings titles, before more recently practising alongside Danny Baggish ahead of the American’s World Darts Championship debut.

UPCOMING BDO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

In spite of being in possession of a provisional place in January’s BDO World Championship for a substantial period, Scott agonisingly missed out on qualification for the BDO’s showpiece event.

“I was gutted when I realised I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “I was in the qualification places for over six months and to have it taken away in the last few weeks was tough.

“Whether it was the pressure I put on myself or whether it was just bad luck, I didn’t finish the year as well as I started and I will learn from that. Having said that, I had my best year ever so I have to be pleased with what I achieved.”

Unfortunately for the 38-year-old, he will not be among the 40 men taking to the Indigo at the O2 stage in the coming days, though, he will still tune in, with a few competitors in particular awakening curiosity.

“When I spend so much time with the players it means I know how most of them play already so there won’t be much surprise involved,” Scott alluded.

“I was pleased for Ben Hazel when he qualified as he plays in the same Superleague as me, and I’ve got to know him quite well in the last couple of years. He puts the work in, he’s keen and he also does a lot to raise money for charity through darts so I hope he does well.”

He added: “There are some good debutant players who have come through the regional system like Thibault Tricole [of France] and Gabriel Pascaru [of Romania] – who I also know quite well so I will certainly tune in for their games. The other one would be Nick Kenny as he has been one of the best players on the tour the past six months – he’s a nice guy too.

“As for individual matches, I think Scott Mitchell against Leighton Bennett is certainly the tie of the round. Not just the ability of both but the conflicting styles will be interesting to watch.

“I’m not just looking forward to seeing the players, but I can’t wait to see how the new venue looks!”

LIFE ON THE BDO CIRCUIT

As previously mentioned, there are very few that embark on as many darting pilgrimages across the continent than John Scott.

It has been two Nordic countries that have proved to be of great significance in Scott’s career.

Latvia is the first of those, with the Londoner having reached his maiden BDO-ranked final at the Latvia Open, losing out to recent World Darts Championship quarter-finalist Darius Labanauskas.

He said: “It was very good to get a run at one of the early events during the ranking season, especially after I had been on a poor run for a few months in 2018.

“I remember getting through a very tough quarter-final and I just had the feeling I was going to win it after that. Obviously I didn’t because I came up against Darius in great form but it made me believe again, and I think that helped immensely.”

The second of those countries was Estonia – one not known for its darting stature, but it constructed not one, but two ranking titles for Scott, as he defeated Sweden’s Tobias Lundblad and Finland’s Paavo Myller in the respective finals.

“It was certainly a weekend I will never forget,” Scott expressed as he reminisced upon his success in Estonia. “We arrived quite early on the Friday which was unusual for me as I usually have to travel around my working hours but it meant I played in the warm-up event for bit of practice.

“They also held the pairs on Saturday afternoon so by the time the singles came around I had no excuses not to be ready.

“The first day I was very nervous in the final, I just managed to get over the line in the nick of time. It really was a dream to win my first ranking title and I don’t mind saying I was quite emotional.

He added: “The Sunday was an odd experience because I was so nervous to play the first round as I felt like everyone was watching me and the pressure on myself of being the winner seemed to be worse than before.

“Once I won the first round though, I relaxed and I believed I would win again and did. The final was a much better game that day and, even though it was 6-5 I never felt like I was going to lose and that was just purely a confidence thing from the previous day.”

Having boarded 38 flights throughout last year, stepped foot on 22 different countries and participated in over half a century of tournaments, ’Gnasher’ selected a favourite.

“I love visiting places and seeing other countries,” he said. “I have met a lot of great people and I wouldn’t change that. I would say that I would not miss airport security, the hanging around or queueing waiting to board a plane if I didn’t have to.

“I always enjoy visiting Romania, while Greece is beautiful too. Malmo is a great place and I really enjoy Budapest. Seeing as I can’t decide [on a favourite] for 2019, I’ll have to just pick Estonia for obvious reasons!”

BDO WORLD TROPHY

Scott appeared on our television screens nearly seven years ago whilst participating in the 2013 UK Open at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

He returned to the major stage at the World Trophy last September, having defeated former champion of the world Ted Hankey in the qualifying decider.

“I remember starting the day slowly in the first two rounds,” Scott recollected. “I didn’t drop a leg, but I didn’t play great. Then I played a young guy who really played well and kept starting legs with 180s and when I got through that game, I knew I had a chance.

“I played Mick Connerton in the group semi-final and bullied him from the start and then I had Ted Hankey in the final. I started well and luckily for me I gave myself a bit of daylight to work with because the nerves set in as the finish line approached.

He added: “It was a wonderful feeling to get through and I felt like I had a good chance against Wayne Warren if I started well. I did start well, but I drifted for a few legs and gave him the lead. The last three legs from 4-1 down, I found it again and unfortunately for me he took out a good finish in the eighth leg. If I got it back to 4-4 I would have had the throw and I really fancied my chances but it wasn’t to be.”

BDO CRISIS

Despite Scott and other players within the BDO system undergoing success and producing their best on the oche, the organisation has been overshadowed thanks to various events occurring.

The World Masters was the pinnacle of the so called BDO crisis, with fakes names, redraws and lack of organisation being noticeable as darts’ longest-serving major commenced.

“It was a bad situation and it wasn’t handled well,” an honest 38-year-old expressed. “When the original draw had missed out players then the only fair way to do it was to have a redraw, but why were those players left out of the draw?

“My issue was that it certainly could have been avoided, and then it was all left too late. An announcement had been made around 10am that there was an issue but there wouldn’t be a redraw, then the decision was made to do the redraw just before the tournament was suppose to be starting…and still contained players who hadn’t turned up – which was very confusing.

“It all became a bit of a mess and then the next day was a complete reverse – announcing that there would be a redraw, then not having one.

“I have to say the officials on the floor were brilliant and coped well under immense pressure in an already heated atmosphere. I wouldn’t have wanted to do their job that week! Unfortunately though, the biggest loser was the players because the BDO was in the media for all the wrong reasons.”

Even more concern was prompted as a result of the happenings at the World Masters, held at the famous Circus Tavern.

Darts’ governing body, the World Darts Federation, ceased its involvement alongside the British Darts Organisation, with the WDF now no longer recognising BDO operated tournaments.

“I think it was a useful excuse for the WDF to use to do something they may have already been planning to do,” Scott said in providing his analysis on the situation. “It is disappointing that it came to that and there is a lot of speculation that the WDF will be putting on their own tournaments after making a couple of announcements to that effect.

“It would not be great for the players to have another ‘split’ with them having to choose sides.”

PDC QUALIFYING SCHOOL

As a consequence of those aforementioned ramifications within the BDO at this present time, speculation has sparked on social media that PDC Qualifying School is going to be packed to the rafters.

“I’m sure it will be,” Scott said, “but there are still only the same amount of PDC tour cards available so it just means it will be a tougher competition and longer days for the poor officials in Wigan.

“Because the BDO now leave it open for players who don’t achieve a card to come back, it makes it easier for people to have a go and not miss out if they aren’t successful.

“You can look at that in two ways because it does encourage even the top players to try Q-School and that is risking the BDO losing more players.

“I don’t blame anyone for trying though as the PDC is the only place where you can earn an actual living playing darts if you’re good enough as unfortunately there is no comparison when it comes to the prize money on offer.”

Despite many of his BDO colleagues attempting Q School this month, Scott will not be one of those, though, he fails to rule out a potential appearance in the coming years.

He said: “I’m realistic enough to know I’m not at the level of most of the top PDC players and it’s one thing getting a tour card, and quite another thing keeping it.

“I will never say never, and my manager has said he would back me to do it if I wanted, but I don’t think you’ll see my name on that particular entry list in January.”

Photography: Evert Zomer/BDO

About The Author

Ben Hudd Ben is a dedicated sports writer and aspiring sports journalist, covering all aspects of darts for the ever-growing Darts Planet TV. He has a passion for sport, particularly darts, cricket and football.

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