While we know several players from Yellowknife are advancing to the NWT Darts Championships in March, we still don’t know how many.
The Yellowknife Darts Association held its fourth and final round of zone playdowns on the weekend. For some, it was a chance to practice and for others, it was a chance to try and move on to test the big guns.
Keith Way competed on the men’s side and will move on to the territorials after finishing high in the standings. Way wasn’t on last year’s team, which would have meant automatic qualification to the territorials as anyone who played on last year’s teams – men’s or women’s – could have bypassed the zone playdowns.
For Way, who’s played at nationals before with the NWT, the atmosphere was relaxed.
“Everyone wants to go hard right out of the gate but it’s just a qualifier,” he said. “The territorials is the big one and I’ll be ready for that.”
Anyone who hoped to move on to territorials needed to play at least two of the four rounds and finish in at least the top eight when all was said and done. The best two rounds for each player is what determined the final standings.
“The best part about it was it was practice for the guys,” said Way. “Some of the guys need to learn how to work the board and what it takes to play at nationals, if they get that far, so it’s a test on what they’ll have to do.”
While Way’s return is big news, another long-time NWT representative, Elvis Beaudoin, came out of a short-lived retirement to hit the boards again as did Danny Clouston, another regular on Team NWT.
Way said those two guys will make a difference.
“The guys in Yellowknife are strong,” he said. “You have myself, Elvis, Danny, Norm Sanderson – it’s going to be good for the men. We’ll have a good team at territorials.”
For the women, it was a smaller gathering with just six women coming out to play for the final round.
Jen Lavers was one of them. She said the hope was to have more women coming out to play but it may be a comfort-level issue.
“It’s about encouraging all levels to come out and play,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is get players to a level where they’re comfortable playing. We have some great players in town but there’s different interests and we’re battling that.”
There’s also the issue of Yellowknife being a city with plenty of young families, she added.
“All we can try to do is get the word out and let people know we’re trying to grow the game,” she said. “The numbers we had for the women in the zone playdowns means everyone who played will move on to territorials and all will play. I’m hoping we get more for the future and we’re just trying to build our numbers.”