As they proved at the recent U.S. Nationals, Hawaii’soft-tip’ dart players are among the best anywhere
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Safer than the steel-tip variety, soft-tip darts have become a mainstay in many bars and households.
Besides offering patrons a leisurely pastime while having a drink or hanging out with friends, a big reason the popular wall fixture is here to stay is because of clubs such as Medalist Dart League.
An international league recognized as the most prestigious soft-tip dart league in the United States, Medalist Dart League has done its part to actively encourage soft-tip play.
The Hawaii version of the league currently has about 220 members of all skill levels. Unlike many other sports where only the best comes out on top, Medalist Dart League has a rating and ranking system that separates players into respective division while allowing mixed play in which the lowest-rated players can compete against the highest on an equal basis. Much like golf handicaps, the rating system is numerical and places players, depending on their skill level, from 1-17 (novice to grandmaster).
The two guys responsible for bringing the league to the Islands are Alan Nakamura and Jim Foley. That was more than 10 years ago, and as Nakamura explains, “I liked this league because it demanded that the locations that ran the tournaments had to sponsor the teams to have finals and pay a portion of the prize money. I thought it was good because they make a lot of money, and it would only be fair that they support it. And I liked that idea because every team that participated, a portion of their league fees also went to the national tournament. So they were able to put on these big tournaments.”
Although most dart players will tell you it ain’t for the money, the draw of winning thousands of dollars does keep it exciting.
At one time, the prize money at the World Championships was as high as $500,000. But after the league branched off into two divisions, U.S. National and Asia International about five years ago, the tournaments leveled off to what Nakamura says is a much more comfortable size.
Hawaii sent 86 players to this year’s World Championship (Sept. 3 to 6 in Las Vegas). The group took home a number of awards - first place in the A/B Trios, second place in the A division, first place in the consolation bracket, first place in grandmaster doubles, to name a few. And two of Hawaii’s bars made the Top 40 nationwide list - Y’s Sports Bar & Grill (No. 11) and Leeward Bowl Bar (No. 25).
“Hawaii has grown a lot since we first started the league here,” says Nakamura, who has also received numerous awards for being one of the top operators nationally.“Once a year when we go to the national tournament we come home with awards. And what has been happening in the past five years is we always had at least one location in the Top 40, but one of our locations this year was No. 11, and that’s the
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