What we learned from the NSW Darts Masters 2023

Published on 15 August 2023 at 12:00

The PDC's best and some regional qualifiers took to Wollongong, Australia last weekend, as they continue their tour of the Southern Hemisphere. Jonny Clayton won the inaugural tournament last year, however the Welshman didn't compete this time round, meaning no matter what, a new name would be on the trophy. So without further ado let's look at a few things we learnt from this year's New South Wales Masters... 


Rob Cross is bonzer!

After not being picked for this years premier league, Rob Cross has looked like a man possessed recently. The 32 year old won last week's New Zealand Darts Masters and has now followed it up with victory in Australia.

Cross won his first match of the tournament against New Zealander, John Hurring then followed up with a  narrow 6-4 win over Danny Noppert in the second round. However it was the semi finals where 'Voltage' really came alive, with an incredible 7-0 whitewash over Peter Wright, averaging 109.59 in the process. Cross then showed similar form in the final, where he defeated Damon Heta 8-1.

Between the second round and final, Cross won an astonishing 17 consecutive legs, form we haven't seen from the Englishman since he was crowned World Champion back in 2018. If he can take his Southern Hemisphere form with him back to Europe, 'Voltage' could be a force to be reckoned with this year.


Damon Heta is a class act

We all know Damon Heta loves a laugh and a joke on the stage. Nothing proved this more than his recent Ashes themed walk-on in Blackpool, which was taken in good spirit by the home crowd. However, in this year's NSW Masters, we saw a different side to Heta as he tried to calm the crowd down, rather than rile them up.

Going into the semi finals, Heta was the only Australian left in the competition and it was clear the crowd were on his side. In a tight affair against Dimitri Van Den Bergh, some members of the audience were booing and jeering when the Belgian was about to go for a double, however on numerous occasions Heta shook his head at his home crowd and made a gesture telling them to calm down.

We all want to see our local heroes perform well on the oche, however, booing the opponent's throw is never the answer. Unfortunately, it is something we're accustomed to seeing now and the normalisation of it could tarnish the sport. We very rarely see player's doing anything about it, so well done to Heta for showing sportsmanship, humility and class.


An agitated Aspinall

In the UK, Nathan Aspinall is a fan favourite wherever he goes, however when playing Simon Whitlock in his home territory, not everyone's going to be on your side. 

As the crowd started to get a bit rowdy during the match, Aspinall hit a double then cupped his ears as if to say "I can't hear you" to the audience. He then took every opportunity to, as Wayne Mardle would say, give it the 'big'un' to the Aussie crowd.

Needless to say, this tactic backfired for 'The Asp' as he looked visibly flustered towards the end of the game. In the deciding leg, Aspinall had a dart at double top to win the match, however looked as if he physically couldn't throw the dart and had a number of 'air throws' before missing the target. Whitlock then kept his cool to advance to the second round.

We have seen in the past players thriving when the crowd's against them, a notable example is world number one, Gerwyn Price, who has dealt with it his whole career. Despite this, Aspinall is clearly not one of those players and I'm sure next time he's down under, he'll keep his head down and let his darts do the talking.


Are disrespectful crowds ruining the sport? Or does it just add to the atmosphere? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Alistair Gordon

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