Players eye biggest cash prize in SA darts history

Grant Sampson, of the Starlights Dart Club in the northern suburbs, has his eye on the R50 000 booty on offer at the inaugural Royal Falcon Invitational.

Some of the country’s leading darts players will converge on Cape Town this weekend for the Royal Falcon Invitational that offers a winner-takes-all R50 000 prize, the biggest cash prize yet in the annals of South African darts competition.

The semi-finals take place on Saturday at the Rooikrans Sports Centre in Grassy Park. The victors will progress through to Sunday’s Grand Finale at Signature Lux Onomo Hotel Waterfront. The event is held under the auspices of Darts South Africa, an affiliate of The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Sascoc have issued guidelines for spectators attending the two-day event. A limited number of spectators will be allowed.

After preliminary events around the country since July, 16 qualifiers and two wild cards will contest Saturday’s semi-finals. The victorious eight players will contest the final on Sunday.

Several players in the 18-man line-up have represented South Africa at international events over the past three years.

Wild card Shaun Hogan from Gauteng is a Protea Darts player who has represented the country at the World Cups in Japan and the Republic of Ireland. Despite being partially sighted, he is one of South Africa’s best players.

The second wild card, Stefan Vermaak, represents the new generation of darts players in South Africa He is an 18-year-old player currently completing his matric. He is a junior Protea and has represented the country at the World Cup in Romania in 2019.

“I am very excited at being selected as a wild card and as a school leaver that R50 000 grand prize will help with tertiary studies and future plans,” said Vermaak. “I will be giving it my all and look forward to the experience.”

Candice Grobbelaar of the Signature Lux Onomo Waterfront venue said the company was pleased to host the Grand Finale.

“We are eagerly awaiting the final event at our Waterfront site since this is now a broadcast property with the live streaming component,” said Grobbelaar. “It is a powerful piece of marketing and fantastic brand visibility for the Onomo Hotel group.”

Graham Stark, the president of Darts SA, said the event would breathe new life into the sport of darts.

“This is exactly what South African darts need,” said Stark. “We are delighted about partnering with (sponsors) Royal Falcon Whisky and believe this can become an annual fixture on the darts calendar.

“The response from our members has been overwhelming, and we are excited to kickstart the innovative Invitational.”

Selected semi-final matches and all the Grand Finale matches will be broadcast live on SEI Sports (a mobile sports broadcaster). Matches from the Grand Finale will be delayed broadcast on SABC Sport.

The 18-man line-up reads: Craig Williams, Grant Sampson, Daywin Adams, Lance Rustin, Charles Losper, Roelf de Beer, Rudi Weth, Shamiel Matthews, Stefan Vermaak, Shawn Hogan, Jason Erasmus, Shane Matthee, Charl Pietersen, Dameon Steffens, Jean-Pierre Smith, Wade Aanhuizen, Lerenco Adams and Vernon Bouwers.