On of the characteristics of American Darts is that, unlike its U.K. counterpart, the game is tradtionally a team game. I'll often hear players in a bar ask if anyone is interested in a game, and then tell them to "find a partner". Shooting singles just doesn't come naturally in the game of American darts.
The idea of shooting without a handicap is also currently not the norm. Here's a look into the tournaments held at the beginning of 2014 . . .
- Summit Hill - 70% Handicap
- Kelly's Bar - 60% Handicap
- Two Girl Tourney - 70% Handicap
- Hard Coal in Joliett - 70% Handicap
- Battle of the Bars - 70% Handicap
- Red Lion - 70% Handicap
- Jersey Doubler - 70% Handicap
- Nationals in Emmaus - Capped Divisions
As you can see, most of the events are handicapped, which does make for better competition between shooters of different skill levels. The one set of tournaments that aren't handicapped, does cap the averages of a team and place them in a division of teams with similar averages.
There are few tournaments where a player is actually rewarded for the time they spend acquiring skill in the game. PA States may be the last one remaining where teams averages are not capped and there are no handicaps awarded. The Big Dog is not far from being the Singles equivalent of that tournament.
The original prize structure of the tournament was set up to reward only one player. The champion. The "Big Dog".
The tournament also began as an "Invitational". Players were mailed an invitation, along with a list of other invitees. They would then decide whether they felt capable of besting the different players on the list. Eventually, the list grew to include top players in the world. At that point the tournament changed to an Open format.
Of course this kind of structure does not appeal to shooters who are not confident in their games. Even shooters who carry high averages may find that they lack the confidence to compete in a tournament of this nature without the company of teammates.
Those who do compete find the road to victory filled with challenge every step of the way.
It's often said that players will shoot to the level of their competition. In this tournament, the competition can bring out amazing games. Sometimes, your 56 game just isn't good enough . . .
And the interesting thing is, that's happened more than once.
High Game of the history of the tournament so far belongs to Chris Kuehns . . .A list of Past Champions includes . . .
- Bob Shirey (2x)
- Jason Kroh
- Mark Rohfling
- Doug Troutman
- Kirk Wimble
- Dan "Muff Money" Lawler
- Ed Dormer