Canadian dart player Jeff Smith - born 1975 - became better known in Europe when he got a Tour Card in Qualifying School 2011 and took part in 2013 together with John Part in the PDC World Cup. But he returned 2014 to the WDF/BDO Circuit and qualified 2015 for the BDO World Championship in Lakeside, where he caused an Upset when he reached the semi-finals. 2016 he qualified again and did even better reaching the final. Due to this he got an invitation for the Grand Slam erhielt the same year. IN 2017 he again took part in the BDO World Championship but lost in the last 16 to Martin Adams. He is among the participants of the Winmau World Masters and the Lakeside Play-Offs this year. He qualified for the World Masters as winner of the Bob Jones Memorial events.
Jeff, you not only play BDO/WDF tournaments but you took part in some PDC events and even won a PDC Tour Card in 2011 - why didn't you take part in the Pro Tour after that?
I took part back then in a few Pro Tour events but the expense for me was too high compared to the outcome.The costs of such a trip to the UK were always around 2000 Canadian Dollars. My purpose in taking part in the Qualifying School was to be able to take part together with John Part in the PDC World Cup.
But might the PDC and the Pro Tour are an option for the future?
Oh yes, that's my plan in the end.
Do you travel a lot in the USA or do you most of the time only play events in Canada?
I travel a lot in all North America but rarely overseas as the costs are very high.
Are there many tournaments in Canada?
Yes, there are. But even the distances in Canada are great - so it means a lot of travelling. And you have to be aware there is no way we can play on PDC level consistently. That's the reason I brought Major League Darts to Canada. In those events we follow the PDC rules, the format etc.
When did you start to play darts?
I started to play darts as a youth. I can't even remember how old I was. I played with my grandfather and most of my family members played as well.
Are there many opportunities for the youth to play darts in Canada?
Oh yes, we've got quite a good youth program in Canada und some good young players. My son is not really interested in darts but my daughter plays as well.
Did you know all those English legends when you first started?
Oh yes. There was no dart on TV but we had a lot of DVD I watched again and again. I wonder what happened to them.
How well is John Part known in Canada and was he some kind of idol for you?
I believe that of course John and what he did for the sport of darts made him well known in Canada. For me in my youthJohn was my darting hero. I met him in tournaments and always looked up to him. Of course I was influenced by him. But we are friends now.
Is it possible to live from playing darts in North America?
Well, it would be difficult but I suppose when you are on your own without family and kids it might be possible. But when married with kids - just impossible.
But you've got a good sponsor...
Yes, I am sponsored since last year by Winmau with equipment and signature darts and financially as well.
Do you take part in the new CDC and do you think it is a good project?
No I don't take part. For me it would mean too much travel, high costs and too little price money.
How popular do you think darts is in North America?
I think it is very popular. And it is improving. But the size of the country is definitely a downside.
And is it more steel darts of soft darts?
In Canada steeldarts is far more popular you rarely find soft-dart boards. Most of them are bullshooter. In the USA soft darts is very wide spread.
Do you play both?
I only played soft darts once in Canada. It was Dartslive but I can't even remember where it was. I always would like to travel to Las Vegas for the Dartslive events there but the travelling is an obstacle.
Can you todayfollow darts on TV in Canada?
No, there is still not much on TV but of course now-a-days you can follow the PDC events on stream and I am sure my family followed it when I played in the Grand Slam.
One hears the ADO - American Darts Organization - has a lot of problems - is it the same in Canada?
The ADO problems are not as bad as some people will tell you - the ADO definitely does a lot of good work as well.
What about the level of play in Canada and who are the best players?
Beside me you mean??? We've some really very good players in Canada for example Dave Cameron though he didn't manage to show so far in Lakeside.
What did you think of the standard of the PDC players? Are they really better than the WDF/BDO players?
I wouldn't say so. I would say the WDF/BDO players have the same standard. The problem is that they are no professionals and have to work besides playing darts.
Did you like the round robin format of the Grand Slam?
For me round robin is a popular format. It is always played in the MLD events.
As I have no idea of the big ADO tournaments - are there stage games or is all played on floor?
It was all played on floor. But now we start and get the latter rounds on stage.
Do you like playing on stage?
I would think it is quite obvious after the GSOD and Lakeside!!! I really enjoy it on stage.
How much and what do you practice?
I practice a lot when I am at home. I have my own business which of course helps. Especially as business is just across from my home. I base all my practice routines around finishing. My most popular game is 121. You must take it out in 9 darts or less to advance to 122, repeat finish in 9 darts or less, advance to 123 etc., but if you miss within the 9 darts you start back at 121.
Have you got a practice partner?
Several -as there are some good players around where I live.
You often hear from players in Europe they work or have worked with a mental coach. Is it as popular among dart players in North America?
No . I've never heard about players doing so. And I don't see a need for it myself. I think by now I know myself good enough to know what to do. There is just no need for this.
Are there any other sports you are involved?
I have been involved in quite a few: hockey on a high level, volleyball, baseball. I've less time for it now as I focus on darts but I still do it.
You certainly look quite fit...
Really? That is a little bit misleading...
As you told us most WDF/BDO players are working beside the sport and that you own your own business - what do you do for a living?
That is true. I still work my around 40 hours a week. I am a body man and I paint cars. It has an artistic touch so - I do my own designs or whatever the customer wants.
And what are you plans for the future?
Oh well - I would love to be a dartspro. But that would need some luck and some fantastic darts. But of course it would be great to follow in John Part's footsteps.