During the last PDC World Championship in the Alexandra Palace in London four Dartslive automats were presented to the crowd.
The Company Dartslive Asia was founded in 2009 by Steve Ngu in Hong Kong. 2011 the launch of Dartslive International followed. In the same year the "World" tournament series for the first time was played on the Dartslive soft-dart machines in Hong Kong. The series consists of eight events and the Gran Final for which the top players from the ranking and qualifiers from a special qualifying tournament qualify. The price money for the winner of the Grand Final is 1 000 000 Hong Kong Dollars, that's around 82 723 British pound or 128 938 US Dollar - the highest price money ever for a soft-dart tournament. It's exceeded only by the PDC price money for the World Championship winner. Of course that aroused the interest of the dartplayers and especially a lot of players from North America travelled to Honk Kong among them players like John Part (who won an event), Ray Carver, David Fatum and Chris White. The Grand Final 2011 was won by Paul Lim which even enhanced the interest in the tournament series in the USA where Paul Lim is one of the legends of the sport and highly popular.
As the demand was as high in the USA in December 2011 an American Dartslive - Dartslive USA - branch was founded under the direction of Robert Heckmann and the first Dartslive automats were placed in the USA. In 2012 one of the events of the "World" tournament series was played in Las Vegas. By now the interest in Dartslive had spread to Europe and under the European players taking part in the events there was the then PDC World Champion Adrian Lewis and BDO World Champion Anastasia Dobromyslova.
The PDC realized this as well and saw a chance to gain a foothold on the Asian market. So Dartslive and the PDC announced in autumn 2012 a promotional partnership and in November 2012 the adverts for the "World" flickered over the big screens in the Wolverhampton Civic Centre. Due to the partnership the winner of the Grand Final will get a place in the PDC World Championship and from 2013 onwards in the Grand Slam as well.
During the PDC World Championship 2013 Paul Lim stood as winner of the Grand Final 2011 at the oche and passed as member of the Dartslive crew a lot of time at the Dartslive automats in Alexandra's Palace Fanville as well. Beside him a lot of young Dartslive staff stayed during the whole World Championship in London, they explained and helped the crowd gathering around the machines before the tournament started and in between the matches on the bid stage. For a few days Robert Heckmann, Dartslive's USA COO, was in London as well.
Of course I used the opportunity too to get some information and had a look on the people playing. It seemed to be mostly younger people who were attracted but usually it was quite a big crowd and always on all automats people were playing. They looked like they had some fun and the Dartslive staff told me the visit to London was a success.
Dartslive automats are automats of the American type of darts machines - that means they have bigger segments then other automats for example the Medalist machines. Most European countries play on these American type machines only Germany never seemed to catch on these.
Technically the automats are state on art with the best possible features. Dartslive has a close relationship to the Japanese SEGA concern which is well known for computer games and very successful.
The Dartslive automats are close to computer games. They offer a lot of different game options: Shoot-Out, =1 games, Cricket, Practice(Shoot-Out again), Competition, Global, Japanese dart league, Hong Kong dart league, and the companionable party games which are very popular with young people in Asia - well, at the moment in Asia but to be sure with growing popularity in the USA as well. 4 - 8 people can take part in those party games.
Shoot-Out probably is the most important of the more "serious" games on those automats. It is played as well on the day before the tournament series events to decide the tournament seeding. This game was developed for the Dartslive machines and can only be found on these automats.
Shoot-Out is some kind of "Around the World" but every time one hits a number the score will be multiplied with the number of hits so far. When all numbers have been hit - each number is only credited once - the throw for the bull ends the match. This will be hit number 21 and so the score will be multiplied by 21. In which order you throw for the other numbers you can decide yourself.
The other important specialty is the global matches. Over an interactive map of the world one can find out who else is online, chose a person and offer a match. In the display of the automat a picture of the person will appear and via an integrated webcam you can see him/her play. Of course you can talk with one another as well. In London one of the Dartslive people showed me. He chose an opponent from Malaysia and we looked on how he played somewhere in a pub on a Dartslive machine while he could see us on his display in Alexandra place in London.
Each Dartslive player gets a chip card which files all his personal data including the statistics so that you can always follow your progress.
Of course I asked whether all this technology makes those machines damageable but I was assured that is not the case but that the automats a rather sturdy and easy to maintain. A further advantage for all pub, bar or restaurants who are interested to set up an automat is that they don't have to buy it but lease it and that maintenance and repair lies in the hands of Dartslive.
One can play on the machines with darts between a weight of 15 and 20 gram.
By now some European countries show interest in Dartslive machines as well especially those in which the American type automat is already popular like Spain, Portugal, France and Italy and in 2013 one of the "World" tournaments now was allocated to La Rochelle in France.
Probably an European Dartslive branch will be founded as well - it would be necessary anyway for the set up and maintenance of Dartslive automats in Europe. Certainly that's a rather fascinating development.
Dartslive doesn't consider itself as a rival to steel-darts. As I heard from the Dartslive staff and Paul Lim one can observe that a lot of those young people who had their fun with Dartslive games ends up hooked and begins to play steel-darts as well. Might be that's in our time really a big chance to recruit the desperately searched for new blood and fill it with enthusiasm for our sport.