The best route for an out-shot can depend on numerous factors! We take a look at this valuable skill!
There are a few out-shot guides available on the internet and produced by darts manufacturers on charts to give away with their boards. Out-shot fashions have changed too over the years. A pal of mine and our website guru, Colin Harris, reminded me recently that if you look back at videos of "The Crafty Cockney" and his gang from the 70s and 80s, if you left 80 (amongst several others), the only way to go was the 16s. Treble 16 leaving 32. However, it appears it hadn't occurred to the players then that if you missed the treble you left no out-shot. Whereas two fat 20s would leave you one dart at double top. In modern day darts is Mervyn King the only player who still goes this way?
Out-shots are now (or at least they should be) not only subject to logical mathematical method but views on different types of out-shots change. The double-double route, for example, was for a long time the preserve of exhibitions, or if you were a long way ahead and really wanted to annoy your opponent, a player would attempt this route!
The view of the double-double finish has of course also changed in recent times. It was not that long ago that the players completing this finish were accused of showboating, but now it is accepted as a logical if arguably slightly risky finish. However, when calculating the odds (and after taking into consideration the situation and quality of your opponent) it is sometimes better to at least give yourself the chance of checking out. Setting up a nice one dart finish for your next throw is worthless of course if you never get the chance to attempt it, because your adversary on the oche finishes during their next turn!
Another strong argument for the double-double finish is the skill of players being capable of using their darts as markers to help set their alignment and in a lot of cases skimming off the nearby dart into the bed as a bed-fellow or near neighbour. Yes you do have to get the first dart in the double segment, but the other alternative may be to have to hit a treble for the combination you need. What's the difference? (One answer to what the difference is, is mentioned below!). If you are skilled enough to confidently go for the double first up and it goes in you have dramatically reduced the odds of you getting the next dart in. You now have a dart to aim for, in the right bed, and to a lot of players this will be a much preferred shot to firing at an empty bed.
On the other side of the coin, my colleague and co-author of this blog, Mikko Laiho (9 times Finnish Darts Champion), also has some interesting arguments about this "new" phenomenon of double-double hitting. His first thought is that it is not new and Bristow and Jocky Wilson were hitting them in the 80`s. In a video you can witness Jocky Wilson take out 86. He goes single 18, double 18 and double 16, take that Bristow (it kept Dave Lanning in the commentary box guessing too)!
Another interesting area from these days was that John Lowe was fined for taking out 82 by going double 16, bull. Fined! They should have given the man a medal! In similar vein, Jocky once took out on TV 72, by hitting double 18, double 18, that is quality but remember, how many players are actually capable of doing that?
Mikko also strongly agrees with the principles mentioned earlier that the double-double route is a last resort. If you have two darts left, you are on 80, maybe the treble has been blocked and your opponent is on a finish then double-double is the way forward.
Mikko also suggests what if your double-double attempts both miss? (This is of course the biggest argument against taking this shot on instead of going for a treble) and then your opponent fails to check out. You are still stuck on 80 and have gone from potential darting champ to darting chump!
At this point there will be some players contemplating hurling their computer across the room. They may even be contemplating creating a darts analyst Ouija or voodoo doll, grabbing pins and other sharp implements from around the house with the thought of revenge on their mind!. These will be the players who wouldn't dream of going for a double-double finish (they may be realists who know they do not have the skill to complete such a shot-and we are all for players analyzing their capabilities objectively.)
They may still even go for 80 on the 16`s route (can't defend that) or have their "favourite" doubles, trebles or single numbers so have their own singular darts equations for winning a leg of darts (don't get me started on "favourite" doubles otherwise this Toshiba laptop will be in the car park outside my window). They may just either struggle with counting or don't use it as part of their game. However, counting is a vital skill in darts, it, like all other skills in darts can be practised!
If then we look at out-shots as purely a logical mathematical calculation (and the 80 on the 16`s is a classic example) there can be no dispute (setting aside favourite doubles and skill levels) that there are routes that give you the best percentage chance (or fewer darts thrown) to eventually get you to an opportunity of getting a shot at a double! The key is what is that route?