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     Arachnid's Bullshooter Regional 2010: Pittsburgh

    Dart TournamentsHovardt writes "Event: Bullshooter Regional
    Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    Venue: Radisson Hotel, Pittsburgh
    Date: 2/12/10 to 2/14/10

    I guess it’s appropriate to first give a bit of background to the event for those of you who may not be familiar with these types of tournaments. These regional events are hosted and sponsored by Arachnid which is one of the major producers of electronic soft tip boards in North America. They typically take place in a larger hotels or conference centers which can house the larger crowds and number of boards. The Arachnid staff truck in several dozen of their Arachnid boards which are configured for tournament play.

    The tournament weekend is divided up into various events from Friday through Sunday. There’s a mix of games and different divisions for qualified Pro players and even women who finally have a chance to throw in their own events.

    The following is an account of my experience at one of these tournaments: The ‘Bullshooter’ Regional dart tournament in Pittsburgh PA.

    Friday February 12th.
    I had a bit of a lucky break because the company I work for has our corporate offices in Pittsburgh. I’m actually from Erie, PA which is about 2 hours away so I traveled early in the morning and spent the day in the office. After a few meetings and some ‘work’, I eagerly awaited getting to the tournament. As soon as I could, I headed over to the hotel that was hosting the tournament this year.

    The first event of the tournament is always a ‘Luck of the Draw’ event where everyone who registers is paired up with a random partner. Some people love it, others hate it. I personally think it’s a great way to get warmed up for the weekend and get the nerves out. There’s no division here between open and pro players but there was enough women that they were able to have their own bracket for this event.

    Ok, so I arrived at the hotel about 5:30pm and checked in and found my room to get that out of the way. I decided to try to register as soon as I could which turned out to be a good idea because the registration filled up and closed quickly. The turnout was great and they actually had enough people to run two separate brackets.

    The first thing the administrators have to do is build the enormous brackets that will be used for the tournament. It’s double elimination which is nice so at the very least you play twice. The format and rules can sometimes vary, but tonight the game was set up as follows. Players flip a coin to see which team will go first. The first game was declared to be 501 OI/OO. Each player has their own score and the beloved freeze rule is in effect for this game. The second game is Cricket and the losing team of the first game goes first in the second. The third game (if necessary) is 501 OI/OO ‘Stacked’ which means each team gets a single score and players alternate.

    After the bracket was posted, everyone crowds around to find out who their partner is and what board they are going to play on. By the way, throughout the weekend for each event, every player is responsible for constantly checking the board to see when and where you will play. Sometimes the wait is a few minutes, sometimes it can be hours depending on how smooth it goes. There were over 60 boards at this tournament spread out into two ballrooms so there are a lot of things happening at the same time. If you don’t report to your board in a reasonable amount of time, it’s possible to be forfeited if too much time passes. It’s always important to constantly be checking the board so you don’t miss your match!

    It was quite awhile before they were able to give the board assignments but I guess that’s the nature of tournaments of this size. I finally found my board and got to meet my partner for this event. Turns out he was from West Virginia a few hours away. Shortly after that our opposing team arrived and we practiced a few minutes along with some usual dart related chit-chat. The crazy thing about Luck of the Draw tournament style is that you never know who you’re going to get. Maybe someone good? Maybe someone not-so-good? Maybe a seasoned pro? Maybe someone who can barely hit the board? Besides getting to know a few new fellow dart players, that is what usually makes this event fun and interesting. You get to see some familiar faces from past tournaments and for the most part, everyone is usually very friendly.

    Anyway, it was fairly obvious very quickly that I was the better player on our team. That pretty much gives me the honor of going first for the upcoming games. The guys we were playing seemed to be fairly average throwers but now it was time to play. They won the critical coin toss so they were first up in the 501 OI/OO. This is where the nerves start because practice is over and now is where your darts start to count! To make a longer story short, I ended up being a victim of the critical Freeze Rule in this game. That’s where your teammate needs to have a lesser score of the sum of your opponent’s two scores before you can go out. I played fairly well but could not finish the game because my partner was a bit too far behind. We ended up losing but no matter because there was more to play! We were up first for the second game which was Cricket where we shared the same score in this one. I went first and started with a decent 4 mark to give us a slight lead. In these tournaments if you don’t at least close/open the twenties in your first turn, you can be in big trouble! It was a pretty good game that went back and forth a bit but I’m sorry to say that we didn’t win this one either. I’m never one to blame my partner but two rounds without hitting a single mark is usually not recommended as a winning strategy. No matter, off to the losers’ side of the bracket we go!

    Because of the large amount of teams, the format for the losers’ side of the bracket was to play a single game of cricket. Flip for diddle to see who starts. We won the toss so I was up. I knew that if we had any chance of winning, I was going to have to play my best. My first throw was a 7 mark in the 20s to give us a great start. The guys we were playing with were not bad and I think one of them was on the coveted ‘pro’ list. Anyway, for some reason I started playing lights out! I hit an eight mark followed by a nine mark which put us far enough ahead that the game was ours as long as we didn’t implode. Sure enough, we managed the win so we stayed alive for another round!

    After another wait for our next assignment, we were ready again for our next match. It was pretty much the same scenario again. We won the toss and I started with a fairly good lead. Unfortunately, the other team had two pretty decent players and that was enough to keep up with us and eventually win. I’m happy to say that we put up a great fight so it was a fitting start for a long weekend.

    Day 2, Saturday Feb 13th

    The first event of the day for me was the doubles 501OI/OO. It starts at 11:00am so I have some time to get filled up on the breakfast buffet at the hotel. My partner is a friend of mine from Erie who I play with regularly. Since neither of us are classified as ‘pros’, we’re playing in the Open Men’s Division. Because the entire bulls eye on these Arachnid boards are worth 50, then this event is pretty much a bulls eye race. Each player gets their own score and the Freeze Rule is very much in effect!

    Game time! In larger tournaments like this one, it’s sometimes helpful to have a few easy games first to get warmed up. You always hope for an easy opponent especially in the first round or two. The first team we played against wasn’t exactly easy, but we managed to get that first critical win. Momentum was in our favor and we managed to win the next couple but then faced a team in round 4 that people had told us were favored to win. We knew it was going to be a tough match. Fortunately luck was in our favor. One of the guys on the other team did not play as well as he could of. We managed to take advantage of our luck and got the win with a few key hat-tricks!

    Now we were getting closer to the end of the bracket the games were obviously getting harder and more critical. After another very tough match we were then paired up against another team from Erie that we happen to play against regularly. This was a critical match because the winner was guaranteed at least 3rd place. Most of our other friends were gathered around for the match. We ended up winning but it could have easily gone the other way. Nevertheless, we were very happy to have made it this far in the winners’ bracket to have a chance for the finals. Unfortunately we lost the next match so we were finally on the losers’ side but it was a good thing this was double elimination. Lost again but we were happy with our 3rd place finish. Because we finished 3rd, my partner and I both qualified to be on the coveted Arachnid ‘PRO’ list! That just means for the next 3 years we’ll have to play in the PRO division against the real players.

    At this point I was somewhat exhausted from playing. It’s a real test both mentally and physically to play for that long under that kind of pressure.

    We played in the Mixed Triples event but didn’t last very long there. Won the first but lost the next two. That at least gave us a chance to rest up for the Cricket doubles we were planning to play later that night.

    After a quick bite to eat and a little well needed rest, we were ready for Cricket. Once again, I was pretty tired from playing all day and this event didn’t get started until about 8pm. Brackets were set up and we headed to our first match. Same scenario, we won that first important match.

    Funny thing happened next. The next team we played against was actually the same team that beat us in the semi finals in 501 earlier that day. It was somewhat of a rematch but we knew it meant trouble playing such a strong team so early. Unfortunately, they got the best of us again so we moved to the loser’s side of the bracket much earlier than we wanted. The loser’s side plays only one game instead of best of three so there’s little room for error there. We won the first but lost the second so it was a fitting end for our long day. At this point it was about 11:30pm so I wasn’t all that disappointed about getting some rest.

    No matter! I was pleased with our 3rd place in 501 and I was glad to be able to get some rest for Sunday. (As a side note, that same team that beat us again ended up taking second place overall in the event! Grrrr…!)

    Day 3
    Sunday 15th
    Sunday morning is the scheduled individual Cricket which most consider to be the premier event of the weekend. I entered of course in the non-Pro Mens division and thought I had a pretty good chance because I had been playing so well all weekend.

    I believe registration topped out at 128 entries so there was no shortage of players and tough competition. The format again was double elimination with best of 3 games on the winners’ side and a single game on the losers’ side. We started up at 11am and I was really hoping for that easy 1st match to get the nerves out and get some momentum. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it. Right away I knew my first opponent was going to be a challenge. We did an incredible battle and it took my best play ever to pull out the win. We both shot a pair of 9 marks each and I thought this was the non-pro division? I gave him a lot of credit and assured him he would go far on the other side. Sure enough, he eventually ended up in the top 10.

    My next opponent was a breath of fresh air as I soundly beat him and had a chance to take a much needed mental break. Unfortunately my next opponent after that was an extremely strong player so I had to return to playing my best ever just to keep pace with this monster. Unfortunately, I had some critical misses and he took advantage. I ended up losing but was happy to play such a tough game that went for so long. We both shot above a 4.4 MPR which is great for me but not good enough today I guess. Off to the loser’s side of the bracket I go.

    After a couple of wins I was paired up AGAIN against one of the guys that beat us the day before in the 501 and Cricket event. I was happy at a chance to get some revenge! Here we go again, it was another tough battle. We only had to play a single game so every shot mattered. I started to slip behind and his 9 mark on the 15s severely diminished my hopes. He eventually won but we laughed because of how much we happened to play against each other so much during the weekend. I think he went on to make the top 6 so I was happy for him that he had such a great weekend.

    Even though I was knocked out a lot earlier that I’d hoped to be, I stuck around awhile to see how my friends and opponents faired out in the late rounds. Turns out that all the players that beat me ended up in the top 6 so that’s always comforting to know that at least you lost to some great players that went to the end of the bracket.

    Overall Summary:

    This was only my second large tournament like this so I’ve often wondered what the competition was like in real tournaments of this size. Supposedly the Pittsburgh Regional is one of the larger and more competitive of the Arachnid soft-tip Bullshooter Regionals. In case you’re curious, here was my observation of the skill level of the players I witnessed: I watched about 20 games take place between people battling in the last 10-12 positions in the non-Pro Men’s event of Cricket singles. Of those 20, I think I only saw 2 or 3 people win a game with an MPR of less than 4.0. Unfortunately myself included, I also witnessed many players shoot a healthy 4.3+ MPR and it still wasn’t enough for a win. The Pro division is a completely different story with regular MPR averages of 6+ and 7+, but I was impressed to witness so many great games between even non-Pro players.

    Basically you can assume this for this caliber soft-tip tournament: If you want to be able to make it into the top 8, you must be able to AVERAGE at least about a 4.4 MPR to have a good chance to make it to the finals. The other challenge at that level is finding the balance between nerves and adrenalin. It is one thing to throw a good game once in awhile at your home bar, but it’s a whole new world when you’re in the late rounds of a large tournament when any significant miss can send you home. Averaging those high marks for so many games in a row is not an easy thing to do. Late nights of throwing, close games, cheering friends on, a few beers to relax, and trying to tame your nerves is what it’s all about.

    What a great game!

    "Arachnid's Bullshooter Regional 2010: Pittsburgh" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment | Search Discussion
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    Re: Arachnid's Bullshooter Regional 2010: Pittsburgh (Score: 1)
    by Crash336 on Monday, March 08 @ 14:29:44 UTC
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Good job on the recap, I live in a steel tip area/State (NC) , not much soft tip around here. I have often wondered what it would be like to thow at a large Bullshooter event. That you for sharing this answered a lot of question I had.

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