On November 28, the first ever Indian World Championship Qualifier was held in Pune. The winner qualified for the PDC World Championship 2019. Nitin Kumar won the tournament and becomes the second Indian to join the World Championship. Darts Actueel spoke with the Indian before the Worlds.
Darts in India
Nitin Kumar, born on November 14 1985 in Coimbatore, turns out to be a talented darts player in India. He played in 2014 and in 2015 at the World Cup of Darts. He also managed to win the Dubai Duty Free Masters. In October this year, he won the World Championship Qualifier in India and qualified for the PDC World Championship. “I started the Qualifier well, but I had one bad match but I managed to win it. After that match I had a lot of confidence and belief that I could win the tournament and that helped me.”
We don’t know much about the darts of India, because there are few Indians participating in the PDC tournaments. Kumar tells the following to Darts Actueel. “The darts is growing in India. Overall, I would say that 70% of our players are under 30. Selling Dartboards is increasing. The number of players has tripled in the last two years. The Indian darts players went from about 45 players in 2016 to almost 200 players in May early this year. It grows exponentially.”
“There are some good players in India. Although they are really young and certainly need international experience, there can always be a breakthrough. Players such as Ankit Goenka, Amit Gilitwala and Vikash Kothari have also done well internationally”, so to be heard in India the darts are also becoming more important.
The PDC introduced the Asian Tour last season, which proved to be a great success. Lourence Ilagan, Royden Lam, Noel Malicdem and Paul Lim were able to qualify for the World Championship via this tour. Ankit Goenka and Kumar both competed in the two Asian Tours in Kuala Lampur. Kumar reached twice the last 64. “I lost against Noel Malicdem and Haruki Muramatsu. They are both great players and they are two top players in Asia. Their composure was what surprised me and they punished me for every mistake I made. I had a bad match against Malicdem, but against Muramatsu I did great job but still he won. I have a great deal of respect for Haruki and Noel and the many other darts players in Asia that come far internationally.”
“Hopefully I can find a good sponsor who can help me to go off the complete Asian Tour. It’s a great tour for Asian darts and I very much welcome it. The schedule is very gruelling and financially cumbersome for many, but if you get the chance then you have to go for it”, told Kumar about the second season of the Asian Tour.
The 33-year-old darts player would love to see the Asian Tour once organized in his country. It would be a dream for him to come out. “It will give the Indian darts a boost, as most players here haven’t played internationally but have heard of so many players in Asia. If our Indian players get to see Lourence Illagan, Paul Lim, Royden Lam or Christian Perez, it would be a dream come true for them. That can only be good for us.”
World Championship 2019
Most players now work towards their first game for the World Championship, which does Kumar as well. He told us that he practise hard every day to show what he can on his matchday. “I am now practicing about 5 to 6 hours a day. It’s very different from the two PDC World Cups I’ve played before. I go there with a mindset that I have to do my utmost. Every game on stage helps me to make mentally better and brings me to a higher level. That is what the plan is to do in London.”
At his very first World Chamionship, Kumar is going meet a Dutchman in the first round, Jeffrey de Zwaan. A difficult job according himself. “He’s a great player. I feel that he will become one of the best players in the world in the coming years. I don’t actually make a chance against him. I do think that if I play at my best and make use of mistakes he makes, I can bring him trouble, that would be interesting.”
The Indian also has a number of favourites and outsiders for the PDC World Championship of 2019. “For me, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson will always be the favourites, just because they can retain their level of play over the long format. My favorite player is Peter Wright, although he has achieved some bad results in the last few months. Would it be wrong to call Rob Cross an outsider for the title? However, I think Michael Smith is going to come a long way. He has shown throughout the year that he can measure himself with the best of the world.”
Kumar also looks a bit further than the World Championship. After the Worlds, the Indian will participate to Q-School. “I’ll be participating in Q-School next year. To be honest, I know what the level is to grab a tourcard during Q-School. I also know that I can play at that level. For me it is more to maintain my composure and to throw at a constant level.”
So it is a small chance that we will see an Indian with a tourcard next year. There is a possibility that we will see ‘The Royal Bengal’ next year on the second level of the PDC, the Challenge Tour. “As it now seems I’m going to throw a number of Challenge Tour tournaments next year. I will stay for a while in the UK, but don’t know for how long.”
Darts Actueel wishes Nitin Kumar a very successful debut in London!