Darts players from around the state are gathering in Juneau today for the first-ever nationally sanctioned darts tournament in Southeast Alaska.
Juneau's Valley Dart League - comprised of eight teams with five to eight players each - is hosting the first annual Southeast Shootout starting this evening and continuing through Sunday at Squire's Rest bar in Auke Bay.
"There's a lot more interest in people playing tournaments," said Valley Dart League vice-president Phil Wheeler, who is directing the American Darts Organization-sanctioned tourney. "The people from Anchorage have always encouraged (us to hold) and ADO-sanctioned event."
Now that the tourney is a reality, several elite players from the Anchorage area are expected to attend - including former Juneau resident Matt Mahoney, who is the current top ADO-ranked shooter in Alaska.
There are eight different events through the weekend, with a total prize payout of about $1,000. The events are open to anyone of legal age to be in the bar. A complete listing of times and entry fees can be found below on the Sports in Juneau calendar.
The tournament will kick off with a blind-draw doubles competition at 7 p.m. this evening, in which registered players' names will be randomly matched up for head-to-head competition. Wheeler said blind draw events are a good way for beginners to get involved.
Other events include 501, where players start with 501 points and must work their way down to exactly zero by subtracting the sums of their throws; and cricket, a more strategic game where players aim for multiple hits on designated numbers.
The Valley Dart League is one of several darts leagues in Juneau. The Southeast Shootout is an addition to a local events calendar that includes weekly gatherings in the winter and a large "Sister City" tourney with Whitehorse, where local players host their Canadian counterparts each February, then head north around Easter.
Wheeler said even with elite players in town, the nature of darts means local players can stay competitive this weekend.
"On any given day, anyone can beat them," he said. "That's the wonderful thing about it. I've seen everyone in this league have a good night."
The Juneau Empire sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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