Every year, in October, some of the biggest excitement generated in darts centers around Kansas City and the Tournament of Champions put on by Jim Turntine and his crew at Partners Promoting Darts. Facebook and the internet are full of the buzz as images from the scene are viewed via social media pages. Big paydays are shared and players all over want to know all about what is happening and how they can get involved in such a big payday too. After yet another successful Tournament of Champions this past October, I took some time to speak with Jim and to get is responses to some of the more popular questions that I see players post on social media pages each year when his event comes around.
What is the PPD?
Partner Promoting Darts (PPD) is a soft-tip darts league and tournament sanctioning body established in 2011. The PPD is an alliance comprised of coin-operated game vendors across North America. The PPD evolved from an initial five member/partner system that preceded (what became) the PPD’s establishment in 2011. The original five are in the Midwest [America] and served about 3,000 players. In 2011 about twelve companies were added nationwide – with about 10,000 players served. Today the PPD has grown to include over sixty-five (65) member/partners across North America (including Canada) with over 60,000 players involved in sanctioned darts activities within the PPD. In all we have just over 8,500 connected G2 and G3s (just over 5,500 G3s) within almost 5,000 establishments across North America. Without doubt the PPD has the largest connected network of darts machines in existence in North America and possibly the World.
What is its goal or mission?
The PPD has three primary goals, comingled, that drive all of our decisions and darts offerings. These principal goals, in no particular order, are:
Goal A: To provide the most prestigious competition and largest possible payout opportunities to the greatest and most loyal players within access to our program.
Goal B: Simultaneously offering the fairest possible competition to ALL skill-level players involved in the program; using all available data combined into one master database to kill the sandbagging and cheating that has plagued the sport and every other program. The PPD collects both league and tournament data from as many as five years of history on ALL of our players. Then, we use the best known stats for each individual player when competing in “flighted competition” to ensure fairness from all of the data – regardless of what level of skill a player may be.
Footnote to A and B: Initially, our higher high stakes tournament, the Tournament of Champions (TOC), was formed to attract the highest skilled and most loyal players into our system in order to extrapolate the data needed to accomplish the fairness and effort to end sandbagging – that we sought. Two years after the PPD was formed, the Arachnid G3 with remote-play became available. This led to new remote league and tournament opportunities, which we embraced, to expedite even more tournament data gathering for use in pursuit of our goals. Tournament data is always more accurate than league data, however today we have many non-capped and non-handicapped leagues, which also provide more accurate league data than most of the old traditional leagues ever could.
Goal C: To create a brand as an added value to the businesses owned by our partner/members. Many of our partners strongly desire to distinguish their company from those of their competitors. Doing so helps to solidify relationships with the customer (commercial establishments) and darts players they serve in their area. I’ve often compared this feature to a “franchise” type of value. Initially, all of our partner/members were granted “territorial exclusivity” where they were the only company in their area with rights to offer PPD activities and access to players and establishments in their area. This, added value for each company, then motivates and justifies a significant annual financial commitment to the PPD – necessary to plan and commit to hosting the largest paying events possible. The funds from partners are pooled together to create the largest possible prize pool (for TOC) to attract the top skilled and most loyal players within the combined service areas of all the PPD partners. Just as in goal “B” above, the advent of remote play changed and expanded our opportunity to bring ever higher-stakes tournaments to more and more players across North America. This additional area of growth continues to add value to the brand for everyone involved as we provide more and more leagues and high-stakes tournament opportunities for players. These remote leagues and tournaments provide us more and more data with which to defeat sandbagging and cheating. Today we offer the largest paying remote and on-site tournaments in North America.
Footnote 1 to C: Conversely to the PPD’s "exclusivity" structure , every other “Association” based program, where anyone can join is, in one way or another, or at one time or another; fraught with politics and most, if not all, allow multiple platforms of data that do not plug together into one database. Some even, still, accept paper stats. These realities are the breeding ground of sandbagging, cheating, and so on.
Footnote 2 to C: Initially, in 2012, all of our partners were granted exclusivity and they were required to pay money into the TOC prize pool. The advent of the G3 and remote-play also provided new revenue stream options from remote play. This allowed for new PPD membership options in areas where new member/partner candidates, in areas previously unserved, could begin to join in at no cost to the company unless they desired exclusivity. During our early years we learned that not every company interested in joining the PPD desired or valued exclusivity as much as others because of other factors that impact coin-op companies such as gaming and contract laws that vary in strength from state to state. For several reasons, some companies simply do not care about exclusivity as much as others. Some do not have the same budget to invest in that exclusivity. So as remote play was embraced and new sources of revenue arose we began to develop a variation of partnership options for those who did not care about exclusivity. In 2014, or 2015, we began to add new partners on a “Participation based” arrangement in areas where we did not previously have a PPD partner. Participation based members do not pay into the TOC prize pools directly as others did and still do, and consequently do not enjoy exclusivity rights within their territory and have a bit less to offer their player. But the players, in those area, themselves can earn their way into every feature we offer through participation levels – through remote league play. This arrangement provided an alternative for companies that did not desire to invest in the exclusivity component of the program, while still being able to offer access to all of competition offerings to players in their area. However, these newer types of partners can choose to upgrade to FULL exclusivity if or when they choose.
Is the PPD/ToC strictly a soft-tip league?
At this time and for the foreseeable future, yes, it is, but we will never say never.
If, at some point, there is an option involving steel tip that adds value to the combined goals listed above, anything is possible.
What boards does PPD use?
Currently we use Arachnid G3s almost exclusively. We pull all Partners’ (League Leader Arachnid software) data into our Server nightly. We pull a copy of all backend league leader data which consists of millions of bits of data going back five years on all of our players - every night. We’ve invested in our own programming and engineering for many years now. All of that data is then sorted on our website to provide the various reports and rank lists we provide in support of our various competition offerings.
What is the ToC?
The Tournament of Champions (TOC) is the PPD’s flagship event – an annual 5-day tournament with 100% payback of all entry fees and nearly $500,000 in added prize money (in 2017). The event has been held in Kansas City Missouri each October since 2012. Each year the TOC has grown, prize money payouts and entrants. The 2017 TOC paid out just under $800,000 with just under 1,000 players in attendance.
The TOC is probably most known for the many years of Men’s and Ladies Finales. The Finales are held on the fifth day and consists of the top players who’ve earned their spot in the Finale through first earning a “Qualifier voucher” from one of our partner members though local league and tournament participation where the player proved they were both skilled enough to compete at the highest level and also loyal to that local partner/member by participating in, at least, 350 league games during the year preceding the TOC. Earning a Qualifier voucher enables the player to then register to compete in a 32 person Singles event (Qualifier) where the top 4 – 6 players then advance to the Finale at TOC where they compete in a blind-draw doubles event for as much $20,000 to the winning team but with guaranteed prize money of at least $800 - $1,000 awaiting each and every team because the Finales payback to last place (64th). The PPD hosts this event for both men and women. The PPD provides equal, as possible, prize money to women and men.
Over the past seven years we have experimented and added several new “main events” to fill each of the first four days of TOC. Each main event has been created in the pursuit of the perfect recipe of events to further our goals. The 2017 Cricket Singles Invitational (CSI) consisted of 32 of our highest skilled players who competed for a $10,000 first place prize on day one – plus 8 advanced to the World Cricket Challenge held on day four with another $20,000 top prize up for grabs. Three “Mixed Doubles events - where 64 of our best players competed for a $50,000 top prize on day two, then 64 more competed for a $10,000 top prize on day three and finally 64 more competed for a $5,000 top prize on day four. Also on day four we held our World Cricket Challenge where 8 of the top CSI finishing players joined 8 World ranked players to compete for a $20,000 top prize.
Simultaneous to all of these main events we hold the Qualifiers described above. And as many as 24 other brackets of open Doubles and Triples brackets (up to 20 of which are flighted for all skill levels) each day at TOC - where we add as much as $90,000 to prize money - collectively. These ancillary contest require only 200 league games during the year prior to TOC and are open to ALL skill levels (flighted) for fairness and based upon all those stats mentioned earlier – making this competition possibly the fairest in the World.
Who created the PPD/TOC?
I am known as the Founder and Director of the PPD, but in all fairness, I would be remiss not to acknowledge; as described above, the PPD has evolved from many years of promoting darts prior to the PPD’s existence and, along the way, many people have contributed to the ideas and ideals of the PPD. Not the least of which is those first five partners who were involved prior to 2011. Acme Music and Vending in St. Joseph, Missouri owned by the Thomas Cobb family, B&G Amusement in Kansas City, Missouri owned the Chuck Bengimina family, Newman Amusement in Poplar Bluff, Missouri owned by the Tom Newman family, J&J Ventures in Illinois – especially Sam Westgate, Patti Salisbury and Shawn Smith and finally Camden Amusement in Cedar Rapids, Iowa owned by Larry Elbert. Larry Elbert in particular helped to plan many of the most recognizable features of TOC. Our Staff at Play-Mor Coin-Op in Sullivan, Missouri worked though countless layers of evolution and experimentation throughout the last 25 years of our darts promoting effort. Play-Mor darts league players had to endure more changes than probably any darts players anywhere else in the World. I must also add that none of what we do could happen without Arachnids cooperation and forethought in the products that they provide our industry.
How do I join the PPD?
You need only to participate in leagues on any of our (60) partner/member’s (8,500) darts boards in any of the (nearly 5,000) establishments across North America. There is no fee or formal requirement to become a PPD sanctioned player. Participating in as little as two (2) remote PPD league matches enables a player to become eligible to compete in our monthly remote tournament with $500 added to each bracket of 16 teams. From there every other feature becomes available as players participate to earn more and more opportunities.
How can I get my league involved with PPD?
Simply have your vendor contact us through the link on our website.
They can join for FREE if they want to, or as a FULL member with exclusivity for a fee.
What does the PPD have to offer my league?
Access to the largest and fairest darts competition known to exists anywhere in the World. Whether through our on-line tournaments or at TOC, we continue to find and deploy new features to defeat sandbagging and cheating so that all skill levels of players can enjoy the game of darts as they climb their own personal ladder of improvement. Those who’ve leveled off or even begun to decline for whatever reason, all, skill levels can compete in fairness because of the never ending stream of data we collect and tabulate. Old data falls off as new comes in…. we are always adjusting to ensure fairness for each individual. Then too, with remote play and access to over 60,000 players there are the new league options – almost endless now. In the past, in traditional local leagues, teams had to split up because they were too good for the locals to compete – even with handicapping and so forth. Today’s remote play allows for every skill-level player to pick and choose the type of league he/she participates in and with whom they play. Our PPD staff starts multiple leagues nearly every single day of the week with hundreds in development at any one time. Waiting to play in the next league you join is now minimized immensely. Check out this link to see leagues that are starting this week and those in development.
You will find Doubles, Triples and Four person teams’ options of all types of configurations concerning handicaps and caps or none of either...for every day of the week. Or you can post your own custom league by choosing your own features on our site. The options are nearly endless.
What does the PPD have to offer to me as a player?
Regardless of your skill level, see immediately above. New league options, freedoms and opportunities that are fair and then the highest stakes tournaments anywhere. Our monthly All Star Triples contest with $500 added to every 16-team bracket routinely pays out over $30,000. Our Quarterly Super Saturday Doubles and Singles events with $1,000 added to each 16-team bracket pays out nearer to $100,000 each Quarter. All at your local bar without time off work, babysitting costs, airfare or other travel expense, hotel costs and so on.
Does it cost anything to play PPD?
As stated above. There are NO annual dues or fees to a player. Entry fees for any particular tournament we offer are in line with anything elsewhere you might find except we always pay back 100% and then add money. League fees are similar to or equal to traditional local league fee structures. Teams are paid on league-wins to last place with bonus money paid to the top three teams in most league scenarios.
Can I play my matches remotely?
Yes, if you join any of our remote leagues.
How can I get to play at ToC?
Participate in sanctioned PPD local/traditional leagues or PPD remote leagues on any dart board owned by any participating PPD partner.
The ToC is affiliated with a charity every year. How do you decide on the charity?
We researched and chose the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation as our primary adopted charity.
This year we’ll donate over $10,000 to this great cause.
What sponsors does the PPD have?
Sponsorship is a tricky and confusing term in the Dart community here in America. The word is abused and thrown around when it often really does not apply. Such is the case with the PPD and TOC. Generally speaking, the PPD has no sponsor at this time.
While the PPD has affiliated our brand, TOC event and the program, in general, with various product suppliers; to date, no one company has been able to provide enough financial commitment to fully entice a namesake of any of our principal competition offerings. At TOC, many companies desire access to our player base because we have some of, if not THE, the most admired and skilled players in North America in attendance. In order to facilitate a fair system, without confusing the term sponsorship, we initiated a charitable fund raiser to help determine which brands could be worn, marketed at TOC and in our remote tournament events too. Those suppliers who wanted to simply have their brands seen/worn at TOC are asked to make a $500 donation to the NPCF. Booth space requires a $1,000 donation to the NPCF. I am proud to say that many companies joined in this effort at TOC 2017.
Here is an easy link to see the list: http://www.dartstoc.com/2012/documents/TOC%20dress%20code.pdf
We have had several experimental sponsoring concepts, however our uniqueness of having our own funding mechanisms – leading to such large, comparatively speaking, event payouts; no one has made financial sense for name-sake. Coincidentally that might soon be changing as we are in talks with a couple of new ideas relating to furthering our efforts to bring some part of our TOC to TV audiences. As you know we have previously invested in a couple of TV productions such as the Darts Nation Series www.dartsnation.org and the earlier U.S. Darts Championship is available on YouTube. These productions are used to show our sport and this program’s potential for TV content to media outlets of all sorts. Currently, we have conceptual discussions underway that may lead to more sophisticated content production coming out of the 2018 TOC. If so the proposals include a media sponsor package. So, we’ll see how these things unfold.
What are some of the membership numbers and in how many states is there membership?
See above or at the links on our site. For example our Player Rating list shows over 65,000 players at this link:
Our “TOC rank list” (2018) tab shows all of our partner/members listed at this link:
Our “Where can I play” tab shows nearly 5,000 locations at this link:
What are the turnout numbers for TOC?
We reached just under 1,000 for 2017.
Many thanks to Jim for taking the time to answer some of these common questions that I am hoping will entice more players to get out there and get their leagues involved with the PPD/TOC. If you have any further questions, you can contact Jim or any of his team members directly via Facebook. Their website also contains a lot of information that would be useful for new players to get themselves involved.
The Tournament of Champions (TOC) date is set for 2018!
Make your plans to attend the week of October 6 – 10, 2018 at the KCI Expo Kansas City, Missouri.