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  • Black Country Translator

Tremendous Tungsten: The Largely Unexplored Darts Translation Market

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

As a darts fanatic, player and translator, I had to dedicate one of my posts to darts translation, which, surprisingly, is a largely unexplored market. Darts is constantly growing as a sport, attracting attention from all four corners of the globe, yet content related to the sport tends to be monolingual, alienating potential players, customers and followers. This game, which I love so dearly, must jump on the translation and localisation bandwagon if it is to become not only an international sport, but also a global industry. I will therefore discuss the massive potential of this niche in this blog post, clearly arguing that the darts industry is missing a trick by continuing to avoid the realm of language services.

How popular is darts?

Originally a pub game across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, darts is rapidly becoming a truly global phenomenon, with recent figures indicating that the sport is now played by approximately 50 million people worldwide. This surge in popularity is particularly marked in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, with the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Max Hopp, Gabriel Clemens, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Danny Noppert and Jermaine Wattimena regularly featuring in televised tournaments on the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) circuit. However, as recent PDC World Championships and other circuit events have shown, many professional darts players are starting to hail from much further afield, including newly emerging countries in the sport. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

· Spain (Toni Alcinas, José Justicia, etc.);

· Portugal (José de Sousa);

· Poland (Krzysztof Ratajski);

· Austria (Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez);

· Lithuania (Darius Labanauskas);

· Latvia (Madars Razma);

· Australia (Damon Heta);

· South Africa (Deven Petersen);

· Brazil (Diogo Portela);

· Singapore (Paul Lim);

· Japan (Seigo Asada, Haruki Muramatsu, etc.);

· Denmark (Per Laursen);

· Canada (Ken MacNeil);

· The Philippines (Lourence Ilagan and Paolo Nebrida);

· China (Jianfeng Lu, Wenqing Liu, etc.);

· Russia (Dmitriy Gorbunov, Boris Koltsov, Evgeniy Izotov, etc.), etc.

The global rise in popularity of tungsten hurling has also translated into the establishment of regional circuits such as the EuroAsian Darts Corporation Tour, which features players from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Likewise, in order to quench the world’s increasingly insatiable thirst for Shanghais, big fishes, 180s and 100-plus check-outs, PDC tournaments are now being held across the globe, in addition to major competitions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, such as the Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton and the William Hill World Darts Championship in London, for example. These tournaments include:

· Unicorn Development Tour (Niedernhausen, Germany);

· Hungarian Darts Trophy;

· Cazoo World Cup of Darts (this year in Jena, Germany);

· Nordic Darts Masters (Copenhagen);

· Gibraltar Darts Trophy;

· Jack’s Casino World Series of Darts (Amsterdam);

· Unibet Premier League (now in Berlin and Rotterdam, as well as venues across the UK and the Republic of Ireland);

· Bet365 US Darts Masters (Madison Square Garden, New York);

· PalmerBet Queensland Darts Masters (Townsville, Australia);

· PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters (Wollongong, Australia); and

· New Zealand Darts Masters.

Despite this growing interest in the game, very little darts-related content is translated into foreign languages. For instance, when I purchased my World Championship tickets several weeks ago, I was left perplexed upon discovering that the only thing translated on the PDC’s website was the document outlining the T&Cs for ticket sales, which was available in English, German and Dutch; none of the website itself was translated. Surely the PDC is missing a trick here, given that tickets for big European tour events held in non-English-speaking countries, particularly in Germany and The Netherlands, can be purchased on their website. As a result, darts fans with no, or very little, knowledge of English will only end up feeling alienated and miss out on such events, which will only come back to bite the PDC on the bum when there are empty seats at big tournaments like the Betfred World Matchplay. This is even more bemusing given that the world record attendance at a darts event was recorded outside the UK, more specifically in Germany in 2018, when 20,210 fans flocked to the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen for the German Darts Masters. Imagine how many more Germans would have been there if they could access the ticket information on the PDC’s website in their native language. In other words, the darts industry is shooting itself in the foot through its reticence to jump on the language services bandwagon.

Spain and Portugal: An untapped goldmine

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, darts started out as a British and Irish pub game, and the sport continues to be biggest in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, despite its global expansion. This means that countries such as Spain, where many Britons are based, could benefit from the game’s growing popularity. Figures from the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE) show that British expats account for the largest proportion of foreign nationals living in Spain, with 250,000 Britons residing permanently in the country in 2019. The likelihood is that many of these expats love their darts, just like many of their compatriots, so I found it staggering that very few major Spanish darts retailers have yet to localise their websites into at least English. This is also surprising given Brits’ predilection for a good bargain. From personal experience, I know that the cost of living, and thus, the cost of many products is considerably lower in Spain than the UK, and I also know for a fact that bargain-loving Brits would place bulk orders for cheaper darts products from Spain. Let’s not forget either that English is more widely spoken than Spanish as a second language, so companies such as are also potentially missing out on customers in emerging darts markets, such as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. It’s also worth mentioning that localising their content into English would most likely attract darts followers in other emerging Anglophone markets, most notably Australia and New Zealand.

I have also recently discovered that Spain is a hotbed for electronic darts tournaments. Comunidad Granboard España, for example, is one of the many Spanish companies that organise online darts tournaments played remotely on electronic boards, enabling a large number of people to come together, socialise and enjoy the game in good company. They specifically state on their website that their aim is to expand and work directly with sponsors, brands, stores, etc. But how do they plan to do this without translating their website from Spanish into other languages, especially English? They may manage to expand their community in Spain and across Latin America, but not elsewhere. Also, what about the British expat community in Spain, who are renowned for their limited knowledge of the local language? Shouldn’t they also be integrated into this expansion plan? In addition, given that the game is played remotely, their community could easily grow internationally. A perfectly idiomatic version of their website in English and other major languages, especially French and German, is therefore essential, given the great popularity of darts in Anglophone, Francophone and Germanophone countries in particular.

Over the border in Portugal, there is another unopened treasure chest in the world of darts translation. With the current world no. 10, José de Sousa, bearing the Portuguese flag in professional darts, the sport is now covered by all major sports publications in the country, such as and The Special One’s exploits are generating great interest in darts in Portugal, so it’s very surprising that the multiple major winner doesn’t have an online presence in Portuguese, English or any other language. If he did, he would not only help Portuguese darts grow, but also the sport as a whole, because he’s one of the biggest names out there right now. I’ve also noticed that Portuguese darts companies and organisations have failed to capitalise on the growth of the Portuguese game in general, deciding not to jump on the crest of the wave produced by de Sousa. Rather than appealing to the considerable British expat community across the Iberian Peninsula and a more international audience, by localising their content into English and other international languages, the likes of the Asociação nacional de dardos (Portuguese National Darts Association) and Phoenix Darts Portugal, another organiser of remote darts tournaments, are struggling to promote the game and expand, both nationally and internationally.

No live interpretation and inward-looking national bodies

My research has also led me to discover that the websites of many national darts organisations, including those of Belgium, France and Austria, are only available in their respective countries’ official languages, thus hindering efforts to help the game grow in these nations and target expats. Furthermore, national organisations’ websites that do happen to be localised into at least one foreign language, such as Switzerland’s, tend to forget about the importance of translating their social media content, which, nowadays, is a primary communication channel. People are more likely to catch up on news via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on their mobiles than through an official website, so people with no knowledge of German – the only language used by the Swiss Darts Federation on its social media pages – and non-social media users cannot access any content or news related to the organisation, potentially stunting the growth of the game in the country.

I must also add I have never seen an interpreter used for live interviews or press conferences with darts players, and I’ve been watching the sport on TV for a good 15 years. Despite the fact that there are many players on the PDC tour whose English is not advanced enough to communicate within this context, and who would probably feel more comfortable expressing themselves in their native language, these players either insist on speaking in English, in spite of their struggles, or avoid being interviewed altogether. A good example of this would be the many occasions when Japanese players have refused to be interviewed after World Championship matches due to the language barrier. Similarly, as a Portuguese speaker myself, I have also noticed that José de Sousa struggles at times with the grammatical differences between English and Portuguese, adversely affecting his clarity of expression in English. He would therefore massively benefit from working with an experienced native-English-speaking interpreter with in-depth darting knowledge, just like the Japanese players who shun post-match interviews.

So, what’s the darts industry waiting for?

I’ve already demonstrated that darts is now a global phenomenon, yet most darts-related content is monolingual. If you think about the world’s biggest brands – Nike, McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Google and Microsoft, among others – global success is clearly down to an effective globalisation strategy, whereby a company’s content has been effectively translated and localised into multiple languages. So, what’s stopping the darts industry? The sport is now played in all four corners of the globe, spanning across very different cultures, languages and peoples, and many studies have proven that people are more receptive to content published in their native language.

Other sports have already jumped on the translation and localisation bandwagon, having rapidly grown across the world, such as football, American football, rugby and basketball, so it’s about time that darts did the same. Darts is no longer the preserve of British and Irish pubs; it’s an international sport with millions of followers and players. It’s therefore baffling, in my opinion, that the darts industry is still reluctant to call on language services to take itself to the next level. I mean, anyone can play darts – you can get a decent set for around £20 – but if the industry continues to refrain from speaking directly to players and fans in emerging or unexplored markets, its potential for further growth will remain limited.

Resources consulted:

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