And, just like that, Cameron Carolissen, 24, booked himself a spot at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) world championships, in England, in December.
Ranked among the top players in the country, Carolissen outshone his rivals in this weekend’s Last man Standing darts tournament, in Goodwood.
Established by Devon Petersen, South Africa’s only professional darts player on the PDC circuit, the competition offers the winner an opportunity to make an appearance at the PDC world championships.
For those in the know, his win comes as no surprise as Carolissen, from Strandfontein, had worked his way up the ranks since he started playing 12 years ago.
Born into a darts-playing family, it was almost inevitable that Carolissen would follow in the footsteps of his father, Matthew, who died just over a year ago. His father was known for his work with junior players and introduced his Cameron and his younger sister Tayla, to the game at an early age.
Carolissen’s win at the weekend is not the first time a family member has represented South Africa on the international stage as Tayla competed at the World Darts Federation’s world Cup in Turkey, a few years ago.
Although dominating most of his matches at the weekend, Carolissen didn’t have it all his way in the final match against Charles Losper.
“It was a tough affair. I started off slow but picked up towards the middle and the end. For most of the match we were neck and neck – 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4 – but ultimately I won 7-4,” he said.
Understandable proud, Carolissen was quick to honour the memory of his father, who as chairman of the Strandfontein-based Saints
Darts Club and a darts development officer, had produced a number of champions over the years.
“From the moment my dad introduced me to the game, I always wanted to go to matches with him,” he said.
“He coached me, threw me in the deep end, had me playing with the big guys. Eventually I got better and even competed against him,” said Carolissen.
“My very firts major competition was in 2010, at the SA Masters. That was the competition that Devon won.
“Even though I didn’t have much success in that tournament it made me realise that that was the level I had to be at or even better.”
Like most sports, 2020 has not been kind to darts with only one big competition – the Young Eagles Sports darts tournament played earlier this year, before the national lockdown was announced in March.
Carolissen said he lost 9-4 in a nail-biting final against Losper whom he also he faced in Saturday’s final match.
Despite missing out on live competitive action for most of the year, the lockdown turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Carolissen found time to work on his game through online tournaments.
Although Saturday’s final, as expected, turned out to be a stressful affair, Carolissen breezed through the group stages and knockout sections, winning all of his matches.
“I wasn’t too concerned with my opponents but focused mainly on my own game,” he said.
Western Cape Darts Federation (WCDF) general secretary Nicole Alcock said the weekend’s competition featured 59 players from across the country, the youngest being 16, and the oldest 60. Samantha Jefta, from Mitchell’s Plain was the only female participant.
Alcock also paid tribute to Petersen, saying: “He has paved the way for another South African to compete at the most prestigious Darts event of the year, the 2021 PDC World Darts Championship.”
As such, Carolissen will have his work cut out as most of the top dart players on the continent have entered and and are competing for the most sought after title, winner of the African Qualifier.