Jose de Sousa: Disrupting the Darting Hierarchy in Style
Over the last few years, professional darts has arguably become more competitive than ever before. Phil Taylor’s retirement and Michael van Gerwen’s drop in form has opened the door for other players to rise through the ranks, and Jose de Sousa is one of several to profit. The 47-year-old began playing in 1993, making his PDC debut in 2011. Since then, his game has developed significantly, and he is now one of the most exciting players on the circuit.
While De Sousa began playing professionally during the early-90s, it wasn’t until 2019 that his fortunes began to change. In recent years, the Portuguese-Spanish player has taken his game to the next level, and he now boasts an unrivalled scoring power. So, let’s look at how De Sousa has upset the darting hierarchy at UK events.
Becoming Darts’ Most Prolific 180 Hitter
It speaks volumes about De Sousa’s fearless approach that he's closing in on Gary Anderson’s record for the most 180s in a Premier League campaign. According to Sky Sports, the two-time world champion hit 79 maximums during the 2011 competition, which he would later win. By comparison, The Stats Don’t Lie states that the 47-year-old landed 72 after 14 games in 2021, giving him an average of 5.14 per game. At the time of writing, the Special One is one point away from securing a place in the play-offs, which would give him at least one more game to surpass the Flying Scotsman’s record.
Despite the 2021 Premier League season being his debut campaign in the table-formatted event, De Sousa has risen to the challenge fearlessly. On Night Four, the Portuguese-Spanish player hit a nine-dart finish en route to a draw with Nathan Aspinall. Not only that, but he also equalled Anderson's ten-year record of 11 180s in a single match. It’s a testament to De Sousa’s form that in the first 14 weeks of the Premier League, he ended six of those as the top 180 hitter.
However, De Sousa isn’t just a power scorer. As per the PDC Order of Merit, the 47-year-old is currently the world number 11, placing him above the 2020 Premier League winner, Glen Durrant and Wales’ World Cup-winning representative, Jonny Clayton.
Patience is a Virtue in Darts
Few can argue that De Sousa isn’t one of the most well-rounded players in world darts. Upon adding finishing ability to his game, the 47-year-old clinched his first televised event at the 2020 Grand Slam of Darts, beating James Wade 16-12 in the final. In triumphing at the Ricoh Arena, he became only the sixth winner of the competition, following in the footsteps of Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld, Scott Waites, Taylor, and Van Gerwen.
De Sousa, in many ways, embodies the spirit of darts. After nine years of battling to qualify for major competitions, he finally succeeded in writing his name into the history books. Moreover, his triumph is even more unique as he lifted the trophy in his first Grand Slam of Darts appearance after failing to qualify in each of the previous years. Having got his maiden title, De Sousa will now be targeting future success, including at the World Matchplay, which starts on July 17th, as we wrote at darts-uk.co.uk.
The World Matchplay is one of the most highly-anticipated events on the darting calendar, and it’s a competition that every professional longs to win. However, it doesn’t compare to the World Championships, even from a spectator perspective. It speaks volumes about the tournament’s appeal among fans that it’s a highly-popular betting market at leading sports betting providers from Asiabet.org. The review site lists a wide-ranging selection of top-rated operators, many of which offer darts betting opportunities. At Betway, for example, users can take advantage of sign-up bonuses and browse World Championship markets, at which De Sousa will likely be among the favourites.
An Inspiration to Aspiring Professionals
While De Sousa has played darts for almost three decades, he only went full-time as a professional in 2019. Since making the life-changing decision, the Portuguese-Spanish player’s performances have reached new heights, and he’s now among the darting elite. However, it wasn’t always like that, and he shows that hard work and dedication, along with talent, can see aspiring professionals upset the sport’s hierarchy.