Cape dartsman to compete against world’s elite players

Grant “Samurai” Sampson is set to compete at the Cazoo World Darts championship, in England, in December.
From left, Racketlon Sports’ Patrick Kalous, UK-bound Grant Sampson and George Peterson, whose son Devon is the only South African and African player on the European professional darts circuit.
Grant “Samurai” Sampson concentrating on his throw during competition.
Grant Sampson will have his work cut out when he rubs shoulders and compete against the world’s best at the Cazoo World Darts championship, in England, in December.

Fuad Esack

Ranked among the top darts players in the city, Grant “Samurai” Sampson is set to compete at the Cazoo World Darts championship, in England, in December.

Organised by the Professional Darts Corporation(PDC) the event will be held at Alexandra Palace in London, with a total £2.5 million(R50 million) in prize money, including a minimum of £7,500 (about R150 000) to Sampson.

This major international event is broadcast live on Sky Sports in England and to over 100 territories around the world.

Sampson dropped out in last year’s Royal Falcon Whiskey Invitational held at the Signature Lux Hotel in Green Point, after losing out on capturing the winner takes all R50 000 prize money.

However, Sampson, under the watchful eye of manager and mentor Charles Losper, has been diligently honing his craft and competing on the local darts circuit, qualifying for the world championships and the opportunity of representing country and continent.

“We are extremely happy to support both Grant in getting over to the UK,” said Andy Daniel, Royal Falcon Ambassador.

“We are thrilled that our investment in the sport has in some small way created a platform for talent such as Grant’s to develop and now compete on the world stage,” he said.

Sampson is well aware that he will have his work cut out in his first competition abroad as an opportunity to rub shoulders and compete with the world’s elite darts players does not come around every day.

“ I’ve been playing darts for more than 25 years, however, it was merely just a hobby – nothing over the top or serious per se. Never ever imagined that I would see myself play on the professional stage in time to come,” he said.

The Tatler caught up with Sampson at Racketlon Sports Store in Salt River last weekend, where a group of youngsters from the Devon Petersen Darts Academy had popped in to pick up much-needed supplies, extra darts flights and other goodies that might come in handy at the championships Junior Darts Corporation (JDC) World Championships, in Gibraltar where they are currently competing.

At the height of lockdown, in 2020, when the entire world came to a standstill due to the spread of the coronavirus, darts remained one of a few sports, aside from those in the video gaming sector, that enabled players to compete, locally and internationally.

“The irony with Covid,” Sampson said, “is that as much as it was an extremely depressing time internationally – it also allowed for people like myself to push themselves with the limited access to things we had. Entertainment options were few. With the kids hovering around the TV set there was not much for us to do around the house. I then put my board up to keep myself entertained.”

Spending time online opened darting opportunities Sampson could never have imagined prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic.

“The more I played, the more I felt I could do more with my talent. I somehow came across a post on online darts and decided to enrol in a couple of competitions. At one point I got invited to an Australian event where I played against the likes of James Bailey. This boosted my confidence in what I thought to be just a hobby,” said Sampson, also a member of the Devon Petersen Darts Academy, which was established by its namesake and South Africa and Africa’s only player on the European professional circuit in Cape Town, earlier this year.

Known as the “African Warrior” on the pro circuit, Petersen is the only player from the continent to have won a major international PDC ranking competition when he was crowned German champion in 2020 and has been at the forefront of promoting the game in South Africa, allowing players like Sampson and others to follow in his footsteps.

“With the confidence I gained in competing against really great players online, I decided to take a chance and enter the Last Man Standing tournament in October 2022. Little did I know that it would go really well on the day.

“I won all my games on the first day and made it to the quarter-final. This would see me take on Devon. I was confident but the nerves of taking on a man of his calibre was something else,” Sampson said, referring to the competition Petersen had established to offer players an opportunity to join him on the world stage.

“When I won Devon, I knew that I was only two steps away from representing not only South Africa but Africa as a whole. That thought alone still gives me goosebumps. I went on to win the tournament and man oh man what a feeling. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to this point,” he said.