A Rising Czech Star

by Paul Backer

Our country has a reason to be proud. I have seen a real contender in the making, a possible challenger on the world level. Everyone is eager. Everyone is wondering, will this guy be the one who puts Czech darts on the map? Remember this name, Ludvik Pilo. If this is a just world, you will hear the name.

Some background on how I first met Ludvik. It was the Eastern Bohemian year-end finals. They consist of the final blow-out tourney on Saturday, and the championship on Sunday.

The prizes on Saturday consisted of televisions, stereos, bicycles, satellite dishes, trophies, and the grand prize, a really cool looking motor scooter.( By Western standards this may not be impressive. It's no world championship 1,000,000$ grand prize. But, for us, it's a really nice payout.) This is the tourney that everyone works all year for. The pressure on the players is the biggest of the year.

As the tourney started entering the upper brackets, there was a new name being heard. Ludvik Pilo, of Vertruby. Who is this guy I wondered? He began to knock off some of the bigger names. I went out in 25th place. Not bad considering I've not had any time for training. I heard him called against a teammate of mine, so I wandered in to watch. My teammate promptly got beat. So I asked Ludvik how long he had been playing. He said since he was 12 and a half. My jaw literally hit the ground. Ludvik has only been playing for a year and a half. Yes, that's right. He's only 14. He finished the day in 5th place, an excellent result. He won a big hi-fi stereo. He won something more important that night, respect from a lot of adults who had been humbled by this youngster.

The next day we started the championships. We play for a traveling trophy. The trophy is huge and beautiful. Our main sponsor, Jan Subr, is also a trophy maker. This is the championships. Sure enough, Ludvik was there. I lost straight out , so that left me time to watch the youngster as he beat player after player. Nerves, we all know how bad they can get. But can you imagine being 14, and every eye is on you? As the matches got nearer to the finals, everyone watched Ludvik play. I've never seen anything like this. Normally players lose interest until the final itself. Not today, because there was something to watch.

The final on the right side of the web started and Ludvik was still there. His hands very steady as rain. He wasn't panicking. He threw like a machine, with rythmn and purpose. He won the match 2-0 and advanced to the finals. The battle raged on the left side and a member of our league won. Zdenek Bek would play in the final. Everyone wanted to see this fairy tlae come true and see Ludvik win. I had seen adults acting like adults for a change today. No throwing darts, no cussing, no yelling, because we had to lose like gentlemen today.

Zdenek threw well, at least one triple every round. But, so did Ludvik. Ludvik hit his doubles on the first throw. Ludvik won! Remember, he didn't win the junior title; he won THE title. And the place went wild. The clapping and the cheering went on and on. His mother had to fight to get near him. He was carried around on our shoulders. Everyone was proud. We have someone special here, I hope we don't forget that.

My darting organization doesn't do much for the youth. That's a shame. Perhaps, now things will change. We've been shown the potential of the young players. Actually, we've been slapped across the face with it. Earlier, I said if this was a just world, you'd hear the name again. A hard reality; our country isn't a wealthy country. Ludvik's opportunities to advance are going to be limited. I hope he gets some breaks and gets to play in some international tourneys. I hope so, but it's going to be a difficult journey.

It's a shame there are so many other Ludviks out there; youngsters full of talent. The next Phil Taylor, but in a country where darts aren't a national sport. A family without the resources to send a kid around the continent to live up to his potential. We have a phrase here," To je skoda," It means , it's a pity.

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