Why I Love… PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour
Steve Hill has 180 reasons.
I don't like darts. I love it. Not in an ironic let's-patronise-working-class-culture kind of way, but in a what-an-amazing-spellbinding-sport kind of way (and yes, it is a sport, as proven in the Houses of Parliament in 2005).
A close high-octane professional darts match is arguably as exciting as sport gets, with victory and despair often literally separated by a matter of millimetres. Or as legendary commentator Sid Waddell would have it, the width of a fly's eyelash.
I have been enraptured by darts ever since 100-1 Ipswich farmhand Keith Deller vanquished the imperious Eric Bristow for an improbable world championship title. As well as being glued to every televised tournament, I have even been known to travel the country in thrall to tungsten.
I was at the upholstered sewer that is Circus Tavern, Purfleet, when Phil 'The Power' Taylor threw away a three set lead to lose the epic 2007 World Final. I was at Wembley Arena last year when he made history with two nine-dart finishes. And I was recently at Alexandra Palace for a session of the season's marquee event, the PDC World Championship.
The latter pilgrimage represents pretty much the only time I wasn't watching the tournament on telly, my annual sabbatical as ever soundtracked by the soothing metronomic thud of three tungsten missiles penetrating a fresh dartboard while a palace full of dressed-up nutters goes feral.
Forget rampant consumerism, extreme gluttony and amateur drinkers. Forget Baby Jesus. For me, Christmas is darts. Since the tragic demise of John Peel's Festive Fifty, it's all I've got.
With the PDC Championship segueing into the more homespun and migraine-inducing BDO tournament on the BBC, I watched darts solidly from December 16th to January 9th (barring the tiresome intrusion of Christmas Day and Boxing Day). I recently closed my eyes and saw a dartboard floating in the blackness. I'm not OK.
Naturally, when a copy of PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour dropped onto the doormat, I was mildly curious. That curiosity is now at the stage where it has been sat in my PS3 for the best part of a month, the plucky underdog lording it up while the year's big releases look on unloved.
Black Ops? A bit of zombie action, barely scratched the surface. New Assassin's Creed: unopened. New Need for Speed: unopened. New GoldenEye: can't find it. All in favour of a game in which it makes perfect sense for a 70 year-old Geordie to shout "Bad snatch!" and "Side lipstick!"
There's an argument that videogames should be about escapism, about performing actions that you could never do in real life - be it battling space monsters, being in Star Wars or selling herbs to a goblin. Any fool can sling an arrow, which might explain the paucity of darts titles over the years, with only Sega's excellent Touch Darts on DS cutting the mustard.
However, while throwing a dart isn't beyond the realms of fantasy, there are only a handful of men on the planet who can consistently do it at a world-class level. PDC Darts enables you to become one of them simply by moving your thumb backwards and forwards.