Game on for Maestro Mark

Te Awamutu darts player Mark Cleaver has won a spot competing with the biggest names in darts.

Cleaver, known as the maestro (because of his guitar playing) confirmed his place in the Hamilton event at the DartPlayers New Zealand ProTour double-header this month.

Sharpshooter Mark Cleaver. Photo: Supplied.

Cleaver’s support crew from Te Awamutu Darts Association will be in full support, at the darts and in costume.

Most will dress as maestros.

Cleaver, Kayden Milne and Ben Robb finished in the top three of the rankings and will play in the New Zealand Darts Masters on August 16 and 17.

The event attracts the biggest names in darts and should include 17-year-old English wonderkid Luke Littler and new world champion Luke Humphries.

Former New Zealand Darts Masters champion Gerwyn Price and fellow former world champions Michael Smith and Peter Wright have also been included, while UK Open champion Dimitri Van den Bergh makes his latest appearance Down Under.

Other New Zealand representatives confirmed are Haupai Puha and Simon Whitlock. Three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen and World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall will miss the event for family reasons.

The night at the darts promises to be an over-the-top blend of high-level sport, wild fancy dress costumes, big 180 calls, and larger-than-life personalities.

Cleaver started playing darts when he was aged 10 and was originally considering golf before darts took his interest. There’s no age limit in darts, he said.

“One player is 82 and he can still throw a good dart,” the 56 year old said.

He has and does play internationally. He enjoys the camaraderie, the competition with players at a level, but adds that how a player handles the stress is a big factor in outcomes. His family is grown, so it’s one less stress factor when he is away most weekends. Pro darts is a big commitment.

“People don’t see the work hours at home on the board,” he said.

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