Russ Bray caught my eye minutes after I walked in. He was sitting on a chair in front of the event staff table looking at his phone. I waited until he wasn't doing anything and then went over and chatted with him. I welcomed him to Taiwan and we talked for about five minutes. This was his first time in Taiwan. He was really nice, and the one thing that struck me about him was that he looked like a drill sergeant. His black polo shirt was snug with no wrinkles or bagginess, and he had a look that announced that he was in charge. He was quite happy to talk with me, and I shared that it was great to see an event like this because it will really help promote steel tip darts. He was quite well informed. He mentioned that a large soft tip and steel tournament was also being held this weekend in Taiwan, which I confirmed. He has a great job. From the moment I walked in, until late in the afternoon right before the quarterfinals, all he had to do was maybe take care of correspondence on his phone and walk around a bit keeping an eye on things. On his rounds he would give event staff a pat on the back. He didn't have much to do because the staff had the event running very smoothly. I saw no glitches or delays the whole day. He said that many years ago he once played in Victoria, BC. Any SEWA people remember this? After the quarter-finals, Bray got a piece of paper and wrote the intros for the semis and finals. He went over this with the lead announcer and for the next hour or so I'd see the guy practicing. I guess when Russ Bray makes a suggestion, you follow it. The warmup boards were good to watch. Most of the players were quiet. Just pounding away. But early in the day Paul Lim showed people something different. You could hear him clear across the venue. A sharpshooting local player, Steven "Little Tibet", who is still learning his outs, was engaged in practice games with Paul chalking in their heads. They talked about checkouts and double checked their scores. That's the value of having someone like Paul Lim at an event like this. He saw an opportunity to be a mentor and a teacher, and he took it. He made sure everyone was paying attention. His eagerness to mentor Steven, and Steven's eagerness to work with Paul was great to see, and hopefully it inspires other local players. A solid group of international class players attended. I counted several players who have played on PDC World Cup teams or at the World Championships. Paul Lim, Royden Lam, Lourence Ilagan, Seigo Asada, Haruki Muramatsu, Thanawat, and Christian Perez are the names I can recall. Watching all these great players warming up, I was thinking, "Those guys are great! They don't miss the 20! They hit can hit T20s seemingly at will. They shoot tiny groups at the 20. When they switch numbers, they hit the trips or wire them." Then while watching the Taiwanese players, I was thinking, "Those guys are great! They can hit lots of 20s and T20s. They'd blow me away!" They had more slack darts than most of the visiting pros, but they still shot well. Watching the quarters, semis, and finals, I witnessed the best darts Taiwan has ever seen, and the best darts I have seen in person. Then when I thought about it, the top players I saw are guys who almost never make it past the first round of the PDC world championships. That is a truly sobering thought. The top level of PDC darts is a step ABOVE what I saw on Saturday. Wow. I watched the floor play when I wasn't going out for a beer or visiting with friends. A few local players had some good runs, but most were outclassed by the visiting pros. Guys like Paul, Segio, Lourence, and Muramatsu were just too consistent and too good at checkouts for the local players. Sure, I saw some good shots from local guys, like one guy who shot a beautiful 119 out on Paul. Nice fat 19, T20, D20. But his 19 was too low for this level of play. The other international players would never shoot so low on that 19. This was the same player who earlier tried to take out 74 by shooting 20, 20, D17. Of course, he hit a S17 to leave 17. Guys here in Taiwan just don't know their outs yet. Paul almost had a magical moment in the quarterfinal against Muramatsu. Paul opens with a 180. Muramatsu hits a 180. Paul hits another 180. A murmur goes up among the half dozen or so guys watching this match. Paul steps up again. T20, T19. We are all frozen and silently watching his shot. And...just wires outside the D12. Whoops and shouts go up from the crowd. Wow. Crazy. I almost witness a 9 darter. Next turn Paul hits the D12 on his second dart. In the semis Paul took out 95 by going 19, D19, D19. I was sitting up front with a group of players and after he hit the first D19 everyone sat up a little and a slight murmur went out because we knew what was coming. When he hit that first D19, everyone was like, Okay! One more! And he did it! Royden Lam hit a spectacular 155 checkout during floor play. T20, T19, D19. In his warmup on the big stage, Paul goes T20, Bull (50), Bull (50) and I'm thinking, "How does a guy like that lose?" The final was Paul versus Seigo and it was fun, because as luck would have it, a lot of Japanese players were sitting in the left row of tables, and most of the locals including me were sitting on the right near the front. Sure, Paul is from Singapore, and he's also an American citizen, but he's still Chinese and a local hero. During the match the applause would alternate left and right, depending on whomever made a good shot. In the end, Segio edged out Paul. Paul was shooting good darts on the day, but he was having double trouble in several matches. After he won his semi against Yuki Hamada which had a lot of missed doubles from both players, a friend turned around to me and said, "Lucky." What a great day. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't go today, but there's next year. I imagine the World Championships would be fun, but the intimacy and the deadly quiet seriousness of the PDC floor play on Saturday is something that any true darts junkie like myself has to experience. No photos, selfies or autographs. Just darts, and course beer. Hands down, it was the best darting experience of my life.