Lithuanian arrowsmith Darius Labanauskas has taken the BDO circuit by storm in the past few years winning the Denmark, HAL and Lithuanian Opens in 2016 and Estonian Masters this season. He also recently won the Latvian Open last weekend and has made the quarter finals of both the BDO World Championships and BDO World Trophy.
Here at SBFP we spoke to Darius and asked him a few questions about his game and the sport in his home country of Lithuania.
(With his heavy scoring and calm doubling under pressure, Darius Labanauskas has racked up several tournament wins)
Q. Welcome Darius. How did you first get into playing darts? When did you start playing?
I started to play in 2003 after seeing Lithuanian darts ranking event advertisement in a newspaper. Before that I played from time to time and only at home. I tried to play in events and I liked that despite at first I wasn’t lucky at all.
I went seriously to international events from 2013. This step I made, having encouragement from players who came to play to Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian opens. Players from England, Netherlands, Scandinavia who said I had good chance to do well.
Q. What are your main ambitions to achieve in the sport?
My ambitions are the highest possible. Victories in every match and every tournament. It is hard to make true, but I always fight to the last leg.
Q. What would say is your proudest darting moment in your career so far?
I have had a lot of brilliant and sad moments during those years. 40 times I made to the semifinals in BDO and WDF tournaments, participated in 10 Major TV tournaments such as BDO Champs, World Trophy, Winmau World Masters and Finder Darts Masters.
The most memorable I guess was my debut in BDO world championship in Lakeside 2015. I lost in first round against Robbie Green, but the match was good and my checkout from 167 was the highest in all tournament that year.
A lot of warm memories and first medals I have and from WDF World, Europe Cups in 2012, 2014, 2015. I feel very proud and about being No1 in WDF ranking 2015 and 2016. Also fantastic victory I had winning Poland Open 2015. It was my first tournament I won outside Baltic states.
Q. In some Baltic regions such as Sweden and Germany, there seems to be more of a darts culture than Lithuania as well as Lativa and Estonia. Is darts beginning to grow Lithuania now?
In Lithuanian we have 11 darts clubs and about 100 players attending national tournaments and having licenses. During last few years, player numbers are not growing but the overall quality is getting better. There is still a lack of playing experience in high level tournaments.
Q. In Lithuania, yourself and Arunas Ciplys are the two strongest players in the country, but give us the name of a young player from Lithuania to look out for over the coming years
Now Mindaugas Barauskas (37) is playing great as Arunas does. Me and Mindaugas, we reached the pairs final in Swedish Open 2017. Speaking about very good young players I pick Ugnius Jankunas (19). But I am not sure we will see them playing in more than few international tournaments because darts for them is just a hobby.
Q. You are good friends with Madars Razma (and have won many doubles events with him). Now he has moved over to the PDC, do you see yourself following him there soon? A lot of people who follow darts, and myself too, believe you have the talent to be successful on the PDC tour.
This year I am planning to try myself in the PDC Scandinavian tournaments. After them I may say a lot of more about seeing me in PDC.
Q. You are known as a big practicer. How many hours each week do you spend on the dartboard? What routines do you use to practice?
Before the tournament I play 2-3 hours a day. I love to play cricket or use computer program “501”. A lot of time I spend in the venue before the match.
Q. In January at the BDO World Championships you reached the quarter finals before losing out to eventual champion Glen Durrant. Do you believe you can progress further this year?
This time my goal would be to make one more step or to get the quarter finals at least.
(Darius Labanauskas in great form defeating BDO number 1 Glen Durrant in the 2016 BDO World Trophy)
Good luck for the rest of the season Darius and we look forward to seeing you in the BDO World Championships in January!