Every now and again a player comes along and races up the world rankings seemingly out of nowhere. To the passive darts fan the “Polish Eagle” is just one of these players so we thought it time for the Darts Mad interview with Krzysztof Ratajski.
A little background information about Krzysztof Ratajski
42 year old Ratajski has really made himself a force to be reckoned with on the PDC circuit in recent years but is far from a newcomer to the sport of darts.
Krzysztof’s first big win stems from 2005 when he was crowned the SDWF European soft tip darts champion. Another soft tip championship followed in 2008 along with a maiden steel tip darts win in the shape of the BDO Denmark Open.
A number of years grinding away on the BDO circuit picking up a occasional tournament win but his major breakthrough came in 2017. Ratajski won the BDO Winmau World Masters in September of that year collecting a cool 25000 pounds for his troubles. This win proved the years of hard work to have been worth it, and Krzysztof has used it to launch his career.
4 Players championship wins and a UK open qualifier win have propelled Ratajski up the PDC world rankings and he cemented his place in the top 24 of the world by taking down the Gibraltar Darts Trophy in September of this year.
Wins over Beaton, Cullen and White took him to the semi-final where he dispatched Daryl Gurney 7-3 averaging a stunning 109.51 in the process. In the final Ratajski was ruthless with a stunning 8-2 victory over Dave Chisnall.
Darts Mad interview with Krzysztof Ratajski
With his career really taking off we thought it time that the broader public got to know Krzysztof a little better courtesy of an interview. As English isn’t Krzysztof’s first language and my knowledge of Polish being restricted to saying good morning and good evening (and the customary foul language one picks up on their travels), we called in the help of a native speaker for part of it.
FrankyPol is probably the most boisterous of Ratajski’s fans on social media showing every emotion imaginable as he follows his progress on TV or Dartconnect. For that reason we asked him if he would like to ask his darting hero a few questions in Polish for us to go with our own questions.
Franky: Krzysztof jak myślisz, mamy szansę aby nareszcie dostać jakiś turniej w Polsce? Oczywiście tylko pdc. Może European Tour albo World Series.
(English: Krzysztof what do you think, do we have a chance to get finally a tournament in Poland? Of course only pdc. Maybe European Tour or World Series.)
KR: Według mnie w tej chwili nie mamy szans na żaden turniej PDC w Polsce. Chodzi o to, że w Polsce nie ma organizacji która byłaby w stanie zająć się organizacja takiego turnieju. A szkoda bo widać po przykładzie Czech i Węgier, że jest to możliwe.
(English: In my opinion, at the moment we have no chance for any PDC tournament in Poland. The point is that in Poland there is no organization that would be able to organize such a tournament. It’s a pity because you can see from the example of the Czech Republic and Hungary that it is possible.)
Franky: Ty grałeś już prawie każdy duży turniej w Pdc. Który turniej podoba Ci się najlepiej.
(English: You played almost every big tournament in the PDC. Which tournament is your favourite tournament?)
KR: Na pewno największe wrażenie robią Mistrzostwa Świata. Bardzo ciekawym turniejem jest też Grand Slam ba który w tym roku niestety nie udało mi sie dostać. Tym co różni ten turniej od innych jest granie w grupach i wiadomo, że każdy zagra przynajmniej trzy mecze.
(English: Certainly the World Championships make the biggest impression. A very interesting tournament is also the Grand Slam which this year unfortunately I could not get in. What makes this tournament different from others is playing in groups and we know that everyone will play at least three matches.)
Franky: Twoim celem był Top16 rankingu pro Tour i jesteś w tej chwili na miejscu szóstym . W światowym rankingu jesteś na miejscu 20 chociaż twój cel był dotrzeć do miejsca 32. Nie zapomnij że zaczynałeś ten sezon z mesjsca 58. Czy jesteś dumny z tego co osiągnąłeś?
(English: Your goal was reaching Top16 ranking pro tour and at the moment you are on the sixth place. In the world ranking you are on the 20th place although your goal was reaching the 32nd place. Don’t forget that you started the season on the 58th place. How proud are you of this achievement?)
KR: Bardzo sie cieszę z tego jak wyglądał ten sezon. Pierwsza szesnastka rankingu Pro Tour jest bardzo ważna ze względu na automatyczną kwalifikację do turniejów European Tour. Miejsce 20 w głównym rankingu jest dla mnie dużym osiągnięciem ale bardzo bym chciał dostać sie do pierszej szesnatki co również jest premiowane udziałem w bardzo prestiżowych turniejach.
(English: I am very happy about this season. The first sixteen of the Pro Tour ranking is very important because of their automatic qualification for European Tour tournaments. Place 20 in the main ranking is a big achievement for me but I would love to get to the first 16 which is also rewarded with participation in very prestigious tournaments.)
Franky: Są już tylko kwalifikacje do Grand Slamu, Players Championship Finals i mistrzostwa świata. Jakie są twoje cele w tych zawodach?
(English: There are only qualifier for Grand Slam, Players championship finals and World Championship left. What are your goals of these events?)
KR: Jak już wiadomo nie udało mi sie zakwalifikować do Grand Slama czego bardzo żałuję. Co do finałów Players Championship i Mistrzostw Świata to liczę, że któryś z tych turniejów będzie dla mnie szczęśliwy a dobry wynik pozwoli mi zakończyć sezon w pierwszej szesnastce co dodatkowo jest premiowane występem w turnieju Masters.
(English: As we already know, I couldn’t qualify for the Grand Slam, which I regret very much. As for the finals of the Players Championship and World Championships, I hope that one of these tournaments will be happy for me and a good result will allow me to finish the season in the top 16 which is additionally rewarded with a performance in the Masters tournament.)
Many thanks to Franky and Krzysztof for this Polish part of the interview, now on to my questions:
DM: You have been playing for many years, first on the BDO and now the PDC. Have you always been a full-time professional?
KR: No this hasn’t been possible. For many years I normally worked full-time during the week and in the weekends I entered tournaments in Poland and abroad. Last season was the first full season where I dealt only with darts.
DM: Traveling to events must take up a lot of your time. Do you always travel back to Poland after events or do you sometimes stay in England for a couple of weeks at a time?
KR: Yes, it takes a lot of time but I always go back to Poland after a tournament. We have very good connections from Poland to England and they are quite cheap so it is better to go back and stay few days at home with family.
DM: Darts in Poland. Do you have a lot of competitions in Poland, and do you still play in them?
KR: Darts in Poland is still not very popular. We have quite a few tournaments, mostly small regional tournaments. There are also several major tournaments and if the schedule allows it, I try to participate in them. I like to play as many as possible because I can then go with my life partner Karolina, who also plays darts.
DM: You now also have Tytus Kanik on the PDC circuit, how much of a difference to you has it made having him on tour to talk to?
KR: It’s very good to have a traveling companion. Travel time passes faster because you can talk and of course you can reduce travel costs by sharing a hotel room or taxi. This is an important aspect, especially when you don’t win too much and the costs are quite significant.
DM: Apart from you and Tytus who do you think have the potential to be the next Polish players on the tour?
KR: There are a few people I know that will try their hand at Q school and have a real chance of getting a card. It is necessary to mention Sebastian Stayer, who last year missed out by one match to win the card or Krzysztof Kciuk, who this season twice got to the European Tour. I hope that our most promising junior, 16 year old Sebastian Białecki will also play in Q school. He is the great prospect of Polish darts at the moment. Maybe also one of my countrymen living abroad Radek Szaganski or Lukasz Sawicki. Titus still has a chance through qualifying for the World Cup and good performance in the tournament
DM: You used to play Soft-Tip darts, do you still practice it and play any tournaments or don’t you have the time anymore?
KR: I don’t train for soft tip darts anymore but I still play on the plastic boards. For example, I have been traveling with my family for several years to one of the soft tip dart championships in Slovenia during the holidays. It’s always fun and relaxing, but you can also play at a high level because there are always several players from the PDC lists coming there.
KR: I had no dilemma at that time what to choose. I wanted to play in the PDC so the choice was obvious. In addition, that season, by participating in eleven of the twelve European Tour events, I stood well in the ranking and with good performance at the world championships I had a real chance of a card. It didn’t work then, but it worked a year later in a similar way, i.e. without participation in Q-school.
DM: Finally, what advice would you give to young players from Poland and other Eastern-European countries who want to play on the BDO or PDC circuit?
KR: Of course, you have to spend a lot of time at home training, but most of all beginners must play in tournaments. Not only the local ones but also play in big tournaments where they have a chance to face the players with whom they don’t play every day. Those who want to develop must go to large foreign tournaments and polish their skills there.
Many thanks to Krzysztof for taking the time to speak to us and Franky, I look forward to seeing you on Thursday evening in Minehead.
Photo credits PDC and BDO.