Joe "Millionaire" Mateja
I was born in Chicago, IL in 1981 and lived there until 1993 when I moved to a suburb 30 miles southwest of the city. After graduating high school in 2000, I immediately joined the workforce and started a career in sales. In my free time I was an "ok" bowler and averaged around a 195 (not too bad). This is where I met a few guys that played darts. I had no idea that darts was so popular or that there were even such things as dart leagues or even tournaments! One Friday night very shortly after I turned 21 I joined a few of the guys in the bar located within the bowling alley and played some darts. I found that I really enjoyed it. I have always been a competitive person, but nothing could prepare me for the obsession that would soon drive me to be the best I possibly could at the sport.
After a couple of weeks playing pick-up games with the guys after bowling, one of them asked me to join his dart team and within 8 months I had quit bowling and played darts as much as I possibly could! I quickly became one of the "better" shots in my local league and eventually became one of the top ranked players in the ADA organization nationwide on a consistent weekly basis. I traveled to their National Championships in 2004 for my first ever big tournament and played well, taking 1st place in the mixed doubles event with a woman from back home. In 2008 I returned to this tournament, held in Orlando, FL that year, and took 3 first place finishes, two top 4 finishes, and won their MVP award for the tournament. Since then, I have grown as a player, a sportsman, and an ambassador of the sport. I have gained pro status as recognized by Arachnid, Inc. in 2006 where I placed well in multiple events in the Bullshooter Finals in Chicago.
One of the best parts of playing darts is meeting new people from all over the world. I have made a lot of very good friends because of the sport and continue to meet new people every year. It's a lot of fun. Not everybody gets along, but when you have a common interest and are shooting in tournaments with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people, it's hard not to make friends and have a great time!
At the very end of 2008, I put down my darts and didn't play at all in 2009, but that was never meant to last. I picked up another set of darts in 2010 and began shooting again. I was frustrated in the beginning because I had lost a LOT of my game and wasn't as good as I was before. I played a few leagues and went to a few local blind draws. After about a year of just not being happy with my performance, I made the decision to dedicate myself to regular practice sessions at home and traveled to as many tournaments as I could afford to attend. I started my practice routine at home in July 2011 and my game has done nothing but get better and better. I'm fortunate to live in an area that has local blind draw tournaments 7 days a week at multiple locations and I try to attend at least 4 per week to keep my competitive edge as well. There are a lot of high level, talented players that live within my area such as Randy "Big Dog" VanDeursen, Ray "The Razor" Carver, Bob "Lumpy" Adamson, Joey Beecroft, Jeff Morris, Ben Dersch, and others which really helps me stay fresh and up my game as well.
I teamed up with Dartbrokers.com in August 2011 and am very excited to represent them. With their support I'll be able to attend more tournaments and continue to grow my game more and more. I don't know where the sport will take me, or if it will take me anywhere for that matter, but I'm looking forward to giving it my all and seeing the sport grow in the future.
Until next time…Play for the game and throw 'em straight!
Joe "Millionaire" Mateja