Dress-up rules at Auckland Darts Masters

Dress-up rules at Auckland Darts Masters

The Auckland Darts Masters are underway, with some of the sport's biggest stars in town to take part.

The event is fast over-taking the Wellington Sevens as the top sporting fancy dress event.

And while the players are considered characters, they're often over-shadowed by their rowdy fans.

There's no room for the subdued in the crowd -- darts crowds are rowdy, roaring and creative.

Darts used to be an intimate spectator sport, with blokes watching their mates throw in a pub.

But since moving out of the pub and into arenas, it's become an increasingly unique live experience.

"The whole game has been rebranded," says Matthew Porter, CEO of the International Darts Corporation.

"It's become a professional multi-million pound sport. So the players have retained the character they've always had, but they've professionalised their attitude and it's become a real entertaining night out for people from all ages and all backgrounds."

The game changed about six years ago when competitions started being broadcast internationally.

Now as a spectator sport, darts has never been more popular. Many tournaments sell out months in advance, and it is one of the most watched sports in the world.

"This event here in Auckland will be beamed all round Africa, South America, North America, Europe and Asia," Mr Porter says.

"So it's a huge, it's a huge phenomenon in terms of the growth of global TV over recent years, and I think that's because it's game that is played mostly around the world and it's a game that people can relate to."

That relatability sees unlikely looking athletes welcomed onto the stage like rock gods.

It's definitely a sport that's back in fashion, even if the fans' dress sense isn't.