What Is The World Axe Throwing League?
One of the more underrated yet still exciting sports to watch is the sport of axe throwing. While many may consider it to be a hobby to do in your spare time, there is in fact a professional axe throwing league that has been around for over five years now. The governing body of the sport is the World Axe Throwing League (WATL). Read on to learn all about the WATL.
In 2017, axe throwers from the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Brazil, came together to form WATL as a governing body for the sport they love. Since that time, the organization has expanded to include nineteen nations. It was designed with the purpose of organizing international tournaments for some of the best ax throwers in the world.
Additionally, the WATL appoints the judges who run the tournaments around the world, and they enforce the league’s code of conduct.
All of this set up surrounding the WATL led to the first ever World Axe Throwing Championships being held in December 2017. Since then, the WATL has greatly expanded, and today it garners quite the international audience not just for the World Championships, but for tournaments all across the globe.
Tournaments in the WATL
While the World Axe Throwing Championship is the major tournament for the WATL, there are a few other major tournaments for axe throwing fans to enjoy. The three main ones outside of the world championships are the Arnold Open, the U.S. Open, and the Canadian Open. The U.S. Open is the oldest of the three events, having first been held in 2018. The event has been held four times in all (it was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Four different men have taken home the title; John Bradley (2018), Mike Kump (2019), Mike Philabaum (2021), and Mark Tishko (2022).
The World Championships were first held in 2017, and the first one to be nationally televised on ESPN was in 2018. The six editions of the event have been won by six different individuals. Those men are Chris Morning (2017), Benjamin Edgington (2018), Sam Carter (2019), Ryan Smit (2020), Mike Philabaum (2021), and Dylan Teets (2022). Outside of these four major events, other tournaments include the European Open and the South American Arnold Open.
Scoring of WATL Tournaments
WATL competitions are held in a one on one match-like format in which each competitor makes ten throws, and the player with the most points after both have completed ten throws wins the match. If the two throwers are tied after ten throws, they go to a “sudden death” one throw, where the player who scores more points on the one throw wins. This continues until someone scores more points on a throw.
The points throwers receive is based on where the ax strikes the board. The red bullseye in the middle is worth six points, and then there are five rings which are worth five, four, three, two, and one point(s) as you move further and further away from the red bullseye. Additionally, within the one point ring, there are two blue dots, known as “kill shots” at the top of the ring. These two dots are worth eight points, and each can only be used once during the match. Throwers must state they are trying to hit the kill shot before they throw the axe in order to receive the eight points should they hit the target.
Membership Nations of the WATL
When the WATL was first founded in 2017, there were four nations who were members. The United States, Canada, Ireland, and Brazil are the original four members who came together six years ago. Today, the WATL has already expanded to include nineteen worldwide members. The majority of the newer nations joined the organization in 2018. Those ten nations are the United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, New Zealand, Slovenia, and Indonesia. Four more countries joined the WATL the following year in 2019. South Africa, Belgium, Australia, and China are all four year members of the organization. Lastly, the most recent member of the WATL is India, who joined two years ago in 2021. In all, the WATL is a growing league, and surely there will be more nations joining in the near future.
What is the prize money for the world axe throwing league?
At the World Ax Throwing Championships, there are four different categories of events, and each has its own prize money. First place in the Duals earns $4,000, the winner of the Big Axe event takes home $3,500, whoever comes out on top in the Hatchet event takes home $6,000, and the knife throwing (WKTL) winner puts $2,000 in their pockets. The first three events pay out money to sixteen competitors, while the knife throwing pays out to twelve individuals. In all, $57,500 is up for grabs at the event across all events.
What official axe does the WATL use?
The official axe of the WATL is actually an axe designed by the league themselves. These axes are used by several professional axe throwers around the world and can be seen in the events on ESPN. Additionally, the WATL sells these axes to amateur throwers, so anyone who wants to can get themselves an official WATL axe for their own personal use. They are officially known as WATL axes. There are different axes depending on your level of expertise.