Luke Humphries is plaguing me – but Im on great run and still not at my best

As always at the time of year, it is pretty cold in Minehead! In fact, compared to some previous year it wasn’t too bad this year – at least we didn’t have snow and ice to content which has been a feature of the Player’s Championship in the past.‌

One of the stats that came out of my weekend was that it was the first time I had been in three major quarter finals in a row since 2013, having reached the European Championship final, the semi-final at the Grand Slam of Darts and the last eight at Minehead.

As strange as it seems, one of the things that is most pleasing to me is that I still haven’t hit top gear. There have been good displays of finishing and some good scoring in spells, but I know there is still way more to come.

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For me, the one concern that I had was around doubles, as that has always been my forte and the thing that keeps everyone else on their toes when they are playing me. For a while they were letting me down which erodes confidence, but I am pleased to say they have returned at just the right time.‌

At the Player’s Championship I got off to a good start against Willie O’Connor, with a 102 average and clinical doubles meaning that I didn’t give Willie much of a shot. The second round was a job well done (against Steve Lennon) but my third match was just a bit odd. It was last on at the end of the evening, and I really couldn’t get myself going. Once I was ahead, I was confident that I wouldn’t lose, but it was very flat apart from a 140 out which effectively ended the game.

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I feel like I am fed up with talking about Luke Humphries in this column! I got the better of him at the European Championship and said what a nice guy he was, and since then he has plagued me! Joking aside though, he is a great talent and when you get him on the run you must capitalise on it.

At one point in the match, I had darts for 8-6 and then for 8-7 and you must hit those shots. Luke is now one of the very best at punishing those misses and so it turned out. I was frustrated at the end but with the benefit of hindsight it is another step on the road back to the top of my game.‌

Now all eyes are on the World Championships, where I am defending a significant amount of money after a semi-final run two years ago so it is a good job that I am finding a return to form! The World Championships are strange.

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With 96 players in the event from the off, you effectively play one game in 12 days which is like nothing else on tour. Is it as simple as getting the win, as averages, the way you play, the way you feel – it can all be massively altered by the time you get back after Christmas. Just get the job done, enjoy Christmas and then the real fun starts on December 27th.‌

At this time of year, it goes without saying that sometimes can get on top of you, so please watch out for each other and if you feel affected in this way, please reach out to someone.

Take care,‌


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