Thu, 03 Jan 2019
Humphries reached the last-eight of the competition (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
NEWBURY’S Luke Humphries caused the shock of the tournament at the World Darts Championships.
The 23-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the showpiece event at Alexandra Palace where his incredible journey came to an end against world number six Michael Smith.
However, en route to the last eight of the prestigious competition, Humphries eliminated world number two and last year’s winner Rob Cross in dramatic style.
The former Trinity school pupil fell two sets behind during the last-16 clash before hitting back to win 4-2.
“The first two sets weren’t great,” Humphries said. “Although I scored OK, I thought Rob finished much better than me.”
“To dig in and come back from 2-0 down against the world champion at the time was huge and something I could never dreamed of doing.
“To turn that into reality was amazing, it really is hard to put into words because I didn’t expect it to happen so early into my career – it was a special feeling.”
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Although Humphries was unable to get past Smith and reach the semi-final, he felt his performance against Cross confirmed his arrival on the world stage.
Although there were many upsets in the tournament with Raymond van Barneveld, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price being eliminated early on, Humphries’ performance against Cross took most of the headlines.
He said: “To have the determination to pull off one of, if not the, shock of the tournament was great for my confidence and I know that in any game when I am behind, I can come back.
“To me it was probably the greatest achievement of my life, not just my darts career.”
And as the dust settles on a fantastic championships, Humphries believes his performances over the past three weeks is a sign of things to come.
He said: “To be honest, it’s really hard to put into words. It’s a bit overwhelming – I have enjoyed every single moment up on that stage.
“Like I said before, I wanted to just get past the first round, but to get to the quarter-finals is absolutely huge and it sets me up for potentially a great career in darts – it was an important year for me.”
As well as eliminating Cross, Humphries knocked out world number 17 Steven Bunting, as well as current world youth champion, Dimitri Van den Bergh.
“I think it’s helped me a lot,” he said. “I feel much more confident and when I was practicing beforehand it felt great because I felt that I was unbeatable.”
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Despite a 5-1 defeat by Smith in the last-eight, Humphries did show his skill as he managed to check-out a 170 to take the third set and get back into the game.
He said: “Nothing was really happening for me and sometimes it takes a big finish for something to spark you into life.
“As soon as I hit that checkout, you could tell from my reaction that it gave me a boost because the next leg was a clean 12-darter.
“At that moment, I felt signs of what happened against Cross and I thought that I could come back.,
Smith, though, held on to win and Humphries was full of credit for his opponent.
He said: “He had an average of 103 with 30-per-cent accuracy on his doubles which shows how good his scoring was. He outscored me and didn’t give me any opportunities, but I was very proud to participate in the match.”
Humphries also thanked the public for their support after he reached the quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace.
Hugely proud of myself with a great world championship. going home as a quarter finalist is a great achievement and I will definitely be back next year a better and stronger player. thanks for everyone’s support! @ModusDarts180 @reddragondarts @DJShopDarts @MaloneRoofingUK— Luke Humphries (@lukeh180) December 30, 2018
“The support has been huge,” he said. “I have tripled my Twitter followers since the competition started and I am shocked.
“I am really grateful, not just for that support, but from Newbury and the whole of Berkshire.”