Speaking to Darts World this week, world number seven, Nathan Aspinall described how his 170 ‘Big Fish’ checkout rescued the game from being remembered as an appalling game:
To be fair to both Rob Cross and ‘The Asp’, it was clear that both guys were almost out of steam. The latter stages of ‘the Open‘ are draining with two important, and often long, matches on both Saturday and Sunday. Cross, despite being a World Champion, had little experience of this and Aspinall even less.
Both players had huge incentives to ‘finish the job‘ with Cross eager to prove his World Championship was no ‘one-hit wonder‘ and Aspinall clearly intent on claiming his first ranking ‘Major’. The combination of nerves and exhaustion resulted in both players slumping from their previous levels and it seemed that ‘The Asp’ just had more in the tank and would inch his way to victory.
The one question remaining was could Nathan hit a major winning double on TV? Here’s his answer!
NATHAN ASPINALL goes into the BetFred World Matchplay as a title favourite but admits his career changed by a missed bullseye.
The World No.7 became the inaugural PDC Home Tour lockdown champion three weeks ago and is fired-up for the first major back on the big stage in a month’s time.
But the Stockport ace, 28, revealed he doesn’t think he’d be the latest star of the oche if Gerwyn Price had beaten him at the Worlds two years ago.
He said: “I often do wonder what would have happened if he had hit the bull to beat me three-nil in sets in the second round of the World Championships two years ago. Would I be wear I am now as World No.7?
“Hand on my heart I don’t think I would be. I really really don’t. I do think that game, me beaten someone of his calibre, he was pretty much the best player in the world at that time. To beat him on the biggest stage made me think I am actually good enough.
“I do think that moment and that game changed my whole career. So thank you Gerwyn Price!
“Our sport is 10 per cent ability, 90 per cent in the head. I’m quite strong minded. There’s some players that are and some aren’t. When you are confident and everything is right in your head and at home, it flows.”
Aspinall also admits that other pivotal moments came when he lost the 2015 World Youth Championships to Max Hopp in a deciding leg and then winning his first Players Championship three years later when he was penniless.
He added: “Not many speak about the Youth final to be fair, it absolutely broke me. For six months I couldn’t win a game, I was a broken man. It proper screwed me up. If I hadn’t lost that title I would have got a place in the Worlds and I would have retained my tour card. But I think that’s helped me be the player I’ve become now.
“It means I can dig deep and come back from positions that not many other players can come back from.
“I think that stems from games like that against Max
early on in my career where I’ve had a right good uppercut and now I’ve become stronger”.
“I won my first Players Championship in Barnsley and I didn’t have any money to get a taxi from the Metrodome to the train station. I had no money left but I had just won 10 grand!
“I walked to the train station with a suitcase on the train. I got home and thought ‘wow I can’t wait for that to clear because I’m skint’.
“I was buzzing, it was another moment in my career that I thought I am good enough to make a living out of darts.”
Now Aspinall can’t wait to get back onto the big stage for the Matchplay and he’ll start as a real contender for the title.
He added: “I’m just hoping I can kick off where I left off before lockdown. I’ve upped my practice, I’m playing really well.
“I never thought I’d miss the darts as much as I have. I’ve missed the darts, the lads, the craic, all the things that come with the darts tour.
“We’ve got the Summer Series on July 8 before the Matchplay which is a great idea with the PDC.
“You can play at home in matches and hit big averages but they count for nothing, it’s what happens on the big stage.
“To put the five days of Players Championships on before is a great shout and hopefully that will get rid of some rust and get us ready for the Matchplay, wherever that will be.
“Personally I’d love it to be at Blackpool but I can’t see it. Obviously we’ll have to see what happens on July 4 when the Government announces the next move. But I do think it’s going to be at an alternative venue and likely to be Milton Keynes.”
Pictures by Taylor Lanning
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Darts World lets our readers have their voice heard and, it’s fair to say, our reader *Elias Wilhelm has gone from gentle homage to the Winter Gardens, to a full blast at some of our senior Pro’s:
In recent years, many young players, such as Aspinall, Dobey or De Zwaan, have attracted a lot of attention. Slowly, but surely they supplant themselves into the world’s elite. Slightly older players just can’t seem to keep up.
How can it be that these are being harassed by young players from their place at the top of the world? Terry Jenkins, Ronnie Baxter, Mervyn King, Kevin Painter, Andy Hamilton, Robert Thorton. These were all players who have played in the Premier League in the last ten years. Now some have almost completely disappeared, while some have to fight to keep their spot on the tour.
Raymond van Barneveld ended his career simply because he no longer had the ability to win. He was in pain. It was too hard for him to endure, to go to tournaments, and hardly ever to win.
In addition, many trips were a problem for him. His departure was then at the end of last year full of disgrace. That’s exactly how many older players feel. The whole trips back and forth is much too exhausting. The tournament calendar is getting more and more crowded.
The tournaments are indispensable for them because otherwise, they would drop in the rankings. That’s why they have no choice if they want to stay successful, they have to play and play and play. On top of that, strong young players join in. Especially the players, like Nathan Aspinall, who are almost unstoppable. Full of energy, they’re pushing up the rankings. Also players, like Humphries or Van Den Bergh, who beat big players every now and then and score good results.
All this makes it difficult for the older players, which is why it is no wonder that they are slowly being ousted from the world elite. Experience no longer plays such a big role and young players have a lot of self-confidence and no respect for,(or perhaps, fear of) the older players.
Many are happy when players like Steve Beaton or Mervyn King can still keep up. But it is obvious that time is running out for the veterans.
Elias Wilhelm (@ewh27) is a Darts World reader and budding darts writer who appears to be getting the hang of our ‘Talking Points’!
*Reader’s writes is Darts World’s area for our reader’s voices to be heard. Their views are their own and do not represent the opinions of the magazine or its staff.
Former UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall will be our first ‘Players Lounge’ guest, tonight at 7.30 pm. ‘The Asp’ with be chatting with Darts World’s Tom Beresford over on our facebook page. The popular Stockport player will be talking all things darts, and maybe having a bit of fun.
Fresh from his recent Home Tour success ‘The Asp’ is focused on the upcoming Betfred World Matchplay and hoping to climb the ranking over the next year or so. Nathan is a down to earth level headed guy, who not so long ago could barely afford a new dartboard.
It seems he has not forgotten his earlier tour struggles and he has spoken out about the difficulty facing those ranked outside the top sections of professional darts and the difficulties that lie ahead with regard to ranking tables and the restart of the PDC tours.
All-in-all, he is the ideal guest to open Darts Worlds new ‘Players Lounge’ and we hope you enjoy the first of many ‘Facebook Live’ events.
DARTS is ready to go from bulls to bubbles to get the sport back onto the big stage. In our DW story earlier, PDC bosses revealed a fortnight ago that the World Matchplay would go ahead from July 18, the first major after lockdown.
However, it seems almost certain that it will be temporarily moved from its traditional and iconic Winter Gardens home in Blackpool. It is likely to be relocated next month to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which has just successfully hosted the behind-closed-doors Championship League, also under the Matchroom Sport umbrella.
But The PDC has also exclusively revealed to DW they are working closely with players union PDPA in an attempt to unravel a hugely complicated future around the ranking prize money dilemma.
With so many tournaments wiped out this year because of the coronavirus crisis, it has been a minefield for bosses to decide on how to freeze ranking money, if that is the fairest way forward for all 128 tour cardholders. Nathan Aspinall, who won the unique lockdown Home Tour event last week, admits it’s a real dilemma that all players are concerned about.
He said: “I would not like to be Barry Hearn or Matthew Porter. Because they are going to please people with what they decide and annoy some people.”
The Asp continued “The situation that we are in, it’s going to be impossible to please all 128 tour card holders.”
“I do think it’s how they deal with people defending prize money on the rankings. They need to think about that carefully. I have no idea how they are going to decide that. “In an ideal world we’ll play every single event that was scheduled but in a short space of time but I don’t think that’s going to be possible.“All I know is that it’s going to be one hell of a headache for them all.”
The Asp is still hoping that the Matchplay could go ahead at his “local” venue in Blackpool, just a short distance from his Stockport base. He said: “Obviously the Matchplay being the second biggest tournament of the year I think that’s a great way to kick it all back off.“ Personally I hope it goes ahead in Blackpool because the reception I got last year was phenomenal, even though I got beat first game. It’s my home tournament, I’m only 45 minutes away from Blackpool.
“Fingers crossed we can have some kind of audience there, even if it’s only 500 people, that’s better than nothing.“We have played in some European events on a stage with very little fans and we had the UK Open in Minehead a couple of years back.
“But any TV event you need that buzz, that adrenalin and that comes with the atmosphere, the crowd being loud.
“It will definitely be different but we’re professionals and play ProTours week-in, week-out behind closed doors.
I think the walk-on will be the weird one, just walking straight down, no high-fives or anything.
“It’ll be strange but at least we’ll be playing on that stage. A couple of games into it we’ll probably forget there is no one there.”
Late decisions on venues and event confirmations are likely over the next few weeks, keep an eye across the Darts World platforms for the latest news and updates.
NATHAN ASPINALL believes that Michael van Gerwen can finally be toppled off the World No.1 spot over the next year. Stockport star Asp reckons MVG’s six-year reign on the throne could be ended by Peter Wright in the coming months.
Aspinall, PDC Home Tour champ from a week ago, is then wanting to follow World Champion Scot Snakebite to the top of the sport. He revealed on the Target Darts podcast:
“That is my target. Obviously Van Gerwen has been there for as long as my kids have been alive!
“He’s been there a long time and it’s time for someone to knock him off.”
I think it could be Peter (Wright) if he has a good year and another good World Championships. I do think that Peter could take that No.1 spot in the next 12 to 18 months.
“ it’s not going to be in the next year or two, I doubt it, but I do believe that I can be the World No.1 and a World Champion.“But it’s believing in it and I’ve got to do it. At the moment I am doing it and proving that these wins that I’ve had, these good runs, aren’t just lucky tournaments. I’m doing well and I do believe in the next five years certainly I can get to that No.1 spot which would be a dream come true.”
Aspinall, a World Championship semi-finalist two years in succession, is also hoping that the World Matchplay goes ahead in Blackpool from July 18. The tournament will definitely be the comeback to the big stage on TV for the sport but the PDC has been unable to confirm whether it will be at the legendary Winter Gardens.
He added: “To be fair I was itching to get back after two weeks. It’s been nice to spend some time at home doing things around the house that I wouldn’t have done if lockdown hadn’t happened. I’ve done all my garden up and spent some good time with the kids.
“It’s hard work for me because I’m not used to manual labour, I was originally an accountant. Digging and stuff isn’t my cup of tea!
“Obviously the Matchplay being the second biggest tournament of the year I think that’s a great way to kick it all back off.” “Personally I hope it goes ahead in Blackpool because the reception I got last year was phenomenal, even though I got beat the first game. It’s my home tournament, I’m only 45 minutes away from Blackpool.“Fingers crossed we can have some kind of audience there, even if it’s only 500 people, that’s better than nothing.”
Aspinall was also delighted to land the Home Tour title, defeating Gary Anderson, Jonny Clayton and Jelle Klaasen in the final group.He said: “It was a tough night, some quality players involved. So hopefully the first and only ever winner of the lockdown event. Even though it was nice to win it, I don’t want to have to retain it. Hopefully I’m the one and only.
“It was hard. The key part of it being hard was the rhythm, looking in the other player’s eyes, getting their reaction.
All you hear is the scores and the occasional comments.
“Luckily for me I did the trial run so going into the third group game I kind of knew more than anyone what to expect.“But I’d also played in a few online games with my mates in Stockport, I wasn’t doing particularly well.
“I did find it tough but I think it was my fifth night involved when I won the final. So I’d got used to the format and how to play the game differently.”
Who else would feature on day 16, of our ‘Freemium’ offer, but Nathan Aspinall? Only 14 months ago ‘The Asp’ was our cover star after claiming his maiden major. This weekend he has added the PDC Home Tour title!
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GARY ANDERSON admits that he’s too “chilled” and doesn’t get angry enough on the oche anymore.
The Flying Scotsman narrowly missed out on the Home Tour online title, losing to Nathan Aspinall in the final group on Friday night.It was agonisingly close for Ando, losing just one game out of 12 for the entire tournament but it was a costly defeat to The Asp.
But the two-times World Champion, 49, revealed that he’s far more laid-back these days. He said:
“I’m getting more older and chilled now, I don’t get angry. It used to work. You played tournaments with folks shouting in the background ‘hope you get beat’ and stuff like this. The only way to punish them was to beat the boy you were playing. That kind of gave me the fire.
“Then when folk start supporting you, it kills that fire off.
It’s weird. If I do get a bit of a pee on, I do seem to play well.”
Ando had originally pulled out of the tournament because of poor WiFi signal. But after The Sun newspaper story revealed his patchy internet plight in mid-April, a local firm came to his rescue. It almost delivered a fairytale finish with victory.However, Aspinall won the crucial fourth game clash in the final group 6-5 and it proved to be the pivotal moment of the tournament. He continued:
“Nathan goes on these silly four/five leg demolition jobs. Once he starts scoring like that, he’s tough to beat.
“I bet he’s jumping about like a jack rabbit ready to throw,
that’s what he’s like! He’s a fantastic player, absolutely fantastic” .
“I had a good hour before we played, felt like they were going well. “Nathan’s scoring over the past few weeks has been fantastic. He makes a wee mistake on the doubles but he’s that far ahead on the scores, it makes it quite easy for him.
“If he hits his scores and doubles like he usually does, he takes some stopping.“ “I was just starting to get into it again. But this has been good, I’ve learnt some technology, it’s been a learning curve, I’ve enjoyed it.”
Anderson also confirmed the folklore tale that his first first ever three visits to a dartboard ended in 180, 140, 180 scores. He added: “Yes that’s true. It came very very easy.
If you speak to any of the boys in Scotland, the counting, that’s what let me down.
“I knew if I got to the final I wouldn’t have to mark, that helped me quite bit.”
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