The Bullet is currently World No.17 and will miss out on qualification unless he can outgun his nearest Order of Merit challengers in Milton Keynes. He also admits it will be a weird scenario at the Marshalls Arena, unlike any other ProTour event held before.
“I’m 17 in the rankings. There’s also a possibility that not all the top 16 seeded players are going to come over for it,
you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I can never count my chickens.
“Obviously I’ll be trying my hardest in Milton Keynes to earn that spot. I think I’m about £3,000 behind on the ProTour Order of Merit. “If I can have a good five days in Milton Keynes then I can make it to Blackpool in my own right”.
Dependant on the government statement, due at the start of July, there are multiple ways for the Liverpool ace to make it into the final thirty-two. Over the five day of the Summer Series he could play his way into an automatic place. Failing that other players may opt or be prevented from attending.
But BUnting is intent on overcoming the many challenges he faces in order to compete on the biggest stages once again.
“IF I CAN HAVE A GOOD FIVE DAYS IN MILTON KEYNES THEN I CAN MAKE IT TO BLACKPOOL IN MY OWN RIGHT.
Perhaps Stephen, a passionate LFC fan, will be inspired by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, who return to action on Sunday!
RAPID Ricky Evans admits he’ll always be a bit “mad” as he aims to finally shake off the oche joker tag with major titles. The Kettering ace is never short on laughs as arguably the wackiest star of the oche and has spent lockdown dressed as a cheerleader and in a blue morph costume on social media.
As per usual with the World No.29 it has been a wacky few months as he’s got kitted up for the Clap For Carers every Thursday night. Evans, 29, said:
“My dad and I have done three Clap For Carers dressing up nights. He collects masks and anyone who knows us knows I am just my dad 30 or 40 years ago. He’s nuts. “He’s got at least 100 masks. He’ll go on ebay and see a Donald Trump mask and buy it. He’ll buy any old rubber latex mask.
“On one Thursday night, I was in a blue morph suit, wearing a PDC shirt on an exercise bike. I’ve been a cheerleader so far as well.” “My dance I did at the Ally Pally in December has been watched a few times and turned into a GIF. I still don’t know what happened then.”
Evans – who threw a 180 in 2.16 seconds in the Worlds three years ago – also also feared he’d be too quick for his own WiFi in the PDC Home Tour.
He added: “My board is in a little darts room that my mum and dad made for me when I was a teenager. I had to tell my mum and dad to stay off WiFi after 6.30 pm.
“Because I’m a quick player it was hard. Usually, I’m always on my tiptoes ready to throw against my opponent. It was weird having no one in front of me. It slowed me down a bit and certainly upset my rhythm.
“The biggest problem was that my phone camera wasn’t able to keep up with my throw, my throw is too quick for WiFi to trust me.
“I was looking forward to all the tournaments and trying to qualify for the big TV events. I’m usually away for 40 weeks a year, I was in 2019 and that was very successful for me.
“I had hit form for a few months just before the lockdown. Now it’s a weird one whether to practice hard or not.“Last year was awesome for me, I qualified for everything apart from the Grand Slam. I was a seed for the Europeans which was great.
“I ran into Michael (van Gerwen) in the Worlds. It wasn’t a 4-0 defeat game, I missed some big chances. But that’s why he’s World No.1 and I’m World No.29.”
Evans also admits that he’s unlikely to stop being the oche madman – unless he starts winning majors. He said: “I’m just me and that might not change ever. I’m serious on the oche. I’m never going to be the most serious player in the world. If I started making semi-finals and finals that jovial stuff would wear off a bit I’m sure. “I think people would get bored of my silly walk-ons and facial expressions. Maybe I could wear a mask!
“Until then I won’t change, I’ll always be a bit mad.”
In the spirit of Ricky Evans reputation as the fastest darter in the west, or any other place for that matter, Darts World hit the world number twenty-nine with a rapid round of intimate but fun questions to help you get to know him better:
FULL NAME: Ricky Evans
NICKNAME: Rapi and Evs.
HOBBY: Darts, watching sports, playing snooker and pool. Music of all genres, quizzing.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT? Losing my passport/wallet numerous times on airplanes and in airports.
BEST CHAT UP LINE? Are you from Ireland? Because when I see you my penis is Dublin!
FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MOMENT? Watching Kettering Town at Wembley, visiting Old Trafford and getting picked for England Youth.
FAVOURITE MATCH EVER? Versus Simon Whitlock 2016 PDC world champs
FAVOURITE MAGAZINE? The TV guide that comes in the Saturday paper.
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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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.
ROB CROSS reckons the World Matchplay could feel a bit “alien” if it goes ahead behind closed doors.The Hastings battler won his second major title with a comfortable win over Michael Smith at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool 11 months ago.
Now Voltage, 29, is ready to return to the big stage for the prestigious event and is only focused on his own form, not the venue or whether it’s held behind closed doors.He said: “There are certain issues that are beyond my control, I won’t let myself get distracted by stuff like that.
“I’m really happy that it’s going ahead, that’s the main thing.
Obviously I’d love it to be at the Winter Gardens with fans. But that’s not my decision.
“I’ll just crack on and turn up at the venue where I’m told to go and play the best I can.
“It’s been a long time and at least now we’ve got something set in stone so I’ve got something to work to now.
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.”
REVVED-UP Rob Cross won a small fortune but ditched plans to buy a Bentley and went for a JCB DIGGER instead.The Hastings battler landed a fairytale William Hill World Championship just 18 months into his professional career in early 2018.
However on the eve of aiming to regain his World Matchplay crown, Voltage admits he didn’t splash the cash on four-wheeled glitz, he bought something for digging a ditch!The former electrician, nicknamed Voltage, said: “My mates thought I was mad, it was like I’d won the Lottery getting 400 grand at the Ally Pally after beating Phil Taylor.
“I was in a whirlwind for a month, like an out of body experience, seriously it was very weird”.
“My mates thought I had seriously lost the plot when I said I was buying a JCB.“To be honest, that’s just the way I am. I’m not a flashy bloke, I don’t wear jewellery or even an expensive watch. It’s not my thing.“All I had in my mind is that I wanted to invest in a new house and knew I’d need a new digger so I bought one.“The maddest thing of all now is that I’ve got the house and so much work is being done. My first instinct is to do it all myself like I would have in the past.“Now I haven’t even got time to do the wiring so I’ve had to get an electrician in to do my own job. How crazy is that?“
“But I’m really bad to work for because I check and double-check all the work done. If I don’t like it the poor guy has to start all over again. I’m a perfectionist and I expect everything done to my standard.” Cross, 29, was invited to JCB HQ in Uttoxeter at the end of last year after they found out his love for their diggers.
Voltage was undoubtedly blown away by the outstanding story of the family-run JCB company which was founded by Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE in 1945 in a garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Now they employ 15,000 with a turnover of £4.1billion, making around 100,000 machines every year. The company makes their own engines – and they have just powered the JCB Fastrac tractor to a Guinness World Record as the world’s fastest tractor reaching 135mph!
JCB is a family business and the son of the founder Lord Bamford been at the helm as Chairman since 1975 and celebrates its 75th anniversary on October 23rd, 2020. Cross added: “I love to see British succeed. I’m very patriotic and this is a great British firm which has been built from nothing by one family to a major global company, supplying machinery all over the world.
“What a great story that is. The plant in Uttoxeter is so impressive. The likes of The Queen, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Nancy Reagan have all visited”.
The tour was conducted by a brilliant guy Les Humphries who had been with the company for 51 years! “Their media man Nigel Chell, another great character has been there for over 20 years. That shows how much they all love the firm and care for it. Some families have got four generations who have worked there.
“I was like a kid in a candy shop at JCB. What an amazing company and to see all the history of a family firm was fantastic. But I could have bought at least three diggers”!
“It seems a bit iconic considering how close to Stoke this place is, and that’s the home of darts legends like Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.”
“The most amazing thing is that Eric Bristow’s son worked for JCB recently and so did Ray Reardon’s boy. I couldn’t believe that.“I suppose this is the perfect place for me. Even while playing I get myself into some right holes which I need to dig myself out of.“I beat Daryl Gurney in the World Matchplay semi-final 17-15 after being 15-9 down. I said that night I needed a digger to get myself out of trouble. I’ve always been like that. I did that a few times in my run to the World Championship in 2018.”
Cross has certainly buried any chat of his being a one-hit major wonder, adding the World Matchplay and European Championship titles in 2019 and reaching the Premier League and UK Open finals – taking his prize money to a shade under £1million in two years.
“I’ve done alright, I’ve proved myself this year I think a bit more. But there’s more work to do, I want to be World No.1″
“…… always set fresh targets.“I still believe I’m very inexperienced at the top level. My best is definitely yet to come. I certainly want to add more World Championships, many more. “I look at Lewis Hamilton winning six Formula One titles, that’s seriously impressive to be at the very top for so long in any sport. I don’t think anyone appreciated with Phil Taylor did in darts to win 16 Championships.
“….. I love my country, I love seeing my country doing well. I was buzzing to see us win the cricket World Cup, Ben Stokes was just unbelievable”.
“I must admit those sort of performances really get me fired up. I’m straight back on the practice board wanting to achieve more.” “That’s what makes me tick really. The motivation for me comes in all different ways. That’s why I know I can go on to achieve so much. I’ve done a great deal in a very short space of time. Now I can focus on a big future.“There’s a lot to win. And a lot more diggers to buy!”
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