Wayne Mardle says Luke Humphries is the 'future of darts' and looks ahead to the Englishman's chances at the World Championships

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Wayne Mardle says Luke Humphries is the ‘future of darts’ and looks ahead to the Englishman’s chances at the World Championships

Wayne Mardle says Luke Humphries is the ‘future of darts’ and looks ahead to the Englishman’s chances at the World Championships

Luke Humphries has had a breakthrough 2023 ahead of the World Championship, where he will be among the favourites to lift the title.

The 28-year-old won his first major title at the World Grand Prix in October, before defeating Rob Cross in the Grand Slam of Darts final and beat Michael van Gerwen in the Players Championship Finals during his golden run of form.

Sky Sports Darts’ Wayne Mardle is tipping Humphries for glory at the upcoming World Championship – which begins on December 15 with every match live on Sky Sports.

“The Ally Pally holds great memories for me. I have been in three quarter-finals there and I want to create some bigger memories,” said Humphries.

“I think I can go a lot further this year if I play how I have been consistently and I feel much more equipped this year than I ever have done in my career.

“If I am going to create the greatest memory of my life so far then I feel very equipped that it could be this year.

Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts - could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

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Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts – could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

Six weeks after winning his first major darts title, Luke Humphries secured another with victory in the Grand Slam of Darts – could he now go one step further with victory at the World Championships?

“I am riding a wave because I am full of confidence but I have been on it for 18 months. I haven’t really had a lull period where my game has been off.

“If I have had one bad performance I have always bounced back and played well the next tournament so I feel like I have got high confidence for even say two years.

“Maybe I am riding a wave at this moment in time because of the Grand Prix but it is a dangerous thing for the other players because when I am at my best, I am a very, very tough player to beat.”

Humphries: I will always be down to earth

Luke Humphries won the World Grand Prix earlier this year in Leicester

Luke Humphries won the World Grand Prix earlier this year in Leicester

Humphries first joined the PDC Tour in 2018 and won the 2019 PDC World Youth Championship.

He feels his first European Tour triumph in 2022 was a key moment as he had big victories against Michael Smith and Van Gerwen on his way to the title.

“I think it took me four years to win my first senior title then I think I have won nine or 10 after that. It is no coincidence that when you win your first, it opens up that confidence and that ability to win more,” he said.

“I worked really hard in those four years to finally pick up my first and now I am reaping the rewards.

“The European Tour definitely was a major moment in my career and opened the floodgates for me and allowed me to work towards the Grand Prix win.

Luke Humphries says he feels blessed after picking up his second major championship after defeating Rob Cross in the Grand slam of Darts final

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Luke Humphries says he feels blessed after picking up his second major championship after defeating Rob Cross in the Grand slam of Darts final

Luke Humphries says he feels blessed after picking up his second major championship after defeating Rob Cross in the Grand slam of Darts final

“I have always question whether I belong in the elite. I could have made the top four in the world without winning the Grand Prix and I would have felt a little bit like you aren’t an elite player without the major.

“So I do now. Now I have won that ranking major, my brain is telling me I am part of the elite now. But it doesn’t go to my head. I am still the same person, that will never change. I will always be down to earth.”

Humphries on his anxiety battle

Humphries had considered giving up the sport completely, having made public a panic and anxiety disorder that affects him both on and off the oche.

After opening up about his struggles, other darts players told Humphries they experienced the same feelings which the Englishman is proud of.

Luke Humphries won his maiden Grand Slam of Darts title in November

Luke Humphries won his maiden Grand Slam of Darts title in November

“Obviously it is a battle to get to the top of darts as a whole but when you are battling against anxiety and the panic I went through it is tough,” he explained.

“I was almost ready to give the game up because I didn’t know if I could do it but I have worked out ways to control it.

“It was tough moments for me and I should be most proud of myself more than anything else battling through that and getting to where I am now, let alone getting there through darts.

“It has not been an easy rise to the top but I think I have worked hard and I deserve my success and where I am now. Then I have raised awareness and helped a few people out which is good in the long run for other people.

Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players

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Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players

Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players

“I was like, I don’t want to give it up but that felt like it was the easiest option and the easy way out I think. I sat there and I thought, I have worked all my life to get to this position and people would give their left arm to have a Tour card and be in my position so why throw it away.

“I worked hard to battle the feelings and I am proud of myself for working through that and where I am now just shows that if I had give it all in, I would have had a big career in front of me that I would have let get away. I am not the only one with these struggles.”

Losing weight key to Humphries success

In 2021, Humphries decided to improve his stamina and fitness by losing weight. He has lost more than two stone, which has coincided with his rise on the PDC Tour.

Humphries thinks it was important that he practised a lot during his weight loss, as some players have struggled at the oche when making changes to their body.

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

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Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

“I think when you are losing say four pounds a week but you are practising, your body doesn’t really notice the changes,” added Humphries.

“But if you were to lose four stone and not throw a dart through that, my body would have noticed the changes.

“I think that being fitter and healthier helps with longer days and it is no coincidence that I never used to be able to get to those quarter finals, semi finals because I would run out of energy.

“The European Tour finals, they are the longest possible days you could imagine and I am doing them at a canter now and I could probably go three more games after the final.

Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

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Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

“So losing the weight is a key part of where I am now because I don’t think I would be where I am now as the unfit and unhealthy version of me. It is another piece of the puzzle to make me where I am now.

“I want longevity in this sport, I don’t want to have health problems. I want to walk away from the sport in a relatively healthy manner. I think we are in a much healthier sport than we were 15 years ago that is for sure.”

Humphries: I play for titles, not money

Humphries is seeded third for the World Championship behind defending champion Smith and Van Gerwen.

There have only been 11 champions since the tournament’s inception in 1994 and Humphries is looking to become the 12th different winner to lift the trophy in the final on January 3.

Hold on to the tissues because this one is a tear-jerker! The most emotional moments in darts history, featuring Michael Smith, Peter Wright & Stephen Bunting

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Hold on to the tissues because this one is a tear-jerker! The most emotional moments in darts history, featuring Michael Smith, Peter Wright & Stephen Bunting

Hold on to the tissues because this one is a tear-jerker! The most emotional moments in darts history, featuring Michael Smith, Peter Wright & Stephen Bunting

“The money is great in darts but that is not what I play for. I play for winning and nothing beats winning major titles. That feeling you get, money couldn’t buy that,” said Humphries.

“Those priceless feelings of being on top of the world and all the media attention that you get and all your family being so proud of you, money can’t buy. I play this for titles and I want to create a legacy.

“I don’t want to retire in my 50s as a one-time major champion, double figures would be my goal and obviously as many world titles as I can, at least one.

“I want to be someone that people would put in their top 10 darts players.”

When is the World Darts Championship?

The sport’s biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.

You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW

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