Luke Humphries: ‘I’ve got to work on my floor form because I want more nights like this’
What comes to mind when you think of a player who struggles to find their a-game up on the biggest stages of them all? Maybe, Ian White, or Krzysztof Ratajski. But, then you look at the opposite, with a number of players not being able to emulate their stage form in the floor events.
Dimitri van den Bergh, Jamie Lewis and Luke Humphries: Three players who have made huge strides on the big stage, particularly the World Darts Championship, but it’s not been feasible for the trio to take that form on to the ProTour, meaning no qualification for the likes of the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.
Following his unforeseen run to the quarter-finals in December’s WilliamHill World Darts Championship, Humphries was elected to play in the Unibet Premier League, as part of the nine ‘contenders’ to replace Gary Anderson, following the Scotsman’s back injury.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ would face an in-form Gerwyn Price – who had undergone an 18-match unbeaten streak prior to Night Four in Exeter.
‘The Iceman’ began the match in a dominant fashion, opening up leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 as it was proving to be a fairly one-sided contest. Then, after Price wired double 12 for a nine-dart leg, things changed.
Humphries, who had already converted a 161 outshot on the bullseye earlier in proceedings, found the button again to level the match up at 4-4.
The next four legs went with throw, with Humphries wiring the double 14 segment to clinch the victory in Exeter. That wasn’t to be, and the Newbury man was to settle for a draw on his Premier League debut in front of a 4,000-strong Westpoint Arena crowd.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and I love playing up on the big stage,” said Humphries. “After the first three legs, I’m happy with my performance; we were both brilliant and I really enjoyed the game. Gerwyn [Price] could be the second best player in the world on form so it shows my credentials and I’m happy with a draw.
“I’ve got to keep working hard and get the consistency but I loved every minute of it up there. I’ve got to work on my floor form because I want more nights like this. This could be the kick start for my season.”
Humphries, a two-time Development Tour table-topper, has his work cut out in regards to qualifying for the World Matchplay in Blackpool; he currently sits almost £7,000 behind Mervyn King in the tentative 16th ProTour spot.