Chris Dobey is heading to the PDC World Championship in fine form and only has one target in mind at Alexandra Palace – leaving with the trophy.
The world number 22 has had a fantastic year on tour, making his World Matchplay and World Grand Prix debuts and making the semi-final of the latter.
The 29-year-old followed that cracking run in Dublin up with another semi-final jaunt at the Players Championship Finals as his rise up the PDC ranks gathers pace.
Hollywood has been seen as one of the coming men of the oche for some years now, and it seems like he is realising his potential; ready to break into the elite of the game.
With the biggest tournament in the sport just a week away, Dobey is ready to prove that the elite is exactly where he belongs.
‘I’m there to win it, everybody is,’ Dobey told Metro.co.uk. ‘I want to play like I did last year, I lost out to Gary [Anderson] but I’ll be there to better last year’s performance.
‘Obviously it’s going to be tough but I’ll be prepared right for it.
‘It’s the big one at the end of the year, everybody will be up for it. There’s no reason why myself and a few others can’t cause a few upsets.
‘There are four or five players playing brilliant darts at the minute and who’s to know? Anybody that’s in it can win it. You’ve got to believe in your own ability, there’s no point going if you don’t believe you can win it.’
The Northumberland native’s clash with Anderson last year was one of the highlights of the tournament as he narrowly lost out 4-3 to the two-time world champion in the fourth round.
Dobey proved that he could compete with the very best 12 months ago as he chucked an average of over 100 in the narrow defeat to the Flying Scotsman, an experience he has learned plenty from.
‘I was disappointed at the time,’ Chris continued. ‘I was gutted but I didn’t disgrace myself, I played well and I had a couple of chances.
‘It’s valuable experience though, same goes for when I played Phil Taylor [in 2018], I missed two darts at D16 to go 2-2 in sets and he punished me.
‘I’ve learned a lot from those two games and you’ve got to put yourself in positions like that to learn and improve.’
Dobey is making his fourth consecutive appearance at Alexandra Palace but his first as a seeded player after finally cracking the top 32 in the rankings.
He is happy to admit that it is a significant advantage to be coming into the tournament at the second round stage, but any benefit is down to a lot of hard work over recent years.
‘This is the first time I’ve been seeded,’ said Dobey. ‘Two years ago I played Phil Taylor first round. This year I’m guaranteed second round which is £15,000, which is £4,000 more than I won when I played Phil Taylor, so it’s great for the rankings straight away and who’s to say I’m not getting more than that.
‘Going in as a seed is always a big advantage because obviously going in second round is a big weight off my shoulders.
‘It’s been a big year for me. Breaking that hoodoo, getting to the Matchplay, I didn’t do great in the Matchplay but a nice Euro Tour final [at the Danish Open] mid-year, got us into the Matchplay and Grand Prix.
‘I qualified for the Euro finals as well, so many TV tournaments played this year, it’s ticked a lot of boxes. Hopefully I’ll just keep performing like this into the end of the year.’
Dobey will face the winner of Holland’s Ron Meulenkamp and New Zealand qualifier Ben Robb, and although he will go in as clear favourite against either, he is taking nothing for granted.
‘I’ve seen Ben a couple of times playing on the World Series of Darts, I think he beat Simon Whitlock,’ continued the Bedlington man. ‘He’s not a bad player Ron is in for a tough game in the first round and I’ll be prepared for whoever comes out of that.
‘You can’t go thinking about a route past your first game. I’ve said it before and I’ve done it before and it’s backfired so I tend not to do it anymore.
‘I’ve obviously had a look at who the seeds are but there’s dangerous players for them first so anyone could lose. You really can’t look past the first game.’
Dobey sprung something of a surprise by reaching the fourth round last year, but not as much as four men who reached the quarter-finals at Ally Pally.
Luke Humphries, Ryan Joyce, Nathan Aspinall and Brendan Dolan were all very unlikely quarter-finalists last time around, and Dobey would not be surprised to see the same men go on a good run again.
‘Ryan Joyce is getting his stage game together, he didn’t play thoroughly well last year although he got to the quarters,’ said Chris. ‘He’s played a couple at the back end of the European Tour where his stage game is getting there now, averaged 100 a couple of times.
‘You’ve seen last year, Nathan Aspinall, what he can do. He had a good route, but you can only beat who’s in front of you.
‘Brendan’s playing some fantastic darts at the minute, he’s another one you’ve got to watch at the minute.
‘Luke Humphries is playing well again, last year’s quarter-finalists are who you want to look at.’
Dobey takes on Meulenkamp or Robb in the evening session on Thursday 19 December, with the first round game played on the afternoon of the previous day.
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