Humphries Goes The Hard Way

Red Dragon Darts

IN sport you often hear about who might be the best player never to win a ‘major’ event or debates as to who will be the next to break their duck. At various times in their careers Andy Murray, Goran Ivanesevic and Ben Crenshaw looked as if they would not make that final step, all did!

In very few sports is it possible for a player who has not claimed such a title to sit in the rarefied atmosphere of their sport’s top 10 or even top 5! Luke Humphries however can claim just that.

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No short cuts or quick fixes for the man known as ‘Cool Hand’ after failing to claim the Uk Open in his first major final a few years back The Hastings man seems determined to reach the pinnacle of his chosen profession by the longest and most difficult route imaginable. 

Take for example his most recent effort:

Playing through a confirmed back spasm, the Red Dragon darts star pulled off a perfect leg and 2x 170 checkouts on the Final day of action in the 2023 Hungarian Darts Trophy. Yet still, the World Number 6 fell just short losing a last leg decider to an impressive display from Dave Chisnall. 

The former UK Open Finalist achieved perfection in the 12th leg after hitting double 12 to complete a 141 finish, making it back-to-back 9 darters in the last two PDC tournaments with Michael van Gerwen achieving the same feat at the World Series of Darts Finals last weekend.  

“I had the 170, the nine-darter. I gave it everything and although tiredness was creeping in, I still put up a great fight with five ton-plus averages this weekend. I just could not shake Chizzy off. What a player he is. If he finds this form on a TV stage, he will win one and he’s a player that deserves to win one.”

Sometimes ‘The Hard Way’ pays off….

Cool Hand Luke had put down a statement performance on Saturday at the MVM Dome, averaging 108+ in beating Irish youngster Keane Barry 6-2 in the Second Round. 

The Englishman continued from where he left off in his opening match of the day, dropping just one leg in beating Martin Schindler 6-1 with an average of 106.17 having missed just 2 darts on the outer ring. 

Humphries continues to show the evidence of the drastic improvement in his doubling, missing just 7 darts at double in his opening 2 matches of the Hungarian Darts Trophy to reach the Quarter Finals. 

The Red Dragon ended a crucial run from Luke Woodhouse in the Quarter Finals, with Woody qualifying for the 2023 World Grand Prix on the Pro Tour Order of Merit despite defeat. Luke claimed victory without reply from his opponent, again averaging 100+ with 4 180s and 9 140s in Budapest. 

The Newbury born player achieved his first big fish on Sunday against former World Champion Gerwyn Price, who was in the hunt for a 3rd Euro Tour title this year. A combined 28 140s were thrown over the 11 legs played in the Semi Final, with Luke prevailing a 7-4 winner including a 103.10 average. 

The Iceman found an early break of throw in the contest but fell just short at the MVM Dome, having found a 100% doubling rate earlier in the day to knock out defending champion Joe Cullen with a 6-4 victory.

Humphries went on to hit a 100+ average in every single match of his Hungarian Darts Trophy, scoring 100.97 despite an 8-7 defeat whilst also including a perfect 9 dart leg and a 170 checkout. 

Cool Hand Luke broke throw instantly after hitting the bull to complete the big fish, whilst also recorded a 63.64% finishing rate in an epic Hungarian Darts Trophy Final between 2 top scorers in the game today. 

Dave Chisnall was the better player in the Final, hitting a 104.82 average whilst also including 7 180s to Luke’s 4 in Budapest. Chizzy became the first player in 2023 to win 3 PDC Euro Tour crowns, with one more tournament left to play this year in Hildesheim. 

“If you had told me this morning that I would have got to the final I wouldn’t have believed you. I need to give credit to myself because I really battled hard today. If that dart at double 12 had gone in, this probably would have been one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.”

So could Luke emulate Andy Murray and claim a major after several valiant efforts, might he come through and claim one emphatically like Crenshaw. Or could he end, like Colin Montgomerie, as the best player, and most popular, never to win one of the games most coveted titles?

There is another possibility, Colin Lloyd became world number one, ahead of Phil Taylor, by playing every event and picking up every available point regardless of the level. He went on to claim several major crowns including a magnificent World Matchplay with a 170 finish to claim the title. 

Maybe Cool Hand is plotting such a triumphant ascendance, perhaps a double start would add a little extra something?


Originally published in Darts World Extra (12).

Words: Harry Masterson with JR Lott

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