Ricky Evans and Kevin McDine are both determined to make an impact as they prepare for the PDC’s Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
The competition at London’s Alexandra Palace gets under way this evening with Kettering’s Evans due to take on Ronnie Baxter in his first-round match on Monday night while McDine, who lives in Irthlingborough, faces Wayne Jones on Saturday afternoon.
For 22-year-old Evans it is the culmination of a remarkable first year on the PDC Pro Tour, which has seen him play in the World Youth Championship final as well as featuring in two other major competitions – the UK Open and the Grand Slam of Darts.
It was two years ago that Rushden’s James Richardson stunned the darts world when, as a virtual unknown, he knocked out Dutch star Raymond van Barneveld in the first round.
And Evans admitted that result was the inspiration for him to make the move into the professional ranks.
“What Jamie did gives you a lot of belief,” the Kettering player said.
“I know him well and when I saw him do what he did, I knew I wanted to do the same.
“If he could do it, I knew I could.
“For me, just getting to the Worlds is a massive achievement and I have exceeded my own expectations.
“I don’t have any aims for the competition, I am just going to do the best I can and enjoy it.
“I hope to have a lot of support and I am feeling confident. It just want to produce my best when it counts.”
McDine is making a welcome return to the World Championship having missed the last two during a loss of form.
But he has enjoyed a steady year on the Pro Tour and knows that, on his day, he is capable of a good run.
“It’s great to be going back,” the Irthlingborough man said.
“I have had a few issues to deal with over the last two years but I am back and I have played pretty well at times on the tour.
“It’s all about what happens on the day when it comes to darts. If you wake up feeling good then you can beat anyone.
“I have been feeling good for most of the year and hopefully I can take that into the competition.”
The World Darts Championship is being screened in its entirety on Sky Sports.