Experience could be key for ‘The Artist’ in Blackpool

Daventry's Kevin Painter
Daventry's Kevin Painter

Daventry darts star Kevin Painter believes his experience from the McCoy’s Premier League Darts will benefit him during the Betfair World Matchplay, which begins in Blackpool tomorrow (Saturday).

The Players Championship Finals winner was one of the eight stars of this year’s Premier League - where he competed in front of huge crowds for three months in arenas across the UK and Ireland.

Painter will take the the Winter Gardens stage in Blackpool on Sunday night to face Steve Beaton and he feels his big-game experience will be vital in the contest.

“When you’re playing in front of 8,000 or 9,000 people, over time that experience must come through,” said Painter.

“James Hubbard has played at The O2 in the World Youth Championship final, but this is a bit more intense with the crowd on top of you in Blackpool and it’s going to be a whole new experience for him.

“The Premier League players have seen this a lot so we’re quite used to it, and hopefully being in the Premier League will show.

“When you’re behind and in trouble, you look to pull things out of the bag. When I got to the quarter-finals in Blackpool two years ago I was 4-1 down against both Colin Lloyd and Mark Walsh and managed to win those games.

“That was all down to experience and hopefully the Premier League has given me a bit more of that.”

Painter, though, admits his Premier League experience has also affected his form away from the big stage and that he struggled to adapt to events on the PDC ProTour following the high of being cheered by thousands of fans only days earlier.

“To be honest, I’ve found a lot of the tournaments hard to get excited about after the Premier League,” the Northamptonshire-based player said.

“I was in that for the first time and I was so excited to be in it - I was loving it and everything else since hasn’t been the same.

“I know I’ve got to get back to the bread and butter of the tournaments, but I’ve found it hard since the Premier League.

“I wouldn’t say I’m on any sort of great form as far as the floor tournaments go and I didn’t have a very good UK Open.

“It’s been a little bit quieter in the last two weeks and I’ve had a good practice and I feel like I’m ready to give it a good go, and I’m throwing quite well.

“I’ve had plenty of rest too, I’ve been practising nicely and having my moments. I’m back on the go and hopefully I’ll do well.”

Painter has reached the quarter-finals only once in 12 previous appearances in the Betfair World Matchplay, and he suffered an agonising 14-12 defeat to Adrian Lewis last year after wiring three match darts at double top in a dramatic contest.

“Whether you play well at Blackpool or not, it’s a great venue,” says Painter.

“I’ve never had much going on up there myself over the years - I’ve made one quarter-final and that’s it but I’ve generally played well there and got beaten.

“Last year I should have beaten Adrian Lewis but I let him off the hook and he ended up in the semis.

“It’s getting tougher every year though and the field this year is the hardest field we’ve ever seen.

“Normally when you’re waiting for the draw to come out, you’re thinking there are four or five players who it wouldn’t be too bad to play, but this year everybody was looking and knowing that you’d have a hard game anyway.”