Ricky Evans is fancying his chances of upsetting Raymond van Barneveld when the Kettering darts player makes his Unibet World Grand Prix debut.
Evans secured his first-ever appearance at one of the PDC’s major events at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin thanks to a terrific run to the final of the Dutch Darts Championship earlier this month.
‘Rapid’ was handed a first-round clash with five-time world champion van Barneveld in Tuesday’s draw and, with a short, double-in format, Evans sees no reason why he can’t take his recent good form into the major competition.
“There’s not many harder draws to get but I fancy my chances,” Evans said.
“It’s one of those tournaments that the top players sometimes struggle in early on because of it being double-in and a short format in the first round.
“I don’t see why I can’t give it a go, I have got there on merit.
“To be honest, I would have never thought I would make it there. If you’d told me in June that I would have qualified for it I wouldn’t have believed it.
“It just goes to show what one good run in a tournament can do for you and what I did in Maastricht has made my year really because now I am in everything.
“I’m still a bit speechless about that weekend even now to be honest.
“I think I can play better than I did, there is a lot more in the tank.
“But it was nice to get that bit of luck with players missing doubles against me, instead of it being the other way round.”
Evans became a hit with the crowd in Maastricht and also online after he chose ‘Baby Shark’ as his walk-on music in Maastricht.
And he hasn’t ruled out using it again, although he’ll need to defeat Dutch legend van Barneveld if he is to unleash the song again.
He added: “I think it’s a joint walk-on in the first round so I am probably going to have to beat Raymond if we’re going to do it again!
“It’s one of the worst songs I have ever heard! But it got people going at the arena and online, which was a bit crazy. If I can get through I am happy to use it again.”
Evans and van Barneveld will do battle on the opening evening of the competition on Sunday, September 30. The event is being screened live on Sky Sports.
Rushden’s James Richardson enjoyed a superb run to the quarter-finals of the International Darts Open in Riesa.
‘Ruthless’ kicked off the PDC European Tour event with a 6-3 victory over Terry Temple before beating world number eight Dave Chisnall 6-4.
Richardson followed that up with a 6-4 success over Ian White to set up a last-eight meeting with Simon Whitlock and it was last-leg heartbreak for the Northamptonshire player as he was edged out 6-5 by the Australian.