Ricky Evans says he is still in shock after earning one of the final two places in the PDC’s William Hill World Darts Championship.
The Kettering player produced his best form of the year to go through no fewer than seven opponents as he won the PDPA Qualifier at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
It means the 25-year-old will return to the Alexandra Palace in London for his second appearance at the biggest event on the PDC’s calendar having made his debut there in 2013 when he beat Ronnie Baxter 3-0 in the first round before bowing out 4-2 to Mervyn King at the next stage.
Having guaranteed himself a place in the competition by reaching the final in Coventry, Evans came from 4-3 down to beat Andy Boulton 5-4 and earn a first-round clash with world number 10 Simon Whitlock.
And Evans admitted he knew it would be his day after he produced an even better comeback earlier in the day when he recovered from 4-0 down to beat Jonny Clayton 5-4.
“I am still a bit shocked to be honest,” Evans said.
“The standard on the day was ridiculous and to say I was the best player is incredible.
“I haven’t had my best year by any stretch and I was worried about losing my Tour card.
“But my manager was brilliant with me and just said that I shouldn’t worry so much.
“Since then, I have been practising hard and I retained my card, which meant I could go into last Tuesday with confidence.
“I played my joker card against Jonny. He threw everything at me in the first five legs and I could have lost that match 5-0.
“But my finishing was excellent and if I can repeat that in the tournament then who knows what will happen.
“You have to prepare well for a day like that because it can become emotionally draining and that’s how it was for me.
“It just happened for me on the day. It was the biggest competition of the season for all those players because it was the last chance to get to the worlds. It just happened to be my day.”
Evans will take on Whitlock in the second match of the evening session at the ‘Ally Pally’ on Saturday, December 19.
And he believes the Australian will be worried about facing him.
“I think he will be a bit worried about me, he won’t be looking forward to it,” Evans added.
“Everyone is there to be beaten. The truth is on Tuesday morning I wasn’t in the competition but by the end of the day I was.
“I can go there and really enjoy it and hopefully make everyone proud.
“To play at the World Championships is the pinnacle for anyone.
“It did go through my mind that I might never get another chance to do it.
“But I have earned the opportunity to go back there and I intend to take full advantage of it.”