Kettering darts star Ricky Evans is relishing the prospect of making his debut at the Betfred World Matchplay.
The 28-year-old is enjoying the best year of his career on the PDC ProTour and has qualified for the upcoming prestigious tournament in Blackpool for the first time.
The 26th annual event gets under way a week on Saturday.
For Evans, just making an appearance in the major competition is something to cross off his darting bucket list.
But he will head to the Winter Gardens as a player to fear, with his quick-throwing style capable of causing any opponent problems when his game clicks into place.
‘Rapid’ has been on the rise since reaching the final of the Dutch Darts Championship last year and his consistent form this season also saw him reach the final of the German Darts Championship on the European Tour when he was beaten by World No 3 Daryl Gurney.
But Evans is now firmly focused on making his debut in Blackpool when, ironically, he will play Gurney in the first round.
“I have been to the Winter Gardens before, but I have never been in the hall where the darts is played,” he said.
“So it’s going to be new for me, it’s my debut there and I am relishing it.
“All the big players say it’s the biggest competition outside of the World Championship so to be part of it for the first time is huge for me.
“It’s obviously a different format and I hope I will be fine with that. But, over the next week, I am sure I will be practising in the right format with [fellow pro] David Pallett to make sure I am ready.
“It’s just been a great year for me. It’s all about consistency. Ever since I reached my first final in Maastricht last year, I have been getting better.
“I have been playing pretty consistently on the ProTour and I have really earned my place at the Matchplay.
“But the European Tour has been the big thing for me. When you play in those competitions it’s in front of big crowds and they are massive to help you get ready for the major tournaments.”
Ever the showman, Evans has made a big impact with fans due to his entertaining walk-ons to the big stage.
Whether it is ‘Baby Shark’ or ‘YMCA’ as his walk-on music, the Kettering star is keen to be an entertainer.
But he insists he is hoping to let his darts do the talking when he heads to Blackpool for the competition, which will see 32 players battling it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy and the £150,000 top prize in an overall tournament fund of £700,000.
“It might be the YMCA again but whatever it is, I will just try to make the best of it.
“It’s all about enjoyment for me, I like to entertain people but I am serious about the darts.
“I am determined to make the most of my debut but I would love to be able to win some matches and go as far as possible in the tournament."