Well, Rob Cross’ rise to the top in the world of darts has nothing short of phenomenal as the newly crowned World champion has rose to number 3 in the world rankings after he pocketed the £400,000 first prize over at Alexandra Palace back on new years day.
Cross who only turned professional last February has had consistent success since February. We first came across Rob Cross as a player at the UK Open finals in Minehead back in 2016 as he qualified through the Rileys qualifiers in Norwich. Apparently, Cross only attented the qualifier due to his uncles persuasion as the Hastings-based star was hitting a hot streak of form in local competitions and in the pub leagues. Cross managed to go on the reach the last 32 in the event as he lost out to an on-song Michael van Gerwen who hit a 9-darter which included 17 perfect darts from the world number one in that particular encounter, but in the coming months Cross would be acquainted a lot more with MVG.
With that good run at the Coral UK Open, Cross decided to have a crack at the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour, he went on to win three of the 16 events as he topped the order of merit and in doing so, gained a two-year tour card.
In the early stages of his career as a professional, It didn’t take Cross long to clinch his first PDC title, just a few after he reached the fifth round of the UK Open quarter-finals losing out to Peter Wright, Cross was victorious at Players Championship 3 as he defeated Mervyn King 6-5 in the final. But, that was only the beginning for Cross as he went on to pick up four PDC titles on the floor as he enjoyed final victories over Ian White, Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis as the former electrician produced some phenomenal darts along the way whilst recording some astronomical averages.
Following those successes on the floor, Cross was one of the most talked about players on the circuit with his rapid progression as he moved inside the worlds top 25 within a matter a months. Cross had qualified for every televised major in 2017 and the next question was could Vross replicate his floor form on the big stage ? Well, Cross gained some good experience on the European Tour as he went on to reach two finals as he lost out Michael van Gerwen in both of those finals. But, they were to meet again in another final as Cross went on to reach the final of the European Championship which was his first major final appearance, and despite averaging 102 and change, Cross lost out 11-7 to an on-song Van Gerwen who averaged just short of 109 in that final.
Cross in his post-match interviews was very upbeat after his final losses to MVG claiming that he will get him next time. Well, his wish was granted just 6 weeks later as the pair met in the semi-finals of the World championships at Alexandra Palace. It was a mesmerising exchange between the pair, but Cross always had the upper hand as he was leading for the majority of the contest, until MVG forced ‘extra time’ as the match was squared up at 5-5. Van Gerwen did have several opportunities to end Cross’ dream, those misses were punished ultimately by Cross as he pulled out a sensational 140 finish in the final leg of the match as he booked his place in the final.
In the final, Cross was dominant as he picked apart the iconic legend Phil Taylor as he cruised to a 7-2 victory. Cross in the opening three sets produced some mesmerising stuff as he took out 167 to clinch the second set, followed by a 153 to take the third set and a 3-0 lead. Cross picked up the £400,000 first prize and a place in the 2018 Unibet Premier League as he capped off a perfect debut year in the PDC as a professional, producing the best debut year we have ever seen.
Cross did have his fair share of luck at times, he survived two match darts from Michael Smith in the last 16 in what was an epic contest as the pair fired in 29 maximums between them. Following that, Cross survived a fightback from Dimitri van Den Bergh in the quarter-finals as the young Belgian battled back from 4-1 behind to level the match up at 4-4, but Cross showed superb resilience to see the job out in the end.
2018 I’m sure will be another terrific year for Cross in his surge for that world number one place that’s in his sights.
Photo : Lawrence Lustig / PDC