Berkshire’s Luke Humphries‘ dream came true on Sunday evening as the 24-year old picked up the 2019 PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship title in Minehead.
Humphries, who reached the quarter-finals at the PDC World Championship back in December, produced a professional display to see off 17-year old Adam Gawlas from the Czech Republic by an emphatic 6-0 score-line.
Humphries is an eleven-time winner on the PDC Development Tour and his experience really showed up on the big stage as he goes out on a high in terms of playing Development Tour stuff.
Czech youngster Gawlas, 17, has enjoyed a remarkable rise to form since starting to play competitive darts in February but he was blown away by Newbury’s Humphries.
Humphries, who averaged 92.97, fired in three maximums and converted 46 per cent of his attempts at a double to clinch the £10,000 top prize.
The Newbury ace kicked off the fourth leg with his first maximum of the match, wiring the bull for a roof-raising 161 checkout, although he returned to complete a 14-dart hold and continue to assert his dominance.
Gawlas had no answer to Humphries’ dominance and the 24-year-old sealed the deal with two more 14-dart legs, to become the eighth different winner since the tournament’s inception in 2011.
The importance of becoming a champion
Humphries also becomes the first English youngster to win this title since Keegan Brown in 2014 and having endured a mentally-challenging year following his well-documented battle with anxiety and panic disorder, this understandably was an emotional victory and a milestone in the 24-year old’s career.
Both players have secured their places at the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts, a victory for Gawlas would’ve clinched a World Championship spot, but as Humphries has already secured his place at Alexandra Palace, an extra spot will be awarded in Monday’s PDPA World Championship qualifying event in Wigan.
Speaking to Live Darts after the win, Humphries admits that it was a strong performance and the best is yet to come.
“I played okay up there,” said Humphries. “It’s little harsh on Adam [Gawlas], he’s a lot better than that. Sometimes, nerves can get the better of you. For me, nerves didn’t get the better of me and I just thrive on the nerves.
“Six-nil’s a flattering score, but it doesn’t matter to me, you need to be ruthless and I’ve got the trophy now, so that’s all I care about, really. This is my last-ever youth tournament – so I had to go out there and enjoy it. I think the ‘killer’ moment was the 112 checkout – I felt at that moment, if I can keep steady then I’d win.”
In terms of Humphries’ dominance on the Development Tour circuit – winning eleven titles, the Berkshire man admits that it was hard seeing other youngsters win the World Youth Championship before him.
“I had my chance to win this title two years ago,” admitted Humphries. “Throughout that tournament in 2017, I played brilliant. I lost to Dimitri [van den Bergh] and I didn’t play my best, I was devastated to lose that match. But, as I say – everything happens for a reason and I think it was my destiny to pick this title up in my final year on the Development Tour.”
Humphries added: “I’m just so happy to win this – it’s unbelievable.”
On the prospect of potentially becoming the first-ever World Youth Champion to lift the World Championship in the same year, Humphries confidently insists that he’s there to win.
“One hundred per cent. I come alive on the main stage – I play brilliantly. If I can replicate the form from last year, then I could even go a couple of steps further.”