JOE CULLEN believes a ruthless streak can banish painful 2018 memories as he prepares to make his BetVictor Masters debut on Saturday night.
Cullen missed match darts in both his World Matchplay quarter-final with Gary Anderson and European Championship semi-final against Simon Whitlock, going down to agonising defeats in both matches, before suffering a second round exit to Brendan Dolan at the World Championship.
Despite those disappointments, the Yorkshireman enjoyed one of his finest PDC campaigns, elevating him to a record-high 15th on the Order of Merit and securing qualification for his the BetVictor Masters for the first time.
"Hopefully the difference for me this year will be taking my chances and being a bit more clinical," said Cullen, whose consistency on the European Tour saw him reach six quarter-finals and two semi-finals in 2018.
"Obviously, the losses to Gary and Simon were even more gutting because I missed darts to win them both, but I've always said the time you should worry is if you're not giving yourself chances.
"I gave myself opportunities to win both those games which is the main thing, and hopefully now I can start converting them.
"Last year my best performances came on the big stage, which is the place you want to do it, but I also want to address my floor form which dropped a bit in 2018."
Cullen's most recent televised appearance saw him crash out of the World Championship at the second round stage to eventual quarter-finalist Brendan Dolan.
The defeat saw the 29-year-old's miserable run at Alexandra Palace continue, with just one win from his nine appearances since his 2011 debut.
"Yet again I had a rubbish Worlds, I seem to find myself in the same scenario every year," Cullen continued.
"I felt confident walking up to the stage, but it just didn't happen when I got up there.
"It was an all-too familiar feeling there, maybe I would do better if the Worlds was moved away from Ally Pally!
"But that's gone now and I've got to pick myself up again and move on from that as well."
Nevertheless, the 2018 campaign was a successful one for Cullen who rise five places up the rankings thanks to a string of classy displays which saw him come close to lifting his third PDC crown.
"My main aim for this year is to get back in the winners' circle, be it on the ProTour or the European Tour," said the two-time ProTour winner.
"On the European Tour it was a similar story to the World Matchplay and European Championship in the way that I let myself down when I got chances to win one.
"My consistency was good, I think every player would love to reach the quarters and semis every week and hopefully this year I can win one.
"I want to keep getting to the latter end of tournaments and just keep progressing, that's my main aim."
Cullen is now eager to leave his near-misses of 2018 behind him as he prepares for his meeting with former World Champion Rob Cross in Milton Keynes on Saturday evening, live on ITV4.
"I think Rob will be up for it, especially after I came back from 6-1 down to beat him in the European Championship," Cullen added.
"He seemed to be cruising in that one, so that was a great win for me but he'll be keen to get his own back.
"Maybe we'll be a little bit rusty early doors but once we settle down it should be another good match which I'm really looking forward to.
"I'm a big fan of The Masters event as a concept because I grew up watching the snooker equivalent.
"It's the elite of the sport going head-to-head so if you're in it then you know you're heading in the right direction."
The BetVictor Masters will see the top 16 players on the PDC Order of Merit battle it out to lift the first TV title of the year from February 1-3 at The Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
The 2019 PDC campaign curtain-raiser will see Michael van Gerwen bidding for an incredible fifth successive Masters crown, while Cullen, Darren Webster and Jonny Clayton star in the event for the first time.
The tournament will be broadcast live on ITV4 and worldwide through the PDC's broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Tickets for the BetVictor Masters are available now from SeeTickets.
2019 BetVictor Masters
Schedule of Play
Friday February 1 (1900 GMT)
4x First Round
Daryl Gurney v Dave Chisnall
Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock
Gary Anderson v Darren Webster
Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton
Saturday February 2 (1900 GMT)
4x First Round
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Rob Cross v Joe Cullen
Michael Smith v Ian White
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Sunday February 3
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Semi-Finals & Final