Empty arenas lead Aspinall to 'drastic' equipment change

Nathan Aspinall

Nathan Aspinall has revealed how empty arenas have lead him to a 'drastic' equipment change ahead of his return to action at next week's Ladbrokes Masters.

Aspinall awaits the winner of Ian White and Mensur Suljovic in the second round of The Masters, which begins next Friday behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes.

Despite reaching the final of the Premier League in his debut campaign, Aspinall was left frustrated by a below-par end to 2020, prompting the 29-year-old to abandon the darts that saw him win two televised titles.

"After losing at Ally Pally I had a bit of time to reflect and I made the decision to change equipment," said Aspinall.

"Since I've played darts I've always used pretty much the same dart. I've used the same set for the last three years so this is a drastic change for me.

"It's something I've never done before but the back end of last year was pretty poor for me, so the only way is up.

"Without fans in at the moment the arenas we play in are a bit colder, and that sometimes means I struggle to grip my darts which leads to an incorrect release.

"I've got to put things in place that will help me combat that, so I've gone with a more aggressive grip so I'm prepared.

"I'm playing really well with my new darts and I'm looking forward to using them."

Glen Durrant, Nathan Aspinall
Aspinall was edged out by Glen Durrant in the Premier League final

Aspinall made history by winning the inaugural PDC Home Tour in May, before reaching going down to Glen Durrant in October's Premier League final.

However, the former UK Open champion's last run to the semi-finals of a televised event came almost 12 months ago at the Ladbrokes Masters, a run he is keen to end in Milton Keynes.

"Before lockdown I think I was one of the best players in the world. I was winning ProTours, flying high in the Premier League and had a New York trip to look forward to," Aspinall recalled.

"Then lockdown happened. I won the Home Tour and got to a Premier League final but I wasn't enjoying it.

"The PDC did everything right to get the TV tournaments on but I struggled living a solitary life in hotel rooms.

"I didn't pick a dart up for nearly three weeks after Ally Pally. I spent some quality time with the family.

"But I've been back at it the last two weeks, practicing hard.

"The back end of last year didn't go how I would've liked or how I planned it in my head, but that's darts.

"I'm going to have a bit more hunger this year, not get complacent and get back to what I was doing earlier in the year winning tournaments."

The Ladbrokes Masters will take place from January 29-31 at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes.

Worldwide coverage will be led by host broadcaster ITV4 in the UK and Ireland, as well as through RTL7 in the Netherlands and DAZN in various global territories, as well as through the PDC's global broadcasters, for PDCTV Rest of the World Subscribers and through matchroom.live.

2021 Ladbrokes Masters
Friday January 29 (1900 GMT)

First Round x8
Ian White v Mensur Suljovic
Glen Durrant v Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Chris Dobey
Krzysztof Ratajski v Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith v Adrian Lewis
Daryl Gurney v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jose de Sousa v Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen v Stephen Bunting

Saturday January 30
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Second Round x4
Rob Cross v Durrant/King
James Wade v Van den Bergh/Dobey
Nathan Aspinall v White/Suljovic
Dave Chisnall v Gurney/De Zwaan

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Second Round x4
Gary Anderson v Smith/Lewis
Peter Wright v Ratajski/Whitlock
Gerwyn Price v Cullen/Bunting
Michael van Gerwen v De Sousa/Clayton

Sunday January 31
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)


Evening Session (1900 GMT)