Rock: I know I can become World Champion

Josh Rock (PDC)

Josh Rock insists he can emulate Rob Cross and become World Champion on his Alexandra Palace debut, after scooping his first senior PDC title in Barnsley on Sunday.

Rock was in magnificent form at the Barnsley Metrodome, averaging over 108 to defeat top seed Luke Humphries 8-5 in a sensational Players Championship 28 final.

The 21-year-old boasted a tournament average of over 103 across seven matches, dispatching two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis and second seed Damon Heta in the latter stages of Sunday’s event.

Rock then defied ten 180s from Humphries to prevail in a thrilling final, winning all eight legs in 15 darts or fewer to scoop the £12,000 top prize.

“I just can’t believe I’ve won my first title,” admitted Rock, who also defeated Andy Boulton, Pete Burgoyne, Jeff Smith and Jim Williams en route to glory.

“Luke was playing fantastic darts as everybody knows, but thankfully for me, he was missing his doubles and that helped me out a lot.”

Rock has been a revelation since securing his PDC Tour Card in January, posting stratospheric averages on the ProTour and winning five Development Tour titles.

The Northern Irishman is now up to tenth on the Players Championship Order of Merit, with just two events remaining in Barnsley next month.

“My life has been massively transformed,” added the Antrim ace, who reached his maiden ProTour final at Players Championship 25 on Thursday.

“After my first couple of weeks in the PDC I was losing with 102 averages, and I was thinking: ‘What have I got to do to win a game?’

“I think over the past two weeks, I have been the happiest I have ever been playing darts. I’ve been very relaxed.”

Rock is set to embark on a crucial period in his 2022 campaign over the coming weeks, starting with his televised debut at the Cazoo European Championship in Dortmund from October 27-30.

“It’s the same as the European Tour, so I’ve just got to take it in my stride,” claimed Rock, who will take on World Grand Prix runner-up Nathan Aspinall in a blockbuster first round tie.

“I’m good friends with Nathan but we’ll see what happens. I can’t wait to be there.”

The 21-year-old will also feature at next month’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts, before making his Cazoo Players Championship Finals bow at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.

On the same weekend, Rock will take on Nathan Girvan in the Winmau World Youth Championship final, before all roads lead to the Cazoo World Darts Championship.

There have been parallels drawn between Rock and Rob Cross, who enjoyed a stunning emergence in 2017 - winning four ProTour titles before his remarkable World Championship success.

The Northern Irishman faces an enormous task if he is to replicate Cross’ Alexandra Palace heroics, but he believes he can create another sensational story in the sport’s showpiece event.

“I know I can win it,” continued Rock, who tops the provisional list of ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers.

“If you win one of these [ProTour] titles – there were 128 players in this room, and I was number one. That tells you everything.

“I know I can go on that stage and become World Champion. It won’t be easy. There are 95 players in front of me, but I’ll give it a right go.”