Chris Dobey admits he is ‘living the dream’ after claiming the spoils on the opening night of the 2023 Cazoo Premier League in Belfast on Thursday.
Dobey – making his full-time debut in the Premier League – defeated Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen to make the perfect start to this year’s roadshow at a sold-out SSE Arena.
The Bedlington thrower has enjoyed a whirlwind week, celebrating his first televised title at last weekend’s Cazoo Masters, which earned him a spot in this year’s star-studded line-up.
Dobey then saw his beloved Newcastle United reach their first domestic cup final for 24 years in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, before he scooped the £10,000 nightly bonus following his Belfast exploits.
“I've had worse weeks, that’s for sure,” joked Dobey, who sits top of the embryonic Premier League table with five points.
“I am delighted to come out here and get the win on the first night. It shows where my game is at and I’m happy with the way I’m playing.
“I’m a pretty confident player anyway, but that win last week gave me a different kind of confidence.
“I know I can win on the big stage now and I proved it on Thursday night. I’ve taken three of the biggest scalps in the game – I’m living the dream!”
Dobey defied a 103 average from two-time World Champion Wright to close out a 6-3 success in his opener on Thursday, before firing in six 180s to deny 2020 runner-up Aspinall in the semi-finals.
This set up a showdown against reigning champion Van Gerwen for the Belfast bragging rights, and the Masters champion produced an exhibition of finishing to triumph in a deciding-leg thriller.
Van Gerwen had won 12 of the pair’s 13 previous meetings, but Dobey followed up a spectacular 170 checkout in leg two with a nerveless 160 combination in the decider to extend his winning streak.
“The 160 had to go! Michael was always there – it was the same with the 170 earlier on in the final,” reflected Dobey, who averaged 97 and converted 60% of his attempts at double.
“I have been working hard on my finishing over the last couple of months – I think that was where I was losing games, but both my scoring and finishing has clicked.
“I have beaten Michael once on TV before but he’s got a great record against me!
“That is in your head, but I came here knowing I could do it, and beating him at the European Championship [in October] gave me the confidence that I can beat him, and it showed.”
Dobey, who featured as a ‘challenger’ in 2019 and 2020, will now face home hero Gerwyn Price in Cardiff on Night Two, and he believes it was crucial to make a strong start to his campaign.
“It means a lot. It is massive,” added the 32-year-old, who will head to the Welsh capital on a run of eight consecutive victories.
“I believed I should have been in after the Masters, but it’s proved all those doubters wrong and I’ve shown that I can win against the world’s best.
“I didn’t have anything to prove to myself because I knew I was capable, I knew I could win, and I came up and did the job.”
Night Two - Thursday February 9
Cardiff International Arena
Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall v Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price v Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Smith/Clayton v Aspinall/Wright
Price/Dobey v Van Gerwen/Van den Bergh
All matches are best of 11 legs