Humphries relishing European Tour return in Kiel

Luke Humphries (PDC)

Luke Humphries is relishing his return to European Tour action in Kiel this weekend, as he bids to replicate the astonishing success he enjoyed in 2022.

Humphries scooped four European Tour titles in a trophy-laden campaign last year, celebrating wins in Munich, Prague, Stuttgart and Trier – elevating him to career-high of world number five.

The 28-year-old produced a host of stellar displays to underline his big stage credentials, averaging 107 to whitewash Michael van Gerwen at the German Darts Grand Prix back in March.

Humphries also became just the third player in PDC history to lift four European Tour titles in a calendar year, joining Van Gerwen and Peter Wright in achieving the feat.

“There are a lot of very, very good players that have never won a European Tour,” said Humphries, who won ProTour Player of the Year in the 2022 PDC Annual Awards.

“They are gruelling days, so to win one is a fantastic achievement. Winning four is absolutely incredible and something I probably thought I’d never do in a calendar year.

“I haven’t peaked yet, so who is to say I couldn’t pick up five titles in one year? Who knows? I’ll always be very fond of 2022 though, because that was some achievement on my part.”

Humphries had made consistent progress in the sport prior to last year’s exploits, reaching his first TV ranking final at the 2021 UK Open and appearing in three World Championship quarter-finals.

However, the former World Youth Champion secured his first senior title in last year’s opening Players Championship event, and has since established himself as part of the elite.

“I think I lost in four finals before picking up my first title,” conceded Humphries, who tops the current ProTour Order of Merit.

“When you haven’t got over the finishing line before, you doubt yourself a little bit, so when I picked up my first title, it gave me the belief and confidence.

“I achieved two big goals early in the year. When you go on a little run and you’re winning all the time, it becomes a good habit.

“I have not won a tournament for seven or eight months now, so I need to get back to winning tournaments again. If I can get another early title this year, hopefully I can pick a few more up.

“It’s going to be tough to replicate what I did last year, but I’m hoping to win at least one or two European Tours this year, just to reaffirm what I achieved last year.”

The 2023 European Tour gets underway in Kiel this weekend, as the Wunderino Arena plays host to the Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open from February 24-26.

The inaugural staging of the Baltic Sea Darts Open will see 48 players battling it out for the £30,000 top prize in Germany, with top seed Humphries headlining the action.

The Newbury ace faces a tough opening tie however, with either World Championship semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens or two-time TV title winner Daryl Gurney awaiting him in round two on Saturday.

“They are both fantastic players,” added Humphries, who could take on Premier League star Dimitri Van den Bergh if he overcomes Clemens or Gurney.

“Playing Gabriel in his home country isn’t an easy task. I did an exhibition in Germany a couple of weeks ago and I played Gabriel. I beat him, but it’s tough because they’re all behind him.

“That is also added pressure for him. If it is Gabriel, he’s going to be under more pressure than I am. Having that expectation of the home crowd on your shoulders, it can be hard.

“On the other side, Daryl is playing great darts this year. He’s qualified for all four European Tour events so far, but if the real me turns up, whoever I play is going to have a very tough game.”

2023 Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open
Wunderino Arena, Kiel, Germany
February 24-26
Tournament Draw Bracket - Second Round Onwards 

(1) Luke Humphries v Gabriel Clemens/Daryl Gurney
(16) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Shaun Wilkinson/Ritchie Edhouse
(8) Michael Smith v Jermaine Wattimena/Niko Springer
(9) Dirk van Duijvenbode v Florian Hempel/Richard Veenstra
(4) Rob Cross v Ricky Evans/Martijn Dragt
(13) Ryan Searle v Niels Zonneveld/Mario Vandenbogaerde
(5) Peter Wright v James Wade/Raymond van Barneveld
(12) Danny Noppert v Filip Sebesta/Keegan Brown
(2) Michael van Gerwen v William O'Connor/Stephen Bunting
(15) Jonny Clayton v Jeroen Mioch/Ted Evetts
(7) Nathan Aspinall v Steve Beaton/Adrian Lewis
(10) Joe Cullen v Arron Monk/Brendan Dolan
(3) Damon Heta v Bradley Brooks/Josh Payne
(14) Martin Schindler v Ryan Meikle/Lukas Wenig
(6) Dave Chisnall v Lewy Williams/Dennis Nilsson
(11) Gerwyn Price v Ryan Joyce/Graham Usher

Schedule of Play
Friday February 24
First Round

Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 GMT)
Ricky Evans v Martijn Dragt
Niels Zonneveld v Mario Vandenbogaerde
Lewy Williams v Dennis Nilsson
Filip Sebesta v Keegan Brown
Jeroen Mioch v Ted Evetts
Arron Monk v Brendan Dolan
Jermaine Wattimena v Niko Springer
Bradley Brooks v Josh Payne

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Shaun Wilkinson v Ritchie Edhouse
Ryan Joyce v Graham Usher
Ryan Meikle v Lukas Wenig
William O'Connor v Stephen Bunting
Florian Hempel v Richard Veenstra
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Gabriel Clemens v Daryl Gurney
Steve Beaton v Adrian Lewis

Saturday February 25
Second Round
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 GMT)

Ryan Searle v Zonneveld/Vandenbogaerde
Rob Cross v Evans/Dragt
Dave Chisnall v Williams/Nilsson
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Wilkinson/Edhouse
Joe Cullen v Monk/Dolan
Damon Heta v Brooks/Payne
Danny Noppert v Sebesta/Brown
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Hempel/Veenstra

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Nathan Aspinall v Beaton/Lewis
Jonny Clayton v Mioch/Evetts
Gerwyn Price v Joyce/Usher
Luke Humphries v Clemens/Gurney
Michael Smith v Wattimena/Springer
Peter Wright v Wade/Van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v O'Connor/Bunting
Martin Schindler v Meikle/Wenig