Luke Humphries has credited his World Grand Prix victory for making him a ‘different player’, after celebrating his second televised title in as many months at the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts on Sunday.
Humphries produced an irresistible display to secure Grand Slam glory in Wolverhampton, dispatching Rob Cross 16-8 in Sunday’s showpiece to lift the prestigious Eric Bristow Trophy.
Cross’ 103.61 average was the highest losing average in a Grand Slam final, but the 2018 World Champion was swept aside in merciless fashion by a relentless Humphries, who led 13-4 at one stage.
The 28-year-old was imperious throughout the nine days of action at WV Active Aldersley, posting six ton-plus averages in his seven matches, and finishing the campaign with a tournament average of over 102.
“To pick up another major title - it’s a dream come true,” reflected Humphries, who averaged 104.69 to topple Cross in a high-quality contest.
“Winning two major titles in the same calendar year is something I never imagined doing, so I’m really proud of myself.
“This week I've beaten some great, great players who I've looked up to over the years – Gary [Anderson], James [Wade] and Rob [Cross]. I'm very blessed and happy to be a two-time major champion.”
Humphries’ Grand Slam victory comes just 42 days after his maiden premier televised success in October’s World Grand Prix, where he demolished Gerwyn Price to clinch the double-start crown.
This is the shortest gap between a players’ first and second PDC premier title, after Michael Smith’s famous World Championship triumph in January came 44 days after his breakthrough Grand Slam success last year.
“I have to give credit to that World Grand Prix win. It’s allowed me to unleash the beast and become a different player,” claimed the former World Youth Champion.
"It feels just as good - obviously nothing can ever beat the first one unless it’s the world title, but the second one does feel as good, especially the way I've played this week.
“I think when you get that first title over the line, everything else becomes a lot easier.
“It gives you the confidence to go on and win more and more, and it’s no coincidence that in the last five years I’ve not won a major title, and now I’ve won two in the space of six weeks.”
Following his breath-taking performances in Wolverhampton, Humphries has been installed as the new tournament favourite for the 2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship, which begins next month.
Many parallels have been drawn between him and reigning World Champion Smith, who followed up his Grand Slam success 12 months ago by lifting the sport’s holy grail in sensational style.
However, Humphries is refusing to get carried away by the hype surrounding him, and believes this year’s event could be the most competitive in World Darts Championship history.
“Michael Smith is a different breed,” insisted Humphries – a three-time quarter-finalist at Alexandra Palace.
“As much as he didn’t win his first [premier TV title] until the Grand Slam, he was a fantastic player who was making major finals consistently for about ten years solid.
“I think Michael is a much more accomplished player than I am, and just because I’ve won two of the last three [events], it doesn’t mean I am going to go to the World Championship and win that.
“I don’t think I’m the favourite. I just think of myself as Luke – a decent player that can sometimes nick a trophy here and there.
“It’s nice recognition [to be the favourite] but I still think there’s a lot of players in front of me with a lot more experience, a lot more pedigree that have won a lot more than I have.
“I stand every chance, but there’s probably another 20 players that could win it, so it’s possibly going to be one of the best World Championships we’ve ever seen.”
However, Humphries has vowed not to place too much emphasis on the coming weeks, after outlining his desire to build a dynasty at the sport’s top level.
“I’ve got a great opportunity to pick up as many major titles as I want,” continued the world number four.
“My whole career isn’t going to revolve around the next four or five weeks, it’s going to revolve around the next 20 years, so whatever happens, I’m not going to panic.
“I am hoping I can be standing here in 20 years’ time with ten to fifteen major titles.
“It’s going to be even tougher at the World Championship, there is going to be more pressure, but I feel what I’ve done this year has exceeded all expectations, so we will see what happens.”