High-flying Humphries: "I really believe this could be my year!"

Luke Humphries (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

High-flying Luke Humphries is brimming with confidence ahead of his Alexandra Palace return, as he bids to continue his spectacular form in the sport's flagship event later this month.

The Newbury-born star has taken the darting world by storm over recent weeks, lifting a hat-trick of televised titles in the space of 49 days to rise to a career-high of world number three.

Humphries has won 20 of his last 21 matches on the televised stage, and he will begin his seventh World Championship campaign as the joint favourite to lift the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.

“I’m riding the wave at the moment,” insisted Humphries, who is bidding to become only the third player – along with Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen – to win four TV ranking titles in the same season.

“I’m full of confidence and I think that makes me dangerous, because when I’m at my best, I am a very tough player to beat.

“I feel much more equipped this year than I have done at any other point of my career, and I really believe this could be my year.”

Humphries has made enormous strides over the last two years to establish himself as one of the sport’s premier players, winning five European Tour titles and four Players Championship events during this spell.

The man nicknamed ‘Cool Hand’ then celebrated his maiden premier TV title in October’s World Grand Prix, dispatching Gerwyn Price in a thrilling double-start decider.

The 28-year-old followed this up with Grand Slam of Darts glory in November, before extending his winning run with a stunning comeback victory over Michael van Gerwen at the Players Championship Finals last weekend.

“It’s no coincidence that when you win your first [title], it opens the floodgates and gives you the confidence to win more,"  declared Humphries, a 7/2 shot with title sponsor Paddy Power.

“I believe it’s hard to just turn up and win the World Championship. I feel like you need a major title under your belt to then go on and win it, because it gives you that belief.

“If you make a World Championship final and you haven’t got that great memory of winning a big final I think it would be extremely difficult, but now I have that, everything changes.”

Despite his meteoric rise, it’s been anything but a smooth journey to the summit for the former World Youth Champion, who was left contemplating his future in the sport less than five years ago.

Midway through 2019, Humphries bravely opened up about his battle with a panic and anxiety disorder, which threatened to derail his career at one stage.

“It’s a battle getting to the top in darts, but when you’re battling anxiety as well, it’s even tougher,” conceded Humphries, who will face Lee Evans or Sandro Eric Sosing in his Ally Pally opener on December 17.

“I was almost ready to give the game up. I had some really tough moments, but I am really proud of myself for working through that.

“When I opened up on my struggles, it was a worry for me. I thought if I show weakness, maybe players will play on it and use it to their advantage, but all the players were very supportive.

“It’s not been an easy rise to the top, but I’ve worked hard and I think I deserve my success.”

Following his Players Championship Finals triumph last weekend, Humphries became only the 12th player in PDC history to win a trio of premier televised titles, achieving the feat within just seven weeks.

This marks the shortest gap between a player’s first and third individual televised title, smashing the previous record of 251 days set by Jonny Clayton during his stunning 2021 campaign.

“I want to create a legacy,” declared the world number three, a World Championship quarter-finalist in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

“The money is great in darts, but that’s not what I play the game for. I play to win because that feeling of lifting major titles is priceless.

“I want to leave this sport one day as a player that everyone is going to put in the top ten of the best ever dart players. That is my goal."

You can read the full, exclusive feature with Luke in the official 2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship programme, which is available to pre-order now.