Comment & Analysis
World Grand Prix 2021: Glen Durrant seeks a spark following toughest period of his career
Former World Grand Prix semi-finalist Durrant takes on Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa in his opener; watch all seven days of action from the Morningside Arena, starting on Sunday October 3, live on Sky Sports Arena
Last Updated: 04/10/21 6:19pm
Glen Durrant's resume over the last decade is the envy of the darting world. Three world titles, back-to-back World Masters wins, and Premier League glory. The former BDO world No 1 has already scaled the heights, but now his toughest assignment awaits him.
The date was October 15, 2020 - the night Durrant fulfilled his darting destiny and lifted the Premier League title on debut. Having been subjected to unparalleled scrutiny following his switch to the PDC, this provided vindication. He belongs in the big time.
The 50-year-old was riding the crest of a wave, yet less than 12 months later, he is desperately trying to stay afloat as he bids to halt the most tumultuous period of his career.
World Grand Prix 2021: Monday's First Round results
|Darius Labanauskas v Brendan Dolan|
|Callan Rydz v Jonny Clayton|
|Vincent van der Voort v Gabriel Clemens|
|Nathan Aspinall v Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Gary Anderson v Ian White|
|Peter Wright v Rob Cross|
|Michael van Gerwen v Danny Noppert|
|Jose de Sousa v Glen Durrant|
- World Grand Prix Darts 2021: Results, draw & schedule
- Sherrock edges out Ashton to secure Grand Slam spot
"I've been beaten down with a hammer all year - getting walloped in the Premier League; the Pro Tour has been an absolute disaster. It can take a lot out of you," Durrant told Sky Sports.
"When I was getting heavily beaten in the Premier League under the Covid conditions, then going back to that hotel room, there were some very dark moments.
"When you're getting beaten 7-0 and 7-1, you are just looking at the ceiling in your hotel thinking: 'What on earth has happened?'
"I wake up every day hoping today is the day that my form comes back, that my throw is as effortless as it used to be.
"It is absolutely incredible what a lack of confidence can do to you in this game of darts. There is no hiding place when you are live on Sky. It is not like I'm in a backstreet boozer, you are there for everyone to see, and it's been a horrible experience.
Durrant is a winner, he's a champion. He has enjoyed sustained success for much of the last decade, therefore his subsequent slump has left him planning for the future after being plunged into unknown territory.
"I'm not beaten yet; I've still got opportunities. You don't become a bad player overnight, and it's really important to deal with these demons that are in your mind," he admitted.
"The sad thing is, I had my life mapped out. I was never going to throw a dart after 55 years old, no matter what, so all of this bad form has come too early.
"If I don't start winning games, I have got to look at what the outcomes are going to be. I don't want to [walk away], I want to be a dart player, but you cannot be blinkered in thinking: 'This is going to come back'."
Durrant discusses his darting future...
"I'm already in Ally Pally for the World Championships this year, the UK Open next year, but nothing after that is guaranteed.
"If I don't start winning games, I have got to look at what the outcomes are going to be. I don't want to [walk away], I want to be a dart player, but you cannot be blinkered in thinking: 'This is going to come back'.
"I hope it does. I am very proud of my successes, but I don't want to end on this career-implosion of being Premier League champion, and then barely winning a game after that."
The sporting world works in mysterious ways. It could be one match, one moment, or one dart that sparks Durrant's revival, which he hopes will begin at this year's World Grand Prix.
He reached the semi-finals on his double-start debut in 2019, and throughout his first two years as a PDC professional, he forged a reputation for being one of the sport's most clinical combination finishers.
The numbers reaffirm this. Throughout his two previous appearances, 'Duzza' boasts a 55 per cent success rate on starting doubles - he remains the only player in this year's field above 50 per cent across the last five years.
"I am holding on to the fact that one game could rejuvenate me. If someone said when I joined the PDC, you're going to have a fantastic run [in a major], I would have said the Grand Prix.
"I am still confident that I can go on that stage and hit double 16 within the first two darts. That was always my target - 50 per cent. I am still the same man; I am still the same player."
Stats via Premium Darts Data - Best WGP starters (Last five years)
|Glen Durrant||55% (78/142)|
|Jonny Clayton||49% (48/98)|
|Mensur Suljovic||49% (166/342)|
|Daryl Gurney||48% (230/476)|
|Nathan Aspinall||48% (53/110)|
|Dave Chisnall||47% (313/669)|
|Michael van Gerwen||46% (314/684)|
By his own admission, Durrant is a 'darts connoisseur'. He lives and breathes the sport, and he is effusive when discussing his desire to pursue a coaching role when he eventually hangs up his arrows.
The Teessider takes on Jose de Sousa in his Grand Prix opener on Monday evening, and Durrant concedes he may be partly responsible for the emergence of the man aptly nicknamed 'The Special One'.
"The one thing I can be bullish about; I know I'm going to be a good coach. I know I'm going to be a good mentor for young players coming through, because I've had these experiences of the highs and now the lows," he added.
"Sometimes I feel like I created the beast, when I sat with Jose in a European Tour event and told him right now, he's the best player in the world.
"I had seen nothing from anybody in my life that compared to what he was doing on the practice board.
"He is the Grand Slam champion, Premier League runner-up. He is some animal, but the double-start is a leveller.
"At my best, I am one of the best double-hitters in the world alongside James Wade. I know I cannot outscore Jose, but I'm as good as anybody from 201 downwards, when I'm at my best."
Durrant is no stranger to prevailing in adversity. He suffered heartbreak at Lakeside courtesy of defeats against Martin Adams and Scott Waites, but he emerged a stronger player, winning three straight titles and establishing a legacy.
“Positive mental attitude is so important right now, but it is also a shock to be Premier League champion and then 11 months later, be the outsider of the 32 players."
Durrant determined to stay positive...
As he looks ahead to a potentially defining period in his PDC career, he concedes that overcoming his current plight would rank among his greatest achievements.
"It would be right up there. I've got a fantastic résumé over the past decade. I was playing pub league - my first tournament was in 2011, and within 10 years I'm a three-time BDO world champion, Masters champion, world No 1. It has been great.
"What I have never experienced before is coming through a bad spell. I don't know what mechanisms to put in place to go from playing poorly to playing great. You are learning on the job.
"I am a champion, I am a winner, and I don't want to be going to tournaments where I'm celebrating just getting through the first round.
"That is not where I want to be in the game, so the target is quite easy. I just want to be competitive again," he concluded.
The iconic NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said: "It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up," and that quote is pertinent when assessing Duzza's current malaise.
You will struggle to find a more resilient and tenacious character than Glen Durrant and, despite being knocked down on multiple occasions throughout the last year, crucially, he's still standing.
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens when the World Grand Prix gets underway - join us for coverage from the Morningside Arena, starting on Sunday, October 3. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts