Darts Expert & Columnist @rod180
'We need a bit of needle'
Last Updated: 17/07/19 2:07pm
Former World Matchplay champion Rod Harrington looks ahead to this year's event at the Winter Gardens in the latest episode of the Darts Show podcast.
The two-time World Matchplay winner joins Colin Lloyd, Michael Bridge and Paul Prenderville to discuss a range of darting topics, including Nathan Aspinall's rise, the importance of the World Matchplay and gamesmanship in the modern game.
'The Prince of Style' also looks ahead to this year's summer showpiece at the Winter Gardens and picks out his winner....
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It was very pleasing for me with Nathan Aspinall [winning the US Masters], because he has come through the youth system. He had his Tour Card then he lost it, then he went back and it just shows you what that little bit of extra confidence, that extra little bit of self-belief can do.
The way he won that final against Michael Smith - I'm expecting him to kick off quickly and then maybe go off the boil a little bit, but he didn't.
Right from leg one when he kicked off, averaging over 100, he took the game to Michael.
It doesn't matter who you are playing, if you keep punishing them on the treble 20 and doing what he did, you can beat anybody. I think now he believes he can win this Matchplay and, to be quite honest, he is going to take some beating.
There are not many people that get on that big stage straight away and they are at home and they can perform, but he is one of them that has. At the moment, he is flying high.
If you look at the way he played in Vegas, all four matches were quality games. He won the UK Open, he's performed at the top level all the way through and he's very comfortable. He's got a very solid throw that is not going to break down under pressure.
You see other people - they get a little bit edgy and they start to pull and snatch the dart, but I think we have high hopes for this young man for a good number of years.
In the early days it was actually the biggest [tournament] because when we first started the company [PDC] we were getting crowds at Blackpool that we were not at the Circus Tavern, so it was the biggest.
Everybody wanted to win it because that was where the crowds were, that was where the atmosphere was, that was where the razzmatazz of darts started.
The big walk-ons, everybody walking up to their own music, so you were getting an identity that you were putting over to the fans and everybody got on the bandwagon and we did have some fun in those early days.
Growth of the Game
We've got the academies with Steve Brown and the JDC - they're doing a great job. Then we've got our Development Tour, the Challenge Tour, the Pro Tour, then the TV events, the majors and the World Series.
If you look at other sports and the way they have progressed and ended up with top professionals, darts is like that now.
I try to mirror it to golf as much as I could. You take a great sport that works and now we are over £14m in prize money, most weeks these players are playing against each other.
If you are playing against each other week in week out, you are getting top-quality practice all the time and are getting to play against the top players all the time so you are not scared of them. It's breeding a real tough player now.
It's all part of a show and the players have got to accept that which to be fair they do. There is the odd thing that goes over the top and there are the odd players that complain about things and you think: 'That didn't happen, it's in your own head'.
We need a little bit of niggle to be quite honest. You look at every sport - it has it. I think it does spice it up and it gets that adrenaline going.
I had it against (Ronnie) Baxter and blimey did I have it against him, but you just get on with it and sometimes you have to turn that big adrenaline into a positive and when you do, that's when you win.
The odd thing goes over the top and we will deal with that at the right measures but the rest of it - that's what makes the game go round.
I'm going to go with Gary Anderson. Probably this year there are more players that could win it than there's ever been. I just think Gary Anderson on his form he is a tough player to beat.
Great scorer, natural thrower but I think what's happened with Gary is that he has lost a couple of stone in weight at least and he's taken up fishing now.
I've always believed that you need something that is a release valve. Apparently Michael Smith is practising six to eight hours every day. You don't need to do that. Once you get to a standard you need to find a happy medium. Gary is a player that can not pick them up for a week but then pick them up.
He seems to be in such a good place at the moment. He seems to be happy and when Gary Anderson is happy and relaxed, boy can he hit that treble 20. I'm sure Michael [Van Gerwen] is going to be ready for it and Rob Cross and the rest of them, but I think perhaps Gary Anderson might to do it.
You don't have to wait long until darts is back on Sky Sports, with every dart from every session in Blackpool and the World Matchplay. It starts on Saturday, July 20 and the final is on Sunday, July 28.