Glen Durrant, Jamie Hughes & Chris Dobey set for their World Matchplay debuts
Durrant: "I wish I was more bullish. I'm not thinking about winning the Matchplay. I know it's an old adage but I am only focused on the next game."
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 19/07/19 8:43am
Glen Durrant, Jamie Hughes and Chris Dobey are three of seven debutants featuring at this year's World Matchplay and the trio are relishing the prospect of their first Winter Gardens appearance.
Three-time Lakeside world champion Durrant has scooped two Players Championship titles since crossing the darting divide in January and 'Duzza' takes on 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis in a battle of the world champions in Blackpool.
Hughes secured last-gasp qualification after winning the Czech Darts Open in Prague and his reward is a showdown against World Championship finalist Michael Smith, whilst Premier League contender Chris Dobey takes on second seed Rob Cross in his opener.
Listen or subscribe to the Darts Show podcast
As they prepare to make their Blackpool bows, the trio spoke exclusively to Sky Sports and revealed that they're relishing the prospect of making their Winter Gardens debuts...
Durrant: "I'm incredibly excited that's for sure. It was one of those scenarios where I went to the venue last year as a guest of BetVictor and it was just one of those: 'I've got to play here one day'.
"That opportunity from the BDO came where even if you won Lakeside you had the chance to go to Q-School and the number one thing on my mind then was to try and qualify for the Matchplay which was going to be difficult as I was six months ranking money behind everybody, but I'm counting the hours down now.
Dobey: "I've been to it [World Matchplay] in the last few years. I always go for a few days if I don't qualify which I haven't done in the past few years. I pick and choose what days to go - Michael Smith or Dave Chisnall who I'm very close to on the tour - if they're playing I will go up and watch them.
"I'm just going to go up there and do my job like I normally do, the same practice routines. I'm not going to change much so I'm just looking forward to it."
Hughes: "It's a bit of a weird feeling because I never expected to be there. I left it until the death to qualify so it's all come on a bit suddenly. It's not one of those where I've been looking forward to it for a long time.
"I'm looking forward to it - one of the biggest stages in world darts and hopefully it will be one where I can show how good I am and give a good account of myself.
"I went to watch James Wilson against Adrian Lewis last year. I watched Scott Rand against Wayne Jones about eight years ago as I'm a good friend of Wayne's, so I've got a taste of what the atmosphere is going to be like. I'm sure it will be different on the stage than it is in the supporters section."
Season so far?
Durrant: "I'm really happy. There's games I could and should have won but that's just the competitive side of me. Hindsight is great, if you had offered me this at the beginning in February. I'm seeded 11th in the Pro Tour this week.
"I'm definitely on the right track but it's all about looking forward as well. I'm not resting on my laurels, I'm practising really hard and I would love to continue to succeed and move up and up the rankings."
Dobey: "I think it all started with the Premier League back in my hometown. I think it gave me the kick-start I needed and although I didn't get the win I got a point. It just gave me the little kick I needed to go on and I've done well this season.
"I've been pretty consistent. I usually have a good start and a good back end of the year but I've kept on doing it all year, but the year is not done yet and there is still more to come."
Hughes: "About a month ago it all kind of levelled itself out a bit. I started the season averaging really high and losing a lot of games. I was struggling to get wins even though I was playing well and then the averages came down a bit but I was getting a few wins and having a few runs.
"I've had a good year in Europe. I've qualified for most of the European events and I think there's only Munich where I haven't won a game, so I think the European Tour has been the highlight of my year so far.
"I never dropped my head once because I knew I needed a bit of rub of the green and it would come if I kept my performance level up and kept plugging away and kept the intensity in my game."
Durrant: "When I went to Q School I remember a game against Barrie Bates and I would say half the crowd were watching our game. There were 32 boards, 400 or 500 people in the Wigan complex and half were watching that game - that's when the realisation kicked in that there's a lot of focus.
"I turned round on Tuesday in one of my games and it was just my friend Dennis and my manager and that felt good, so I don't feel like the eyes are on me now, I don't feel like the focus is on me. I feel part of the PDC family already."
Dobey: "I set myself a target at the start of the year to try and get my first title. I came close a few weeks back in the European Tour but I'm playing well and I've given myself a lot more opportunities now.
"I've kind of secured my place in the rest of the TV majors apart from the Grand Slam which we've also got qualifiers for so if I can have good runs in them then certainly a title is not going to be far away for myself."
Hughes: I wanted to be at the Alexandra Palace at the end of the year. That was the only target I set. I thought it would be too early for the Matchplay.
I thought with the way I was playing in the Euro's I may sneak into the World Grand Prix if I pick my Players Championship form up, because I'm struggling to win games there.
Durrant: Adrian's an absolute legend of the game, incredibly I can't believe he's 16th seed which puts us in the bracket then where the real golden ticket would be to play Michael [Van Gerwen] in the second round.
That would be a real motivation for us both I am sure. I couldn't have got any harder draw but nobody's taking the smile off my face this week so it is what it is. I'll be giving it my very very best.
I wish I was more bullish. I'm not thinking about winning the Matchplay. I know it's an old adage but I am only focused on the next game. How can I overlook somebody like Adrian Lewis? I'd be crazy to do something like that so the only thing on my mind is that game.
Dobey: It's a tough field. Everybody is there for one reason and that's to go on and win it. People will say I'm in the better half of the draw but it's not really a better half. Everybody is there and everybody is capable of doing the same thing so I'm just looking forward to it.
It's a longer format - you come in first to ten in the first round so I can understand why people say it's their favourite and I think the longer format suits me better as well.
It could suit the likes of Rob Cross at the same time, so you've just got to go in there with that same mentality of wanting to win every game.
Hughes: Michael Smith is a seasoned Premier League player, one of the top players in the world. He's seeded number five for a reason. I'm expecting a really tough match. I'm expecting to have to play my A-game just to be competitive and that's what I'm going to do.
If you look at my averages from the start of the year I've got a gear that lots of players haven't. I'm probably one of the ten players in the world who can average above 110 or 115 - I know when I'm on my A-game I'm more than a match for anyone. Hopefully I can just get up there and play my A-game.
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.