Jamie Hughes: I can shock Michael van Gerwen at World Grand Prix
Listen to the full interview with Hughes on the latest episode of The Darts Show Podcast as he reveals playing part-time suits him better
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 02/10/19 3:44pm
Jamie Hughes believes he can shock Michael van Gerwen at the World Grand Prix after a strong year that owes much to staying in full-time employment.
After he operated on the Challenge Tour in 2018, his big break came as 2019 dawned - the Englishman sealing his PDC tour card thanks to a powerful display at Q School in January. He hasn't looked back since.
In June, he scooped his maiden PDC title, beating Stephen Bunting in the Czech Darts Open final, which ensured him a spot in the World Matchplay. Although he bowed out in the first round in Blackpool, losing 10-7 to eventual finalist Michael Smith, he will have taken heart from the victory.
The 33-year-old certainly isn't lacking confidence heading to his next major, despite being drawn against the world's best player in Sunday's first round of the Grand Prix.
"It's quite a short format really, first to two sets," he told The Darts Show Podcast. "It's basically like a Pro Tour, you've got to win six legs. That's the way I'm looking at it. It's quite a short format. If I can hit the ground running, getting into it early hopefully, I can cause a big upset."
He has no reason to lack belief.
"The confidence has always been there, but [the Czech Darts Open title] proved not just to myself but to everyone else how much of a threat I am when I'm playing well," he continued.
"If anything, it added a bit more pressure, because there's a bit more expectation. I'm probably seen as a potential winner of Euro Tours now because I've already won one."
Players must acclimatise to the 'double-in' format of the World Grand Prix in Dublin, but it won't unsettle the two-time BDO World Championship semi-finalist.
"I've played most of my darting career in double-in leagues, in lower leagues, so I have a lot of experience," Hughes said.
"I don't try and do anything different [in training]... I just carry on with the same routines. I'm a bit of a creature of habit. I like to get into good routines, and I think that's more important.
"You can throw the form book out the window a little bit when you do mix things up. It [the format] is different. The players aren't going to be in form in that respect.
"It probably will be better for spectators to freshen things up a bit, because it does seem to be the same kind of players playing on the TV the whole time, so it may freshen it up with a few more upsets if it did spice things up a bit."
I've played most of my darting career in double-in leagues, in lower leagues, so I have a lot of experience
For Hughes, he'll revert to type - it's gotten him this far. While many players opt to commit full-time to the oche, 'Yozza' has remained in employment.
Staying occupied has worked a treat for him as he continues to rise through the ranks. Playing full-time never suited his game.
"I did try it before, about 12 months before I switched [to the PDC]," he explained. "It didn't work really, and it was too much darts. There was nothing really [else]. It was 24/7. It was a little bit too intensive. That's why I went back to work. I wanted to take my mind off the game.
"I was putting myself under a lot more pressure because I was putting a lot more time in, expecting to get a lot more out. That won't always work like that.
"I've found my game popped back up when I started working again. It's one of those kind of balancing acts. You need to balance it all well. You need to give yourself a good rest time as well as getting the practice in, and obviously the travelling and matches.
"If you get the balance right, then great. I think the balance isn't too bad at the minute."
Hughes knows what works for him, and he has no shortage of belief. He'll be looking to show exactly what he's capable of in the coming days in Citywest.
You can listen to the full interview with Jamie Hughes on the latest episode of The Darts Show Podcast.
Coverage of all seven days in Ireland gets underway on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Sunday and continues through the week until the final at the Citywest Hotel on Saturday, October 12.