Having swapped the glamour of Premier League life for parental duties in the course of the enforced break, Daryl Gurney admits that treasured household time has put darts into perspective, however with the PDC Summer Series edging ever nearer, the Northern Irishman is relishing his return.
The PDC circuit is famend for its gruelling and relentless nature and having launched into a 3rd consecutive Premier League marketing campaign, that may be a sentiment Gurney would attest to.
However, the coronavirus pandemic noticed the sporting calendar grind to a halt in mid-March and while darts continued to flourish with the modern on-line idea, Gurney has remained out of the highlight.
That is by circumstance relatively than alternative. His accomplice Aine is a key-worker and has been in excessive demand all through the disaster, leaving Daryl to take care of their son, who turned two in April.
“My partner is a key worker so for the last 12 or 13 weeks I’ve been watching my little boy full-time,” Gurney advised Sky Sports.
“She’s a social employee so she has been on the frontline as a lot because the nurses. She has nonetheless needed to exit to homes and be certain that all the youngsters are beneath management and secure.
“The little one is a handful, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I have been loving spending time with my son. It definitely does put things into perspective.”
Fans have had the chance to chart the type of most gamers by their participation on the PDC Home Tour, though Gurney might be considerably of an unknown amount when he returns for subsequent week’s Summer Series.
The 34-year-old was one among 4 Top 16 absentees on the Home Tour with world No 1 Michael van Gerwen, two-time world champion Adrian Lewis and former main winner Mensur Suljovic additionally opting to not function.
Gurney has been an ever-present on the planet’s prime eight all through the previous few years and was ranked third on the planet at one stage, though he concedes that his dwelling set-up doesn’t befit a participant of his calibre.
“I’ve nonetheless received the very same throw as once I began taking part in darts once I was 12. There is only a dartboard screwed on to the surface of my bed room door. There isn’t any encompass, there isn’t any gentle and there’s nonetheless no oche.
“Even though I was world No 3 that is the only practice board I’ve ever played on and I haven’t changed anything. If I put it on the Home Tour, I don’t think it would have come up to criteria,” he quipped.
Nevertheless, while some gamers have utilised the lockdown interval to refine points of their sport, Gurney had barely picked up a dart prior to some weeks in the past, however he is decided to play catch-up to make sure he is prepared for this month’s World Matchplay.
“After two or three weeks I had managers and gamers ringing me saying I can not wait till the darts begins and now it has been 13 weeks.
“I’ve given myself 5 weeks to prepare for the Matchplay. The huge plan is to be prepared for that. I’ve been practising for the final two weeks and I’ll be practising each single night time.
“I’d love to pick up another new major other than Dublin and the Players Championship, just to add another one to the cabinet.”
It was a event of combined feelings for Gurney 12 months in the past. The Derry native defied a 105 common from Peter Wright to prevail 16-13 within the quarter-finals, solely to relinquish a commanding benefit in opposition to Rob Cross within the semi-finals.
“I go under the radar in everything I enter until I get to the final and am lifting the trophy at the end, but I’d rather be the underdog.”
Gurney relishes underdog tag
However, his newest assault for Matchplay glory is not going to happen on the iconic Winter Gardens, after the PDC confirmed on Wednesday that the event will happen behind closed doorways on the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
This isn’t uncharted territory for Gurney and his colleagues, because the 2018 UK Open happened with out spectators resulting from opposed climate situations in Minehead.
That was a event suffering from upsets and the two-time main winner believes that taking part in in a extra subdued Pro Tour sort of setting will add to the unpredictability.
“There are sure gamers you can play in a Pro Tour that you recognize it may be 6-5 both manner, however when you play them on TV in an extended format, you recognize have the beating of them.
“You can get an easier result through big stage experience. If they do it behind closed doors, anybody could win it. The class of the field is that good now.”
By his personal admission, Gurney endured an underwhelming begin to 2020, however his run to the semi-finals of the UK Open marked a welcome return to type which he’s bidding to construct upon.
His World Grand Prix and Players Championship exploits are proof of his main pedigree, however he is unperturbed by the underdog tag and insists he thrives on proving some extent in opposition to the world’s greatest.
“I’ll by no means ever be favorite for a event. I at all times play a great sport however I do not play my A+ sport each single sport.
“I’m going beneath the radar in every part I enter till I get to the ultimate and am lifting the trophy on the finish, however I’d relatively be the underdog.
“Whenever I am playing the likes of Michael [Van Gerwen] or Gary [Anderson] I always look up to them, because they are the pinnacle of the PDC. I am always the underdog when I play those types of players and I thrive on that.”
Gurney’s claims have substance. He defeated Van Gerwen to raise the Players Championship Finals crown in 2018 and he additionally did the double over the irrepressible Dutchman in final 12 months’s Premier League – solely the second man to take action within the event’s historical past.
‘Super Chin’ reached the semi-finals of final 12 months’s roadshow having completed fifth in his debut marketing campaign again in 2018, though previous to lockdown, he was staring down the barrel of elimination.
The world No 7 has picked up simply two factors from his opening six video games and trails eighth-place Rob Cross by three factors, with three nights of motion remaining earlier than Judgement Night.
The Premier League is scheduled to renew on July 30 however Gurney is philosophical about his struggles this 12 months and insists that he hasn’t given up hope of survival.
“I think I’d been playing well away from TV and then the UK Open, but if you’re off at all in the Premier League, you are going to get beaten and players are going to take their chances.
Premier League Darts 2020 – Revised schedule
|Thursday July 30||Night Seven||Arena Birmingham|
|Thursday August 13||Night Eight||SSE Arena, Belfast|
|Thursday August 13||Night Nine (Judgement Night)||The O2, London|
|Thursday August 20||Night 10||First Direct Arena, Leeds|
|Thursday August 27||Night 11||Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin|
|Thursday September 3||Night 12||Rotterdam Ahoy|
|Thursday September 9||Night 13||Rotterdam Ahoy|
|Thursday September 10||Night 14||SSE Hydro, Glasgow|
|Thursday September 17||Night 15||Manchester Arena|
|Thursday September 24||Night 16||Utilita Arena, Newcastle|
|Thursday October 1||Play Offs||Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield|
“The gamers within the Premier League are unimaginable and I used to be dropping all of the poor legs and lacking alternatives and each sport it has come again to chunk me.
“I have loved every minute of the Premier League and should I get relegated this year so be it, the other players were better and I haven’t been good enough, but by no means is it over yet. I’ll be going out there every night to try and win.”
The sport’s return may spark a spate of unpredictable outcomes with so many elements to think about, and adaptability might be paramount, however write off Daryl Gurney at your peril. He lifted two main titles in opposition to the chances and he isn’t completed there.
Darts returns to Sky Sports in July, with 9 days of protection from the World Matchplay getting underway on Saturday, July 18, and day-after-day till the ultimate on Sunday, July 26.