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Darts star Josh Rock: From chicken farm to secret World Cup favorite

They hugged for a long time, one immensely disappointed, the other overjoyed, but above all relieved that the great pressure had finally subsided. 4-3 in a quality match, Josh Rock also knocked out ten-seeded Nathan Aspinall of the World Darts Championship as he advances to the Round of 16 and confirmed the many predictions that had identified as a secret favorite before the tournament. .

The junior world champion is number six among bookmakers behind Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith, Peter Wright and Luke Humphries. It is not obvious. The 21-year-old Northern Irishman, world number 47, is playing his first season on the professional circuit and worked on a chicken farm in Northern Ireland until three months ago. Already in his early teens he had set professional dart throwing as his career goal. He left school at 16 to train more. However, the fact that the breakthrough was planned earlier is evidenced by his involvement in chicken farming, where he has been helping raise chicks since last year. The job was the result of financial problems. The money was no longer enough.

The worry is long gone, and so is his time on the farm. He was able to bring in £94,000 in prize money in his first year, and the World Cup round of 16 alone secures him another £35,000 and lucrative sponsorship deals. And who can say that the story will not have more episodes in the coming days?

Especially since he gets on better and better with the biggest stadium of arrow throwers since the start of the tournament. The slightly nervous 3-1 in the first round against Spaniard Jose Justicia was followed by a 3-0 against last year’s World Cup quarter-finalist Callan Rydz. “It wasn’t the best performance yet. But I think we’re going to see a different Josh Rock in the next round,” he said before heading home for the Christmas break. Like Lothar Matthäus, he likes to use the third person. A Josh Rock will do this and intend to do that. It can be irritating at times, but it’s definitely an expression of his extreme self-confidence. And so there could be another parallel with the German football legend on January 3. Matthäus crowned his career in Rome in 1990 as captain of the German national team.

“I think I will be world champion,” he said before the tournament, with one caveat: “if not this time, then in years to come.” won the world title five years ago. Next up for “Rocky” in the Round of 16 is world number seven Jonny Clayton. The Welshman beat fellow Rock’s Brendan Dolan 4-1 in a tight game with five deciders. In the quarter-finals, there could then be a duel with defending champion Peter Wright.

Show-off appearance at the World Cup of Darts Crusader opponent throws No-Look-180 and flies

Against Aspinall, Rock made an early exclamation mark and checked 141 points to win the first set. Also, thanks to three out of four doubles, he averaged 104.69 points. His opponent, however, didn’t seem impressed, countered with his engagement set and even took a 2-1 lead thanks to a 3-1 break. Both averaged just under 100 points. In the fourth round, ‘Rocky’ missed the nine-dart to tie the set after six perfect throws, but made it 2-2 a little later in eleven darts.

The match came to a climax, the pressure on both players increased significantly. Aspinall, needing a set against throw, forced the decider to 14 darts. The Englishman threw his ninth 180, followed by Rock’s 12th. It was now a world-class match, but now it also had an added appeal with lots of drama. Rock missed two set darts on the double 20 and double 10, but Aspinall also missed his chance on the double 10: 3-2 against Rock.

Aspinall then fought back in the match and won the sixth round 3-0. The Englishman now had the momentum, but not the advantage of the seventh set shot on his side. When Rock spectacularly checked 99 points on the highs to make it 2-0, as Aspinall waited with ten points remaining, the preliminary decision seemed to have been made anyway. However, ‘The Asp’ burst again and even had three darts to make it 2-2 with 16 points remaining. He took aim several times, backed up and then threw. His errors are 35, 36 and 37. The double rate of 28.8% ultimately made the decisive difference. Rock (double rate: 42.4%) scored 70 points to win.

“I said to myself, ‘You have to get it over with now, otherwise the pressure will increase further.’ It was an incredibly close game,” Rock later reported, looking ahead: “A 95 average is good, but there’s more to come. I can do more.” There’s a opportunity to do so on Thursday or Friday in the Round of 16. The PDC will announce the exact nominations on Wednesday.

Darts World Cup, results on 27.12.

3rd round:

Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL/15) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL/18) 4:1 (3:2; 3:0; 0:3; 3:1; 3:1)

Nathan Aspinall (ENG/10) – Josh Rock (NIR) 3:4 (2:3; 3:1; 3:1; 1:3; 2:3; 3:0; 1:3)

Johnny Clayton (WAL/7) – Brendan Dolan (NIR/26) 4-1 (3-2; 3-2; 3-2; 2-3; 3-2)

from 8:15 p.m. still on display:

Jim Williams (WAL) – Gabriel Clemens (D/25)

Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Raymond van Barneveld (NED/32)

Peter Wright (SCO/2) – Kim Huybrechts (BEL/31)

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