Luke Humphries heads to Alexandra Palace with belief following a rollercoaster season | Darts News

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"I think it's one of those things people can learn from - never give up on your dreams and never give up on life itself because you never know what is around the corner.

"I rarely got any nerves and I felt really good up there. I beat some huge names and lots of people didn't know who I am but they do now. I showed that I'm not afraid to be up there and play the big players."

Nevertheless, having swept aside Adam Hunt in round one, Humphries claimed the scalps of former world champion Stephen Bunting, World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and defending champion Rob Cross to reach the last eight, before succumbing to Michael Smith.

Humphries whitewashed Adam Gawlas 6-0 to lift the World Youth Championship less than two weeks ago

"Darts has grown in the last 5 to 10 years and I want to be a huge part of it. I want to be up there playing in the Premier League, World Championships, World Matchplay and Grand Slam in the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years to come. I think I did the right thing for myself."

Luke Humphries takes on Devon Petersen on the opening night of the World Championship on Friday December 13, live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Humphries in confident mood...

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"Being a professional darts player in the men's tour, you can play until you're 55 like Phil [Taylor] did. Being a 24-year-old in the darts circuit is relatively young. There's not many players around my age that play on the men's tour.

The 24-year-old was twice crowned Development Tour winner in 2017 and 2018 although he was unable to translate that into World Youth glory. However, in his final attempt before becoming a full-time fixture on the senior tour next year, Humphries delivered the goods.

"I have won 11 Development Tour titles and it's taken me a long time to get where I've needed to be. Having that title as a World Youth champion is just amazing and I cannot wait to be called out as that [champion] at the World Championships."

"I did get a lot of negative comments about being World Youth champion. It's a bit harsh because I think the people that comment about it don't quite understand what the youth circuit is all about.

Humphries admitted he was proud of his run to the quarter-finals 12 months ago

"This could be the game of the first round if we both play as well as we can. Devon has got loads of TV experience. My experience is limited but I've probably played on TV more than him in the last 12 months so if we both get going it could be a really good game."

"It feels really good. It's something I've been striving for throughout the last three to four years since I've been playing proper darts. It's been a long time coming to be honest. I think I've deserved it over the youth career I've had and I'm over the moon about it.

"It's one of those things where you still don't really believe it's real. It doesn't feel real," Humphries told the Darts Show podcast.

"I know I can play like that. It was just about playing like that on a big stage in front of TV cameras. I wasn't sure how well I could do. I knew I could play even better than I did at the World Championship outside the world stage, but it all seemed to just click into place.

The action is back on your Sky Sports screens in December with the World Championship from Alexandra Palace. It all gets underway on Friday, December 13.

"I've had quite a few big achievements in the last few months, especially that World Youth title. I was contemplating giving up the sport and six months later I'm World Youth champion.

Humphries returns to the scene of his big stage emergence as World Youth champion following a rollercoaster campaign and the 24-year-old insists he is playing better than ever ahead of this year's showpiece.

"There's no easy game in darts but this one really isn't going to be easy against Devon. He's a very tough player to beat - he never gives up and he seems to have really progressed himself in the last three to six months. It's not a favourable draw for me but it's also not a favourable draw for him.

His win over 17-year-old Czech youngster Gawlas did provoke some criticism, directed mainly at the merits of the qualification system. Humphries admits he felt the criticism was unjustified although he made light of the situation with some self-deprecating posts on social media.

"Sometimes just taking that stress off your shoulders can help you out and it did for me. This year has been full of ups and downs but in the last six months I feel like I've been on the up.

"I think I'm coming in hot. I'm playing better than I ever have at the moment, especially in the last three months where I've picked up quite a few titles. On the Pro Tour I haven't been getting huge results - I've made a quarter-final and a last 16. I know I can do better but the form's there.

"I felt the need to come out about it and be honest and since I've done that - the last six or seven months my results have really been much better than they've ever been," admitted the World Youth champion.

"I think I'm coming into form at the right time. I played well two weeks ago against Michael van Gerwen at the Players Championship Finals and a solid World Youth final against Adam Gawlas. I'm practising hard and I hope it pays off when the World Championship starts.

He's got that winning feeling and the maturity he's shown in dealing with his well-documented mental health struggles is commendable. His performances may have shocked many last year, but it will be little surprise to see 'Cool Hand' enjoy similar success in the capital this time around.

The World Championship is renowned for making and breaking careers in equal measure and Humphries was a perfect example of that last year. His prolific haul on the Development Tour sealed his qualification, but 'Cool Hand' hadn't registered a televised victory prior to the event.

Petersen salvaged his PDC Tour Card with his fourth-round appearance 12 months ago and the World Cup quarter-finalist has impressed on the Pro Tour over recent months. Despite this, the Englishman is in bullish mood as he eyes another strong Ally Pally showing.

The 24-year-old was one of the stories of the World Championship and his performances saw him included as one of nine contenders in this year's Premier League, where he shared the spoils with Gerwyn Price in a thrilling tussle in Exeter, averaging in excess of 101.

Humphries took a brief break away from the game following his revelations but he has made an impressive return, scooping two Development Tour titles before lifting the World Youth Championship last month courtesy of an emphatic whitewash win against Adam Gawlas.

To say it's been a rollercoaster season for Humphries would be somewhat of an understatement, but he will make the annual pilgrimage to Alexandra Palace with confidence and justifiably so.

Humphries will certainly receive the big build-up from Master of Ceremonies John McDonald when he takes on South African World Cup star Devon Petersen on the tournament's opening night - in arguably the highlight of the first round.

Humphries impressed when he featured as a contender in this year's Premier League

"That's a huge achievement for someone in just their second TV event. I never imagined myself getting that far. My ambitions when I first went there last year was to get through the first round - make a first step and we'll keep progressing.

Just weeks later, the Newbury star candidly revealed his on-going struggles with anxiety in a series of social media posts following a European Tour defeat to James Wade and despite initially contemplating quitting the game, Humphries has won the biggest battle of his career so far.