Simon Whitlock: Facing Phil Taylor always brought extra pressure

A first-time competitor in the Champions League of Darts this year, the Wizard of Oz let us in on how he's gearing up for Brighton...


I’ve never played in the competition before, but I don’t think the format of the Champions League will affect me. Basically, you have to win two matches usually to progress unless you’re very lucky.

I want to do well in every single thing I play in because that’s who I am. I love winning and hate losing! But I think we’re all the same really.

One of my goals was to get into the Champions League, and to do well in the World Championship again. All these tournaments are in the back of my mind all the time.

Unibet Premier League Darts, 3 Arena, Dublin 1/2/2018
Simon Whitlock walks out
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson has the latest odds on all your favourite sports

The crowd and coverage don’t usually affect me either. We never even think about who’s actually watching us. I know there’s millions probably but I don’t think any dart player thinks about it much.

Hopefully darts keeps getting bigger and bigger though. Right now I think this is a golden era, and it’s a great time to be playing good darts in front of big crowds.

Taylor and tough opponents

Phil Taylor’s obviously the greatest player who’s ever walked in my books. I don’t think we miss him though because of how good he was and what he used to do to us all!

You did feel a lot of pressure when you played Phil. You just knew you had to play your best game otherwise you were going to get beaten up.

I actually beat Phil the first time I played him which was great, and won a couple of finals against him too.

But even when I won, it wasn’t easy.

That first time it went to the last leg of the match.

I don’t have a very good record against Daryl Gurney now.

Unibet Premier League Darts, 3 Arena, Dublin 1/2/2018
Daryl Gurney dejected after the game
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Sometimes you have “bogey people” and there’s no real explanation for it, it just happens. It plays on your mind when you’re playing them for sure, that you keep meeting them over and over keep losing. Some days you feel great and still lose.

Mental strength the key to winning

A lot of the game is skill obviously. Some players are very gifted and it comes easy and others, like myself, have to work very hard, but it’s mental more than anything. I mean if you’ve got a strong head you can beat anyone I think.

That’s all about preparation. Staying calm and focused is the main thing.

Unibet Premier League Darts, 3 Arena, Dublin 1/2/2018
Simon Whitlock makes his walk to the stage
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

At a tournament, I’ll probably do three to four hours practise. I’m always at the venue four hours before I play.

I got coached years ago to do the doubles and checkouts, so I think if that part of your game’s good, scoring becomes easier. You’re more confident with your scoring then.

Mostly it’s just confidence really, how you’re feeling on that day.

Sometimes you feel like you’re not going to miss anything, sometimes you get up there and you don’t feel right.

That’s the beauty of the sport, you never know how it’ll go until the day.

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