The Rob Cross fairy tale has been unlike no other. A player who has made history with the most incredible debut year, has now shown the world what he is made of with poise, determination and a humbled elegance. Target spoke with the ‘Voltage’ at the Target HQ, just 12 hours after becoming World Champion and we can safely say we have no doubt the winning streak will continue throughout 2018.
‘It really feels unreal. Nothing has settled in yet, it’s just sort of unbelievable. There are honestly no words to describe it. After a few days maybe the emotion will come out but for now it’s just a dream.’ He tells Target.
Rob Cross is one of the most amazing underdog stories ever told. Voltage is World Champion, not Phil Taylor, not Michael Van Gerwen, not Garry Anderson. Players with years of accumulated knowledge and exceptional talent and yet Rob Cross took to the Alexander Palace stage after just 1 year and dominated throughout the Worlds.
‘I came out and wanted to start strong which I did and take control early. If you give Phil an inch he’ll take a mile and then if I was chasing he would of kept pushing. I was obviously really happy with how it went, and played really well.’
‘It feels like I’ve been launched into Everest, it’s a bit unrealistic to be at number 3 because when I started this year everyone said it was hard to climb rankings or hard to move up. I suppose my own ability has carried me through as well as my belief in myself. But world number 3? I want to be number 1! I don’t want to sound ungrateful, number 3 is amazing but it’s only been a year, I want number 1 for myself and for Michael not to have it.’
‘If you have an ability whether its darts or anything else then I would say go out and have a go. Everyone has a dream to do something! Mine was to play darts and to be world number 1 and world champion; well one of them has come true. If someone believes in themselves that much then why not have a go. This year has been a fairy tale for me and I’m sure I’m not the only person, there is probably someone else out there definitely.’
That might be so, as it was only 25 years ago that Phil Taylor started to dominate the stage.
“He’s got real grit in his teeth. I tried my best, but he was relentless. He reminded me of myself 25 years ago.” – Phil Taylor
Rob continues ‘I idolised Phil when I was younger, the passion, the drive- you can’t buy it, it’s either in you or not. There is a lot to learn from Phil which I’ve seen and maybe even used it! But when it comes down to the winning and him V’s me, it didn’t matter that he was there in front of me. I wanted to win for myself and my family.’
‘Phil said some lovely things about me and I think in a way I’ll be sad to see him go after seeing him the last 3 months. I hope he enjoys retirement, but maybe I would have liked to have played him more than once but that didn’t happen.’
“All of the other players have got a problem now because Rob is dedicated and I don’t think the money will make a scrap of difference to him because he just wants to win.” – Phil Taylor
Cross explains that he is only just getting started and that he has high hopes for 2018.
‘We have got to kick on again, just because I go in as World Champion doesn’t mean it’s going to fall on my lap. I need to work harder and keep getting better next year. I have to be ready, it’s going to be busier and new in places too. I’m blessed to have experienced this year, but I need to win more trophies next year’
It is that determination which lead him to dominate the stage and have such a remarkable year, but what did he make of his first time on the World Championship stage, and how does he think he has improved in the past year?
‘With the worlds, I’ve been placid all year, I’ve been open minded with everything and didn’t know what to expect but held it well. I had a two week build up which was great but It makes you nervous, I’ve never had that before. When I turned up I think nerves showed in my first game. As the competition went the nerves wore off and I kept trying to switch off like normal but it is a special place and a special experience. The Worlds is the biggest darts competition in the world which I knew but I didn’t fully understand the experience four weeks ago but now I totally understand.’
‘Mentally I would say I have changed for the better, I don’t get dragged into games anymore, I do everything that’s right for me and understand how I work now. I’m still not 100% there are things I want to change, I genuinely feel I could do better.’
‘It’s kind of the reason why I step back before a finish. I take a breath, I’m not worried about the segment on the board, it’s more that when the dart leaves my hand it comes out smooth, controlled. I’ve trained myself that way and it works its effective and if it carries on working I’ll do it more and more.’
‘If I were to sum it all up, I would say it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done and with the most adrenalin I’ve ever had pumped in my veins, it changed me, it’s just special.’
Around 6 months ago, Rob started to play with his 21g, 90% Tungsten Target Darts which were produced exactly to his specifications.
‘I actually believe without my darts which I started using around august, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have this year. My other darts had their day, the grams were out but, these new darts have the consistency and control and I can move them any sort of distance and have a feel for them. I know what works to my benefit and I know what I can or can’t hit and where I need to switch if I have to.’
‘My old set were 3 grams off and now they are all the same, the difference is that when you throw you get irregular darts that don’t make it. All of a sudden you match weight your darts and now I can move the dart round the board with consistency and exact weights really do help!’
‘I originally threw with a storm point and this is based on that point but with different cuts. For me, I just feel it a bit more, I have two fingers on the point anyway and it slots in nicely and helps me release. It’s a lot smoother, I’m scoring more and I’m hitting doubles well with them.’
A stunning performance, a genuine man, and a pleasure to have in #TeamTarget. We are overjoyed for Rob and we can’t wait to see how far he can go. We see the same dedication and desire in him that we see in Phil Taylor, and we can’t wait to keep working with him and discovering his journey.
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