JR Lott takes a look at, what may well be thought of as, the most important decade in the development of professional darts. He selects ten players who have made significant contributions, first for consideration is Rob Cross a.k.a ‘Voltage’.
Rob Cross – Dubbed the Professional Darts’ Corporation’s Most Valuable Player, Rob Cross provided the rags to riches fairy tale that every sport craves. After having to be persuaded to attend an Amateur Qualifier, in Norwich, Cross managed to win the event and reach the TV stages of the UK open. He performed superbly and reached the last 16 where he took part in a remarkable exchange with MVG. Although Micheal won the match, and produced 17 perfect darts, a 9 darter and a 170 finish along the way, some observers were highly impressed with how Cross simply carried on playing in an almost unaffected way.
Later that same year Rob debuted on the Challenge Tour, and was snapped up by Nevada Sports Management,, soon captured his first titles and earned a Tour Card along the way. His performances kept improving during 2017 and was soon victorious on the elite Pro Tour. Target darts were swift to spot Rob’s enormous potential, although I doubt even they expected the speed of his success.
Coss’s stage and major performance improved rapidly and he reached a premier final by the autumn of 2017. He also reached Qtr & Semi finals at the Grand Slam and Player’s Championship Finals. It was clear that he would be a very dangerous wildcard in the forthcoming World Championship. He was given a tough draw and had to battle through several tough matches, Micheal Smith & Dimi Van Den Burgh especially so, but reached a semi final clash with Micheal Van Gerwen.
It was clear early on that Cross had not read the script. He was not happy to allow the final to be Taylor v MVG in a last hurrah. He stayed with Micheal whatever was thrown at him and stepped up at vital times. In another sport this would have been dubbed a war of attrition. Rob simply stood up to MVG and refused to bow under any circumstances in the end he out lasted the Dutchman and completed an outstanding victory. Only ‘The Power’ stood in the way of the first debutante winner of a World Title after merely a year as a professional player. Even being thought of the ultimate Party Pooper was not enough to distract ‘Voltage’ as Cross had know been dubbed. Cross dominated the final and refused to allow any room for Taylor to stage a scripted ending of his own. Instead the PDC had to make do with the ultimate in outsider victories.
As if all the above was not enough, it turned out that Cross was indeed the real deal. He has, of course, had ups and downs since winning the World Title but has regrouped and claimed The World Matchplay and the European Championships this year. He is getting better in the Premier League and looks set to be one of the main challengers to MVG over the decade to come.
Very few players, in any sport, have provided such a blueprint, and fairy story, at a time when their sport was in a position to take to full advantage. As a result Rob Cross is one of the Players of the Decade and is very likely to be one for the 2020’s as well!