2018 World Champion Rob Cross may have suffered at the hands of Gabriel Clemens in the defense of his World Matchplay crown but one bad result should not blind us to his remarkable career so far. In Darts World’s latest ‘Readers Writes‘, Henry Cheal, offers us his ‘Six of the Best‘:
Rob Cross’ darting story is something that is renowned across the world of darts, his story spreads the message of how people should believe in themselves and that anything is possible. Very few would have thought he would have made such a big impact in the game in such a short amount of time. His value to the PDC is immeasurable:
6. UK Open 2016
This moment was where it all began in the PDC for Cross, as he managed to qualify for the UK Open through Riley’s Amateur Qualifier route. Rob’s uncle came to his house early in the morning and asked him whether he wanted to go, then after some convincing, they set off to the qualifier in Norwich many miles away. Incredibly he managed to win and sealed a place in Minehead.
Cross turned up to the UK Open and heavily impressed, as he sealed wins over Ken MacNeil, Wes Newton, and Jeffrey de Graaf. It was not easy in the third round for Cross as he fought back from 8-2 down to win 9-8 against de Graaf. his re Cross surprisingly took five legs off the world number one in the fourth round but couldn’t do much about MVG as the Dutchman hit a 170 checkout, followed by a nine-darter and another 170 checkouts in the next two legs.
5. Impressing on the Floor
Following the UK Open, Cross took on the Challenge Tour and went on to dominate and seal his two-year tour card by topping the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, winning three events and hit a 9 darter in one event too.
In his debut season in the PDC, it only took Cross nine events before he picked up his first PDC title, where he won the £10,000 in Players Championship 3. Cross defeated the likes of Norris, Hopp, Burnett, Caven, Barney, Price and King to win. The impact he made was imminent, although there was no sign of stopping, as he sealed three more Players Championship wins that year, where he won more floor titles then anyone else that year.
4. His First TV Final
Throughout the year Cross also proved his worth with crowds as well, as he made it to the final of two European Tours in his first year as well, losing out to Michael van Gerwen on both occasions. He came into the European Championship’s as the sixth seed, where he sealed wins in comfortable fashion over the likes of Schindler, Chisnall, Smith and Gurney before making it to the final. It was a real tough challenge for Cross to play against some of the sports big names. In the final, he took on Michael van Gerwen once again and lost 11-7, but Cross played superbly and averaged 102 and was getting ever closer to defeating the Dutchman.
3. European Championship Glory
Only two years later, Rob Cross sealed his first European Championship win. He became the first man to win the European Championship before winning an actual European Tour event. Cross sealed wins over Webster, Cullen, Evans, Gurney, and Price to seal his third major title in the PDC, which put him joint 7th of all time in the PDC with most PDC TV titles. That year Cross again reached the final of two European Tours and came only so close to winning his first Euro Tour yet again. Should he claim one at any point in the future he will have completed the set and won at every level available to him.
2. A New Winner at the Winter Gardens
Earlier on the year, there were suggestions, from many, that Cross wouldn’t win a major again, but after making the final of the UK Open and the Premier League, it appeared Cross was back to his earlier form. The week in Blackpool proved to be remarkable for Cross, he didn’t put a foot wrong as he sealed wins over Dobey, Ratajski and Bunting before he took on Daryl Gurney in the semi’s. What followed was barely credible as Voltage found his very best to come from behind to win (17-15) and reach the final. Cross won the first nine legs against his final opponent Michael Smith and comfortably won the match (18-13) to win the second biggest tournament in darts.
1. A Fairy-tale Story Like No Other
Cross entered his debut World Championship in hot form, he had risen to 20th in the Order of Merit at the time. Cross comfortably despatched Asada in his first-round game, he then came from behind and survive match darts against Smith, again, in the second round. A dominant win over John Henderson continued Cross’s remarkable debut run. The Kent man almost lost out to Dimitri van den Bergh despite having a 4-1 lead and set up a semi-final clash with the favourite, Michael van Gerwen. The game was an absolute classic and is thought to be one of the best games of all time, as both players survived match darts before Cross sealed a historic win over the ‘Green Machine’.
The final was Phil Taylor’s farewell game as bowed out of professional darts, not many expected Cross to show up as his did and averaged 107 in the final to dominate against the greatest in darts by winning 7-2. A darts story like no other.
Henry Cheal writes for various publications and is currently working on a book featuring Glen Durrant. he also carries out media duties for several professional players. For more of Henry’s work go to henrychealofficial.com.