Grand Slam of Darts champion Luke Humphries is the best player on the planet, says Wayne Mardle; we’re back for the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports
By Wayne Mardle, Darts Expert & Columnist @Wayne501Mardle
Newly-crowned Grand Slam of Darts champion Luke Humphries is the best player on the planet, according to Sky Sports pundit Wayne Mardle.
Humphries continued his rise to the top of the darting scene by winning the title in Wolverhampton and proving himself the most in-form player in the world.
Just 43 days after winning a maiden major title at the World Grand Prix, the 28-year-old followed it up with a second after he steamrollered Rob Cross in Wolverhampton, cruising to a 16-8 victory on Sunday night.
‘Cool Hand’ made waves on the European Tour last season but has transitioned that form to the PDC Tour this year and is now a real contender for World Championship glory at the end-of-year pinnacle, which begins next month.
He averaged 104.69, threw eight 180s and operated with a 59 per cent success rate on doubles as he lifted the Eric Bristow Trophy.
Mardle believes his latest victory could be the start of something dominant after becoming only the third player in history to win the Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts back to back along with Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.
“Is he going to go on and win the Worlds? Is he then going to be a multiple champion? I think so,” ‘Hawaii 501’ told Sky Sports.
“The way he was holding throw and breaking throw with ease was not because Rob was poor. Listen, he’s playing the darts of his life right now and no one knows if this is going to be it for Humphries. Life’s got a funny way of throwing curveballs.
“I believe he’s the best player on the planet but there are many that are going to say that it’s Gerwyn Price or it’s Gary Anderson. Everyone can have an opinion, but right now he’s the one winning the trophies. That’s all that matters.
“The world of darts needs people like Luke Humphries. He looks great, he plays with an ease, he talks well. This is the now and future of darts.
“He is someone who goes about his business in the right way.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News on Monday, Humphries responded to Mardle’s ‘high praise’ by admitting he does not see anyone in the current darts climate dominating as Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen once did.
“That’s very high praise, especially from Wayne. Usually he tips people to win titles and they never do, but I’ve managed to do it. He tipped me to do it this week and I have,” Humphries said.
“But we’re in an era in darts where there isn’t really anybody that’s going to go and dominate like Phil Taylor did or Michael van Gerwen did. The standard is just too good.
“I understand where he’s coming from. The last two years – not just the last few weeks – I’ve been putting in some really dominant performances and putting my name in the mix in every single major tournament.
“As much as I’m really happy with those comments, I’m not sure I’m going to go out and dominate an era like Michael did. But I’m happy picking up as many titles as I can, and I’m going to be a force in every major tournament I play in now.
“Picking up many titles over the next 5-10 years is my ultimate goal, and if I can get anywhere near Michael van Gerwen or Phil Taylor’s records of title, I’ll be very, very happy.
“They say I’ve been put favourite for it [World Championships], and that’s quite a nice feeling to have, but I’m the one that has to go out there and win it myself.
“Regardless of what happens at the World Championship, I think this year has been a massive success for me. I wanted to win one major title this year, and now I’ve won two. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself, but it’s the one thing I’ve always dreamed of, the one thing that’s missing from my resume.
“If I win the world title I’d be world No 1 as well, so that would be two things I could put together in one moment. It’s going to be a big tournament for me. I’m going to relish the challenge and hoping I can pull off a really big victory for myself.”
When is the World Darts Championship?
The sport’s biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.
You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.
Olivia Martin is a dedicated sports journalist based in the UK. With a passion for various athletic disciplines, she covers everything from major league championships to local sports events, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis.