‘The Asp’ is back, remember the name.
From 500/1 shot to 25/1, Stockport darts sensation Nathan Aspinall gets his World Championship campaign underway this evening as he takes on Danny Baggish under the lights of Alexandra Palace.
The world number 12 hit the headlines last year on the Ally Pally stage, as he made the final four on what was his debut at the Professional Darts Corporation’s most prestigious event.
Seen as a big outsider before a dart was thrown, Aspinall was soon the name on everybody’s lips, as he beat the likes of Kyle Anderson, Devon Peterson and Gerwyn Price before falling just short in the semi-finals against Michael Smith.
“I played really well, my best game was my game that I lost in the semi-final, it was probably my first game where I had averaged over 100 on TV so there were a lot of positives to take from it,” he told MM on Thursday before this evening’s clash.
Since his fine performance at last year’s World Championship, ‘The Asp’ has seen his stock rise further, as he has won his first PDC major (the UK Open) as well as the US Darts Masters.
Naturally with major victories and his subsequent rise up the world rankings comes a rise in expectations.
“You can’t think about that, you’ve just got to go up there and play the game of darts and hope for the best,” he said.
FUTURE ‘WORLD CHAMPION’
As well as hoping for the best himself, there are plenty of fans hoping Aspinall does well as he has been heavily back with the bookmakers.
Ranked at 500/1 in 2018, the ‘Asp’ has much shorter odds this time around as he is a 25/1 shot and knows how much money has been put on him.
“Somebody told me after Michael van Gerwen I’ve had the most money put on me, that was until Gerwyn Price won the Grand Slam, but I’m still probably top three [backed players with the bookmakers].
“I feel like I’ve achieved something that a lot of professional darts players will never achieve in their life already in winning a major, let alone two TV titles, so what I’ve achieved already I’m really proud of.
“I think I am good enough to be a world champion, hopefully it’s this year but if it’s not this year one day that’s my big goal.
“At the end of the day it’s all down to me and how much work I put in, but I do believe I’ve got the talent to be a world champion and be world number one.”
— Selco Builders Warehouse (@SelcoBW) December 20, 2019
The eyes of the world will be peeled on the World Championship over the festive break and Aspinall can’t wait to get to the oche despite a number of major casualties from this year’s tournament.
Former world champions Raymond van Barneveld and Rob Cross, as well as last year’s runner-up Michael Smith, have all exited early.
Upsets are part of sport however and Aspinall sees a positive future for the game he loves.
“I don’t think there is a limit as to where it can go. It’s down to us [the players] to keep entertaining.
“If we keep doing that, I’m sure it will grow really big.”
Catch Nathan Aspinall’s match against Danny Baggish live on Sky Sports tonight from 7pm.