Rob Cross’ rise from the amateur ranks of darts to take the biggest prize in the sport is something of a fairy tale. The bookmakers had recognised his potential as he entered the 2018 PDC World Championship by installing him as a mid-price 20/1 but few actually expected the man from Pembury to take the title.
Along the way, Cross beat some of the biggest stars of the game but how did the 27 year old leap from the fringes of the game to become a World Champion?
Very little is known with regards to Cross’ early days and how he got into the sport. The first reference to any tournament play comes in 2015 when he entered qualification for the BDO World Championships of the following year. He made it through to the last 64 before being knocked out by Tony Martin. His best performance up to that point had been a last 48 appearance in the BDO World Masters.
Despite making very little impression on the BDO section of the game, Rob Cross had already set his sights on switching to the more competitive and lucrative PDC. On the Challenge Tour, he won three of the 16 events in 2016 and that was enough to land a full tour card for the following year.
In 2017, we started to see glimpses of Cross’ real potential and some started to wonder where this talented player had been hiding. He reached the fifth round of the UK Open and then claimed his first title with the third edition of the Players Championship.
On the PDC European Tour, The 27 year old also made the final of the German Darts Grand Prix and the European Darts Trophy but had the misfortune of running in to a red hot Michael Van Gerwen with the Dutchman winning on each occasion.
Coming back to the main tour, Cross also lost out to Van Gerwen in the final of the European Championship in October but in reaching the last two of those events, he’d staked a claim as a potential outside threat in the World Championship, starting at the end of the year.
A 20/1 shot at the beginning of the tournament, Rob Cross progressed through the early rounds with relative comfort although he did survive two match darts against Michael Smith. Coming through to the semi final, the man now known as ‘Voltage’ came across Van Gerwen again but this time there would be a different result in an epic contest.
Cross had been on the brink against Michael Smith but this time he saved no less than six match darts as he won through by a scoreline of six sets to five in sudden death. It was the game of the tournament and although the final against Phil Taylor was expected to be equally tough, Voltage beat the Power by a comfortable seven sets to two.
Suddenly, the unknown amateur had become world champion, giving hope to young throwers right across the globe but will he continue to win major trophies in 2018 and beyond?
Here is Rob Cross’ record from a brief career in major PDC tournaments.
|World Championship:||European Championship:||Grand Slam:||UK Open:||World Matchplay:|
|Winner 2018||Runner Up 2017||Quarter Finalist 2017||Last 16 2017||Last 16 2017|
Those bookmakers who like to publish enhanced odds offers for new customers would have avoided Rob Cross up until this point and that’s quite understandable. As a 20/1 shot for the PDC World Championship in 2018, a few lucky punters would have landed some excellent value in the standard markets on the eventual world champion.
Cross will now move up through the markets and will also benefit from Phil Taylor’s retirement although we expect that Michael Van Gerwen will start as favourite for tournaments for the near future. However, those bookies that like to offer new customer deals such as Ladbrokes, Coral and SportNation may well look to attach promos to the name of Rob Cross for the bigger events.
Backers of the Voltage will also enjoy regular price boosts – the sort of offers that give a small lift in odds but can be claimed by all customers with no significant terms such as maximum stake. William Hill, who sponsor the PDC World Darts Championships should get involved here along with the likes of Paddy Power, Winner Sports and more.
Having won the biggest darts tournament of them all, it will be fascinating to see if Rob Cross becomes one of the world’s best throwers on a consistent basis. Next up is a debut in the Premier League before regular events start to come through for the rest of the darting calendar.
Time will tell but Cross is certainly a contender and a man to watch from this point onwards.