Justin Pipe will travel to this month’s World Darts Championship amongst the globe’s top ten players after reaching the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time.
The Force of North Curry near Langport has climbed to ninth in the Professional Darts Corporation’s rankings thanks to his last four finish at the Cash Converters Players Championship in Minehead.
Pipe built on quarter-final appearances in the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix by beating Colin Osborne 6-3, Brendan Dolan 10-8 and Mervyn King 10-7 in Minehead before finally falling to the eventual losing finalist Kim Huybrechts.
The 41-year-old’s progress in the competition that brings together the top 32 players from the ProTour was enough for him to leapfrog both Mark Webster and Terry Jenkins to ninth in the PDC Order of Merit.
Pipe heads to the iconic Alexandra Palace in London in a week’s time having earned £180,400 in the past two years, and will lock horns with Andy Jenkins in the opening round.
The former tree surgeon said: “If you had told me I was going to make a semi-final last weekend on the Friday I would have snapped your hand off.
“I’m number nine in the world now so it’s brilliant, it’s fantastic and I am really, really happy. I am not going to be disappointed.
“I felt I lost the first session rather than Kim winning it, but Kim took his chances and that is what it is all about in this game – if you take your chances you are going to win.”
Belgian Huybrechts triumphed 11-6 in the semi-final to reach his first major final, where he clung on to the coattails of Phil Taylor only to tumble 13-6.
Pipe said he had learned plenty from his loss to Huy- brec- hts as he continued a remarkable year in the sport that saw him start outside of the world’s top 20.
“I’m not disappointed at all, it was my own fault,” he said. “I was far too relaxed in those first three or four legs. Next time I know that those legs are so important to win and not a time to miss your double.
“Perhaps that may have made a bit of a difference if I had taken those first few legs but it is a massive learning curve. The right man won, Kim played better than I did and he deserved to progress.
“It helps me mentally, knowing where I went wrong. I can focus on what I did wrong and in the next televised major if I am in that position I can step back and think ‘right, in the Players Championship you lost it so concentrate and push on’. Every dart is so vital.
“This is a fantastic result for both myself and Kim to take into the World Championships. We can go to the worlds and hopefully show that we can do this again. I think we can.
“It is really tough to keep your focus sometimes and I learnt that against Brendan and against Mervyn. I could feel the difference in myself in the way I was focusing.
“I have learnt how to pace myself with regards to how to play throughout a long televised competiton and I have learned how to focus myself throughout a whole day. I am learning all the time.”
Pipe added he should now target reaching the world’s top four, jovially stating that he wanted to convince PDC supremo Barry Hearn that he is deserving of a Premier League place.
He said: “It has got to be the world top four and ask Uncle Barry for a place in the Premier League. We will see what happens.
“All I can do is try and climb and get as high as I possibly can. At the mo-ment being number nine is absolutely fantastic. Going into my first game on Sunday against Mervyn King I was about £400 behind Terry Jenkins but I have overtaken Terry now so I am over the moon.
“I am in the single digits going to the worlds, which is brilliant for me. I wanted to be at least tenth before the World Championships but I am now ninth and I am delighted.”
By beating Dolan on Saturday afternoon, Pipe went some way to avenging defeats to the Irishman in the Grand Prix and European Championship. However, he admitted to nerves as he attempted to close out the game having led comfortably.
“It was nerve-wracking, it really was,” he said. “Brendan had beaten me the last two times on the television and when I went 5-0 up I probably relaxed a little bit and thought just to hold my throw.
“I stumbled over the finishing line in the end, which was the main thing. Both of us are full of grit and determination, which is always why it is a good game between us. I was just glad it was me that won.
“When it got to 9-8 aggression came out, rather than my normal game which is to play in a calm manner. I was telling myself allsorts and saying not to let Brendan beat me again. I was just really pleased to get that one out of the way.”
Amongst the 4,000 sellout crowd throughout the weekend were Pipe’s wife Claire and three children. He paid tribute to their support, even if his youngest son made reference to his slow throw by writing ‘Daddy, hurry up I’m tired’ on a 180 board.
Pipe said: “It was really nice having the family there. I did get a bit nervous because they watch me practice at home and they know what I can do on the practice board. I was just desperate to show them that on the stage.”