Justin Pipe may have failed to match achievements of previous majors at the World Darts Championship but he is refusing to be downbeat entering 2013.
The Force of North Curry near Langport fell to Mark Walsh at the second round stage of the Alexandra Palace event that culminated in Tuesday’s final between Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.
However, having climbed from outside the top 20 to ninth in the Professional Darts Corporation global rankings remains more than enough reason for Pipe to cheer.
As well as aiming to build on quarter-final finishes in the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix and a semi-final spot at the Players Championship, the 41-year-old intends to take in more of the big arena atmosphere this year.
He said: “I learnt so much last year, I really did. I took my earplugs out after the first set against Mark and really loved it. I think that is probably it for earplugs now. You miss that atmosphere.
“I have learnt an awful lot and I can’t be disappointed with how it has gone. Reaching only the second round of the World Championships, that’s disappointing. But I made a televised semi and two quarters and you cannot be disappointed with that.
“It’s like you are in a bubble sometimes when you have got your earplugs in. You hear everything anyway but it is muffled. I don’t get too many boos and I don’t get too much jip from the crowd, they are generally really good with me so not locking yourself away is a big part of it.”
Pipe’s exit from the Worlds was held up by a broken dart and he explained how a professional-turned-pundit came to his rescue backstage.
“I didn’t take my game up there in the first couple of sets,” he said. “I dug in and then got a couple back but fair play to Mark, he was awesome.
“I screw my stems in very tightly. If one breaks - and it does happen at home - and it falls awkwardly they snap, and of course the thread is left in the barrel. I couldn’t get it out.
“Rod Harrington had to heat up a mini screwdriver, stick it in the stem and get it out. I really did try and fair play to Mark, the pro he is, he had a spare dart. That is something else I have learnt - take a spare dart up there with you.”