Morgan Smith will have to beat the likes of former Lakeside champion Darryl Fitton if he is to emerge from this weekend’s 2018 PDC Qualifying School with a Tour Card.
The 18-year-old from Bury St Edmunds will compete for the second time at the annual event in Wigan, against a record field of competitors which include some well-known names in the sport.
A total of 33 PDC Tour Cards will be on offer across two Qualifying Schools in the UK and Hildesheim in Germany, where 631 competitors have registered their intent.
And Smith is aiming to be one of the 33, claiming ‘an entire year of work rides on these next four days’.
The student accountant said: “It comes down to this weekend to make or break my whole year.
“All of my hard work and effort from the past year goes into these next four days, it all rides on one tournament.
“But it’s not meant to be easy, the competition is about trying to reach the elite of the sport after all.
“It’s gruelling though, if my experience from last year is anything to go by.
“It’s four days where you achieve, or you fail.”
Smith said he felt like a different player to the youngster who debuted last year, and had confidence in his aims.
“I feel so good and I have a lot of confidence in my abilities,” he said.
“I have the confidence to take on anyone, it’s my dream to make it on to the PDC Tour, it would be incredible.
“My long-term goal is to definitely consider going full-time pro but I’m a long way from that yet.
“You never know though, maybe the next year will make a Rob Cross of me.”
He said the unbelievable story of the 2018 PDC World Darts Champion, who won on his debut in the competition and just 11 months after turning professional, had inspired a lot of budding players.
“It shows that anyone can do it at any time with hard work and mental strength,” Smith added.
“I’ve worked really hard over the last year on my mental game as it was an area I was weak in the past.
“It’s one of the hardest things in darts, to hold your nerve on match point and to hit a double with an opponent breathing down your neck.
“That’s the skill I feel I’ve brought to my game over the last year and I can’t wait to get going.
“In the space of a year I’ve matured a lot and just feel more prepared for this now.”
The entries for the UK Qualifying School include former Lakeside Championship finalists Tony O’Shea and Jeff Smith, who will be joined by former BDO World Trophy winner Darryl Fitton.
They are among a host of well-established darts players from the BDO circuit — as well as former PDC Tour Card holders — who will compete at the event at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
Live results will be uploaded on the website, with all games the best of nine legs.