Andy Hamilton will take to the Lakeside stage for the first time on Monday afternoon as he faces Canada’s David Cameron. ‘The Hammer’ spoke to Dartsnews.com in an exclusive pre-World Championship interview prior to his debut.
Hamilton – who reached the PDC World Championship final seven years ago – went ‘back to basics’ at the start of last year as he decided to switch to the BDO, looking to regain his confidence after a difficult few years in the PDC.
Start to life on the BDO circuit
Obviously, a lot comes with the switch from the PDC to the BDO, including an adaptation of environments having to be made. PDC events see 128 players compete in a leisure centre while BDO events can have over 1,000 entires per event.
“Scotland was an eye opener, I’d never played a single BDO event, the set up was completely different to what I’d ever experienced,” said Hamilton. “In a way it was good for me, it was a lot different to the norm and I had to learn to deal with it, maybe I was too well looked after by only playing PDC events!”
“The German and Danish events were up next, set up and ran really well but again completely different to the norm for myself, but if you’re good enough you learn to cope with the changes and that every event is set up differently, unlike the PDC where the set up travels to the events so it’s always exactly the same.”
A good year on the BDO circuit, and a run to the final in the Welsh Open ensured Hamilton a spot in the World Championship, but the Stoke-on-Trent-based ace admitted that Lakeside wasn’t always on the horizon for him: “It was always a dream to play at Lakeside but when I started playing the events this year it wasn’t the end goal.”
‘The Hammer’ added: “I wanted to get some confidence back in my game firstly, but when I reached the Welsh Open final I realised my game had never gone just things had happened in my life that hindered my performances and confidence, the game is 90% in the head.”
BDO World Championship debut
Hamilton, 51, will make his BDO World Championship debut after edging into the designated ranking requirement. He’ll take on Canada’s Quebec Open champion David Cameron – who Hamilton appeared to know very little about!
“I think I know more about David Cameron the politician than I do the darts player!” said Hamilton. “I know David has played at Lakeside a few times in the past but it’s not for me to worry about. I’ve only got to focus on my own game and control what I can control.”
‘The Hammer’ has a vast amount of experience within the game and particularly on stage, which could prove vital throughout the duration of the prestigious tournament. He has made 12 appearances at the PDC World Championships, reaching the final back in 2012, and was selected for the Premier League on three successive occasions between 2011 and 2013.
“It’s got to play to my advantage. I know it’s a new venue and a new stage but it’s what I’ve had to deal with all year and it hasn’t fazed me,” said Hamilton, when asked how much of a part experience will play during his Lakeside debut.
“The longer format and set play suits my game. I played at the Circus Tavern in 2005 with no experience and got to the quarter-finals of the PDC World Championships in my debut appearance, but the experience I’ve gained since is invaluable and I liken the stage at Lakeside to that at the Circus Tavern. I’ve always been a better stage player than floor too.”
There are many world class arrowsmiths competing in Surrey this year but Hamilton is confident ahead of the tournament: “I always back myself to go all the way, there’s no point playing if you don’t think you can win it outright.”
The UK edition of the dreaded Qualifying School will take place from January 17 at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan. Hamilton decided to opt out of the event 12 months ago in order to hope to regain his confidence on the BDO circuit, though this year, courtesy of the newly-reinforced rule changes within the BDO system, Hamilton will be able to attempt to regain his tour card without the possibility of being unable to play the BDO tour following Q-School.
“It’s a great change for darts,” said Hamilton “It withdraws the chance of being banned from playing if you don’t get a tour card. Players just want to play darts, you shouldn’t be punished for trying to change where you play.”
Keeping with the subject of the upcoming UK Q-School, ‘The Hammer’ added: “Q School is on the agenda for me. I’ve got to give it another go. I don’t want to finish with the PDC the way I left it last year.”