Josh Rock: From anonymous darts player to fear of every opponent within one year

Josh Rocks explosive burst onto the professional darts scene this year sees him take 36th spot in the world rankings, after his rousing debut PDC World Championship tournament that saw him overcome big name players such as Callan Rydz and Nathan Aspinall who are both ranked 23rd and 9th in the world respectively.

Josh “Rocky” Rock who was born in Antrim Northern Ireland on the 13th of April 2001, left school at 16 to pursue his career in darts. “Rocky” showed exciting things from a young age. So much so that he made his international debut for Northern Ireland at the tender age of 18. In his youth Rock also reached the final of the Killarney Darts Classic. On top of that “Rocky” also won both the Northern Ireland Youth Gold Cup and the Youth Masters Championship (NI) respectively. Rock cemented his position as one of the world’s best and most exciting young players when he won the World Youth Championship in November 2022, romping to a 6-1 victory over Nathan Girvan continuing his rapid rise in the world of professional darts.

Earlier in his World Youth Championship winning month in November. Rock faced one of the biggest challenges and opponents possible, in the darting powerhouse Michael Van Gerwen. Despite the mountain of the task that was ahead of him, Rock showed no fear and played with the experience of a player with double the number of years under his belt. Rock lost out to Van Gerwen 10-8 in what some have called one of the greatest games at the Grand Slam of Darts ever.

Despite losing, “Rocky” sent the crowd into a frenzy when he hit his first televised 9 dart finish to stun Van Gerwen early in the contest. Unfortunately for Rock, Van Gerwen was also on the top of his game to averaging 107.71, which ultimately sent one of the greatest darts players of all time through at the expense of an electrifying and talented youngster not scared to show the world what he’s about.

Rock currently 21, captured both the hearts and imagination of the world throughout the 2023 World Championship thanks to his ruthless throwing and high check out scores saw him boasting a tournament average of 94.63 with 26 180 scores and 84 140+ scores.

After easing past both Jose Justicia and Callan Rydz 3-1 and 3-0. Rock really showed his intent to go the distance, with an 11 dart leg helping him defeat tough adversary in Nathan Aspinall 4-3 in the third round. With Aspinall failing to nail his doubles when it mattered, hitting only 29 per cent. the door opened for the Northern Irish international to advance to the last 16 of the competition where he would meet Jonny Clayton in a closely fought battle that ultimately ended the young Antrim man's dream run in the World Championship.

Clayton who is currently ranked 7th in the world had to call upon all of his skill and experience to advance to the quarter finals beating Rock 4-3 in a tense battle of darting eras. Rock took the opening set in 3-0 blistering fashion scoring an average of 110. Clayton however, weathered the storm and hit back quickly winning the next two sets to put the game back in his hands at 2-1 after securing an unconventional 104 to checkout. The rollercoaster of a game ultimately went to a deciding 7th set at the Alexandra Palace in front of a bouncing crowd. Where the former Premier League champion would ultimately secure victory with a 13 dart leg break over “Rocky” and then securing double 16 to knock the 21-year-old Northern Irishman out.

After announcing himself on the world stage and the rapid increase in results and popularity that the young Northern Irishman has seen at the start of 2023. Who knows what he will achieve next, you’ve got to think with Josh Rock that the sky is the limit. With the new year coming around and a lot of darts to be played, it is a very exciting time to be a Josh Rock fan, Or even just a darts fan. One thing is for sure that we will be seeing a lot more of “Rocky” in the future.

Written by Charlie King

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