It was a run to the last 32 of the Winmau World Masters two years ago which gave Chris Dobey the belief to enter the PDC’s Qualifying School, and it is fair to say he has not looked back since.
A breakthrough run to the quarter-finals of the German Darts Masters last month has put Dobey’s name firmly on the map, with the Bedlington thrower narrowly beaten 6-5 by Michael van Gerwen to end his potentially career-defining weekend in the German capital.
Now in his second year on the PDC tour, Dobey’s main aim is to get inside the top 64 before the end of the year to keep hold of his tour card. But if his recent results continue the 25-year-old could be destined for big things in the sport.
“It didn’t come as a surprise,” Dobey said about his quarter-final appearance in Munich. “I know what I’m capable of.
“It’s just nice to prove it to everyone what I’m capable of doing. I’m happy with the way it’s going at the minute, I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.
“(The German Darts Masters) was a massive weekend for me obviously. I didn’t expect the support I got but it was brilliant.
“My confidence has gone up massively since the run in Germany, and hopefully there will be more of that to come.”
After missing out on qualification for this year’s Coral UK Open, Dobey has certainly made up for it.
A deciding leg defeat to Peter Wright brought an end to Dobey’s joint best ever run in a PDC event at the time, when he reached the last 16 of a Players Championship event.
Three more last 16 appearances followed in the recent Players Championship triple header in Barnsley, which came just two weeks after his heroics in Munich.
In the space of four weeks Dobey has accrued nearly £10,000 in prize money, almost double what he picked up in his first year on the PDC tour in 2015, and has risen to 70th place in the Order of Merit.
“I’m playing well,” he admitted. “My main aim was to keep my tour card in the second year, but I’m hoping for a bit more than the top 64 this year.
“At the same time I don’t want to look too much into it. If I keep playing the way I am then hopefully I’ll get the right results.
“I’ve loved every minute of it on the tour. I knew it was going to be hard and I’ve had to put more time in on the practise board.
“I’ve been doing four or five hours a day while still working of course, so it is hard. But it’s something I’ve got to do to compete with the best.
“I’ve been playing four or five hours a day so I can compete with the best”
“I work in traffic management, putting traffic signs and traffic cones out and closing roads if need be. It’s enjoyable but my long term aim is to play darts full time.”
Dobey’s first taste of what life was like in the PDC came in 2014 when he won the Bedlington Rileys Amateur Qualifier to earn a place in the UK Open.
A 5-4 defeat to Kevin Dowling in the first round brought his PDC debut to an abrupt end, but Dobey continued his progression in the sport in the World Masters in Hull later that year.
“The thing that got me to go to Q-School was I had a good run in the Masters on the BDO scene,” he said. “I got to the televised stages and was eventually beaten by Alan Norris in the last 32. It gave me the kind of confidence I needed to go to Q-School.”
On the second day of Q-School in 2015, Dobey lost out 5-3 to Andy Jenkins for a PDC tour card, but at the end of the four days received one due to his high placing on the Q-School Order of Merit.
Dobey qualified for the UK Open and the European Darts Trophy in his first year on the PDC tour last year, before earning his television debut by beating Kim Huybrechts 6-5 in the final round of qualifying for the World Series of Darts Finals last November.
It would be a losing debut in front of the TV cameras though, as Terry Jenkins edged past the youngster 6-5 to deny him a chance to play his manager Gary Anderson in the next round.
The Flying Scotsman, along with Tommy Gilmour MBE, have managed Dobey since he came onto the PDC tour and have been a great help for the newcomer.
“Gary’s known my dad a lot of years,” Dobey explained. “When I won my tour card he came up to me and had a few words to say.
“He said ‘have a sit down with me and see if you want to take that chance, if not then it’s fine.’
“But after a few words I decided to sign the contract with Gary and Tommy, and obviously it takes the pressure off myself.
“They’ve been a massive help. They guide me in the right way.
“They don’t put any pressure on me and they’re always on the phone every few weeks to see how I’m doing. I’m always talking to Gary on the tour.”
Dobey is fast making a name for himself on the tour, with victories over Premier League stars Robert Thornton and Dave Chisnall at the German Masters, followed by wins against James Wade and Steve Beaton in the latest Players Championship events.
The wins against Thornton and Chisnall (both 6-4), saw Dobey finish with a 100+ three dart average, which he also replicated in the defeat to van Gerwen in the last eight to prove he can more than match it with the big boys.
“It’s always good playing against those two (Thornton and Chisnall),” he said.
“Playing against people like that week in week out brings you on massively. To get the win on the two Premier League players, my confidence is massive.
“Against Michael I thought to myself when I was 5-4 up ‘one good leg wins me the match’ and to be honest I did nothing wrong.
“You know what Michael is capable of and he did what he had to do to get over the winning line against me.
“Averages obviously do mean a lot but the wins are more important. I was happy to get the 100 averages so hopefully I can keep going that way and there will be more of those games to come.”