This week I had the pleasure of talking with Welsh darting star Jamie Lewis, as he looks ahead to the World Championships and reflects on the best year of his PDC career.
Jamie reached his maiden PDC TV quarter-final at the World Grand-Prix, where his run was only ended by a certain Michael van Gerwen.
The Welshman has also recorded victory on the World Matchplay stage this year, whilst he reached the last 16 of the Players Championship Finals in Minehead last weekend, beating World Grand-Prix Champion Robert Thornton in Round One.
Here, Jamie discusses the catalyst for his improvement on the big TV stage, his proudest moment in Darts, and reveals his love of everything Bob Marley!
Josh Gorton: How would you assess your 2015 season?
Jamie Lewis: I’m really pleased with how my season has gone, especially after the way it started. I failed to make the UK Open at the start of the year, which in all due respect is the easiest major to qualify for. I only picked up £250 in the six qualifiers and was devastated not to make it,because I never felt like I was playing that badly; I just couldn’t get the results.
But after failing to make the UK Open I went away and kind of had a good word with myself and I made sure I put the extra hours in on the board to try and turn it around. Thankfully it worked as I’ve managed to get in nearly all the majors since!
JG: You have transferred your Pro-Tour form to the TV stage this year, reaching your first major TV quarter-final. What do you put your improved showings on the big-stage down to?
JL: I think it’s all been down to experience and belief in myself really; I’ve been playing well in games on the floor for the past couple of years now.
The only thing I felt I’d been lacking was the consistency, so I’ve been working hard to try and sort that out and get it right this year and I feel that it’s all slowly coming together now. I’m starting to show people what I’m capable of!
JG: You have broken into the World’s Top 32 and for the first time in your career, you’re seeded for the World Championships. Does this give you a huge amount of self-belief?
JL: Yes definitely, I’m quite proud that I’ve broken into the top 32 this year, because at the start of the year I set myself the goal to be in the top 32 by the Worlds; so to achieve it, is great. I do think that the more experience I’m getting on the tour, the better I’m feeling and playing, so hopefully I’ll continue to improve and rise up the rankings.
JG: What has been the proudest/most significant moment of your darting career so far?
JL: My proudest moment was winning the WDF World Cup Youth Singles and the Winmau World Masters Youth Singles in the same year in 2009. It was a really good feeling winning both those titles in my last year as a youth player in the BDO.
I am also very proud to say that I’ve represented my Country at youth level in both the BDO and PDC. It’s always a proud moment putting that Welsh shirt on!
JG: What do you perceive to be your biggest strength as a dart player and why?
JL: I’d say my biggest strength is probably the fact that I don’t give up any more. When I was slightly younger I used to do it a lot and afterwards I’d be so annoyed with myself for giving up so early on in the match.
But I’ve learnt a lot from it over the past couple of years and I’ve won a lot of games this year from being behind and even dead and buried in some matches. Yet, I’ve kept plugging away, kept my cool and have managed to fight my way back to win the game! This is something I would never have done a few years ago, so I’d probably say that is my biggest strength now.
JG: Do your practice routines change or intensify ahead of a major tournament like the World Championships, and how are you preparing for Ally Pally?
JL: No not really, I’ve been doing a new routine in the last few months and I’m really enjoying practising with this routine now, which is good because I used to hate practising! So I’ll just continue to prepare for the World Championships like I have been and would do in any competition.
JG: Do you feel any added pressure playing in the Worlds, or do you just treat it like any other tournament?
JL: No, I wouldn’t say that I feel any added pressure playing in the Worlds. Obviously it feels a bit different to any other competition because it is the World Championships and it’s the one we all would love to lift one day, but I’ll just go there and will do the best that I can and I’ll see where that takes me!
JG: You will play Daryl Gurney in the first round of the World Championships. What do you make of the draw?
JL: Obviously it’s a tough draw; I think we’re both going into the Worlds with a bit of form, but you shouldn’t expect any less in this competition; every draw is tough. I think it will be a good game and I’m really looking forward to it!
JG: What do you think you’re capable of achieving in the next 12 months? Have you set yourself any goals for 2016?
JL: I just want to keep progressing and continue to rise up the rankings! I have set myself little goals for next year, but I don’t want to jinx them lol! I think my career has all been about baby steps so far, so as long as I keep improving I’ll be happy!
JG: So, finally, what’s the connection/story behind your ‘Rasta’ nickname?
JL: It’s a weird one really! I never really intended to be called The ‘Rasta’, it was kind of just given to me by people. I’m a big fan of reggae music and I’m a massive Bob Marley fan. I know practically everything about him; I’ve got all his albums and loads of memorabilia! So being a fan of his, when I was 16-17 I grew my hair into a big Afro and was even close to putting it into dreadlocks. I got talked out of it, but braided it instead ha ha!
Because I had my hair like that, wore lots of rasta wristbands and was massively into reggae music, people just started calling me ‘Rasta’ and it’s just kind of stuck! I have actually tried thinking of a new nickname over the years, but I haven’t been able to come up with a good one, so I’ve just stuck with ‘Rasta!’ Maybe it will change, maybe it won’t! We’ll have to see what happens!
JG: Thanks for your time Jamie! All the best for the Worlds!
JL: No worries! Cheers mate!