A year that started with the disappointment of falling short at PDC Q-School will end with the bright lights of the Alexandra Palace for Scott Williams.
The darts latecomer, who didn’t start taking the game seriously until his late 20s, has been the top non-PDC Tour card holder of 2022, topping the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, winning a Players Championship event and gracing the Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals.
The 32-year-old from Boston, Lincolnshire has also made his mark with his gregarious personality and loud bumblebee-inspired outfits – a tribute to his oldest son Buzz. An entertaining player, Williams fits the mould of the modern darts player perfectly and he cannot wait to get into teeth into the PDC Tour full-time from 2023.
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He has also courted a little controversy, getting himself into hot water after jokingly aiming a double middle-finger salute at Luke Humphries following their match at the Grand Slam.
Wrestling fan Williams soon took to social media to apologise, joking he was waiting for Humphries to turn around so he could deliver a Stone Cold Stunner [the signature move of WWE icon Steve Austin]. Humphries saw the funny side, tweeting in reply that he would have countered with Rock Bottom through the stage.
But the gesture didn’t go down well with the Darts Regulation Authority (DRA) and a section of fans on social media.
“They’re in the middle of an investigation and I’ve had to provide a statement to apologise and say it won’t happen again,” Williams tells Daily Star Sport.
“I’m just waiting for the correspondence from them regarding a fine or a warning. It was a heat-of-the-moment thing, it was nothing malicious. I’ve had a good laugh with Luke about it and practically every player I’ve seen since has laughed about it and flipped me off, saying ‘is that how you say hello now?’.”
While most people saw the funny side, there was a genuine period of concern for Williams after he realised what he’d done, and that it had caused such a stir on social media.
“As soon as he [Humphries] replied, it took a lot of anxiety away,” he admits. “It’s tough because you’ve got a lot of people out there with different opinions on social media.
“It was silly of me to do it, I know that. I didn’t even realise I’d done it until afterwards. I was sat in a taxi on the way back to the hotel, I looked at my phone and Twitter had absolutely blown up.
“All you can see are these stills of me with my middle fingers up. I thought ‘oh my God’. My manager’s behind me saying ‘what have you done now?’.
“It’s not completely forgotten about but I can assure you it won’t be happening again.”
An irony of the episode is that Williams was actually a big fan of Stone Cold's great rival, The Rock. While he won’t be performing anymore middle-finger salutes at the Ally Pally, or at any other tournament, there could be another Stone Cold tribute, if he wins a tough first-round match against Ryan Joyce on Sunday night.
“It’s been suggested that if I win my game on Sunday, I just get a couple of water bottles, smash them together and chuck them out into the crowd,” he jokes, a stunt which would go down a storm with Ally Pally hordes.
“Although I’d probably get fined for that!,” he adds. When it’s suggested to him that he could change his walk-on music to Stone Cold’s entrance theme, Williams laughs: “I can’t, I’ve got to be a good boy!”
Onto the serious business of the World Championship and his tie against Joyce will see two of the best unseeded players in the draw go head-to-head. The winner will face one of Williams’s closest friends in the sport, former world champion Rob Cross, in round two. Williams, nicknamed Shaggy, insists he saw the draw coming.
“I was on Twitter about half an hour before the draw and I started writing it out, that I would play Ryan and the winner would play Rob,” he says. “But then I thought that would be a bit stupid.
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“Ryan’s a fabulous player, he’s something like 40th in the world. He didn’t get through via the Pro Tour because it’s been that cut-throat this year. He was one of the highest-ranked players who didn’t qualify [via the Pro Tour] and had to do it through the final Qualifier.
“So I’m not playing a mug, his average is something like 93/94 for the year. There were definitely easier draws but you’ve got to take what you’ve been given.”
But given the impressive strides he has made this year, Williams cannot be discounted either and he is justifiably proud of his achievements in 2022
“This year has been huge,” he reflects. “I’ve got into the top 64 without having a Tour Card. That in itself is impressive and I think I’ve found my feet on the Pro Tour. Next year, I intend to do exactly what I did this year and cause people problems.”
Just minus any double middle-finger salutes.
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