There are few who can say they've survived six match darts against world No1 Michael van Gerwen, but Rob Cross is one of them.
Making his debut at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Championships in 2018, the 27-year-old Englishman looked set for a semifinal exit against van Gerwen. But the Dutchman couldn't finish him off, and Cross went on to sneak into the final with a 7-6 win.
Cross, the 20th seed, then met countryman Phil 'the Power' Taylor on the final. Taylor, a 14-time world champion, was playing his final tournament after a 25-year career on the PDC tour dating back to 1993.
But there was no fairytale finish to be had for Taylor – Cross made sure of it, winning the final 7-2 to claim his maiden title and send Taylor into retirement.
"It was special," Cross told the Herald. "I have to admit it kicked so much dust up though, it took a while to just to try and settle back down and get a routine again. I was busy and in the media at the start and everything, it probably took me three months before I started to feel alright again."
It was a hectic start to the year, and the beginning of a string of solid performances in major tournaments. Through the four so far this season, Cross has exited no earlier than the quarter-finals.
Now ranked No.3 in the world, the Englishman had his sights set on winning another tournament on his debut – the Auckland Darts Masters.
Cross will be one of eight PDC players travelling down under for the tournament early next month – six of which were ranking in the world's top 10.
"To be honest, I'm going to be a bit in the dark," Cross said of competing in his first tournament in Auckland. "We'll just take it in our stride and it'll hopefully go well."
Along with Cross, van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld will be looking to dethrone reigning champion Kyle Anderson in Auckland. Three Kiwis have also qualified, including Cody Harris, while three spots in the field were still to be filled.