GameOnExclusive: Darius Labanauskas looks forward to World Cup debut

Building up to the 9th PDC World Cup in Hamburg, we met Darius Labanauskas making his World Cup debut later this week.

How did you get your nickname „Lucky D“?

It‘s simple, Lucky because I‘ve been lucky in my life, inside and outside of darts, and D is the first letter of my name, that‘s all there is to it.

Who is the best baltic player in your eyes? You, Madars Razma or someone else?

If you were to look at the stats it‘s simple, me and Madars are the best players in the Baltics, however, players like Mindaugas Barauskas, Arūnas Čiplys, Aigars Strelis, Kristaps Mickus all deserve a mention.

Why and when did you start playing Darts?

I came across an ad when scrolling through a newspaper, it was about a local darts competition. Me and my friend decided to try it out, I liked it and started going to club practices. The results were steadily improving, which kept me motivated for practice. For a long time I was being told I should trys ome competitions outside of the Baltics, however, it took me about 10 years before I got to that point.

Playing in pairs is not what a Dart player is normally used to. What is the main difference between playing solo or in doubles?

The main difference is having to wait for three other players to have a go and choosing the right double not only for yourself but for your partner as well. I like double 8 but if my parner does not feel confident on it, I might be coming back to double 1 the next turn. That being said, I like pairs competitions and I‘ve won a total of 11 of them in the BDO.

How does it feel to represent your country and not just yourself?

I have played for my country in WDF World Cups and Europe Cups many times, it is an amazing feeling to hear your name mentioned alongside the name of your country, especially when there are many people there to see it. Representing your country in a new organization, new tournament for myself, it is going to be a new experience.

How often and long do you practice?

I practice with the members ik my club for two days a week, the practice I do at home really depends on if I have got an important tournament coming up. I mostly practice playing cricket and 501.

What is your target for the next years?

I want to return to the PDC World Championships, play at the PDC World Cup again and retain my PDC tour card after the two years have passed.

How did you feel when you got your Tour Card in January?

It was my first try at the Q-School and I played really well. I expected to gain my tour card via the points system after making the quarter-final the first day. However, I lost in the first round the following two days, which meant I had to win the card outright on the last one. This made the last game extremely hard but I made it through to get my PDC tour card.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

What is the greatest moment of your career until now?

I can‘t think of one as there are many I remember: The first Lithuanian National title in 2009, the first WDF Euro Cup final in pairs in 2012, Winning the Lithuanian Open in 2011, the debut at the Lakeside and having the biggest checkout of the tournament with a 167, the 2018 PDC World Championship, the first PDC Euro Tour in Austria in 2018 and being number 1 in the WDF rankings In 2015 and 2016 are the ones that come to mind.

How did you feel during your debut at the World Championship and to beat the legendary Raymond van Barneveld in Round 2?

Barney is a legend of darts and one of my favourite players, he was the one to show the world that Phil Taylor can be beaten, which motivated many players alike. I have only seen him on TV beforehand and haven‘t even dreamt of playing him, but it happened, it was an amazing feeling.

What is your impression from the Baltic Tour? Will there be some more players in the PDC one day?

The interest in darts is growing, I was even named the person of the month for my region last December, I have many invitations to come and show what the sport is about. The people that try it out are quick to understand that the sport is not easy and it takes a lot of practice to master it. Mindaugas Barauskas, my PDC World Cup pairs partner, is closest to making the PDC, as he has already played in the Q-School and the Challenge Tour.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

You know Mindaugas for a long time already and you’ve won many tournaments together. How happy are you that he will partner you during the World Cup?

I know him very well, we practice together a lot, we go to tournaments together as well, since we only live 30 kilometers apart. He is a very good and extremely motivated player, he was definitely the best choice to represent the country at this time.

Your first match will be against New Zealand. Cody Harris has already shown his capability many times and Haupai Puha is the Oceanic Number 1. How dangerous are they in your eyes?

Haupai has to be very good to be the number 1 player in Oceania. The real danger is the fact that he has not been seen much and we don‘t know what to expect. Just take a look at the Australian Peter Machin who has not been heard about until he made his BDO World Trophy debut and went on to make two finals and win one of them. It will be an interesting game.

How far can Lithuania go in this years World Cup?

We are making our debut and the stats suggest we don‘t stand much of a chance, since debutants rarely win tournaments. However, we don‘t have a plan B and our only plan is winning the tournament outright.

Ultimate Question: What would you prefer? World Number 1 or World Champion?

World Champion.

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