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When it comes to the catchy nicknames which decorate pro darts, they don’t come much cooler than ‘Jackpot’, the title bestowed upon two-time world champion Adrian Lewis.

Weirdly, he got the name for not winning something, a US$72,000 fruit machine payout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that he was too young to collect, but since then he’s been picking up cheques and titles like they’re litter.

At 27, Lewis is a relative pup among the old dogs of darts and hot on the heels of his mentor and fellow Stoke-On-Trent export Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, 52, the most dominant darts player of all time with 15 world titles.‘Jackpot’ is currently number two behind Taylor in the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) Order of Merit, but when the World Darts Championships start at Alexandra Palace, London, on December 14, the young bloke will be going for his third consecutive world title.

In the previous two tournaments, for which the final is held on New Year’s Day, he beat Gary Anderson and Andy Hamilton for what is now known as the Sid Waddell Trophy, in honour of the iconic commentator who died this year.

After last year, he boldly set a target of 10 titles, a boast he’s happy to back up: “I reckon between now and the end of my career I could win between eight and 10,” Lewis tells TNT.

“That’d be good, you know. That’d put me as second best of all time behind Phil. I’d rather be the best, but I don’t think anyone can emulate what he’s done.”

Having a mentor as a rival has become second nature for Lewis, who now uses the mental strength Taylor helped him instill in his game against the veteran.“

He’s been fantastic for me,” Lewis says.

“Teaching me how to get my mind right. Teaching me about finishing, and working out the ‘out shots’, but he’s another opponent when it comes to that.”

Preparation is important in darts, which relies on fine motor skills and leaves no margin for error at the top level.

Lewis will have the added distraction, or inspiration, after his wife Sarah gave birth to a little boy, Matthew, last week.“It’d be great to win a third one for him,” Lewis beams.

For those who see darts as throwing a spike at a red, white and black circle, it’s hard to comprehend the ability of these guys. Lewis says it’s like any other sport.

“You need a natural ability for the game in the first place and you’ve got to work at that, you know,” he says.

“Then you’ve got to find your weaknesses and work on those, like if you’re missing double openers or having trouble finishing off, you’ve got to practice and work at it like everything.

He says the most important ingredient a top player needs is “bottle”, the slang term which in this case means an ability to stump up under pressure and at key moments.

“You’ve got to have a lot bottle,” he says.

“You’ve got to be focussed and have belief in yourself.And you’ve got to work at that too.

It’s important ’cause to win games you’ve got to show bottle to finish a game off.”

No one showed more ‘bottle’ than Lewis in last year’s titles at Ally Pally.

He pulled off what is considered one of the greatest ever comebacks when he won after being 5-1 down in the  semi-final against James ‘The Machine’ Wade, an opponent he’d previously lost heavily to.

“When you’re in that situation you’re thinking, ‘Ah, come on then, it’s not game over, I’m not going to lose my title.’


Lucky Lewis: Adrian 'Jackpot' Lewis is throwing for a third world title in a row this week
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