Former world champion Phil Taylor has warned his rivals to write him off at their peril.
Taylor conceded his Ladbrokes.com World Championship crown to John Part last year after an unbroken eight-year run at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern.
In one of the most memorable finals ever witnessed the see-saw encounter went to the deciding set, and Part held his nerve to nail double top for a famous 7-6 win.
However, success at the Paddy Power World Grand Prix not only showed why Power is the greatest-ever darts player but revealed he has not lost his hunger for success and has set his sights on winning the world championship, which started today.
“The World Grand Prix was just the stepping stone for the world championship,” said the Stoke thrower.
“It told the people who wrote me off that I’m still here. If they want to try and beat me they are going to have to practise a lot harder.
“For the world championship, I know what I have to do. It’s like running a marathon – you know the work you have to put in to be at your best.
“It means everything to me to win the world championship, and I’m determined to do so.”
Part, who like Power does not enter the fray until Monday’s third round, has put the memories of last year’s stunning victory out of his mind.
“It’s not my title until I win it again,” said the Canadian.
“Once the tournament starts I don’t have it any more – and I have to win it back.
“It’s extra pressure. I want to approach it like I did last year, play every round as hard as I can and get to the final.
“The one benefit I’ve had since establishing myself as world number two is that I will only face Phil (Taylor) in the final.
“It sets up a great match if we both get through. If I have to beat all the other players to prove I’m the best then I’ll do it.”
Both men have plenty of challenges to meet before then, though.
“There are a lot of good players to knock me down, like when Wayne (Mardle) beat me in Blackpool,” said Part.
“But I hope no one will be taking my place in this year’s final.”