Michael Smith defeats Van Gerwen and wins the PDC world
Michael Smith had a strong sense of destiny from the minute he pulled off his first 180 as a teenager. In the past, Smith has lost in the championship match against Michael van Gerwen and has come agonizingly close on two other occasions. Under these conditions, however, he never imagined he would ultimately realize his potential. After a moment he may have believed would never come, the world’s newest champion said, “This emotion will never be topped.”
On paper, this final looked to be the most tantalizing in a long time. The PDC World Darts Championship this year has occasionally disappointed, but Smith and Van Gerwen, who together have won 16 ranking championships, have been the two best players on the planet for the past 12 months. Ignore their respective pre-tournament world rankings of four and three; this was a contest between the two best tungsten technicians.
and how they carried it out. It wasn’t nearly on par with Taylor’s tense loss to John Part four years prior or their 2007 fight against Raymond van Barneveld. However, it was full of interesting incidents. Since they originally competed against each other on the youth circuit as youngsters, Smith and van Gerwen’s careers have taken similar paths. However, there is one significant distinction: Van Gerwen has savored major title after major title, while Smith has fallen short at the finish line.
Before finally breaking that curse at the Grand Slam of Darts in November, Smith had lost eight major finals without ever winning one. Some people were left wondering if this meant that it was finally his turn to take home the big prize, and he duly delivered in this final, which included the greatest darts leg in history. Van Gerwen missed double-12 for his own nine-darter before Smith pinned the ideal nine-dart leg midway through the second set. The crowd “got one, the magical nine,” I figured I’d give them what they deserved, Smith added.
It was a historical moment in darts, but Smith was after the bigger prize. He didn’t even flinch after his nine-darter; instead, he just picked up his darts from the board and resumed his routine. Both players could have been excused for letting their performance slip, but the bar was set implacably high. The first six or seven sets included darts that were almost flawless.
The players maintained their composure as everyone else in Alexandra Palace lost theirs. Both players started to falter in the later rounds. Smith won’t really give a damn. He quickly pulled off four straight wins after falling behind 3-2 in sets to go within one of the outcomes.
In the 2017 final, Smith led 5-4 before St. Helens native Peter Wright ran off three incredible sets to defeat him. Van Gerwen wouldn’t make a similar mistake twice. By winning the 10th set, he briefly threatened the greatest comeback imaginable. He even moved two legs ahead in the 11th. You questioned whether Smith’s final hoodoo was following him to the biggest stage of all. However, he suddenly gained momentum and won three straight legs, including an 11-darter, to take home the title and the £500,000 top prize.
All of this contrasted greatly with a few months prior when Smith was regarded as the player who struggled to win in big games. He is currently counted among the darting world champions pantheon. Smith fought back tears and declared, “I said I’d win this eventually, I said I’d be world champion.” However, I want to dominate this sport.
Smith is now, for the first time, the world’s No. 1. The youngster who was for so long destined to be king is now on top of the mountain in a variety of ways. Who would wager against him remaining there for a while?