Michael Smith beats Van Gerwen to seal first world crown in “best match ever”

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Michael Smith sealed an incredible first world title (Image: PA)
Michael Smith sealed an incredible first world title (Image: PA)

Michael Smith has secured his first ever World Darts Championship title after defeating three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen in one of the best matches in the sport's history. Smith's triumph also contained a magical nine-dart finish, in what has been dubbed one of the greatest legs of all time.

Smith headed into the clash as underdog, but capped off a quite remarkable season by finally getting over the line on the biggest stage of all at the third time of asking. The first break of the evening came through the favourite, as Van Gerwen capitalised on a missed double from Smith to take a 2-1 advantage in the opener, whilst throwing for the set.

The Dutchman then capitalised as he checked out an 84 in the fourth leg to take an early 1-0 lead.

What came next though was arguably one of the greatest moments in darts history. The pair had already traded a whole host of 180's in the early stages, as they rattled in a combined four maximums in the opening set.

This pattern continued, as the pair played out a leg for the ages in the third of the second set. Van Gerwen kicked things off as he rattled in yet another 180 to set off a hunt for a nine-dart finish. Remarkably this was matched by Smith who followed up with a 180 of his own.

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Michael Smith beats Van Gerwen to seal first world crown in “best match ever”It was a strong start from Michael van Gerwen (PA)

Things however were only just getting started as Van Gerwen added a second maximum to leave 144, before Smith once again followed him in to leave 141. The Dutchman was the first to take an attempt at just the second nine-dart finish in a World Championship final.

And he was on track to do so, as he landed two treble 20's. However the three-time world champion agonisingly missed his attempt at double 12, but the hopes of the adoring Ally Pally crowd were not dashed yet.

Up stepped Smith. Like his opponent he nailed in his opening two darts to leave him a throw at double 12 for the nine-dart finish. And to the delight of the roaring crowd, 'Bully Boy' went one better than his opponent and landed the finish to take the roof off the London-based arena.

In the midst of the chaos, Smith had importantly levelled the match at 1-1 but now needed to recompose himself. And that he did as he backed up his victory in set two by doing the same in set three to put him 2-1 ahead in quite remarkable 10 minutes of darts.

Not many players are built like Van Gerwen though, and after the Dutchman was caught on the wrong end of the Ally Pally's whirlwind, he soon hit back. He showed his class by settling himself and once again turning the match on its to win two straight sets of his own, and put him back ahead of the Englishman ahead of an interval.

Michael Smith beats Van Gerwen to seal first world crown in “best match ever”Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith were putting on a final for the ages (PA)

Both Smith and Van Gerwen had no doubt proven to be arguably the most impressive and consistent players in 2022, and this was showing in this year's final. The sheer dominance of Van Gerwen at the event had proved all too much for many of his opponents, but not Smith, as he hit back quickly to level the match, before winning a second on the bounce to move him back into the lead at 4-3.

Every time Smith had got his nose in front, he had been quickly pegged back but not this time. The Englishman secured a third set on the bounce to move 5-3 ahead of his rival. Smith now had the darts in hand and was throwing for the set, knowing victory in this one would move him just one set away from his maiden world title.

And despite the Dutchman clawing one set back Smith was at last a world champion at the third-time of asking, after winning the 11th set of the final to get himself over the line thanks to a 7-4 victory.

Joshua Lees

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