‘Greatest game in history of darts’ - Michael Smith beats Van Gerwen to claim first world title

Bully Boy provided the first-ever nine dart finish in a final of the PDC World Championship.
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Hailed by sports lovers throughout the length and breadth of the country as the greatest-ever game in the history of professional darts, St Helens arrowsmith Michael Smith claimed the  PDC World Championship with a breath-taking 7-4 victory over three-times winner Michael  Van Gerwen of the Netherlands on Tuesday night.

It left the packed audience at the Alexandra Palace, London, looking on in sheer disbelief from the opening leg and included a first-ever nine dart finish, courtesy of Bully Boy, in a final of the tournament.

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A modest Smith suggested later that he was lucky to win but that shouldn’t detract from his overall performance which speaks for itself. He said: "Michael left me off several times out there but for once I took my chance and now I have really taken the monkey off my back.

"Winning the world title is something I’ve dreamed about since I was 12. It fulfilled my darting destiny but it was also a thank-you to my wife, Dagmara, and two kids and the rest of my  family and friends for their unswerving support.”

A final featuring this season’s top two players chasing a £500,000 first prize started with a bang - the Dutchman breaking throw in the first leg.

However, the next set would be historic as Smith nailed a nine-darter in the third leg to raise the roof in North London. Unbelievably, it came straight after Van Gerwen had missed double 12 for perfection himself in the same leg.

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Smith went on to win the set against throw and then held in set three to go in front. Mighty Mike responded and the pendulum swung again as he took the next two sets to lead, although a resilient Bully Boy broke back once more at the first opportunity to level.

Set seven would prove to be pivotal. Van Gerwen had two set darts to win it in straight legs, but Smith countered, hitting a 130 checkout in the fourth leg before securing the decider.

 Michael Smith lifts the PDC World Darts Championship trophy. Image: Luke Walker/Getty Images Michael Smith lifts the PDC World Darts Championship trophy. Image: Luke Walker/Getty Images
Michael Smith lifts the PDC World Darts Championship trophy. Image: Luke Walker/Getty Images

That set steal turned out to be a catalyst for the confident 32-year-old as he chalked up six of the next seven legs to move 6-3 up in sets and just one away from glory.

Like the champion he is, Van Gerwen mounted a comeback, reducing his arrears by holding throw in a deciding leg in set 10. His recovery continued to gather pace as he broke Smith at the start of set 11 and opened up a two-nil lead as he threatened to get the match back on throw.

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Smith, though, regrouped with clockwork timing, breaking back to force a deciding leg which he started with six perfect darts before nailing double eight to become the new world champion and world number one.

Having registered a brilliant 22 180s and an average of just over 100, Smith becomes the 11th different winner of the PDC World Darts Championship in the 30th edition of the event.

*Finally, I would suggest that Super League champions St Helens ask Bully Boy to parade the trophy around the Totally Wicked Stadium once the new RL season is under-way.

John Parrot did the same at Goodison Park - the home of his favourite football club Everton when he won the 1991 world snooker title. Over to you, Saints!