Who is Michael Smith? St Helens darter who won PDC US Darts Masters at New York City’s Madison Square Garden
Bully Boy continued his great form as he toppled the challenge of three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen to win his second ever Darts Masters in Madison Square Garden
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Professional darts took a trip to the Big Apple last weekend, with New York City’s iconic venue - Madison Square Garden - hosting the sport’s biggest names as part of the PDC US Darts Masters.
Including a number of America and Canada’s best sportsmen too, the event was littered with 180s, high check-outs, drama and intrigue - the only thing the event lacked was the sport’s infamous nine-dart finish.
This was the first time that the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) held an event at the historic Madison Square Garden - a venue that has previously hosted the world’s most significant sporting personalities, from Mohammed Ali to Kobe Bryant.
Taking place at the arena’s Hulu Theatre over the course of last weekend - from Friday, 3 June to Saturday, 4 June - the darter that left the city with the title and prize money in tow hails from Liverpool City Region.
Here is everything you need to know about the PDC US Darts Masters 2022 event, such as the lineup, who won it and whether the sport will return to the Big Apple in 2023.
What was the lineup for the event?
Ahead of the PDC embarking on North American soil in 2022, a star-studded lineup that boasts eight world championship victories, as well as dozens of other major honours, was announced.
Spearheaded by the current world number one and reigning world champion Peter Wright, as well as former world champion Gerwyn Price, three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen and two-time world champion Gary Anderson - fans who attended the event were certainly seeing some of the best to ever pick up a dart.
Nathan Aspinall, the winner of the previous US Darts Masters at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay in 2019, failed to qualify for this year’s competition.
The line-up also consisted of some of the greatest darters across the North America and Canada region- with familiar names such as Jeff Smith, Danny Baggish and Danny Lauby, who have previously played at World Championship tournaments at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Four of the eight that qualified were PDC tour card holders, with the other four decided at the Championship Darts Corporation (CDC) qualifiers in Indianapolis on 13 May 2022.
Here is the full lineup of darters at the US Darts Masters in 2022:
PDC’s Elite Representatives
- Peter Wright - World Number One, Scottish
- Gerwyn Price - World Number Two, Welsh
- Michael van Gerwen - World Number Three, Dutch
- Michael Smith - World Number Four, English
- James Wade - World Number Five, English
- Gary Anderson - World Number Six, Scottish
- Jonny Clayton - World Number Eight, Welsh
- Fallon Sherrock - ‘Queen of the Palace’, English
North American Qualifiers
- Jeff Smith - PDC Tour Card Holder, Canadian
- Danny Baggish - PDC Tour Card Holder, American
- Matt Campbell - PDC Tour Card Holder, Canadian
- Jules van Dongen - PDC Tour Card Holder, American
- David Cameron - CDC Qualifier, Canadian
- Leonard Gates - CDC Qualifier, American
- Doug Boehm - CDC Qualifier, American
- Danny Lauby Jr - CDC Qualifier, American
Who won the PDC US Darts Masters 2022 and what is the prize money?
This year’s PDC US Darts Masters was a showcase of great darting performances - with the winner having to have the quality and consistency needed to overcome the difficult lineup of the competition.
Meeting ‘Mighty’ Michael van Gerwen in Saturday’s final at Madison Square Garden, Liverpool City Region’s own Michael Smith continued his fine form and came out of New York City victorious.
Nicknamed ‘Bully Boy’, Smith picked up his second ever Darts Masters triumph, as well as taking a £20,000 cheque back to his St Helens home.
Here is the full breakdown of the £60,000 prize money at the PDC US Darts Masters in 2022:
- Winner - £20,000
- Second Place - £10,000
- Semi Finalists - £5,000
- Quarter Finalists - £2,500
- First Round - £1,250
Who is Michael Smith and what was his roadmap to the final?
Michael Smith, 31, is an English professional darter born and residing in the Liverpool City Region local authority of St Helens.
Bully Boy has been playing darts since 2006 and is well known for his natural talent and silky smooth throw.
Smith is widely renowned for his difficulty of overcoming the final hurdle of an event having still not picked up an official PDC major honour despite finishing as a runner up on seven different occasions - most recently to Peter Wright in the 2022 World Championship final at Ally Pally in January.
The 31-year-old has been in fine form recently, picking up this American title off the back of winning the sixteenth and final night of this year’s Premier League, where he finished sixth.
Smith, who throws his Unicorn Maestro 24 gram darts right-handed, walks out to the famous tune ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Walk The Moon.
Previously named as PDC’s Young Player of the Year in 2014 - the year after he became the organisation’s World Youth Champion - Michael Smith managed to brandish his final woes when he overcame Michael van Gerwen 8-4 on Saturday to become a Darts Masters champion for the second time (Shanghai Darts Masters winner in 2018).
Smith opened the proceedings at Madison Square Garden with a hard-fought win over American professional Doug Boehm - here is Bully Boy’s full roadmap of the PDC US Darts Masters in 2022.
- First Round: Michael Smith beats Doug Boehm 6-3 with a 96.23 average
- Quarter Finals: Michael Smith beats Gary Anderson 8-3 with a 93.16 average
- Semi Finals: Michael Smith beats Peter Wright 8-6 with a 93.66 average
- Final: Michael Smith beats Michael van Gerwen 8-4 with a 99.14 average
Will the PDC return to Madison Square Garden in 2023?
The PDC has confirmed that the US Darts Masters will return to Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre in 2023 following the success of this year’s event.
Across the three sessions, over 7,000 fans attended both that event and the preceding North American Championship event - which was won by Texan Leonard Gates, who shockingly knocked out fan-favourite Fallon Sherrock in the US Masters event on Saturday.
The tournaments are scheduled to return to the city that never sleeps on 2 June and the 3 June in 2023
"We’d had to wait four years to finally get to New York, but we’re already setting our sights on returning bigger and better in 2023," Matt Porter, the PDC Chief Executive, said in a statement.
"The bet365 US Darts Masters and North American Championship have been a huge success and we’ve enjoyed two great days in the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
"This has been unquestionably our most successful event ever in America, and the crowds we had at Madison Square Garden - particularly on Saturday night - were hugely encouraging for the future of these events.
"When you consider the continued improvement of players from across North America through the Championship Darts Corporation circuit, the sport is in fantastic shape on this side of the Atlantic.”