PDC World Championship: Michael Smith beats Michael van Gerwen to win first world title

Michael Smith celebrates
Michael Smith has replaced Gerwyn Price at the top of the world rankings after his victory

England’s Michael Smith hit a nine-dart finish on his way to beating three-time champion Michael van Gerwen and winning his first PDC World Championship title.

Smith, from St Helens, won a classic final 7-4 at Alexandra Palace.

The 32-year-old completed a perfect leg in the second set, during a sensational leg in which Van Gerwen missed his own attempt at double 12 for a nine-darter.

He is the new world number one as a result of his win, which he said would “never be topped” in his career.

“My two best achievements are sat over there, my two kids,” Smith told Sky Sports. “As a sporting memory it’s the greatest ever, and I don’t think that will ever be topped.

“Even if I win a second, it will never top the way I’ve just felt then.”

Van Gerwen, 33, went into the final as favourite but was unable to reclaim the title he last won in 2019.

The best leg of darts ever?

Van Gerwen had cruised through his quarter-final and semi-final ties without dropping a set and, after he took the opener in the final, it needed something special to end his run of 14 successive victorious sets.

The third leg of the second set started with a maximum and a 177 from Van Gerwen, Smith replying with two 180s.

Van Gerwen hit two treble 20s but narrowly missed his shot at double 12.

Smith stepped up and landed a 141 checkout to become only the second player, after Adrian Lewis in 2011, to hit a nine-dart finish in a World Championship final.

On that achievement, Smith said: “I was hitting 180, 180 in practice and missing so I thought I would give the crowd what they deserve. I got a magical nine and it was good.”

Another pivotal moment came when Smith took the seventh set, having lost the first two legs in it, to go 4-3 up.

He took the eighth and ninth sets too, opening up a lead of more than one set for the first time in the match.

And Smith held on despite a late flurry from Van Gerwen, who had dropped only three sets in his five previous matches up to the final.

Van Gerwen said: “He played really well. Of course I had my chances, I was playing not too well in the last few sets, but you can only blame yourself for that.

“I wasn’t what I wanted to be, but that’s part of the game unfortunately and you have to take it on the chin.”

A final ‘that had everything’

Michael Smith with the World Championship trophy
Smith avenged his loss to Michael van Gerwen in the 2019 final

A nine-dart finish, a total of 37 180s, both men with a three-dart average of approximately 100 and a brand new champion – was this, the 30th PDC World Championship final, the greatest ever?

“It’s the ultimate darts night, the world final here at the Ally Pally,” said three-time world champion John Part, who was working as a pundit for Sky Sports.

“Wow, this one lived up to it as much as just about any other in the history of the event.

“Yes it didn’t go to the final set or anything, but just two really decent people and great champions going to head-to-head.

“We have a brand new champion in Michael Smith. It’s overdue and he got it done.”

Former BDO world champion Mark Webster added: “It literally did have everything. The nine-dart leg changed the course of that set for Michael Smith and he went from strength to strength.

“He weathered a little storm at the end, but he held it together and he deserves this moment.”

‘Ridartculous’ – your thoughts via #bbcdarts

Luke Rundle: Well done to ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith. What a performance, very few do that to MvG, let alone in a world final and to become world number one. Fantastic watch that will never be forgotten.

Kris Jefferson: What a final this has been. Darts really showing it can be at the forefront of sport for drama and excitement.

Voice of the Mysterons: If this is the way that darts is likely to be going, is it possible that it’s actually *too* good?

Talbotski: Ridartculous.

‘Bully Boy’ finally fulfils potential

Smith has long been considered a future world champion, emerging on to the scene at the highest level with an upset victory over 16-time world champion Phil Taylor at the 2014 event.

He had been one of the sport’s nearly men with several defeats in major televised finals, including at two previous World Championships, before breaking that hoodoo by winning his first major – the Grand Slam of Darts – in November 2022.

Smith is the 11th different player to win the PDC World Championship since the annual event was first staged in 1994.

He is the fifth English thrower to lift the title, following Dennis Priestley, Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross.

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