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Michael Smith throws a dart

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 fourth seed hit a nine-dart finish in the second set, during a sensational leg in which Van Gerwen missed his own attempt at double 12 for a perfect leg.

The 32-year-old is the new world number one as a result of his victory, which also earned him a £500,000 first prize.

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

He has now finished runner-up at the World Championship on three occasions, alongside tournament successes in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

Before the final, Van Gerwen had dropped only three sets in his five previous matches.

However, Smith saved his best performance of the tournament for the final to see off the Dutchman for the biggest win of his career.

The best leg of darts ever?

Van Gerwen had cruised through his quarter-final and semi-final ties without dropping a set and, after taking the opener in the final, it took something special to end a 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 of his own.

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.

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 he held on despite a late flurry from Van Gerwen.

Both men had three-dart averages close to 100 and there were 37 180s in total, 22 of them by Smith.

Bully Boy finally fulfils potential

Smith has long been considered a future world champion, emerging onto 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 darts’ nearly men with several defeats in major televised finals, including at two previous World Championships, before breaking that hoodoo by winning the Grand Slam of Darts in November.

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.

Source: BBC

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