The updated world rankings
Michael van Gerwen
A reminder of the greatest leg in darts history
One last word from Michael Smith
[This must be the greatest moment of your life?] Nah, the two greatest moments of my life are sat over there, both my kids. But if I didn’t have kids, that would be! I don’t think it’ll ever topped – even if I win a second, it’ll never top how I felt just then.
More from Michael Smith
It’s 1-1 now in the worlds. I took my chances, but he knows and I do that it won’t be the last world final between us. He is the best player in darts, I’ve said it for years, and you have to take your chances and I finally did that. I don’t wanna say too much, I don’t even know what to say…
Nah nah nah, he’s not doing his game justice. He played phenomenally, we all know that. Fair play to him, he deserved it.
Michael van Gerwen speaks
He played really well. I had my chances, we all know that: second set, seventh set, ninth set. When you don’t hit them, he’ll throw everything at you. You can only blame yourself, but it doesn’t take anything away [from Smith] because he played brilliantly all the way through. I wasn’t what I wanted to be, but that’s part of the game and you have to take it on the chin.
It’s part of the job unfonrtunately. When we celebrate it’s a nice job, and when we lose games it’s hard. We all know that. The hardest thing is that I have take it on my chin and, ah… [fades out]
Michael Smith speaks
[You’re world champion and world No1, how does that sound?] Sounds amazing. I don’t want to start getting into the crying and emotions. Michael let me off there, and for once I finally took a chance I didn’t deserve [his voice is cracking, god love him]. I want to apologise to Michael, I’ve been in that position… well not in that position before. I don’t even what to say to you!
I didn’t hit a nine-darter in practice today but I keep going 180, 180, miss, so I thought, ‘Do one now, give the crowd what they deserve.’
I wanna do what this man’s [Van Gerwen] done, I wanna take over the sport. But he’s still here!
The last leg
Michael Smith still can’t quite take it in. He’s on his haunches, trying to make sense of it all. But he soon will, because he’s about to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy. He walks over, tenderly touches it and then raises it – and it’s a heavy bugger – high above his head in triumph. I feel sorry for his liver tonight.
Smith runs straight off the stage, into the arms of his family, then clenches his fists to the crowd. MvG, a class act in defeat, applauds and shakes Smith’s hand. Finally Smith goes back onto the stage to shake hands with the officials; I think we’ll forgive him that little slip in etiquette. Smith again clenches his fists to the crowd, and Van Gerwen again joins the applause. There’s so much respect between these two.
This has been coming for a long time, and surely nobody will begrudge one of the nice guys of darts. Two months ago, Twitter’s finest said he was the biggest bottler in darts. Now he’s the biggest thing in darts: world champion, world No1, a rare talent who took a circuitous route to greatness. He’s there now.
Smith 7-4 Van Gerwen (legs 3-2) Michael Smith has sprinted over the finish line. He hit back-to-back 180s at the start of the leg, and though there was no nine-darter, he hits D8 for a 13-darts. He’s done it! After all this time, all the heartbreak, he’s done it!
SMITH BREAKS! HE’S ONE AWAY!
Smith 6-4 Van Gerwen (legs 2-2) And now the pressure reverts to Van Gerwen, and Smith relaxes a little. After nine darts he is on 190, Smith on 121 for a massive break. Van Gerwen can only hit 58 to leave 132. Smith hits D20, D 11 – and just missed D14. MvG misses the bull for a 132, Smith hits D7 last dart in hand. HE’S THROWING FOR THE WORLD TITLE.
Smith 6-4 Van Gerwen (legs 1-2) Beautiful darts from Smith, who calmly takes out 106 for a much needed hold. If he breaks now, he’ll be throwing for the title.
Smith 6-4 Van Gerwen (legs 0-2) Now it’s Smith who is looking nervy, that metronomic action suddenly failing him. Van Gerwen doesn’t need to go for the bull with Smith on 192, and he hits D16 for a 16-darter.
VAN GERWEN BREAKS!
Smith 6-4 Van Gerwen (legs 0-1) Smith, throwing for the match in this set, starts with 36. MvG jumps all over it with 180, then 140, 121 and a clean 60 for an 11-darter. Now then. That was Van Gerwen’s best leg in about five sets.
Both the averages are lurking around a ton – Smith 100.72, Van Gerwen 99.09. It hasn’t been the all-time classic that some people said after three or four sets, but it has still been a belter.
“MvG really does need to provoke something to upset Smith– as happened last night with a bit of verbals from Dimitri Van den Bergh,” says Gary Naylor. “His ‘vital signs’ are too low – he needs that mood swing. I’d suggest he stands so close to Smith when he’s throwing that the referee has to intervene and MvG can get the blood pressure up and have a row. This title will slide away very quickly without it.”
It’s not generally in his nature to do something like that, though I agree that in the same situation Phil Taylor would be trying all sorts and probably succeeding. There’s been a lovely may-the-best-man win spirit to this game.
Smith 6-4 Van Gerwen (legs 2-3) Van Gerwen is chasing trebles round the board, and he can’t find them. Smith keeps hitting the same treble, and gets two more before another bounceout denies him a possible 180.
He follows that with two trebleless visits – sound the finishlineitis klaxon – and MvG misses D20 for a 151. Smith, on 167, has another trebleless visit and Van Gerwen cleans up for an 18-darter. He’s still alive, just about, but Smith has the darts in set 11.
Smith 6-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-2) Smith has a bounceout, and MvG jumps all over it with a 180. His next visit is desperate, just 59, and Smith has the darts again. He hits a 140 to leave 48, and takes it out in two darts.
Michael Smith is one leg away from becoming world champion, and world No1.
Smith 6-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-2) “Darts is coming home,” sing the Ally Pally crowd. The last Englishman to win this tournament was Rob Cross in 2017-18; before that, Philip Taylor in 2012-13.
Van Gerwen has to hold here or Smith will be throwing for the match. He’s on 106 after 12, but he missed D16 and Smith has a chance at 136. He hits T20 but then T1 with the second dart, and Van Gerwen hits D8 with his first dart. Sheesh.
Smith 6-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-1) Now then. Smith misses two at tops on his own throw – but Van Gerwen does likewise on tops and then D10. Smith eventually hits D10 for a precious 20-dart hold.
Smith 6-3 Van Gerwen (legs 0-1) How Van Gerwen needed that! It’s only a hold, but he took out 105 with Smith waiting on a two-dart finish. Had he lost that leg, it was over.
Smith 6-3 Van Gerwen (legs 3-0) We’ve waited a helluva long time for Michael Smith to achive greatness, but he’s doing it right now in front of our eyes. This is a brilliant performance – relaxed, fluent and increasingly unplayable. He wins another leg at a canter to move within one set of his first world title!
Smith 5-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-0) At the moment a 7-3 win for Smith is the most likely result. MvG has completely lost his rhythm, and his match average is about to drop below 100 for the first time. Smith misses D20 for a 145 – but even that doesn’t matter because MvG is back on 205. Smith misses two at tens but hits double five for another break. He has won eight of the last nine legs.
Smith 5-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-0) Smith picks up where he left off before the break. MvG’s scoring has gone – he averaged 91 in the eighth set to Smith’s 105 – and Smith takes out 74 for a (relatively) comfortable 15-darter.
Michael Smith is throwing for a 6-3 lead. Last year he was 5-4 up before Peter Wright went berserk to win the last three sets.
Sky are pitching this as the best darts game ever. I wouldn’t quite that far but, well, who cares when it’s this good.
Smith 5-3 Van Gerwen (legs 3-1) Yet another 180 for Smith, his 17th, puts him on 121 after nine. He has loads of time, with Van Gerwen way back, and he hits D8 for a 14-darter. At the moment, Smith is just too good. He has won three sets in a row, two of them against the darts, and he’s two away from the promised land.
Smith 4-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-1) For the second time in the match, Smith is rampant. Van Gerwen is clinging on admirably, and hits 134 to leave 36 after 12. Smith can’t take out 164 and MvG does the necessary on D9.
And now Smith is throwing for a 5-3 lead.
Smith 4-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-0) Another 180 for Van Gerwen, but it’s not enough: Smith has one dart for tops, with Van Gerwen waiting on 70, and he nails it! Smith has won five legs in a row.
Smith 4-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-0) Van Gerwen is being bullied by Smith’s scoring. He’s hanging in there, but he’s in trouble when Smith hits his 16th 180 to leave 136 after nine on the MvG throw. He can’t take it out, but MvG is nowhere near the 147 and Smith hits tops for a 13-darter. He has a chance, just a chance, to run away from Van Gerwen here.
“Watching in Germany,” says Liz, “and they periodically have a pop-up next to the score with ‘trebleless visits’. My Googling was…less than helpful. If you have time (whenever, no rush), could you explain what in the world that means?”
It basically means any three-dart turn without a big treble (17, 18, 19, 20 I think). So 20, 20, 19 would be a trebleless visit, as would 20, 20 and treble five.
Smith is the better player right now, though moodswings are a big part of these long finals. Van Gerwen has the darts in set eight. It’s not quite a must-win, but it’s not far off.
Smith 4-3 Van Gerwen (legs 3-2) Smith misses D12 and D6 for the set, but Van Gerwen is on 181 so he’ll get three more. He does it with the second dart, and he’s come from 2-0 down to win the set! Van Gerwen is rattled here.
SMITH BREAKS BACK!
Smith 3-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-2) It’s getting edgy now. Van Gerwen starts with a 5 and 1 before partially redeeming it with a treble 20. Smith starts with yet another 180, and all of a sudden he’s favourite for the leg and therefore the set.
Smith is on 130 after nine, with Van Gerwen hitting a 180 to leave 78 after 12. But Smith takes out a sensational 130, hitting the double five almost nonchalantly, and MvG is so discombobulated that he thinks he’s lost the set rather than the leg. He started to put his darts away, thinking they were going off for a break. “His head is in a shed!” says Mar-dell.
Here we go with another huge fifth leg.
Smith 3-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-2) Van Gerwen has another chance on the Smith throw, leaving 96 after 12. Smith can’t take the 170 – but Van Gerwen misses D18 and then D9! Smith goes straight for D15 and hits it without fuss.
Smith 3-3 Van Gerwen (legs 0-2) This is the most glorious sport, with such subtle momentum shifts and complex psychology. Van Gerwen was also over the show a leg and a half ago; now he has taken out 80 in two darts for a 14-darter.
VAN GERWEN BREAKS
Smith 3-3 Van Gerwen (legs 0-1) “This is worrying for Michael Van Gerwen,” says Wayne Mardle as MvG continues to struggle with his grouping. And this his next two visits are 140 and 180, which buys him a shot at 63 for a break. He takes it, last dart in hand on D12. Yet another massive break in this glorious ding-dong.
Smith 3-3 Van Gerwen (legs 3-1) A dodgy leg for Van Gerwen – “his grouping’s gone,” says Wayne Mardle on Sky – allows Smith to level the match on D10, last dart in hand with MvG on 95.
That’s twice that Smith has broken straight back after losing a set on his own throw.
SMITH BREAKS AGAIN!
Smith 2-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-1) Smith leaves 40 after 12 on the Van Gerwen throw – and he gets a look when Van Gerwen misses two at D10. Smith misses two but takes out D5, last dart in hand, and now he’s throwing for the set. This is immense.
VAN GERWEN BREAKS BACK!
Smith 2-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-1) Van Gerwen breaks back straight away with a 12-darter. He hits his ninth 180, follows up with a 134 to leave 66 after nine, and the rest is a formality.
Smith 2-3 Van Gerwen (legs 1-0) Three of the five sets have been won against the darts, so there’s no reason for Smith to panic. Especially as he’s left 121 after nine to break the throw. Van Gerwen isn’t on a finish to Smith is able to leave 50, and he cleans it up with the minimum of fuss. That’s a superb response to the disappointment of losing the fifth set.
Match averages Smith 104.89 – 105.42 Van Gerwen
Smith 2-3 Van Gerwen (legs 2-3) A dreadful leg for Smith at the worst possible time. He’s not on a finish after 12 darts, and Van Gerwen leaves himself on 59.
Smith hits 80 to leave 95. Doesn’t matter: Van Gerwen cleans up in two for a huge break.
Smith 2-2 Van Gerwen (legs 2-2) Another 180 for MvG, his eighth to go with 12 for Smith. He follows it with a 168 to leave 32 after nine darts. This is utter filth, and he takes it out for a majestic 10-darter.
Big leg coming up.
Smith 2-2 Van Gerwen (legs 2-1) The standard is preposterous. Smith leaves 40 after 12 on his throw, and he takes it out for another 13-darter. “Van Gerwen is being outscored,” says Wayne Mardle on commentary. “I can’t believe I’m saying that.”
Smith 2-2 Van Gerwen (legs 1-1) MvG is pretty much matching his tournament average of 105; Smith is eight points above his, with a match average of 107. At the moment, MvG is… if not hanging on, then certainly under relentless pressure. He takes out D10, last dart in hand, to finish 100 with Smith waiting on 56.
Smith 2-2 Van Gerwen (legs 1-0) Smith hits his 12th 180, so van Gerwen pops in another to put Smith under pressure on tops. He takes it with the second dart to go ahead again.
Ready for more? I’ll say.
Smith 2-2 Van Gerwen (legs 0-3) Not the best leg from either player, but MvG takes out 83 to win the set to love. That’s a seriously impressive response because Smith was running riot.
VAN GERWEN BREAKS!
Smith 2-1 Van Gerwen (legs 0-2) MvG hits a maximum; Smith sees that and hits back-to-back 180s before missing two at double for a 12-dart hold. Van Gerwen takes out 90 in style: 18, D18, D18. This is spectacular stuff.
Smith 2-1 Van Gerwen (legs 0-1) MvG is 22 per cent on the doubles, though that does include a cluster in a leg he eventually won. Even so, it’s partially a consequence of the pressure being applied by Smith’s scoring. Van Gerwen misses another before taking out D4 to win in 16 darts (I think).
Smith 2-1 Van Gerwen (legs 3-1) Darts is hard enough to live blog at the best of times, but with these two it’s impossible. Smith wires the bull for a set-clinching 170 – but MvG misses tops and Smith takes advantage. That’s six legs in seven for Smith; this is a humdinger.
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2023/jan/03/michael-smith-v-michael-van-gerwen-pdc-world-darts-final-live Smith hits nine-darter in taking PDC World Darts title from Van Gerwen – as it happened | PDC World Championships