Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith: World Championship final preview - MVG and Bully Boy collide on date with destiny

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 31 Dec 2018
Van Gerwen celebrates against Smith (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Two of the most naturally-gifted players on planet darts face off for the sport's ultimate prize on New Year's Day as Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith collide in the World Championship final.

For the first time since 1983, two players aged under 30 will compete for darts' biggest title and richest ever prize, with the winner pocketing £500,000 and the iconic Sid Waddell Trophy.

The match signals a repeat of this year's Premier League final as MVG aims to repeat the dose on 'Bully Boy' and be crowned World Champion for the third time.

Van Gerwen, who claimed glory at Alexandra Palace in 2014 and 2017, is bidding to become the first player outside of Phil Taylor to win three PDC world titles and underline his position at the summit of the sport.

The Dutch superstar has dropped just one set in each of his five wins en route to this stage with a tournament average of 103.6.

A winner of 19 PDC titles this year including the Premier League and World Grand Prix, Van Gerwen brushed aside Alan Tabern, Max Hopp, Adrian Lewis and Ryan Joyce before thrashing rival Gary Anderson 6-1 in the Semi-Finals.

He has now recorded an astonishing 18 consecutive ton-plus averages on the Alexandra Palace stage and has lost just one major ranking final since 2015 - with that coming against Daryl Gurney in last month's Players Championship finals.

Smith is out to create a slice of history by becoming the latest new name on the Sid Waddell Trophy at the first attempt.

Smith, Shanghai Masters winner and Premier League finalist in 2018, culminated the most successful year of his career to date by booking his place in the final with a tournament average of 100.5

Despite a whole host of big names tumbling around him, 'Bully Boy' marched into the Last Four without being overly troubled, defeating Ron Meulenamp 3-1 before averaging 100.5 in a 4-2 win over John Henderson and 99.7 in a 4-1 defeat of Ryan Searle.

He then thrashed Luke Humphries 5-1 with a 103 average in the Quarter-Finals before producing his best performance of the tournament against Nathan Aspinall in the Last Four, averaging 105.2 and hitting seventeen 180s - a record for a World Championship Semi-Final.

The 28-year-old announced his arrival into big time darts with victory over Phil Taylor on this very stage five years ago, but has now matured both on and off the oche and believes he is ready to fulfil his darting destiny.

Van Gerwen has the upper-hand in the head-to-heads, winning 25 of their 31 previous encounters, including a crushing 11-4 victory in May's Premier League final and a thrilling 10-8 triumph in the Last 16 of November's Grand Slam.

Smith did defeat the green machine en route to glory in Shanghai - his only televised triumph to date - and is looking to tear up the script and etch his name into the history books.

The final gets underway from 8pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 13 sets. All sets are the best of five legs.

A tie-break is in operation where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches five-all, the 11th leg will be a sudden-death leg.

Match Odds and Specials


Michael van Gerwen 1/4
Michael Smith 3/1
Michael van Gerwen to win by five or more sets: Was 2/1, Now 5/2
Both players to have a 140+ checkout: Was 11/4, Now 10/3
Over 34 180s to be scored: Was 4/1, Now 5/1


Player's View:


Van Gerwen: "It's going to be a phenomenal final against Michael and myself, I've got a great record against him and I'm looking forward to it.

"It's Michael's first time in the final and I need to use my capability and of course my experience.

"Michael came through the bottom half quite easily but I just need to do one more step and play well against him. 

"We have phenomenal games against each other and most of the important ones, I've won. He's a talented player and I need to take that seriously and hurt him at the right moments like I did against Gary Anderson.

Smith: "I started to question myself, is it actually worth it? But this year has made everything I've done worth it.

"I've never thrown the towel in, I've been knocked out three, four, five times but I've always got up and knocked them back.

"I want to live my dream and be the World Champion and that's all that matters to me now.

"I'm now just one step away from living my dream."


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Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith: World Championship final preview - MVG and Bully Boy collide on date with destiny

Two of the most naturally-gifted players on planet darts face off for the sport's ultimate prize on New Year's Day as Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith collide in the World Championship final.

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