James Wade and Michael Smith go head-to-head for a place in the final of the 2021/22 World Darts Championship at…
James Wade and Michael Smith go head-to-head for a place in the final of the 2021/22 World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
A date with destiny awaits as the duo vie to remain in contention for their first world title and avoid falling agonisingly short.
Their respective routes to the Semi-Final stage have been somewhat contrasting, with Smith setting the tournament alight with a series of spectacular displays, while Wade has eased his way through despite a tournament average of just 87.
Smith is unbeaten in World Championship Semi-Finals, having won his only previous match at this stage in 2019 before losing out to Michael van Gerwen in the final, while Wade is hoping to make it fourth time lucky.
Smith, a semi-finalist in the Grand Slam and winner of two Players Championship titles in 2021, boasts a tournament average of 100.5 – the highest of the four remaining players, as well as the most 180s (43) and highest checkout percentage (48.5%).
Having suffered successive Last 64 exits at Ally Pally, ‘Bully Boy’ has brought his ‘A’ game to the oche this time around, and his 106.3 average against Ron Meulenkamp in Round Two remains the highest of the event so far.
The St Helens ace has gone on to defeat Willie O’Connor and Jonny Clayton in thrilling encounters with averages of 97 and 99 respectively, before sensationally dethroning reigning champion Gerwyn Price with a 5-4 triumph on New Year’s Day, defying a nine-darter and two missed match darts from the Welshman to win an epic with a 102 average.
Wade, meanwhile, has typically gone about his business in understated fashion and is into his first Semi-Final on this iconic stage since 2013.
The reigning UK Open champion and ten-time major winner is widely regarded as the best player yet to reach a World Championship final and will be determined to rid that tag at the fourth time of asking.
Wade defeated Maik Kuivenhoven 3-1 in his opener before Christmas despite an average of just 83.7 and then benefited from the withdrawal of Vincent van der Voort due to a positive Covid test.
He then whitewashed Dutch debutant Martijn Kleermaker 4-0 before thrashing an out of sorts Mervyn King 5-0 in the Quarter-Finals with an average of 86.5.
A win for Wade would see him leapfrog Michael van Gerwen into the world number three spot, while Smith could climb as high as world number five depending on the outcome of the second Semi-Final.
Wade has dominated the overall head-to-heads against Smith, winning 17 of their previous 22 meetings, including their only previous World Championship encounter back in 2016.
Their latest show-down gets under way from 7.45pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 sets, best of five legs per set.
Either 2020 World Champion Peter Wright or two-time World Champion Gary Anderson will await the winner in Monday’s final.
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