Michael Smith made it back-to-back Players Championship titles at the PDC Winter Series by overcoming Jose De Sousa 8-7 in the final in Coventry on Wednesday.
Smith, who had ended a two-and-a-half year wait for a PDC ranking title on Tuesday, continued his inspired burst of form to secure a second £10,000 title in as many days at the Ricoh Arena.
The world number four produced four ton-plus averages on his way to victory as he stretched his unbeaten run to 14 games after defeat in Sunday’s World Cup of Darts final with England.
“I’m overjoyed and over the moon,” said Smith. “This is all about confidence and belief.
“Finally getting that title yesterday meant the pressure was off.
“I didn’t do much wrong today, I was checking out finishes when I needed to.
“I managed to pull out a 180 in that last leg, I don’t know where from.
“Last night I got to sleep at 2am because I forgot what it’s like winning and what happens to your phone.
“My phone went stupid until 2 in the morning and it’s going to go even worse now!”
Smith kick-started his path to glory with a solid 6-3 victory over Dutchman Derk Telnekes before averaging 106.1 and 106.8 in 6-1 and 6-3 wins over Matthew Dennant and Damon Heta respectively.
He then saw off World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 before thrashing in-form Gabriel Clemens 6-1 with a blistering 109.9 average in the Quarter-Finals.
The Premier League star clinched his place in the final with a commanding 7-3 triumph over Vincent van der Voort with a 101 average.
It was De Sousa, however, who took control of the final, storming into a 4-1 lead with two 11-darters along the way.
A crucial moment then saw the Portuguese star squander five darts at doubles as Smith finished 65 to stop the rot in leg six.
That was the first of four consecutive legs for Smith as he took out 82 to turn the match on its head and move 5-4 in front.
De Sousa, responded strongly with back-to-back checkouts of 82 and 116 to regain the upper-hand, but only for Smith to claim the next two legs for a 7-6 lead.
De Sousa dug deep and broke throw with double 12 to force a decider, but a timely 180 from Smith saw him seize control before finishing the job on double ten.
De Sousa went one better than Tuesday’s run to the Semi-Finals as he progressed to a sixth PDC ranking final, having notably claimed European Grand Prix glory last month.
The world number 37 started his run with wins over Jason Lowe and Adam Hunt before averaging 101 in a 6-1 rout of Bradley Brooks.
A 6-2 win over Danny Noppert followed in the Last 16 before he survived two match darts from Jeffrey de Zwaan to clinch a 6-5 success in the Last Eight.
His best performance came in the Semi-Finals against Joe Cullen, averaging a staggering 110.5 with seven 180s in a 7-2 demolition.
Day Two of the PDC Winter Series also witnessed two nine-darters, with Andy Hamilton firing in the first during his First Round win over Christian Bunse, before Rowby-John Rodriguez landed a perfect leg in his Second Round win over Boris Krcmar.
Germany’s Gabriel Clemens was one of the stand-out performers as he registered four averages in excess of 105 en route to the Quarter-Finals, including two 112s.
Vincent van der Voort reached enjoyed a run to his first Players Championship Semi-Final since April 2016, while 18-year-old Irish star Keane Barry reached the Last 16 on the ProTour for the first time.
Premier League champion Glen Durrant suffered a second successive First Round exit, going down in a deciding leg to Steve West, while World Champion Peter Wright averaged 107.6 in a 6-5 defeat to Kai Fan Leung – who averaged 106 in a memorable First Round scalp.
Wednesday November 11
Scott Mitchell 6-2 Jim Williams
Ryan Joyce 6-2 Keegan Brown
Ryan Murray 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Matt Clark
Peter Jacques 6-5 Luke Humphries
Jamie Hughes 6-0 Matthew Edgar
William O’Connor 6-1 Harald Leitinger
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 Devon Petersen
Boris Krcmar 6-4 Scott Baker
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 David Evans
Kevin Doets 6-3 Ted Evetts
Michael Smith 6-3 Derk Telnekes
Matthew Dennant 6-5 Benito van de Pas
Damon Heta 6-0 Steve Brown
James Wilson 6-3 Martin Atkins
James Wade 6-1 Yordi Meeuwisse
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Marko Kantele
Vincent van der Voort 6-1 David Pallett
Jeff Smith 6-2 Josh Payne
Rob Cross 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Jan Dekker 6-5 Maikel Verberk
Justin Pipe 6-4 Ryan Searle
Max Hopp 6-4 Carl Wilkinson
John Michael 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-0 John Henderson
Martijn Kleermaker 6-5 Barrie Bates
Aaron Beeney 6-4 Michael Barnard
Steve West 6-5 Glen Durrant
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Karel Sedlacek
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Conan Whitehead
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Darren Penhall
Kai Fan Leung 6-5 Peter Wright
Ryan Meikle 6-2 Daniel Larsson
Scott Taylor 6-3 Chris Dobey
Steve Lennon 6-2 Jonathan Worsley
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Gary Blades
Darren Webster 6-0 Mark McGeeney
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Ritchie Edhouse
Jesus Noguera 6-3 Martin Schindler
Joe Cullen 6-5 Kirk Shepherd
Andy Boulton 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Ross Smith 6-5 Joe Murnan
Gavin Carlin 6-2 Ciaran Teehan
Mickey Mansell 6-4 Ian White
Robert Collins 6-3 Simon Stevenson
Jermaine Wattimena 6-1 Reece Robinson
Ricky Evans 6-3 Nick Kenny
Jitse Van der Wal 6-0 Nathan Aspinall
Keane Barry 6-0 Adrian Gray
Mike De Decker 6-4 Maik Kuivenhoven
Richard North 6-5 William Borland
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Ron Meulenkamp 6-4 Wayne Jones
Mervyn King 6-2 Alan Tabern
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Toni Alcinas
Jose De Sousa 6-2 Jason Lowe
Adam Hunt 6-0 Steve Beaton
Bradley Brooks 6-4 Madars Razma
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Christian Bunse – *Hamilton hits a nine-darter*
Danny Noppert 6-3 Richie Burnett
Robert Thornton 6-4 Lisa Ashton
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Callan Rydz 6-2 Scott Waites
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Scott Mitchell
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Ryan Murray
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Peter Jacques
Jamie Hughes 6-4 William O’Connor
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Boris Krcmar – *Rodriguez hits a nine-darter*
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 Kevin Doets
Michael Smith 6-1 Matthew Dennant
Damon Heta 6-1 James Wilson
James Wade 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Jeff Smith
Rob Cross 6-3 Jan Dekker
Justin Pipe 6-3 Max Hopp
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-0 John Michael
Martijn Kleermaker 6-5 Aaron Beeney
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Steve West
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Ryan Meikle 6-3 Kai Fan Leung
Steve Lennon 6-2 Scott Taylor
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Darren Webster
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Jesus Noguera
Joe Cullen 6-0 Andy Boulton
Ross Smith 6-4 Gavin Carlin
Mickey Mansell 6-4 Robert Collins
Ricky Evans 6-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Keane Barry 6-1 Jitse Van der Wal
Mike De Decker 6-3 Richard North
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-5 Ron Meulenkamp
Mervyn King 6-3 Kim Huybrechts
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Adam Hunt
Bradley Brooks 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Danny Noppert 6-3 Robert Thornton
Callan Rydz 6-1 Stephen Bunting
Ryan Joyce 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Jamie Hughes
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Michael Smith 6-3 Damon Heta
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 James Wade
Justin Pipe 6-5 Rob Cross
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-4 Martijn Kleermaker
Darius Labanauskas 6-1 Luke Woodhouse
Ryan Meikle 6-2 Steve Lennon
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Joe Cullen 6-3 Ross Smith
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Ricky Evans
Keane Barry 6-2 Mike De Decker
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-1 Mervyn King
Jose De Sousa 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Danny Noppert 6-5 Callan Rydz
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Justin Pipe
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Joe Cullen 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-5 Keane Barry
Jose De Sousa 6-2 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 6-1 Gabriel Clemens
Vincent van der Voort 6-0 Darius Labanauskas
Joe Cullen 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 7-3 Vincent van der Voort
Jose De Sousa 7-2 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 8-7 Jose De Sousa
Michael Smith produced a spectacular nine-darter on his way to victory over Daryl Gurney in Dublin, while Michael van Gerwen ensured their would be no fairy-tale upset for William O’Connor.
The world number five followed up back-to-back 180s with a quick-fire 141 checkout to land his first televised nine-darter and send the 9,000-strong crowd wild.
Smith went on to seal a hard-fought win to become one of four players sat on five points in a congested league table and leave Gurney rooted to the bottom.
“It’s a feeling you can’t explain – it’s amazing,” said Smith. “I’ve never hit a nine-darter on TV before and this was special. I’ve never felt my heart beat so fast in my life!
“It’s something on my list that I’ve ticked off my checklist now and I’m over the moon, but even more pleased to get the win too.
“I could have played better but I’m just chuffed to get the win.”
Smith has now put himself in contention to claim a £50,000 bonus from sponsors Unibet should a player achieve two nine-darters during the tournament.
Elsewere, Van Gerwen denied Challenger William O’Connor a victory in front of his home fans with a 7-4 success to return to the top of the league table on leg difference ahead of Aspinall.
Limerick’s O’Connor – who enjoyed a spine-tingling walk-on – pulled back from 3-1 down to level after six legs, only for Van Gerwen to pull clear in the final stages.
“It was a phenomenal atmosphere tonight and I think for William it was like my first time playing in Rotterdam,” said Van Gerwen.
“I’ve had a lot of good games against him in the past and he played okay tonight. It was tough for me and I had to fight for this win so I’m happy.
“There’s more in the tank but I feel good and it’s nice to be back on top of the table.”
O’Connor was the fourth of the nine Challengers to take to the Premier League stage, and the World Cup finalist admitted it was an unforgettable experience.
“Regardless of the result, it’s the best night of my life,” said O’Connor. “I’ve a lot to learn from tonight and it will definitely hold me in good stead for the future.
“I’ve had a fantastic night. It’s a pity the result went the way it did but I played the world number one in my home country. It was everything that I could have wished for.”
Nathan Aspinall moved above Glen Durrant in the table with a 7-5 win in a match dominated by missed doubles.
Durrant took out 144 on the way to a 3-1 advantage but the pivotal moment in the match saw him squander eight darts at doubles in leg five as Aspinall punished and clawed his way back to parity.
Durrant then led 4-3 before Aspinall finished 85 and a key 129 to move himself ahead for the first time.
Durrant punished three missed doubles from the UK Open champion to level in leg ten, but double seven secured Aspinall a minimum of a point before he followed a 177 with an 88 checkout to seal a third win of the season.
“I’m a happy guy,” said Aspinall. “The start wasn’t good but Glen let me off with some missed doubles. The 129 was a massive shot and I knew it, and in patches I played well.
“I’ve never played well against Glen but I had a bit of luck tonight at crucial times and I got the job done. I’m in a good position at the moment and I want to build on this.”
Gerwyn Price moved into third place in the table with a ruthless 7-1 demolition of an out of sorts Peter Wright – who shared the opening two legs before seeing the Welsh ace reel off six in a row, including a ten-darter.
“It’s a very good win for me,” said Price. “I’ve had three draws so it’s nice to get the win and get my campaign underway, and I feel like I’m in the tournament now.
“I was a bit edgy and I wasn’t at my best, but I’ll take a 7-1 win over Peter any day of the week. Peter wasn’t scoring well and he didn’t perform tonight, but he will come back from this.”
Gary Anderson picked up his second victory of the season by seeing off Rob Cross 7-5, jumping above the 2019 Premier League finalist in the process.
Anderson took out finishes of 109 and 106 as he shared the opening eight legs before taking out 85 to move ahead, while a 14-darter secured at least a draw.
Cross took out a superb 128 bull finish to hit back, but was unable to check out 124 in the decider as Anderson returned to land double ten for the triumph.
“Some of it was pretty and some of it was awful, but it’s nice to scrape a win there,” said Anderson.
“I’m still making mistakes but there’s times that the throw is working and it will come good.
“It’s going well on the practice board and I want to take it up on stage. My darts are getting a bit better week by week – tonight wasn’t quite as good but that was down to the person throwing them!”
Night Four – Thursday February 27
Glen Durrant 5-7 Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross 5-7 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 5-7 Michael Smith – *Smith hits a nine-darter*
William O’Connor 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Peter Wright
Michael Smith admits his omission from multiple World Series events “hurts” and has vowed to use it as motivation for the remainder of the season.
Smith, the world number five, has been left out of the line-ups for both the U.S Darts Masters and Nordic Darts Masters in June.
World Championship and World Matchplay runner-up in 2019, Smith was also a beaten finalist in January’s Masters, but is not among the field of PDC representatives heading to New York and Copenhagen.
The first two World Series events of the season feature eight PDC stars and eight regional hopefuls battling it out in the two-day non-ranked tournaments.
Smith was runner-up in last year’s U.S Masters in Las Vegas, though that proved his only World Series appearance prior to the World Series Finals in November.
The St Helens ace admits he is perplexed at being left out of the first two events and does not expect to be selected for the tour of Australia and New Zealand in August.
“Me and the Mrs had things planned for where we could go in New York,” Smith told Live Darts.
“I didn’t get picked for that so that was a big kick in the you know what.
“Denmark was the same thing. I’ve been there a few times, it’s a nice place but it’s not for me.
“Germany [German Masters], I know it hasn’t been released, but I know I’m not getting in because [Gabriel] Clemens got to the final last year, he’s got to be in it so I know I’m not getting in.
“The only thing I’ve got to look forward to is Australia, but if I got in to the Australian events I’d have to take my kids and my Mrs for the three weeks, that’s going to be a pain in the backside!”
The PDC announced on Monday that it will head to Wollongong and Townsville in Australia for the first time in August, with the New Zealand Masters sandwiched between the two events.
The PDC representatives for the triple-header Down Under are yet to be confirmed, but after missing out last year, ‘Bully Boy’ says he does not hold much hope of selection but has vowed to ensure his ranking is high enough that he cannot be overlooked in future.
“I’m not fussed if I don’t get in them, it does hurt because I’ve been overlooked by people that, in my mind, are not even better than me,” he added.
“I knew when I play in TV events that I can turn up whenever I want.
“I do play sloppy games but I do still win them and then I’ll turn up the game after.
“Barry [Hearn] always says it’s going to earn people money but it’s not, it’s costing me a lot of money not playing in them.
“Things happen for a reason and I’ve got to step up now and make sure I start this year and finish this year strongly and make sure I’m in the top four and guaranteed to be in everything for next year.”
Michael Smith insists he is not “bottling” his chances in major finals despite letting The Masters title slip through his grasp.
Smith squandered three match darts in the deciding leg of a dramatic final against Peter Wright as he allowed the Scot to clinch the title.
Smith has now lost in his last six televised finals since winning the Shanghai Masters in 2018.
He admitted: “It just looks like I bottle it but I’m not, I’m trying my hardest, it just won’t go.
“I wanted it so much, I think I threw too hard at the doubles for the match, but when they left my hand they felt like they were going in.
“It’s another runner-up trophy to add to my big collection but I’ll get over it and I’ll be back on the board practicing double top.
“It is a positive start to 2020, even though I’m feeling so disappointed but I’ve got the Premier League and UK Open to look forward to around the corner.”
Smith defeated Adrian Lewis 10-6 in the Last Eight before coming through a tense last-leg decider with Nathan Aspinall.