Destiny awaits Michael Smith. Only Peter Wright stands between the naturally talented St Helens’ man and the realisation of a boyhood dream.
The task is a big one for Smith and he knows it. Snakebite has been in magnificent form all year, tasting victory in the World Matchplay, Players Championship Finals, and even the World Cup of Darts for Scotland alongside John Henderson.
Wright, 51 is undoubtedly enjoying the best spell of his professional darting career which already includes a World crown he claimed two years ago.
But for Michael Smith, he feels his time is now. Few would begrudge the mercurial genius a maiden PDC TV major – least of all the biggest one of the lot. Not even Peter Wright but he will be doing his best to prevent it.
In this tournament alone, many of the world’s finest have fallen at Michael Smith’s sword.
Arguably the best player in 2021, Jonny Clayton, faced his exit at his hands despite a quite brilliant performance.
Bullyboy then overcame world number one, Gerwyn Price at the quarter-final stage in another high-class encounter.
And finally, perennial major winner James Wade was added to his list of victims of the 2022 World Championship.
Peter Wright has also been severely tested, most notable a gutsy showing from the immensely talented Callan Rydz in his quarter-final. The young Geordie pushed Snakey all the way in their epic showdown and his day will surely come.
Then the mercurial Scot got the better of his compatriot, Gary Anderson, in one of the greatest matches Ally Pally has witnessed to set up an intriguing and mouth-watering final.
It’s almost ten years to the day since Michael Smith and Peter Wright first locked horns in the PDC. On that occasion, it was Bullyboy who dismantled his opponent 6-1 en route to claiming his maiden title at a Players Championship event in Alicante.
Since then, they have gone on to meet a further 36 times with Wright leading the head-to-head 23-12 as well as a couple of Premier League draws thrown into the mix.
Perhaps surprisingly, they have only clashed at the Alexandra Palace once before – that was at the 2014 tournament where Wright pipped a young Smith 4-3 in round three tie.
Notably, their most recent meeting was an epic battle in the semi-final of the Grand Slam of Darts less than two months ago in which Wright prevailed before losing the final to Gerwyn Price.
However, this is a new day and statistics go out of the window. Both the players know that.
Can Bullyboy finally dare to dream or will Snakebite make it two World crowns? Should be epic. Will be momentous.
Words: Paul Woodage, Images: PDC