SOME say he can’t win finals…..
MICHAEL Smith underlined his membership of the exclusive club of ProTour weekend double-event winners with two Players Championship (PC) victories last month. Bullyboy also hit a nine-dart leg, claimed his first Premier League ‘night win’, and finished off with his first European Tour win for five years.
May‘s Pro Tour events kicked off with MVG winning the European Open but it was Smith who grabbed the headlines when the tour moved back onto the floor. With the demands placed on the top players, it can be difficult to maintain performance levels at the ‘lesser’ events. Smith however did the exact opposite.
Day one saw Smith coming through a very unusual field to defeat former World Master John O’Shea in the final. The Joker put up valiant resistance and may well have been worn out after a very tough route to the final hurdle. Smith has a strong knack for not being swept up in other people’s narratives or sentiments, it can prove useful in finals.
The two 9-darters from event 14, Damon Heta and Ross Smith were matched the following day when young Nathan Girvan produced a third for the weekend and Michael himself followed up with one in his Quarter-final.
It seemed appropriate that the St. Helens man would find a perfect moment as he efforts were close to darting Nirvana over the two days. Smith would need to see off Callan Rydz who was producing 100+ averages for fun and reached the last match (of event 15) in fine style.
The St Helen’s man would not be denied however and produced a sensational 109+ to join the pantheon of those who have gone back-to-back on the pro tour more than once.
The final Pro Tour event of May, the Dutch Darts Open, saw Luke Humphries, (treble ET winner this season) give everyone else a chance and a repeat of the UK Open final of a few months ago. Many cheered the superb run of the reemerging Andrew Gilding but surely the home nation’s win was written in the stars?
Smith again refused to play along with the narrative. Silencing the crowd with a resilient performance and a triumphant deciding leg victory.
Update: Not content with the above Smith kicked off June by winning the US Masters in New York, before returning and winning his third Pro Tour in succession in Germany.
Words: CJ Harris-Hulme
Image: PDC (Premier League)
Editorial Nore: A version of this piece appeared in Darts World Extra (Issue II Spring/Summer 2022) editorial corrections have since been made to acknowledge that this was Michaels’s second double Pro Tour win, the first coming in Autumn 2020
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