MICHAEL VAN GERWEN beat Michael Smith 6-3 in the final of the 2018/19 PDC World Darts Championship, at London’s Palace
The culmination of darts’ biggest-ever event saw world number one Van Gerwen produce a dominant display in which he led throughout in the replay of the 2018 Premier League Final.
The Dutchman opened up four-set leads at 4-0 and 6-2, with a determined Smith unable to work his way back into the contest.
In the first World Championship final since 1983 to feature two players under 30 years of age, Van Gerwen completed a 7-3 triumph to walk away with the £500,000 top prize and the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.
“It means the world to me to win this trophy for a third time,” said Van Gerwen, who previously tasted victory in 2014 and 2017.
“Everyone knows I’ve had some difficult times this year, but to win this one is all that matters at the end of the day. This is the best feeling in the world.
“I was a little bit nervous, my body was pumping with adrenaline and to be honest I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but as long as you win that’s all that matters.
“Michael is a phenomenal player, he pushed me all the way and I am sure that one day he will win the World Championship.
“I think I probably should’ve won more than three World Championship titles by now but it is a great feeling to be able to call myself a three-time World Champion. Now it’s time for a well-deserved holiday!”
The game began with a stunning 129 checkout on the bullseye from Van Gerwen, setting the tone for the tie before edging the deciding leg to claim the opening set.
The Dutchman was at his relentless best, landing a sublime 126 checkout on his way to winning the second set, and followed it up with the next two sets to double his advantage.
Smith produced a magnificent 124 finish to win the deciding leg of set five to get his first set on the board, and then breezed the sixth set without losing a leg to go within two sets of Van Gerwen.
The world number one quashed any hopes of a Smith comeback, taking the next two sets to go within a leg of victory, only for a dogged Smith to get his third set on the board.
Van Gerwen, who posted his 19th consecutive ton-plus average on the Alexandra Palace stage, found double 16 with his third match dart attempt to claim glory.
“I’m gutted about how the game turned out, I just didn’t get going,” said Smith.
“I’m annoyed with myself for how I played, and if I took my chances then maybe it would’ve been a different game.
“I tried way too hard but it’s my first World Championship final and I guarantee it won’t be my last.
“I guarantee that one day I will lift this trophy.”
Van Gerwen and Smith are among the players who will now look ahead to the 2019 Unibet Premier League, which begins in February, after being included in the ten-player field.
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Tuesday January 1
Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Michael Smith
2020 William Hill World Darts Championship Outright betting (Sponsors odds)
6/5 Michael Van Gerwen
5/1 Gary Anderson
10/1 Michael Smith
12/1 Peter Wright
12/1 Rob Cross
25/1 Daryl Gurney
25/1 Mensur Suljovic
33/1 Adrian Lewis
33/1 Dimitri Van den Bergh
33/1 Gerwyn Price
33/1 James Wade
50/1 Joe Cullen
66/1 Dave Chisnall
66/1 Raymond van Barneveld
Last Sunday saw dazzling performances from Van Gerwen and Smith, who recorded wins over Gary Anderson and Nathan Aspinall respectively to reach the final of £2.5 million event. Toals make it 1/4 that Van Gerwen wins the final.
A replay of the 2018 Premier League Final, Tuesday’s showdown will be the first World Championship final since 1983 to feature two players under 30 years of age, with the winner walking away with the £500,000 top prize and the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Van Gerwen secured a thumping 6-1 success over Anderson in a replay of the 2016/17 final which saw two-time World Champions collide.
A dominant display from world number one Van Gerwen began with him finding double top in the deciding leg of the opening set to edge ahead, before the Dutchman won 12 of the next 13 legs to take a 5-0 lead in a relentless onslaught.
Anderson found double 12 with his last dart in the deciding leg of set six to prevent a whitewash, only for Premier League champion Van Gerwen to take the next set 3-1, taking out 90 to secure a stunning victory.
“I think I played really well, Gary couldn’t find his form and I took advantage of that,” said Van Gerwen, who ended the tie with a 104.76 average.
“The pressure I put on Gary meant he wasn’t at his best, I didn’t give him any time to breathe with my finishing.
“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.
“I’m working hard week after week, so I’m glad that I was able to produce my best game on this occasion.”
Smith reached his first World Championship final with a 6-3 triumph over surprise package Aspinall, breaking the record for the most 180s hit in a World Championship semi-final in the process with 17 maximums.
A stunning display from Smith, who ended the match with a 105.22 average, began with him taking the opening seven legs of the contest, before debutant Aspinall produced a gutsy fightback to level at 2-2 and 3-3.
World number ten Smith checked out 90 on the bullseye to regain the lead and he doubled his advantage thanks to back-to-back 12-dart legs in the eighth set.
The Shanghai Darts Master didn’t drop another leg and sealed a memorable win with a 121 checkout, his fifth ton-plus finish of a high-quality showing.
“I’ve never felt like that during or after a match, I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Smith, whose previous best World Championship performance saw him reach a quarter-final.
“The first two sets I was cruising, but fair play to Nathan, he got better and better but I took my chances when they came which gave me the edge.
“I think the seventh set was the crucial moment because I felt I was going to win after I went 4-3 up. I was so nervous and I nearly made a mess of it, but I’m so glad that I held it together and got the job done.
“I’m now just one step away from living my dream.”
The William Hill World Darts Championship Final will take place from 2000(GMT) on Tuesday January 1, and will be broadcast live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel and worldwide through the PDC’s international broadcast partners.
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Sunday December 30
Michael Smith 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Gary Anderson
Tuesday January 1 (2000)
Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith