The world of darts has absolutely erupted after Michael Smith pulled off a nigh-on unprecedented feat to set up his eventual victory in the World Darts Championship final. The Englishman threw a perfect leg of nine darts to come from near certain defeat in the second set and roar back into contention.
Making Smith's perfect leg all the more impressive was the fact that only moments earlier, his opponent Michael van Gerwen had narrowly missed achieving the feat himself. A perfect leg has only been thrown in the World Championship final once before, when Adrian Lewis did so back in 2011.
The victory marked an impressive triple-whammy for Smith, who not only became world champion, but also won the top spot in the world rankings. The cherry on top - avenging his defeat at the hands of van Gerwen in the 2019 final.
"I have finally done it, all that heartache I have been through and finally I have been able to lift the trophy and put the star on the shirt that I know I have worked hard for," said Smith. "It wasn't just for the World Championship tonight, it was for the world number one so it is special."
After making his incredible comeback in the second set, Smith managed to rattle off four consecutive sets after his perfect leg to complete a stunning victory. Smith's elation was a bitter blow for van Gerwen, who had averaged more than 100 in every round leading up to the final.
After his botched leg cost him the second set, albeit in scarcely believable circumstances, van Gerwen struggled to regain his momentum. Favoured to win a fourth world title, it wasn't to be in 2023 for the Dutchman.
After Smith completed his perfect leg, commentator Wayne Mardle couldn't contain his excitement. “That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see in your life. I can’t speak, I can’t speak,” he said.
Meanwhile, sports fans were losing on social media as well. High-profile MMA journalist Ariel Helwani described it as 'one of the greatest athletic feats I have ever witnessed'.
Michael Smith breaks through for stunning World Championsip win
“When he missed the double 12 I gave him a little low five and it was like, ‘If I hit this now he will know I am in the game and I am not going to shy away from it’," Smith said. “I lost the first set on my darts and I was like, ‘Is it going to happen again?’.
"But when that nine went in it kickstarted me and gave me that belief I needed and also gave him that doubt that I was not just here to get another runners-up trophy. I am here to play and try my best to win the World Championship.”
For his part, the defeated van Gerwen was complimentary of Smith for his long-awaited breakthrough. In addition to Smith's previous defeats in the World Championship final, Smith was also caught in a run of eight major final defeats.
“I think he played really well, of course I had my chances, we all know that,” Van Gerwen said on Sky Sports. “When you don’t hit them it is going to hurt you, of course I was not playing too well in the last two sets and I can only blame myself for that.
“It wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but that’s part of the game and you have to take it on the chin. It’s part of the job, when you celebrate it’s a nice job but when you lose games it’s hard. I have to take it on the chin.”
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