Michael Smith finally breaks his major title duck as he seals glory at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton The World Darts Championship is coming to Sky Sports from December 15 until January 3 at Alexandra Palace
Monday 21 November 2022 06:23, UK
Michael Smith finally ended his major title duck by clinching his maiden televised ranking title with a comprehensive victory over Nathan Aspinall in Sunday's Grand Slam of Darts final.
Smith - who had lost in eight previous big-stage finals - fulfilled his darting destiny with an emphatic 16-5 success against Aspinall in Sunday's showpiece at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
St Helens star Smith was featuring in his fourth televised final of 2022, having succumbed in World Championship, UK Open and European Championship finals earlier this year.
However, the 31-year-old produced a dominant display to scoop the £150,000 top prize and become the seventh different winner of the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy.
2018 Premier League
2018 World Series of Darts Finals
2019 PDC World Championship
2019 World Matchplay
2022 PDC World Championship
2022 UK Open
2022 European Championship
2022 Grand Slam of Darts
|Semi-Finals (Best of 31 legs)
|Raymond van Barneveld
|Final (Best of 31 legs)
"I'm used to giving the runner-up speech," joked Smith, who averaged 96, landed nine 180s and converted 50 per cent of his attempts at double to seal a landmark victory.
"I was so nervous. In the first few legs I was shaking like mad, but then Nathan started to miss doubles and let me in.
"Nathan is a quality player and if he had got going it would have been a totally different game.
"Every time I got a shot I took it out, and then I started to find my scoring but my doubles stayed, so happy days!
Aspinall was relieved to only trail 3-2 at the first interval, after Smith wired double 14 for a roof-raising 145 checkout in leg five and the pattern continued after the break, as Smith followed up a two-dart 88 finish with a 13-darter in leg 10 to extend his lead to 7-3.
The world No 4 soon moved into double digits in a crucial 15th leg, completing a two-dart 84 combination via double 12, after Aspinall had missed the same target for a 138 finish.
It proved to be the defining blow, as Smith reeled off the next six legs without reply to storm to the title in supreme style, sealing the deal with a two-dart 56 outshot on tops to spark emotional post-match celebrations.
"The hard work starts again now," insisted Smith, who will aim to make it back-to-back titles at next week's Cazoo Players Championship Finals in Minehead.
"Nobody can take this away from me now. It's a big weight off my shoulders.
"I'm going to enjoy this until Thursday and then on Friday it's a new event, and now I've got this title, who knows?"
Smith made it through to the final following a sensational display of scoring from the St Helens star, who ended Raymond van Barneveld's fairy-tale run to prevail in a high-quality affair.
'Bully Boy' - who opened the tie with legs of 10 and 12 darts - raced into a 5-0 lead before the 2012 champion in Wolverhampton battled back, punishing a host of missed opportunities from his opponent to level at 12-12.
However, the 55-year-old Dutch veteran paid the price for squandering three darts at double for 13-13, and Smith stormed to victory with four straight legs, averaging 104 and crashing in an extraordinary 17 180s.
The second semi-final followed a similar pattern, as Aspinall produced a stunning late surge to defeat Luke Humphries by the same 16-12 scoreline.
The pendulum continued to shift in the opening exchanges, and while there was nothing to separate the pair after 20 legs, Aspinall delivered in the latter stages to reach his second televised final in as many months.
The former UK Open champion converted 90 and 124 combinations for successive 12-darters to lead 14-11, and he wrapped up victory with a brilliant 121 finish on the bull to cap off a classy display.
The World Darts Championship is coming to Sky Sports from December 15 until January 3 at Alexandra Palace in London.