Michael Smith ended the title defence of Gerwyn Price at the World Championship, despite a magnificent nine-dart finish from the world No 1 in a quarter-final classic at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day at the darts.
‘Bully Boy’ produced arguably his greatest-ever performance on the biggest stage of them all to defeat Price and set up a semi-final date with James Wade, who whitewashed Mervyn King earlier in the day.
Peter Wright survived an onslaught from young Callan Rydz to reach the final four where he will play fellow Scot Gary Anderson.
Smith dethrones Price in Ally Pally stonker
Despite a 121 from Smith, it was the Welsh ace who edged the opener with a 109.98 average. However, the 2019 finalist bounced back with three straight legs, including a 107 to make it a level game.
The world No 1 planted a neat 125 checkout and a 130 on the bullseye as he wrapped up the third set to retake the lead.
Price then made history by throwing the third nine-darter of the Worlds in the second leg of the fourth set, but it was ‘Bully Boy’ who eventually claimed it with checkouts of 96 and 130 – averaging an incredible 121.30.
A 108 sealed the fifth set for ‘The Iceman’ but Smith wasn’t going anywhere and he bounced back to whitewash his opponent and restore parity at 3-3, winning the set with just 38 darts (11, 13 and 14) and an average of 118.66 this time.
The defending champion cleaned up 74 to edge the seventh set in a decider, but after squandering two match darts, Smith punished Price to send the contest into a decider.
‘Bully Boy’ broke throw in the first leg and he followed it up with a gutsy 126 on the bullseye to edge closer to victory. And the 31-year-old sealed an unforgettable night on double 12.
Smith told Sky Sports: “When I hit the 126 I started shaking like mad. I had to compose myself. I’m in the semi-final and one step from living out my dream. This is my chance.”
Michael Smith threw the second and the third best set-average of the tournament in his quarterfinals game.
121.86 ??????? Smith M.
121.33 ??????? Smith M. ?
118.66 ??????? Smith M. ?
117.73 ??????? Rydz
115.62 ?? Kleermaker
115.62 ?? van den Bergh#WHdarts I #DARTZN I #DartsWM pic.twitter.com/6JVd8nGfB6
— TheRedBit ? (@TheRedBit180) January 1, 2022
World Darts Championship – New Year’s Day Evening Results
|QF||Peter Wright||5-4||Callan Rydz|
|QF||Gerwyn Price||4-5||Michael Smith|
Wright wins epic against dynamite kid
Rydz made an explosive start with a 152 checkout and the 23-year-old from Newcastle upon Tyne showed why he is one of the most talked about players in world darts by cleaning up 94 with a 110 average to take an early lead.
‘The Riot’, who will break into the top 32 in the world after the tournament, continued his stunning checkout streak with identical 106 finishes in the first and third legs before firing in a calm 105 to claim the second set with a 99 average and six out of seven on doubles.
A 112 from Wright helped him on his way to the third set, but back came debutant Rydz to punish ‘Snakebite’ with a 97 break of throw and double two for a 3-1 lead in the race to five.
The 2012 champion was not giving up that easily though and he nailed 140, 91, and 84 for an 11-darter to reduce the deficit. He came millimetres away from a nine-darter in the third leg of the sixth set. After landing eight perfect darts he went below double 12.
Wright did draw level with a roof-raising 96 (20, D18, D20) and he opened his account in set seven with a 96 two-dart combination. Rydz then punished Wright for crucial missed doubles to clinch it 3-1, although the Scot swept through the eighth to send the contest into a decider.
As of yet we had 23x 110+ set averages. Peter Wright and Callan Rydz produced four of them in their game!
— TheRedBit ? (@TheRedBit180) January 1, 2022
The quarter-final inevitably went to a tie-breaker but it was ‘Snakebite’ who showed his years of experience to come through an incredible tungsten encounter.
“I love Gary Anderson to bits. Hopefully the game is as good as that one or even better,” Wright said.
Live World Darts Championship
January 2, 2022, 7:30pm
World Darts Championship – Sunday’s semi-finals at the Worlds
|James Wade||vs||Michael Smith|
|Peter Wright||vs||Gary Anderson|
World Darts Championship – New Year’s Day Afternoon Results
|QF||James Wade||5-0||Mervyn King|
|QF||Luke Humphries||2-5||Gary Anderson|
Ando stays on course for third title
Luke Humphries made a storming start, winning all three legs without reply, averaging 102.48. Anderson replied by winning the next in a deciding leg, despite just 25 per cent on the doubles.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ pinned tops for a 104 en route to winning the third set against the throw, but back came Humphries to claim the fourth 3-1 and restore parity. The 51-year-old picked the Berkshire thrower’s pocket with a magnificent 110 to regain the upper-hand.
A classy 148 followed a fine double 11 under pressure put Anderson on the brink of a semi-final berth. And a fourth ton-plus finish of 108 helped the Scot on his way to completing a 5-2 victory with a 96.3 average and eight 180s in total.
Wade through under the radar?
King was left to rue two missed darts for the first set with left-hander Wade, making his 18th consecutive appearance at the Worlds, snatching it in a decider with double 10. Aldershot ace Wade doubled his lead with a second 180, despite an average of just 86.79.
James Wade’s record in active PDC major ranking events
UK Open – ???
World Matchplay – ?
World Grand Prix – ??
European Championship – ?
Grand Slam – ??? (1x unranked)
Players Championship Finals – SF
World Championship – 4x SF
— Weekly Dartscast (@WeeklyDartscast) January 1, 2022
Wade, who has enjoyed a more simple passage through to his first appearance in the quarter-finals for five years, hit tops for a 3-0 lead before cleaning up 70 to move one set away from wrapping up victory.
Sets played to reach the PDC World Championship Semi’s
(since 2007, start Last 64)
13 Wade??????? 2022
17 Taylor??????? 2014, 2011, 2010
17 van Barneveld?? 2011
18 Taylor??????? 2008, 2007
18 A. Lewis??????? 2017
18 Anderson??????? 2017
18 van Barneveld?? 2014#WHDarts
— Premium Dart Data (@PremiumDartData) January 1, 2022
And ‘The Machine’ breezed into his fourth semi-finals at Alexandra Palace by pinning his favourite double 10 to complete a demolition job on the 55-year-old veteran.
Apparently I live in more players heads than I thought! ?
— Wayne Mardle (@Wayne501Mardle) January 1, 2022
“I’m not under the radar,” Wade said. “People like (Wayne) Mardle don’t think I’m good enough. But I won more than he did.”
Join us for the conclusion of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace on Sky Sports Darts. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts