Michael Smith claimed his second Pro Tour title in as many days as he claimed Players Championship 15 in Wigan today.
As if his sky-high averages over the last couple of days, ‘Bully Boy’ even threw a 9 darter in the mix during his quarter-final win over Florian Hempel.
Similar to yesterday, there were several high profile absentees from the field but the cream rose to the top as the highest-ranked player claimed the £12,000 prize.
Smith Double in Wigan
Having claimed his 8th Pro Tour title on Tuesday, the World Championship and UK Open runner-up got off to a low-key start on Wednesday, beating Glen Durrant 6-4 in his first match of the day as both players averaged in the mid-80s. Smith then stepped it up a notch in the last 64, adding 15 points to his average from the previous round as he comfortably dispatched John Michael to the loss of just one leg.
His next match turned out to be a cracker. Facing Ritchie Edhouse, the man from St. Helens found himself 5-3 down before winning three legs on the spin in 14, 13, and 14 darts respectively to win 6-5, finishing with an average of just over 107. Mario Vandenbogaerde was next up and all seemed to be going according to form as Smith raced into a 3-0 lead, only for the man from Belgium to respond and win the next four legs. Smith wasn’t to be outdone however and won a decider in 15 darts to finish with another impressive average of 104, including nine maximums.
Smith achieved darting perfection in the fourth leg of his encounter against Florian Hempel, the highlight of another magnificent display in which he averaged close to 115 and although the average come down in his semi-final clash with Alan Soutar, Smith still had more than enough in the tank to sail through 7-3.
That left a final with 18th seed Callan Rydz, who progressed through an all-North East affair in his semi-final against Ryan Joyce, and what a final it turned out to be. Rydz drew first blood by taking out the first leg in 12 darts before Smith responded by taking the next three. Legs were then exchanged until Smith went on a run of four consecutive legs from 4-3 up in 13, 12, 13, and 14 darts respectively to seal the title, ‘The Riot’ averaging just over 104, and Smith touching nearly 110.
Smith will be hoping to carry the success of the past two days into tomorrow’s Premier League action. He couldn’t ask for a much tougher assignment to do so however, he faces the top of the table Jonny Clayton in the quarter-finals.
Nathan Girvan hit a nine-dart leg in his first-round encounter against Adrian Lewis. It proved to be in vain however as Jackpot claimed a 6-3 victory.
The early toppling of the seeds on Tuesday continued as no less than six of the top 16 seeds crashed out in the first round today.
2022 Players Championship 15
Wednesday May 11
Alan Soutar 6-4 Steve West
Josh Rock 6-4 Martijn Kleermaker
Michael Smith 6-5 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Florian Hempel 6-1 Jamie Hughes
Callan Rydz 6-1 Rob Cross
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Robert Owen
Damon Heta 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Alan Soutar 6-4 Josh Rock
Michael Smith 6-2 Florian Hempel
Callan Rydz 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Damon Heta
Michael Smith 7-3 Alan Soutar
Callan Rydz 7-1 Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith 8-3 Callan Rydz