Michael Smith retained his European Darts Trophy in incredible fashion, as he comprehensively dispatched Michael van Gerwen 6-2, in a repeat of last year’s final.
Smith claimed his maiden European title in Leipzig last year, with a dramatic 6-5 win over MvG, but his victory this year was far more emphatic.
van Gerwen had been in irrepressible form as he coasted into the final, dropping just 3 legs en route to the final. He eased past Adam Hunt 6-1 in the last 32, before whitewashing Jason Lovett 6-0 in the last 16.
The Green Machine faced an unenviable task in the quarter-finals, in the shape of Dave Chisnall, but the Dutchman was sensational; whitewashing the St Helen’s star and leaving Chizzy ‘dizzy’. He then thrashed Peter Wright 6-2 in the semi-finals, after establishing an emphatic 4-0 lead early on.
Michael Smith’s progress was slightly less serene. He comfortably saw off a dogged Wes Newton 6-3 to reach the last 16, but survived a major scare against Kevin Painter in Sunday’s afternoon session. ‘The Artist’ led 4-2 and squandered opportunities to extend his lead, before Smith reeled off four consecutive legs to seal victory.
‘Bully-Boy’ took full advantage of this reprieve in his quarter-final. beating Mervyn King 6-2 to reach the last four. Smith established a commanding 4-0 lead with a 107 average early on and he was always in complete control.
His semi-final against Ian White was a topsy-turvy affair. White found the T20 with unerring regularity in certain legs, threatening a 9-darter on more than one occasion. However, Smith was ultimately more consistent and showed great composure to close out a 6-3 victory.
Nevertheless, the former World Youth Champion saved the very best until last against the World Number One. MvG appeared in control of the opening leg after a perfectly timed maximum, but Smith took out 122 on the bull for an instant break of throw.
The Dutchman responded magnificently, hitting back-to-back maximums to set up a potential 9-darter in leg two, however he then missed three darts at D16 to restore parity. The St Helen’s star capitalised on this uncharacteristic profligacy, taking out 109 for a 2-0 lead.
Smith posted a brilliant 180 with MvG sat on 72 in leg three and psychologically, this was huge. The 25-year-old from Boxtel missed two darts at D12 for his opening leg, and Smith converted 30 with his final dart, for 3-0 and a double break of throw!
van Gerwen’s relentless scoring was mightily impressive, but he was unable to replicate this solidarity on the outer segments. He was again on the 9-darter in the fourth leg, but he didn’t even have a shot at a double, as Smith again took out a stunning 109 checkout to establish a 4-0 lead.
It was an astonishing display of finishing from Smith. His scoring wasn’t at his most explosive, but his timing was exemplary. He hit 180’s at crucial moments and was unflappable in the latter stages of legs. van Gerwen was averaging 117, yet he was somehow trailing 4-0!
The Dutchman deservedly got off the mark in the fifth leg, posting D16 for a 14-darter and a comfortable hold, but he couldn’t make firm inroads into Smith’s throw in leg six, as the World Number 12 converted D5 with his fifth double attempt.
van Gerwen won a scrappy seventh leg, before Smith had the opportunity to seal a stunning victory in the eighth leg. He very nearly won it with a fourth ton-plus finish of the contest, wiring D14 for a 121 checkout.
However, this didn’t prove costly, as the Englishman returned for a 13-darter to secure a second successive European Darts Trophy title. It was a fantastic display from Smith, who demonstrated his growing maturity to capitalise on every error from his opponent.
van Gerwen scored superbly well, but his fragility on the doubles was punished ruthlessly. Although he’ll be disappointed to miss out on a fifth European Tour title of 2015, he’ll be hugely encouraged by his excellent performances, after a rather underwhelming World Series.
However, Michael Smith can take huge confidence from this triumph. This is Smith’s third European Tour title of his career; which proves he has the quality and consistency to challenge at the very top level.
The next challenge for the 24-year-old will be to transfer this form to the TV majors. He has shown glimpses of his quality on the big stage, but has failed to sustain this for the duration of a major tournament But on this evidence, he’s on the cusp of something extremely special; the future looks bright for Michael Smith and his supporters!