Peter Wright will take on Michael Smith in Monday’s World Darts Championship final, after edging out his fellow Scot Gary Anderson in one of the greatest games ever seen at Alexandra Palace.
Smith overcame world No 4 James Wade in the opening semi-final to maintain his hopes of landing an elusive first major title, before Wright and Anderson served up a record-breaking classic.
Wright stormed into a 3-0 lead, only for Anderson to produce one of his finest performances in recent times to threaten an astonishing comeback.
However, ‘Snakebite’ kept his nerve superbly, firing in 24 maximums – the most ever recorded in a World Championship match – to prevail 6-4 with a 104 average, despite Anderson landing 15 180s and averaging 103 himself.
The world No 2 came out on top in a high-quality opening set which saw both men average over 106, and he soon doubled his cushion in a second set decider; his winning legs coming in 14, 11 and 14 darts.
Wright extended his lead in a dramatic third set after Anderson squandered two crucial darts at double for an 85 kill, but the two-time world champion fired back in the fourth, conjuring up a spectacular double-double finish on 92 to open his account.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ continued his charge in a fabulous fifth set, converting a nerveless 105 kill on tops to reduce the arrears to 3-2, but Wright restored his two-set buffer in an extraordinary sixth set.
The 2020 world champion followed up a 10-darter in the opening leg by missing double 12 for a nine-darter moments later – the second time he’s missed the double for a perfect leg in as many days.
The Scot’s staggering scoring continued as he fired in a brace of maximums en route to a 15-darter to wrap up the sixth set, yet Anderson was undeterred, averaging 118 in a captivating seventh to keep his hopes alive.
Wright landed his 18th maximum – a record in a World Championship semi-final – in polishing off another 11-darter to move one set away from victory, only for Anderson to return the favour with an 11-darter of his own to cut the deficit to 5-4.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was being roared on by a partisan crowd in the capital, and he appeared poised to force an 11th and deciding set after taking out 104 on tops to break Wright’s throw, before the pendulum shifted yet again.
Wright’s merciless maximum hitting left him sat on 50 after nine darts on the Anderson throw, and after the sixth seed spurned a set dart at double five, ‘Snakebite’ pinned double four, before following up a 23rd 180 by sealing the deal with a 116 finish and a 12-darter.
The 51-year-old fulfilled his darting dreams with victory over Michael van Gerwen in the 2020 final, and he can now join Anderson in becoming a two-time world champion with victory over ‘Bully Boy’ on January 3.
‘Bully Boy’ defies Wade rally to advance
Earlier in the evening, Smith secured a place in his second World Championship final in four years, defying a late rally from James Wade to prevail with a 100.98 average, 16 180s and 45% on the outer ring.
The opening set was a tight affair, but Smith clinched it, with all five legs going with throw. Wade raised his game in the second, landing a 11-darter midway through it, but Smith still doubled his cushion with a stunning 119 set average, sealed with a 114 finish on the 19s.
‘Bully Boy’ produced another blistering display in set three, although he was left to rue two missed set darts – despite averaging 110 – as Wade converted a typically nerveless 121 checkout to steal the set with a 12-dart break.
‘The Machine’ punished some rare profligacy from Smith in set four to extend his winning run to four legs and close in on restoring parity, but the St Helen’s star responded, reeling off three without reply to move 3-1 ahead, after Wade missed a dart at tops for 120 to level.
Wade’s riposte was a second 121 finish, this time via the bullseye, but a stunning 11-darter from Smith sparked a run of seven straight legs, featuring 130 and 112 checkouts, to stretch his lead to 5-1.
Wade stopped the rot via tops and then followed up a clinical 85 combination with a sublime 160 finish to reduce the arrears to 5-2, before edging a high-quality eighth set, with all five legs won in either 13 or 14 darts.
However, there were no finishing line nerves for Smith, who regained his poise magnificently to seal his spot in Monday’s showpiece, and inflict a fourth semi-final defeat on Wade at Alexandra Palace.
2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship
Sunday January 2 (1930 GMT)
Michael Smith 6-3 James Wade
Peter Wright 6-4 Gary Anderson