Peter Wright etched his name into the history books with a thrilling 7-5 victory over Michael Smith in Monday’s World Darts Championship showpiece, to become just the sixth player in PDC history to land multiple world titles.
Wright – who defeated Michael van Gerwen to lift the world title for the first time in 2020 – led 2-0, only for Smith to win five of the next seven sets to close in on his first major triumph in a compelling Alexandra Palace contest.
The Scot, who prevailed in thrilling tussles against Callan Rydz and his compatriot Gary Anderson to reach his third world final – then produced a stunning late surge to clinch the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy for a second time.
Smith – runner-up to Van Gerwen in 2019 – was crestfallen as he was left to rue another near miss in a major final, but he acquitted himself magnificently in becoming just the tenth man to feature in two PDC world finals.
The world No 9 averaged 99.22 and landed 24 maximums – equalling Wright’s new World Championship record set in the semi-finals – yet it wasn’t enough to scoop the £500,000 top prize, as Wright triumphed with a 98.34 average, 17 180s and 39% on the outer ring.
The first set demonstrated the fallibility of both players, particularly during a remarkable second leg which Smith won in 28 darts, following a multitude of missed doubles from the pair.
However, Wright was the man to draw first blood, before doubling his lead courtesy of magnificent 148 and 124 finishes in consecutive legs – the 124 culminating on the bullseye.
‘Bully Boy’ endured a similarly chastening start during his 2019 defeat to Michael van Gerwen, but his response was indicative of the new, mature Michael Smith.
The St Helen’s star conjured up a sensational 167 finish, followed by a 13-darter, to clinch set three with a 113.33 average, before profiting upon two crucial missed set darts by Snakebite to restore parity at two apiece.
Wright responded with legs of 14 and 11 darts to secure the initiative, and although Smith replied with an 11-darter of his own, registering a 72nd 180 of the tournament to set a new World Championship record, the Scot edged a tight fifth set to regain the lead.
Smith fired in back-to-back 13-darters to wrap up set six and square proceedings once again, before establishing a lead for the first time in set seven.
Wright fluffed his lines on the outer ring, and ‘Bully Boy’ capitalised, before converting an effortless two-dart 93 kill to secure a 4-3 lead with a sumptuous 11-darter.
Smith had the momentum and the advantage of throw for a third successive set, but the world No 2 responded like a true champion, defying back-to-back 180s from Smith to seal set eight with a clinical 72 outshot.
Nevertheless, he was left to rue SIX missed set darts in an extraordinary conclusion to the ninth, and Smith gratefully pounced to regain the initiative via double 13, and move two sets away from glory.
The 31-year-old stretched his winning run to four legs to assert his authority on set ten, only for Wright to hit back once more, reeling off three straight in 14, 13 and 12 darts to level at five apiece.
Having appeared slightly fatigued midway through the contest, Wright was a man possessed in the latter stages, storming 6-5 ahead with a clean sweep in set 11, averaging 112.73 in the process.
The 51-year-old continued his charge with a stunning 12-darter on the bullseye, followed by a 13-darter to stretch his winning sequence to eight legs and move a leg away from the sport’s holy grail.
Smith stopped the rot with a 15-darter to keep his World Championship dreams alive, but ‘Snakebite’ wasn’t to be denied, sealing the deal with a 13-dart hold, to become just the sixth player to win multiple PDC World Championship titles.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC