Smith in double title delight
By Joe Williams 12/11/2020
MICHAEL Smith went back-to-back on Wednesday in winning Players Championship 20 by coming from behind to defeat Jose De Sousa in the final.
Smith, who had to wait over two years to win a title on Tuesday, stormed his way through the field in recording wins over Derk Telnekes, Matthew Dennant and Damon Heta to reach the last 16, with Smith averaging close to 107 and denying Heta who averaged close to 106.
In the last 16, he defeated recent World Grand Prix Finalist Dirk Van Duijvenbode 6-2 before a 6-1 thrashing of Gabriel Clemens, who was averaging over 109 for the day going into the Quarter- Finals, with Smith averaging close to 110 without giving him a sniff.
In the semi-finals, Smith saw off Vincent Van der Voort 7-3 to set up a final clash with De Sousa.
The pair met in the semi-finals on Day 1 with Smith coming out the winner 7-5. The final began with the pair holding throw in the opening three legs with De Sousa having the advantage of winning the bull to go 2-1 up.
In the 4th leg, Smith missed one dart at the bull to square the match up before De Sousa pounced by pinning tops to go 3-1 up and take control of the match.
De Sousa then went 4-1 up in 11 darts before Smith rattled off 4 legs in a row in 21,16,14 and 12 darts respectively to go 5-4 up in a race to right.
De Sousa then won back to back legs to go 6-5 up before Smith clinched the 12th leg in 14 darts to make it a best of three encounter.
The pair then broke each-others throw in the following two legs with Smith going ahead in 15 darts before De Sousa broke back in 14 darts - which he would then have advantage of throwing first for the title.
A crucial moment in the deciding leg saw De Sousa score just 58 which allowed Smith back in, who pounced by hitting a 180 followed by 137 to leave 126 after nine with De Sousa back on 239. De Sousa left tops after 15 but it wasn’t to be enough as Smith pinned his favourite double 10 with his last dart to clinch the win and pick up back to back Pro Tour titles for the first time in his PDC career.
De Sousa’s run to a sixth PDC ranking final and the hope of winning his fourth PDC title, saw him record wins on the day against Jason Lowe, Adam Hunt, Bradley Brooks, Danny Noppert, Jeffrey De Zwaan and Joe Cullen, which he averaged 110.5 and defeat The Rockstar 7-2. Unable to clinch the title, but a semi-final and a final run on the opening couple of days gives The Portuguese Star good confidence going into the final three days of the Winter Series before making his Grand Slam of Darts debut next week.
Elsewhere, there was quarter runs for Brendan Dolan and Darius Labanauskas and last 16 runs for the first time in their Pro Tour careers for Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk and 2020 Development Tour Order of Merit winner Keane Barry, who had reached the Last 32 on his Pro Tour debut on Tuesday.
Also, there were two nine dart legs hit on the day and both within the space of 10 minutes - first from Andy Hamilton on one of the streaming boards then followed by Rowby-John Rodriguez on one of the non-streaming boards.
The day also saw a number of top seeds dumped out in Round 1 with World Champion Peter Wright, Premier League Champion Glen Durrant, Premier League finalist Nathan Aspinall and World Matchplay Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh all going out along with likes of Ian White, Devon Petersen, Krzysztof Ratajski and Dave Chisnall.
The day only saw 127 players take part as Gary Anderson pulled out due to a knee problem and looks set to miss the rest of the Winter Series and return to Coventry on Sunday ready for the start of the Grand Slam of Darts.
The Winter Series continues on Thursday with Day 3 and Players Championship 21 taking place with play beginning at 14:00 GMT and the event will be broadcasted across two streaming boards on PDC.TV as well as via bookmakers’ websites worldwide and all games will be shown on tv.dartconnect.com.
Players Championship 20
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith 6-2 Dirk Van Duijvenbode
Vincent Van der Voort 6-4 Justin Pipe
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Joe Cullen 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-5 Keane Barry
Jose De Sousa 6-2 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 6-1 Gabriel Clemens
Vincent Van der Voort 6-0 Darius Labanauskas
Joe Cullen 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Michael Smith 7-3 Vincent Van Der Voort
Jose De Sousa 7-2 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 8-7 Jose De Sousa
Owen and Baker settling in well as big names stumble