Michael van Gerwen failed to win his fourth darts world title. In London’s Alexandra Palace, he lost 7-4 to Englishman Michael Smith on Tuesday evening.
Van Gerwen still shot out of the starting blocks. Not even a series of missed doubles could prevent him from breaking Smith and immediately taking the set away from him. Not that the Englishman was put off by that.
17 perfect darts in one leg
In the second set, both men reached an unprecedented level, with the absolute highlight being perhaps the best leg ever played. First Mighty Mike missed by a millimeter after the double 12 for a nine-darter, after which Bully Boy threw his ninth arrow perfectly. It turned out to be an ultimate boost, because the set also went to him (1-1).
In the fifth set, the Brabant player managed to break his opponent again, taking a 3-2 lead in sets. But just like in the early stages of the pot, Van Gerwen failed to capitalize on his break. After again missing several crucial doubles, it was Smith who tied the score (3-3).
Van Gerwen sees it slipping away
In the seventh set Van Gerwen had another chance to break Smith, but out of nowhere he gave away a 2-0 lead in legs. A painful moment and the Englishman must have felt that. He thundered on and did what Van Gerwen failed to do just before: he took the set (3-5).
In retrospect, that was perhaps the decisive moment of the match, which had been so even up to that point. Even after the short break, Van Gerwen saw how Smith ran further and further away. The ninth set went 3-0 to the Englishman, who only needed one more for the victory (3-6).
Van Gerwen did not give in and fought for his last chance to win that coveted fourth world title. With the necessary willpower, he fought his way back to 4-6 after a blood-curdling set.
But that comeback came too late. Smith kept his nerves under control just enough and finished. It is the first World Cup title for the Englishman.
“I can only blame myself,” said an excited Van Gerwen shortly after the game. The darts player did not think he played well. “That’s why I have to swallow it now.”