‘Bully Boy’ joins Dimitri Van den Bergh, Callan Rydz and Rob Cross as winners this week in Barnsley, the penultimate round of Players Championship events
Last Updated: 22/10/21 8:12pm
Michael Smith produced a superb comeback from 4-0 down to win eight of the last 10 legs against Ross Smith and claim the final Players Championship event in Barnsley this week.
It was a big week for Smith, whose victory moved him into a provisional qualification place for the Grand Slam of Darts later this month, and added a second Pro Tour title of the year to his list of achievements.
The pair of Smiths had met earlier this season in Germany in the final of Players Championship 10 and Ross had looked on course to avenge that 8-5 reverse and add to his maiden PDC title which came earlier this year.
Having edged past Michael Rasztovits in a last-leg decider in the first round, Michael Smith produced back-to-back averages over 100 in wins over Joe Murnan and Maik Kuivenhoven.
Another last-leg decider against Ricky Evans saw him through to the last eight where he accounted for Kim Huybrechts and then Florian Hempel to reach his fourth ranking event final of the season.
PDC Super Series 7 – This Week’s Winners
|Players Championship 24||Dimitri Van den Bergh 8-5 Adrian Lewis|
|Players Championship 25||Callan Rydz 8-6 Gabriel Clemens|
|Players Championship 26||Rob Cross 8-6 Ryan Searle|
|Players Championship 27||Michael Smith 8-6 Ross Smith|
The start of the final saw Ross Smith fly out of the traps to claim the opening four legs, including a brilliant 94 finish as he took control of the contest but, having been broken twice, ‘Bully Boy’ hit back with a 13-dart break of his own to get on the board.
A classy 101 gave him a second leg and he took his own tally to four on the bounce as he levelled the contest. The pair traded the next two legs, leaving it as a best-of-five contest, and it was Michael who stood firm to claim the three he needed for an 8-6 success and an impressive comeback victory.
“Ross missed so many chances, he let me in and I think my finals experience saw me through,” said ‘Bully Boy’.
“If I’m being honest, I haven’t really played well today, I’ve been pinching games and I did the same in the final.
“But what I have done well is keep fighting. I’ve been working on the mental side of the game over the last six months, so it’s good to see that paying off.
“I just keep myself composed and keep myself together under pressure. I’m just trying to find myself back into form.”
Friday October 22 – Players Championship 27
Ross Smith 6-5 Damon Heta
Rob Cross 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Florian Hempel 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith 6-3 Kim Huybrechts
Ross Smith 7-6 Rob Cross
Michael Smith 7-3 Florian Hempel
Michael Smith 8-6 Ross Smith
PDC Senior Titles 2021
|3||Jose De Sousa|
|2||Rob Cross, Joe Cullen, Michael Smith, Callan Rydz, Dimitri Van den Bergh|
A busy week in Barnsley
Dimitri Van den Bergh, Callan Rydz and Rob Cross all took honours over the first three days of the penultimate round of Players Championship action – the final three events take place in Barnsley over November 2, 3 and 4.
At the conclusion of those events the 64-player field for the Players Championship Finals in Minehead will be confirmed and the race to keep PDC Tour Cards will continue.
This week in Barnsley, Latvia’s Madars Razma claimed nine-dart finishes on Thursday and Friday, while Nathan Aspinall claimed one on the opening Tuesday, but there were plenty of other talking points.
With world No 1 Gerwyn Price, and World Grand Prix champion Jonny Clayton both opting against playing in Barnsley, world No 2 Peter Wright was the highest-ranked player in the field.
‘Snakebite’ had won on the final day of the last four Super Series events but, after a week that had seen him not go beyond the last 16 on the previous three days, there was no repeat of his usual day-four antics.
Wright was beaten 6-1 by Gavin Carlin in the second round and another mid-80s average will give him plenty to think of ahead of back-to-back majors in the coming weeks – the World Series of Darts Finals next weekend and the Grand Slam of Darts, which starts on November 13.
Michael van Gerwen is without a ranked PDC title since the Players Championship Finals last November and he lost at the last-16 stage for the third time this week after a 6-2 defeat to Kim Huybrechts
Van Gerwen had lost on the previous three days with averages of 107, 102 and 107 and, while he fell short of that mark, he once again offered flashes that his best might not be far away
Lisa Ashton warmed up for the weekend’s conclusion of the Women’s Series by missing match darts in a second-round defeat to Wednesday’s winner Rydz – the third successive day she had fallen at the last-64 stage.
The four-time women’s world champion will remain in Barnsley for six events where she will hope to join Fallon Sherrock at the Grand Slam of Darts and be one of two players to secure a place at the PDC World Championship in December.