In his first TV final, Ross Smith produced an imperious display, averaging 101.32, hitting eight 180s and pinning 50 per cent of his double attempts. Michael Smith also averaged over 100 and hit eight 180s in a high-quality final, but was never able to wrestle control away from his unrelenting rival. Ross Smith, whose previous best run in a TV ranking event was a run to the quarter-finals of the 2019 UK Open, began the event as a rank outsider but blew the field apart with a string of stunning performances. He had seen off Masters champion Joe Cullen in the first round and Dimitri Van den Bergh - the winner of two World Series events this year - to reach Sunday's final day of action. He came from 8-3 down to defeat World Champion Peter Wright in the quarter-finals, and held off Chris Dobey 11-9 in the semi-finals before scooping the £120,000 top prize. "I think I'm dreaming, I have to pinch myself," said the Kent ace. "It hasn't sunk in, it probably won't do for weeks. I've never even won a Euro Tour, never mind a TV tournament. "I kept telling myself 'just play darts, don't put yourself under any pressure and just throw'. "It's a real privilege to play darts on stages like this, in front of crowds like this. I love this game." The underdog heading into the final, Ross Smith enjoyed a dream start as he raced into a 3-0 lead, hitting checkouts of 133 and 121.
2022 Cazoo European Championship, Sunday 30 October, Quarter-Finals:
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-3 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 10-7 Luke Humphries
Chris Dobey 10-7 Dave Chisnall
Ross Smith 10-8 Peter Wright
US Darts Masters champion Michael Smith fought back to level at 3-3 before the 33-year-old regained the initiative at 4-3, a lead he never relinquished. He took out 121 on the bullseye for a second time to make it 6-4, though he looked to have offered his opponent a way back into the contest when he missed three darts for an 8-4 lead, allowing the St Helens man to reduce the deficit to 7-5. Michael Smith somehow found his way through to a seemingly blocked double five bed with his last dart in hand to once again pull within a leg at 8-7.
Michael Smith 11-7 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Ross Smith 11-9 Chris Dobey
However, it was to be Ross Smith's night as the 33-year-old held his nerve, winning three of the next four legs to seal the biggest win of his life. The £120,000 in prize money lifts Smith up to a career-high 20th on the PDC Order of Merit, and he also qualifies for next month's Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton. Meanwhile, Michael Smith suffered heartbreak for a sixth time in a TV ranking final - and a third time inside 12 months following his losses in the World Championship and UK Open deciders.
Ross Smith 11-8 Michael Smith
The world number four produced memorable wins over Josh Rock, Luke Humphries and Dirk van Duijvenbode to reach the final but was once again left wondering what might have been. "Every time Ross was on a ton-plus finish he was pinning it, fair play to him - he did what he needed to do to win," the St Helens ace reflected. "My scoring wasn't the best but I wasn't too upset with myself at how I played. It's starting to become annoying [losing TV ranking finals] but I'll get there eventually. "I've just got to keep going, keep believing and keep doing what I'm doing. Maybe I will win the next one, or the one after that. We'll see." Dobey followed up his run to the World Grand Prix quarter-finals recently by reaching the semis in Dortmund, while Van Duijvenbode was denied his spot in a third TV final of the year by Michael Smith in the semi-finals.
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