Nathan Aspinall earned his second Premier League darts victory this season with a 6-4 victory against Michael Smith in the Night 12 final in Rotterdam.

Smith beat Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals to reach Thursday’s showpiece against the Asp, who pulled off an amazing comeback to beat Luke Humphries 6-4.

Aspinall took the first two legs in the final and although Smith started to grow into the match the Asp remained in control to take a two-leg lead.

Bully Boy capitalised on outer ring misses to pull a leg back before Aspinall responded to lead 5-3.

Smith continued to fight back and hit a stunning 170 checkout the following leg, but after missing three match darts the Asp eventually wrapped up victory with double eight.

The result means that Aspinall climbs into third in the table and believes his 140s helped him throughout the final.

He told Sky Sports: “Everyone knows me and Smithy are really good mates, we’re actually going on holiday next week together- so it might be a bit awkward!

“I came from behind against Luke and I’m thinking ‘don’t ruin this opportunity, you’ve been given a good chance here’ and I thought I played well.

“I thought I controlled the final, I didn’t play amazing, but my 140s were fantastic in that final and I know if I’m scoring well there’s not many people can beat me.”

Arguably Aspinall’s highlight of night 12 came against Humphries in their semi-final meeting.

Humphries spoiled Michael van Gerwen’s Rotterdam homecoming with a 6-5 victory, fending off a late comeback from the Dutchman to meet Aspinall in the final four.

“Cool Hand Luke” got off to a quick start with a two-leg lead, but the Asp began to creep back into contention, taking advantage of Humphries’ misfortune on the outer ring to come from 4-1 down to draw 4-4.

Finishing with a 97.18 average, Aspinall hit double 20 to secure his spot in the final.

Reflecting on that victory, the Asp added: “I’ve got a reputation of being behind, digging deep and winning games.

“What I always say is my opponent might be 4-0 up, but I know I’m better than you in my head.

“So if you can win four legs, I can win four legs and that is always what I try and tell people.

“Luke’s 4-1 up there, he wasn’t playing great, I saw him go and I’m thinking ‘yeah you’re the world champion, but if I play my game I’m as good as you’.

“That’s what I keep telling myself throughout the game and that was a big win against Luke tonight.”

After reaching the last three successive Premier League finals, Luke Littler was knocked out in the first quarter-final of the evening following a 6-3 defeat to Smith.

Smith met Price in the semi-finals after the Iceman claimed a 6-3 win over Rob Cross and he subsequently took Smith all the way in their final four meeting to force a deciding leg.

Bully Boy then hit a 74 checkout to squeeze into his fourth final of the campaign and he sits fifth in the standings.

Michael Van Gerwen ended Luke Littler’s Premier League winning run to claim victory on night 11 in Birmingham.

Littler had been targeting a third consecutive nightly victory following back-to-back successes in Belfast and Manchester, which put him top of the table.

The 17-year-old had looked to be building up another head of steam after earlier edging out Rob Cross in a last-leg decider and then holding off a stirring fightback from world champion Luke Humphries to win their latest epic tussle 6-5 – landing five maximums with a match-average of just over 107.

Dutchman Van Gerwen, though, capitalised on a low-key start to the final, before eventually breaking twice to close out a 6-3 win and rekindle his own play-off ambitions.

Van Gerwen, the defending Premier League champion, had avoided another early exit after coming from behind to beat Nathan Aspinall in his first match and then eased past Michael Smith 6-4.

Littler remains top of the table with 26 points, two clear of Humphries, while Van Gerwen sits third on 22 and Aspinall fourth.

Van Gerwen hopes he can now head into night 12 in Rotterdam with renewed confidence.

“I have made it hard for myself to be fair,” the Dutchman said on Sky Sports, “But more importantly it is about how you bounce back.

“I know the last few weeks have not been great for me, but to come back with a win tonight feels good for me.”

Van Gerwen added: “I had to go really deep tonight and at the end, Luke and I neither really played our A-game, but when you win nights like this, it is not always about who is playing well – sometimes it is who can handle it.

“I had a struggling few weeks, but to bounce back with a win like this gives me confidence of course.

“People will write you off when you off when you lose, that is how things go, but I believed in my own opportunities and you need to make sure you keep your mind focused.

“I know there is more to come – the fighting spirit in my body is still there. I need to make sure I am good for next week.”

In the night’s opening quarter-final at the Utilita Arena, Humphries – who enjoyed European Tour success at the recent German Darts Grand Prix in Munich – came from 4-1 down to claim five straight legs and beat Peter Wright, who remains cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

Littler had been trailing 3-1 and then survived a match dart as he eventually battled past Cross, before former world champion Smith put last week’s defeat by Gerwyn Price behind him with a 6-3 win over the Welshman.

Van Gerwen landed an impressive 152 checkout as he came from 4-2 behind to take control of his quarter-final against Aspinall, going on to close out a much-needed 6-4 win.

Norwich boss David Wagner insisted his side were “not ruthless” enough as he saw them blow a two-goal first-half lead to draw 2-2 in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

Norwich hit the front in the 11th minute when Josh Sargent tapped in at the back post and doubled their lead five minutes later when they were gifted the ball outside the box which allowed Borja Sainz to stroke it into the bottom corner.

Danny Rohl made four substitutions at the break but his Owls side missed further chances before Michael Ihiekwe’s header gave Wednesday the belief before Michael Smith nodded home with five minutes to go to rescue a much-needed point in their relegation battle as they marked their 5,000th league match.

Wagner was frustrated with his side’s inability to kill the game after and put themselves in a commanding position to strengthen their play-off bid.

He told a press conference: “We have done everything super well, we looked sharp in ball possession and out of ball possession but we didn’t kill the game.

“We were not ruthless inside the opponent’s box, we had a lot of clear-cut chances and obviously this at the end of the day has shown why we have not won the game.

“Today we have put the hard work in to collect three points but haven’t done because we could not kill the game. Especially when a team is so direct with set-pieces something can happen.

“We have not made use of our chances, this is what frustrates us and the performance the players have shown on the pitch, the commitment is good.”

The point for Norwich gives them a five-point cushion inside the play-offs but Wagner thinks his side have dropped two points from a good performance.

He added: “I would have liked to have six points (from Ipswich and Sheff Wed) after you have seen the two performances.

“But in football, you don’t always get what you wish, you get what you earn and today we only got one because we weren’t ruthless.

“We have to be more ruthless, this is what hurts. How we played, how we defended was good.”

Wednesday remain in the relegation zone only on goal difference after the draw and Rohl hailed his side’s togetherness to fight back and claim a point.

He said: “We showed again our togetherness. Not many people thought we would come back and take something but we did.

“Second half we played better, the stadium was behind us and created energy and this showed what we need in our situation.

“Today we take the point and now we have to go again Saturday. If we are over the line on the last matchday everyone will take it.

“We keep coming back and today we came back from 2-0 down, today we showed we can do this against a strong Norwich side.

“I’m happy with the point. Not happy with the first half but one key point.”

Sheffield Wednesday battled back from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Norwich and strengthen their Sky Bet Championship survival bid.

Wednesday handed Norwich the initiative straight away and the visitors established a two-goal lead early on through Josh Sargent and Borja Sainz but the home side had James Beadle to thank for keeping the deficit at two heading into the break.

Wednesday looked more confident in the second period and Norwich were made to pay for their flurry of missed chances in the second half as two headers from Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith rescued an unlikely point.

Norwich were almost gifted the opening goal of the game when Marcelino Nunez latched onto to some sloppy possession at the back and took a shot but Beadle did well to parry the ball out to Ashley Barnes, who blasted wide on the rebound.

Wednesday had the warning a couple of moments ago but Norwich scored the first in the 10th minute as Sam McCallum’s throw-in was flicked on by Barnes and Sargent tapped in at the back post.

The Canaries were all over the hosts and almost doubled their lead straight away as Sainz ran through on goal and unleashed a low drive into the corner but Beadle was on hand to tip behind again.

Wednesday were making the same mistakes at the back and Norwich did not let them off the hook this time – as the home side tried to play out of the back, Nunez was gifted the ball and he fed through Sainz, who stroked home to make it 2-0.

Creators of their downfall yet again, Wednesday nearly handed Norwich a third as Sainz teed up Nunez, who sliced just wide of the post.

The Owls were lucky to be trailing by two at the break as McCallum sprung down the left and whipped a ball in, Nunez smashed over the crossbar to keep Wednesday alive, just.

The hosts made four substitutions at the break and started the second period with a little more life but the Canaries seemed keen for a third though, Jack Stacey raced beyond the back line who were expecting an offside flag that never went up, but Beadle denied Stacey to keep them in the contest.

Another couple of chances came and went for Norwich after Sainz was brought down outside the box, Nunez’s resulting free-kick was palmed away by Beadle and Gabriel Sara scuffed an effort wide a couple of moments later.

Wednesday’s best chance of the match came after Callum Paterson chased down a long ball and found himself one-on-one but could not guide his effort past Angus Gunn.

The visitors failed to put Wednesday away and they had their route back into the match after Ihiekwe nodded home from Will Vauks’ corner.

Wednesday piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser no one saw coming and they had one from yet another corner, this time Vaulks picked out Smith at the back post, who headed in to leave them in the relegation zone on goal difference.

Luke Littler saw off stablemate Nathan Aspinall to secure his first Premier League night win in Belfast.

Littler never looked back after edging out Luke Humphries in a last-leg decider of the opening quarter-final at the SSE Arena, which ended the world champion’s three-night winning Premier League run.

The 17-year-old – who has won titles at the Bahrain Masters, PDC Players Championship and Belgian Open in a breakout year – followed up with an impressive 6-3 win over Michael Van Gerwen, who had beaten him on night two in the Berlin final.

‘The Nuke’ landed a 136 checkout in first leg of the final, then just missed finishing off 170 in second before Aspinall broke throw as he built a 3-1 lead.

Littler, though, fought back to level with a showpiece bullseye-25-bullseye finish – which got a high-five from close-friend Aspinall – and then pushed on to within one leg of victory at 5-3.

Aspinall dug deep to break back in the next, but Littler eventually got the job done on double 10.

Overall victory on night nine moves Littler up to second in the table, four points behind Humphries, while Aspinall now sits in fourth, the last of the play-off places.

“I am just happy to win my first one,” Littler said on Sky Sports.

“People may have seen I have changed my throw to take that little bit of extra time then releasing the next two. I have put more practice in and it has paid off.

“I can’t wait for next week (in Manchester). I know I have got Michael (Van Gerwen) in the first round, but Nathan will obviously enjoy it also in his home town.”

Aspinall had reached his fourth final of this year’s Premier League campaign with a 6-2 win over Peter Wright, in which he produced 14 scores over 100.

Earlier in the other quarter-finals, Premier League title holder Van Gerwen came from 4-2 down against former world champion Michael Smith to win the last four legs, securing victory on a 150 checkout.

Aspinall had seen off Gerwyn Price, last year’s Belfast winner, in a last-leg decider to leave the Welshman further adrift of the play-offs, while Wright beat 2018 world champion Rob Cross 6-3.

Luke Littler edged out Luke Humphries in a last-leg decider to end the world champion’s winning Premier League run on night nine in Belfast.

Following successive wins in Brighton, Nottingham and Dublin, world number one Humphries had opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.

Littler, though, had already beaten Humphries in each of their last three meetings since the world final at Alexandra Palace.

The 17-year-old, who had dropped to fifth in the Premier League table, after last week’s quarter-final defeat to Michael Smith in Dublin, forced an early break to open up a 2-0 lead.

Humphries, however, soon recovered to level the opening quarter-final at the SSE Arena, and the match continued on throw through to the deciding leg.

The world champion sat on a 170 check-out, but missed the second treble 20 which allowed Littler the chance to take out 68 on double 10 and progress to the semi-finals.

Littler hit seven maximums with a match average of 102.02, and goes on to play the winner of Michael Smith against Michael Van Gerwen.

World champion Luke Humphries delivered back-to-back nightly wins to move top of the Premier League with a 6-3 victory over Nathan Aspinall at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

Humphries, who also triumphed in Brighton, beat Michael Smith in his opening match and then comfortably saw off Peter Wright to reach a second successive final.

Aspinall had ended the hopes of Luke Littler with a 6-3 win in the semi-final, but soon found himself trailing against the world number one.

Humphries had secured an early break to lead 2-0 which he soon extended to 4-1 on the back of another maximum.

Aspinall clawed a couple of legs back to trail by just one with a break of his own by checking out on double top.

The world champion, though, made the most of some wayward finishing to take the next leg and move one away, which he set up for a 78 finish, landing treble 18 and double 12.

Humphries now moves two points clear at the top of the table, with Aspinall sitting fourth.

“I had two great performances in the first two games, and Nathan was fantastic against Luke, who is such an amazing player – it gets to the point where you are thinking ‘play with two darts’ so Nathan did well to beat him,” Humphries said on Sky Sports.

“It was not the best final, maybe as we had both played really well we felt the pressure was off us and relaxed a little bit, tried too hard.

“But back-to-back weeks in the Premier League is really tough, so I am really proud to have done that and to be top of the league.”

Humphries added: “What me and Luke have done since the worlds has been amazing for the sport. I think the sport is in the best place possible now, with all these players, and is in the best place it has ever been.

“Hopefully now the crowds can keep getting behind us and enjoying it, because it is going to be an exciting sport for the next nine months.”

Littler was looking to build on his Belgian Darts Open final victory over Rob Cross, which had included a nine-dart finish, and earlier recorded an impressive 6-2 win against previous league leader Michael Van Gerwen.

Aspinall, though, produced his own top form in their semi-final clash, landing five maximums with an average of just over 104 to see off the 17-year-old sensation.

Humphries, meanwhile, hit four maximums as he had little trouble in coasting to a 6-1 win over Wright, who had earlier secured his first points of the competition.

In the night’s opening quarter-final at the Motorpoint Arena, Wright ended his barren run with his first points on the board when he edged out Gerwyn Price in a last-leg decider after the 2023 runner-up had missed three match darts.

Luke Humphries registered his first Premier League night win as the world champion defeated Michael Smith 6-3 in Brighton.

The final of the tournament’s sixth night saw world number one Humphries, a competition debutant this year, surge into a 5-1 lead.

Smith, the 2023 world champion and winner of night one in Cardiff, hit back but ‘Cool Hand Luke’ was not to be denied.

Humphries said on Sky Sports: “I felt like I haven’t played my best, since the Worlds maybe for the first six weeks, and I’ve come back playing a lot better. Sometimes it takes a bit of time.

“I think after the Worlds, the way I played, everyone expected me to win everything, and that’s not going to happen. There is so much great talent out there, so many great players, and winning nights like these is fantastic because they are really hard. I’m really proud the way I played tonight.

“My dad said ‘you look a million dollars, you look like you’re throwing like you were in the Worlds’.

“I did feel really good after the Worlds – unfortunately some things happened. My Nan passed away and that did have an affect on me. But that’s no excuse. You build again, you go again, and I think in the last couple of weeks my mind has been straight again and I feel really good.

“I felt really good at the UK Open (last weekend, when he was a beaten finalist), I just didn’t win, but tonight that’s the best I’ve played since the Worlds, and the best I’ve felt.”

Humphries, who averaged 101.04 against Smith, had advanced to it by defeating Rob Cross 6-3 with an average of 113.71. It was the same score as Smith won his semi against 17-year-old World Championship runner-up Luke Littler.

In the quarter-finals, Humphries got past Gerwyn Price 6-2 and Smith ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-5 victory over Peter Wright, who remains without a win in this year’s competition.

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen, winner of three of the first five nights, suffered a second successive quarter-final loss as he was beaten 6-2 by Cross, and night five winner Nathan Aspinall lost 6-3 to Littler.

Humphries moves up to second in the table on 12 points, three behind Van Gerwen, with Littler and Cross a further point back and Smith just outside the play-off spots on 10 points.

Michael Smith insisted Luke Littler’s popularity is “even bigger than Phil Taylor” after denying the 17-year-old darts sensation a shot at victory on his Premier League debut.

Smith edged out Littler 6-5 in a high-quality semi-final before going on to beat home favourite Gerwyn Price and silence a capacity Cardiff crowd.

“I actually thought in the semi-final Luke Littler was Welsh,” said Smith, the 2023 world champion.

“It’s going to be every week, it doesn’t matter where it is.

“Everyone’s fallen in love with him. He’s even bigger than Phil Taylor who won 16 world titles, Luke is the most popular thing in darts.”

He continued: “I’m going to ride the wave. People keep following, sponsors keep coming in, and the prize money is going up for us lads.

“When I walked in this afternoon there were no interviews.

“Luke Littler walked in and it was ‘can you do this one, can you do that one?’.

“That was me last year. This time I got to sit and chill, break up my time on the board and it worked.”

Smith beat seven-time Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in his opening match on the way to lifting a trophy for the first time since last April.

The St Helens thrower had to deal with unsportsmanlike whistling from some unruly individuals among the crowd.

Smith said: “I enjoyed the crowd apart from one or two individuals.

“I’m not going to say the crowd was disgusting because it was only two or three people, the other three or four thousand were amazing.

“Luckily enough it did not put me off, it’s expected. You know you’re going to expect some stick and some boos, especially playing Gezzy here.

“Whistling is not the best, but it happens in any sport. How do you stop it? It happens and it’s up to the sportsperson to get on with the job.

“Going top of the league after week one is a message to myself. I’m happy to win and there’s a few chinks in there, but to get five points on the opening night and a 10 grand cheque is always nice.”

Littler had earlier avenged his World Championship final defeat by Luke Humphries four weeks ago with a 6-2 quarter-final win.

He averaged 100.30 in that match and 105.31 in a ding-dong affair with Smith.

Littler hit six 180s in the semi-final, but a missed match dart on double 15 cost him dear as Smith capitalised.

A comfortable win over Price – who had earlier taken out Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross – put Smith top of the embryonic table ahead of week two in Berlin next Thursday.

Teenage sensation Luke Littler resumes his incredible assault on the World Championship on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old took the tournament by storm before Christmas by winning his first two matches and he headlines a spectacular evening session on its resumption, with defending champion Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen also on the bill.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what to look out for in the second half of the competition.

Can Littler be the big man?

Outside the darting world, no one had heard of Luke Littler until last week when the teenager burst onto the scene by winning his first two matches at Alexandra Palace. Now, everyone is sitting up and taking notice as he dreams of World Championship glory. Matt Campbell stands between him and a spot in the last 16, but it will be no gimme for Littler on Wednesday night. Campbell beat James Wade in the second round, but has been home to Canada over Christmas, so his travelling may play a factor.

Will Smith hit the double?

This time last year Michael Smith was gearing up to win his maiden world title, triumphing in that memorable final against Michael van Gerwen where he hit a nine-dart finish in the greatest leg in the history of the sport. Things have not gone so well since that magical night at Ally Pally, and he has failed to win any major tournaments in 2023, but Smith has all eyes on winning a second successive crown. He opened the tournament way back on December 15 and should have no problems getting past Madars Razma. Expect him to click through the gears as the business end of the tournament approaches.

Barney’s silver anniversary

It is 25 years since Raymond van Barneveld claimed his first world title, winning the BDO crown in 1998. He won another three at Lakeside before switching to the PDC and winning another, while also kicking off an enduring rivalry with Phil Taylor which dominated the sport. The 56-year-old, who came out of retirement two years ago, has set his sights on marking the 25th anniversary of that first title with another at Alexandra Palace. A spectacular quarter-final with Littler looms in a potential match that would get the tastebuds tingling.

Van Gerwen aiming to end the drought

When Michael van Gerwen won the World Championship for a third time in six years in 2019, it looked like he would dominate the sport for years to come. But that turned out to be the end of a golden period as he has not won it since as other contenders have come up on the rails. The Dutchman usually remains the man to beat, having lost in two finals since then, while Covid-19 ruined his 2022 campaign. The four-year drought hurts Van Gerwen, who still considers himself the best player and will be desperate to get his hands back on the Sid Waddell Trophy.

Price is right?

Gerwyn Price must have been a tad wary about returning to Ally Pally after how his last visit ended. The Welshman lost in the quarter-finals after a particularly vociferous crowd made his life so difficult that he resorted to wearing ear defenders midway through the match. Price got a much more favourable reaction in his opening match before Christmas, and he will be dreaming of getting the chance to reign supreme in front of fans at the Palace after his 2021 title was played behind closed doors.


Cameron Menzies went from fixing a kitchen sink to throwing his way into the second round of the World Championship, where reigning champion Michael Smith survived an opening-night scare.

Menzies is a plumber by trade and had to do a day’s work on Friday, changing a waste basin, fixing a burst water main and repairing a kitchen sink before facing Austrian Rusty-Jake Rodriguez at the Alexandra Palace.

The colourful Scot won 3-0 to book his place in the second round where he will play Dave Chisnall on Saturday afternoon.

“I never thought this would happen. I was really panicky today,” he said. “I was working but it kind of chilled me out, it made me realise that darts is a hobby and a very lucky one, too.

“I changed the waste in a basin, I couldn’t get the pedestal out because it was concreted in. Then I did an emergency which was a burst water main and I fixed it, then I went to a tenant’s house to fix a bath and she wouldn’t let me in.

“Then I went to another job to fix a kitchen sink, so my job is maintenance-wise. Basically, it is burst pipes and blocked drains, it’s not pretty.

“I was so nervous, I knew that game meant a lot. What happens now is a bonus but winning that game meant the world to me.


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“Going to work chilled me out. It made me realise that it is not the be-all and end-all. I am a worker. I would like to be in a situation where I can give up my job and do this full-time, but I have a long way to go.”

Menzies will be able to take bragging rights back to the home he shares with girlfriend Fallon Sherrock, who is in first-round action on Monday night.

The 34-year-old was happy to avoid his girlfriend in the draw because he thinks she would “batter” him.

“You don’t understand how many issues we had,” Menzies said. “She went down for the draw, I was on the computer going, ‘Please’. There’s a handful of players you don’t want to draw and Fallon is up there.

“I play Fallon in the house and I beat her eight times out of 10 but she has a moment when she smashes me, which is fair enough.

“I know for a fact up there on the stage she would batter me. It’s her stage, she would batter me. I was like, ‘Please not Fallon’.

“Everyone was texting me asking if I was playing. Rusty is a very good player but I would take him over Fallon in a heartbeat.”

Smith began the defence of his 2023 title in nervy fashion as he was taken all the way by world number 66 Kevin Doets.

‘Bully Boy’, who beat Michael van Gerwen to win a maiden Ally Pally crown at the start of the year, was facing the prospect of becoming the first defending champion to go out at the first hurdle since 2009 when it went to a final-set decider with the Dutchman having the throw.

But a brilliant 142 checkout in the opening leg of the fifth set settled any nerves and Smith was able to go on and win 3-2, ensuring a happy Christmas as he does not return to action until December 27.

2010 finalist Simon Whitlock won a final-leg decider to see off Paolo Nebrida, claiming a 3-2 win to set up a second-round match with Gary Anderson.

Michael Smith is not ready to stop at winning just one World Championship title and wants to become a multiple champion.

The 33-year-old lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy for the first time in January after a stunning performance against Michael van Gerwen in the final, hitting a nine-dart finish in the greatest leg in the history of the sport.

He begins the defence of his crown on Friday night, playing against either Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz, and is dreaming of joining Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, John Part and Peter Wright on two titles.

“I always wanted to be a world champion, now I have done it the dream is to be a multiple,” Smith told the PA news agency.

“I don’t want to finish my career with just one star on my chest, I don’t know how many I can get, but the minimum is two now. When I get to two the minimum will be three.

“I don’t feel the pressure but it is going to be like that. Everyone wants to take it off me, everyone playing wants to be world champion so I am going to have a target on my back.

“But whoever I am playing they are going to see a picture of me holding the trophy on the wall. It could either put them off or spur them on. But I know I can look at it and be spurred on.

“This is the one, you have got to bring your A-game, it is about bringing it on stage now. Once it clicks like it does in practice who knows what can happen. I can’t wait to get my hands on it again.”

Smith’s victory in the final contained the greatest leg in the history of the sport when ‘Bully Boy’ completed a nine-dart finish seconds after Van Gerwen had missed.

It produced some mesmeric television footage, with Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle’s commentary going viral.

And Smith spent most of the early part of 2023 watching the leg back.

“That night I won it, I must have watched it 200 times,” he added. “Even the full match replay I have watched a couple of times. I’m trying to leave it in the past, I’m trying to focus on winning it again and then I can watch it all again. It has been good, weird, has been good.

“I lived my childhood dream but if I hadn’t have won it, it wouldn’t define my life. I am proud of winning it, but I am not going through life where I am thinking if I had never won it I wouldn’t have been successful.”

Gerwyn Price is also aiming for a second world title, but if he was to win, it would feel like a first.

His 2021 crown came behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he is yet to taste the authentic experience.

“This is what we play all year for. We all want to win titles, but this is the main one,” he told the PA news agency.

“It’s a big tournament, everyone is looking forward to it, no-one wants to go out before Christmas so it is about getting that first round under your belt.

“Winning it behind closed doors, there was no atmosphere, lifting the trophy with no-one there, no friends, family or loved ones.

“Taking the trophy home and it sitting on the kitchen table for six months doesn’t really do it justice. It would be nice to win it again and be able to do it properly. It is something I want to do.”

Michael Smith scored twice against his former club to give Sheffield Wednesday a 2-0 victory over South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United – their first win of the season.

In a derby encounter dominated by the home side, both goals came during the first 45 minutes. Rotherham never threatened to mount a comeback, only carving out a couple of decent chances.

It was new manager Danny Rohl’s first home game since taking charge at Hillsborough and he restored Reece James, Di’Shon Bernard and Callum Paterson to the starting line-up. Rotherham boss Matt Taylor named an unchanged side.

The opening goal came when Anthony Musaba got on the end of a great ball from Barry Bannan and had a shot saved by Viktor Johansson before picking up the rebound and squaring to Smith (12), who fired into the net. That was Wednesday’s first goal in over 10 hours.

The home side continued to apply pressure with George Byers shooting over, Musaba having a low shot saved and Josh Windass putting a great chance off-target after being set-up by Musaba.

Smith made it two-nil in the 36th minute, applying the finish after the lively Musaba caused problems for the Rotherham defenders, who failed to clear.

Another great chance came Wednesday’s way before the break when Callum Paterson’s cross was met by Musaba, but his downward header from a good position bounced over the bar.

Buoyed by their two-goal lead, Wednesday continued to hold the upper hand after the re-start.

A Windass shot from distance threatened to catch out Johansson, with the keeper relieved to see the ball go wide.

The visitors had a chance to pull a goal back when the ball fell to Sebastian Revan following a goal-mouth scramble but he fired over.

That apart, is was virtually all Wednesday from an attacking point of view.

Dominic Iorfa saw his shot deflected off-target and Smith put a low shot just wide. Musaba then had a shot blocked and Will Vaulks put an effort wide.

Musaba, who put in an excellent performance, was forced to go off in the 74th minute after picking up a knock with John Buckley taking his place.

A rare Rotherham attack in time added on saw Revan fire in a shot which flashed just wide of Cameron Dawson’s right-hand post.

The result leaves Wednesday eight points from safety at the foot of the Championship table.

Tournament favourite Gerwyn Price and world number one Michael Smith both crashed out the Betfred World Matchplay on a dramatic evening in Blackpool.

Price missed a match dart in a thrilling 13-11 tie-break defeat to Joe Cullen before Smith blew a 3-0 lead in an 11-7 last-16 upset against Chris Dobey.

The exits of the high-profile pair leave the competition wide open after reigning champion Michael van Gerwen suffered a shock first-round loss at the Winter Gardens.

World number four Price needed only bullseye for a place in the quarter-finals, having fought back from 8-5 down to lead Cullen 10-9.

But the Welshman, who averaged 100 and threw 11 180s, was unable to capitalise and then punished by the fine finishing of Yorkshireman Cullen, who secured victory with his second 112 checkout.

“It was just a case of trying to keep concentration – I knew I was playing terrible,” Cullen told Sky Sports.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable more or less the whole way through the match, but then when it came down it that’s probably the most comfortable I’ve been, so that 112 was pretty sweet.

“It was just a really funny game. Even at 10-8 down, I felt I could still win because I knew Gezzy wasn’t playing like he normally does. The finishes definitely won me the game.”

Price’s surprise elimination was swiftly followed by Dobey winning 11 of the final 15 legs to knock out top seed Smith.

“I don’t think I was ever in the game early doors, but I clawed my way back into it and, once I got in front, I didn’t want to let him come back, so I’m delighted with that,” said Dobey, who is through to his first quarter-final at the tournament.

“I thought my finishing was pretty spectacular compared to what I’m used to.”

Two-time semi-finalist Daryl Gurney awaits Cullen after he showed signs of returning to his best in dismantling 2018 champion Gary Anderson.

The Northern Irishman averaged 104 and hit 73 per cent of his checkouts in a superb 11-4 win over the Scot, who himself averaged 102.

“You were nearly thinking I was back, like the old Daryl, the one that was number three in the world,” said Gurney.

“There’s not many people that are going to beat Gary Anderson like that. For me to go and do that, I’m over the moon.”

In Tuesday evening’s other match, Nathan Aspinall defeated Dutchman Danny Noppert.

The 32-year-old from Stockport triumphed 11-9 and awaits Dobey in the last eight.

Michael Smith considered himself darts' equivalent of Andy Murray after beating Michael van Gerwen to land his maiden world title triumph.

The 32-year-old claimed a 7-4 victory in Tuesday's thrilling PDC World Championship final at Alexandra Palace in London, which included a perfect nine-dart leg in the second set.

Smith, who had lost eight successive major finals before his breakthrough triumph at the Grand Slam of Darts in November, is now the world number one as a result of his victory.

He is just the 11th winner of the tournament in its 30-year history, with Phil Taylor having won it 14 times prior to his retirement in 2018.

And Smith believes there are parallels to tennis star Murray's memorable 2012 US Open final win against Novak Djokovic – his first of three grand slam triumphs after four final defeats.

"I'm like the Andy Murray of darts," Smith told Sky Sports. "He has come through with these three amazing players in [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal and Djokovic.

"He managed to get Queen's and then won the US Open, Wimbledon, and Wimbledon again, and he had to work hard for that. 

"I know he got to world number one and then, unluckily for him, he had his injuries, although it didn't cost him his career as he's still playing now."

Five different players have now had their name on darts' biggest trophy in the past six years, with Peter Wright the only multiple winner in that period. 

"Back in the day it was Phil Taylor and someone who pushed him," Smith said. "Barney [Raymond van Barneveld] was there, Adie [Adrian Lewis] pushed him for a bit as well. 

"Then Michael [Van Gerwen] came along, then you've got Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Gez [Gerwyn Price].

"You've got really unbelievable players where anyone in the top 32 can win a TV title and it's not just Phil Taylor dominating the sport. The sport is wide open now, which is good."

Smith averaged 100.71 across the 11 sets, with that the highest in the World Championship final since Van Gerwen's 102.88 three years ago when losing to Wright (102.79).

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