Photo: Peter Wright at Madison Square Garden. (Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom)
The World Series of Darts kicked off over the weekend of June 3rd-4th as the stars of the Professional Darts Corporation made the trip across the pond where they faced off against the best players in North America at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York. Eight of the top players in the world made the trip and these included the current World Champion and World Number 1 Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, ‘the Iceman’ Gerwyn Price, ‘the Ferret’ Jonny Clayton, ‘Mighty’ Michael van Gerwen, ‘the Machine’ James Wade, ‘the Flying Scotsman’ Gary Anderson, ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith and last, but by no means least, ‘the Queen of the Palace’ Fallon Sherrock. Seven of the players included in that line-up are amongst the worlds top ten, showcasing the elite standard of darts the crowd in New York were privileged to witness.
The PDC stars faced off against eight North American challengers with a shock coming in the match between Fallon Sherrock and Leonard Gates. ‘The Soldier’ played out a relatively comfortable 6-2 victory against the Queen of the Palace, who herself finished with a match average of just 71.4 in an off colour performance. Gates however, will not have been concerned by that as he advanced to the quarter-finals to play Peter Wright who prevailed against Danny Baggish after a hard-fought tussle ending in a 6-4 victory.
Elsewhere, James Wade won 6-2 against the Canadian Number 1 Jeff Smith hitting 100% on his doubles in an incredibly impressive performance. Gary Anderson, a former US Darts Master himself, defeated Matt Campbell 6-3 despite losing his darts and having to borrow a set from both Peter Wright and Jonny Clayton. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ set up a clash with Michael Smith after he overcame Doug Boehm 6-3. Dutchman Michael van Gerwen beat Dutch-born American Jules van Dongen 6-4 and Gerwyn Price came through a difficult battle 6-4 against David Cameron, who had recently defeated the legendary Phil Taylor to win the World Seniors Masters at Lakeside. Lastly, in the final game of the night reigning Premier League Champion Jonny Clayton got the better of Danny Lauby 6-2 and will face his World Cup of Darts teammate Price in the next round.
The first Quarter-Final of night two was the battle between Michael Smith and his former mentor Gary Anderson who put in a below-par performance, even missing a single three to set up a shot at double 1 as he bust his score, allowing Smith to take a 6-2 lead en route to an 8-3 victory. In the second clash, Leonard Gates faced the World Number 1 coming off the back of winning the North American Championship that afternoon and gaining himself a place at the World Championships at Alexandra Palace this December. By the seventh leg, there was an incredible 24 missed darts at double throughout the match by both players. That leg went to Gates as he finally pinned double 10. Eventually though, ‘Snakebite’ got his act together closing out another 8-3 success.
Gerwyn Price raced into a 5-0 against Jonny Clayton taking out a beautiful 124 checkout on the bullseye with the customary Price roar following those spectacular darts. However, there was a scare for ‘the Iceman’ as Clayton sensationally pinned Price back taking the match to a deciding leg after ‘the Ferret’ made the score 7-7. Despite this brilliant comeback, Price was able to recover taking out 75 on tops to advance to the Semi-Finals. Michael van Gerwen had a comfortable Quarter-Final as ‘the Machine’ James Wade was not firing on all cylinders finding himself 5-0 down in the contest, eventually losing 8-3.Embed from Getty Images
In the first Semi-Final we had a repeat of the final of the World Championships although, we had no repeat of the winner as this time ‘the Bully Boy’ came out on top against Peter Wright. Smith battled back brilliantly from 3-2 and then 5-4 down to prevail 8-6 against the world champion with eight 180s. In the other Semi-Final, Michael van Gerwen took out a fantastic 130 finish in the fifth set to lead 3-2 against Gerwyn Price with ‘the Green Machine’ going on to take the match 8-4 to set up a Final with Michael Smith, a repeat of a contest we have already seen many times both in this years Premier League and in previous years.
US Darts Masters Final
‘Bully Boy’ found himself 3-1 down in the final after MVG took out 82 on tops but rattled off two consecutive legs to bring the score back level. However, ‘Mighty Mike’ regained the lead in the seventh leg with another cracking 130 finish this time hitting the bullseye to complete the shot. Unfortunately, his finishing was not so impressive in the 10th leg as he missed 3 darts at double, after Smith had missed 3 trying to take out 36, allowing ‘Bully Boy’ to take the leg. In the end, Smith produced an 81 checkout on double 13 to be crowned the 2022 US Darts master and he couldn’t hide his joy.Embed from Getty Images
I’ve just won a tournament in the most iconic venue in the world, and I’m the first person to do it. I’m ecstatic.Michael Smith: Sky Sports
This victory continues a great run of form for Smith who has put disappointment in the finals of the World Championship and UK Open behind him winning Players Championship 14 and 15 in May, a European Tour in Zwolle and the final Premier League night in Newcastle in the nine days before the US Darts Masters. With huge events such as the World Cup of Darts and the World Matchplay on the horizon, ‘Bully Boy’ will be hoping this form continues for a while yet.