Michael Smith produced the performance of his career to defeat Michael van Gerwen 7-4 and claim his first Cazoo World Darts Championship title in an incredible final at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.
On his way to winning an all-time classic, Smith hit a nine-dart finish in the third leg of the second set which also saw Van Gerwen miss double 12 for a nine-darter.
From 3-2 down, Smith produced a run of four straight sets to take control at 6-3, before going on to seal a famous win which sees him become world number one for the first time.
“The way I felt when I won will never be topped, no matter what I do in this sport in the future,” said an emotional Smith.
“To be World Champion and world number one is amazing.
“Michael let me off a lot and, for once, I finally took my chance.
“In practice today I kept going 180-180-miss and I wanted to give the crowd what they deserved, a nine-darter.
“When I won the Grand Slam I said I would eventually become World Champion and world number one.
“I want to do what Michael [van Gerwen] has done, I want to dominate the sport but he’s still around!
“It’s now 1-1 between us in World Championship finals, but I don’t think it will be the last.”
Competing in his sixth World Championship final, Van Gerwen suffered a third defeat in the sport’s showpiece event.
The Dutchman, who posted his first sub-100 average of the tournament, remains third on the Order of Merit.
“Michael [Smith] played a phenomenal game, he deserves this win,” Van Gerwen reflected.
“Of course, I had my chances – I missed too many doubles and when you don’t hit them you get punished.
“I didn’t play too well in the last few sets but I can only blame myself for that, you have to take it on the chin.
“When you lose games it’s hard but it’s part of the job. I will be back.”
A game of the highest quality saw Smith end the match with a 100.87 average and an incredible 22 180s, while Van Gerwen posted a 99.58 average with 15 maximums.
The opening set saw Van Gerwen land an 84 checkout to break throw and win his 14th consecutive set of the tournament.
The second set featured the best ever leg of darts in recorded competition as Smith hit a nine-dart finish in the same leg which saw Van Gerwen miss an attempt at double for a nine-darter of his own.
This sealed a break of throw for Smith, who then tidied up 25 in two darts to wrap up the set and level the match at 1-1.
After missing the bullseye for a 170 checkout, Smith wrapped up the third set, before Van Gerwen took the fourth without conceding a leg to level the tie at 2-2.
In a fifth set decider, Van Gerwen broke throw in 14 darts to take the lead for what proved to be the final time in the match at 3-2.
However, the key passage of the match saw Smith win 12 of the next 16 legs to take a 6-3 lead in sets.
Van Gerwen stopped the rot with a 105 checkout before the set ten decider saw Smith take the first shot at a match-winning checkout, but he was unable to land a 167 before Van Gerwen found a last-dart double 16 to stay alive.
Van Gerwen then took a 2-0 lead in the 11th set, but Smith hit back with a 106 checkout, followed up with a 15-dart break to move within a leg of the title.
Smith kicked off the deciding leg with back-to-back 180s before sealing victory with an 11-darter on double eight to seal a stunning 7-4 success.
2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship
Tuesday January 3
Michael Smith 7-4 Michael van Gerwen