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04th Jan 2023

Michael van Gerwen cuts across Michael Smith interview in moment of supreme sportsmanship

Niall McIntyre

‘He deserved this.’

Michael Smith is the World Champion, he’s the world number one but he’s still modest. The St Helens player was reluctant to praise himself in his post-match interview as world champion, and that was when his opponent Michael van Gerwen came over to do it for him.

“In this moment, this man isn’t doing his game any justice,” said MVG.

“This man played phenomenal, we all know that. Of course, I didn’t take my chances, but he was there in the moments he had to be. So fair play to him, he played well, and he deserved this.”

The pair had just slugged it out in one of the most entertaining finals the sport has ever witnessed and, amidst the quality on show, you couldn’t but notice the mutual respect.

Things had gotten a tad feisty in van Gerwen’s semi-final victory over Dimitri van den Bergh but there was none of that here, as two of the best players in the game went throw-for-throw. Treble for treble.

Anyone that watched the game will never forget one of the most sensational legs of darts ever as, back in the second set, both players chased down a nine-darter.

Van Gerwen was first up and he missed his double 12 oh-so-agonisingly but Smith took his out plum. In that moment, he turned this game on its head, sent the Ally Pally crowd buck mad and almost forced Wayne Mardle into having a stroke.

The Sky Sports commentator and former darts player got so excited that having lost his voice, he was unable to finish his punditry duties.

All in a day’s work. Van Gerwen was the 1/3 favourite to win this match, and those odds would have been even tighter when he steamed his way to the first set but Smith was the better player on the night.

And now he’s the best player in the world.

“Of course, I had my chances,” said van Gerwen, a three-time champion afterwards.

“You only can blame yourself. That’s not taking anything away from Michael. I think he played brilliant all the way through. I wasn’t what I wanted to be, but that’s part of the game, unfortunately.”