Michael Smith pulled off an astonishing nine darter as he and Michael van Gerwen played out what is already being called “the best leg of all time”. It happened during the second set of the World Darts Championship final, with the Dutchman in the lead of the match.
One set up, Van Gerwen had the throw heading into the third leg of that second set and began in the best possible way. But his 180 was soon matched by Smith and, suddenly, the Alexandra Palace crowd could sense something special was on the cards.
Each dart was being cheered as it hit the board. Van Gerwen added two more treble 20s and a treble 19 to keep his hopes of a world final nine-darter alive. But, incredibly, Smith stayed in touch by adding a second 180 to send the watching fans into raptures.
Van Gerwen had the first chance to finish off the leg in spectacular style. He nailed his seventh and eighth darts, but the crucial ninth – aimed at the double 12 – was narrowly off target. Even the fans, mostly supporting the home favourite Smith, were gutted.
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But they had nothing to worry about, as they would get their nine-darter. Smith nailed the two trebles and sunk his ninth dart dead centre of double 12 before turning, fist raised, to take the adulation of the fans as they went potty.
Posting a clip of the incredible leg on social media, the official PDC Darts Twitter account declared it was “the best leg of all time”. Most fans concurred, including former Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster who replied: “The best one minute and 34 seconds of content you’ll ever watch.”
Another ex-footballer, Peter Crouch, added: “I cannot believe what I’ve just seen! Absolutely incredible! Whoever wins, what a final this is already! Wow.” And another fan wrote: “I honestly have never been that close to tears over a game of darts!! Never mind a leg! I can’t quite believe what I’ve seen.”
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Many fans also pointed out that the moment had also been captured perfectly by the Sky Sports commentators, with Wayne Mardle in particular being praised. He had been beside himself at the climax of that leg, shouting into the microphone: “That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see in your life. I can’t speak.”
That final line proved to be something of a prediction, as soon after he had to be replaced on commentary by John Part. Mardle had been so enthusiastic in his commentary that he was forced to leave the booth having lost his voice.
Reacting to the clip online, Chris Mullooly wrote: “It’s not one of the greatest sports, it might just be THE greatest sport. I will not rest until I attend one of these matches. The scenes.” Several others also called for darts to be “put in the Olympics”.