In an exciting first semi final on Sunday night, Michael “Bully Boy” Smith claimed the first spot in the European Championship final after an 11-7 victory over Dirk “The Titan” van Duijvenbode.
A high quality contest with both players averaging over 100, there was a combined 15 180s.
Smith began the contest with the more consistent scoring, finding the treble 20 on a more regular basis. Teasing a 121 checkout, Bully Boy narrowly missed double 14. However, this didn’t faze him as he still checked out, giving him an early lead.
He then went close for a 170 checkout in the second leg. Smashing two darts in to double 20 and going close on bullseye for the checkout. Left on 25, he planted an arrow in to single 5 then double 10 for a simple finish.
The Titan got his first leg on the board in 16 darts as he pulled it back to 2-1.
Looking for a break of throw, van Duijvenbode threw a 180 and a 140 before taking out 124 on the bullseye to level it.
This continued in the match’s fifth leg. On his way to the leg win, the Dutchman scored two 140s and a 100 before pinning double two to take the lead of the match before the break.
A brilliant leg from Bully Boy saw him smack in 134, 140 then 134. Finishing it off in 11 darts, he was on target on double 18 to level the game.
There was more of the same from Smith as he fired in a 13 dart leg on route to once again taking the lead.
Both players scored at an impressive rate in the eight leg with three 140s and 2 180s. However, Smith came out victorious finding success at double eight for a 136 checkout giving him a 5-3 lead.
Bully Boy, throwing at an impressive rate, wrapped up the following leg in 12 darts for a 6-3 advantage.
This didn’t deter van Duijvenbode though. The world number 16 showed remarkable fight and spirit to take the 10th leg in 12 darts. For a 129 finish, the Dutchman found two treble 19s and a double eight to reduce the deficit to two legs.
In a nervy and edgy leg, both players seemed to struggle to get to grips with finding doubles. Missing multiple doubles, The Titan finally found the required double five to win in 22 darts.
The St Helens-born world number 5 put this behind him quickly. Firing in 85, 140 and a 180 before checking out 96, he wrapped up leg 12 to make the match 7-5.
It was incredible darts by both players but Smith edged the next two legs in 11 darts each. With similar checkouts of 86 and 87, he gave himself a 9-5 lead.
Van Duijvenbode, trying to start a comeback, found success in leg 15 to reduce Bully Boy’s lead.
Following the break, Smith started effectively. With his last dart in hand, he struck gold on double five to take him one leg away from the win and the final.
World number 16 van Duijvenbode didn’t shy away from the task at hand, winning leg 17 in 14 darts.
In what happened to be the final leg, Smith could not look as van Duijvenbode stepped up to take advantage of his missed dart at double 20. The Dutchman failed to hit double seven. Pinning double 10 with his second dart in hand, the Englishman secured the first place in the final.
Smith will look to put his poor finals’ record to bed against Ross Smith.