PDC World Darts: Van Gerwen wins thorny encounter to set up final with Smith | PDC World Championships
Michael van Gerwen produced a ruthless display to beat Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-0 and set up a PDC World Championship final showdown with Michael Smith.
The former three-time champion won 18 of 22 legs in a sometimes thorny but ultimately one-sided semi-final and will face Smith in a replay of the 2019 final, when the Dutchman won 7-3. Tuesday night’s winner at Alexandra Palace will also replace Gerwyn Price as the No. 1 player in the world rankings.
Playing in his first world championship semi-final, Van den Bergh stunned his opponent with a 170 checkout in game three – but Van Gerwen rode through the next two sets to claim the opening set regardless. The pre-match favorite built on that momentum to roll out the next three sets, breaking the Belgian twice to go 2-0 up.
Van Gerwen extended his winning run to eight sets as he won a tense third set, where Van den Bergh repeatedly delayed his pitch and seemed to suggest Van Gerwen was encroaching behind him. After a brief verbal exchange, the Dutchman’s response was to fire in a 170 checkout of his own and take full control of the game.
Van Den Bergh ended the losing leg streak in the fourth set and hit another big drum with a 121 – but after Van Gerwen missed three set darts the underdog couldn’t grab a rare opportunity at the double top and fell 4-0. The match ended as a contest and Van Gerwen raced through the final two sets against little resistance.
“It’s phenomenal,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports after hitting nine 180s averaging 108.28. “I don’t know what his problem was, but you have to focus on your own game,” he said of the third-set exchange. “He was losing the game, so he had to say something.”
In the previous semi-final, Smith held off a challenge from Germany’s Gabriel Clemens, pulling away after the first two sets were tied to win 6-2. Smith averaged 103.79 and landed five 100-plus checkouts to end the challenge from Clemens, who had stunned Price in a dramatic and controversial quarter-final on Sunday.
Both players hit the ground running in the first set, but Smith took it 3-2 and broke Clemens’ throw to open the second set. The No. 4 seed faltered, however, missing four darts as Clemens leveled the game. Smith took the lead in the third set with a checkout of 144, then pinned the double 20 to win the set after both players missed the double.
Smith, known as ‘Bully Boy’, checked 161 on the bull in the fourth set but it wasn’t enough to get rid of Clemens, who held the throw to make it two sets, all four sets going over. Smith raced through the next 3-0, breaking the pitch in the rematch with a crate of 100.
Both players’ form dipped in a nervous sixth set, but Smith prevailed 3-2 with a superb finish on the bull to go two sets clear for the first time. It proved the turning point, with Clemens narrowly missing a 121 check as Smith extended their lead to 5-2.
Smith felt his moment to strike at 1-1 in the eighth set, checking 81 to break the pitch. Clemens still wouldn’t admit defeat and took the lead in the next game – but three missed darts to tie the set allowed Smith to sneak past and secure the victory.
“I told myself that I had to step up [tonight]and luckily I did,” Smith said afterwards, before reflecting on his improvement since losing to Van Gerwen in the 2019 final. [since then] … I want to win and do everything I can – I will never give up. I want revenge!”
The Dutchman, who will start as a favorite as he aims for a fourth title and becomes world No. 1 again, responded in kind. “He’s not going to stop me, I feel comfortable, I feel good,” Van Gerwen said. “Me versus Michael – the crowd deserves a final like this.”