SEVENTH HEAVEN FOR CHISNALL IN LEVERKUSEN

Dave Chisnall celebrated his seventh European Tour title with a battling 8-6 victory against Ross Smith in Sunday’s NEO.bet European Darts Open final in Leverkusen.
Chisnall claimed a hat-trick of European Tour titles in 2023, and he returned to winning ways on the big stage with a terrific win at the Ostermann-Arena.
The 43-year-old was beaten in the final of the tournament’s inaugural staging by Raymond van Barneveld back in 2012, but he wasn’t to be denied this time around, defying a spirited fightback from Smith to pocket the £30,000 top prize.
Sunday’s showpiece began with six consecutive holds of throw, but after Smith squandered two darts to break in leg seven, Chisnall ran off the next three legs without reply to establish a 6-3 cushion.
Smith hit back with a spectacular 144 checkout, sparking a three-leg burst of his own as he levelled at six apiece, and he appeared poise to extend that run after landing his sixth 180 to leave 32 after 12 darts.
However, Chisnall conjured up a spectacular 132 finish on the bull to move to the cusp of victory at 7-6, before converting a two-dart 100 kill to seal the deal, after Smith spurned the chance to force a last-leg shoot-out.
“This means everything,” declared Chisnall, who now becomes the fourth-most successful player in European Tour history, behind Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright.
“I think the 132 was the match-winner to be fair. We weren’t at our best in the final, but I’m really, really good friends with Ross.
“There could only be one winner and I’m glad it was me, but I love that guy to bits, and we’ve both had a great weekend.”
The St Helens star was forced to survive a match dart in his opening round tie on Saturday, overturning a 5-3 deficit against Luke Woodhouse to triumph with a ton-topping average.
Chisnall then hit back from 4-3 down to deny Kevin Doets in the last 16, before following up another last-leg victory against Ryan Searle with a 7-1 demolition of Damon Heta in the semi-finals.
Smith, meanwhile, advanced to his second European Tour final of 2024 with impressive wins against Josh Rock, Gian van Veen and Michael Smith on Finals Day.
The former European Champion survived two match darts against both Rock and Van Veen, averaging 106.39 to end Rock’s pursuit of back-to-back European Tour titles.
The 35-year-old then withstood a valiant fightback from 2023 World Champion Smith in the semi-finals, closing out a 7-5 victory having earlier raced into a 6-2 lead.
NEO.bet European Darts Open 2024
“This one definitely hurts,” conceded Smith, also a runner-up to Gary Anderson in April’s European Darts Grand Prix.
“I keep losing in semi-finals or finals so it’s bugging me a bit, but full credit to Dave – he’s one of my best mates and that 132 checkout was an absolute killer.
“I don’t want to be here to make the numbers up. I want to win titles, so I’m going to keep plodding along, but I need to up my game in certain places.”
Michael Smith’s run to the semi-finals featured wins over James Wade, Rob Cross and Peter Wright, while he later recovered from 5-3 down to dump out home favourite Martin Schindler in the quarter-finals.
Heta also crashed out in the semi-finals, despite producing a finishing masterclass in his third round success against Chris Dobey, converting four ton-plus finishes to prevail with a 100% checkout success rate.
The Australian number one then edged out Stephen Bunting in a last-leg shoot-out to seal his spot in the last four, surviving a match dart to advance with a ton-topping average.
Earlier in the day, Bunting registered the fourth-highest average in European Tour history, posting a stunning 117.12 in his whitewash win against Owen Bates.
Elsewhere, Schindler produced a comeback win against Dirk van Duijvenbode to reach the last eight alongside Gian van Veen, who averaged 103 to account for Dutch icon Van Barneveld.
Ryan Searle completed the last eight line-up in Leverkusen, dumping out five-time European Darts Open champion Michael van Gerwen to reach his fifth European Tour quarter-final of 2024.
The European Tour will now return in August, as the NEO.bet German Darts Championship takes place in Hildesheim from August 30 to September 1.
The PDC ProTour will continue with Players Championships 13-14 on July 2-3, as the race for Betfred World Matchplay qualification concludes in Milton Keynes.
NEO.bet European Darts Open
Sunday June 23
Afternoon Session
Last 16
Stephen Bunting 6-0 Owen Bates
Damon Heta 6-5 Chris Dobey
Ryan Searle 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Kevin Doets
Martin Schindler 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Michael Smith 6-4 Peter Wright
Ross Smith 6-5 Josh Rock
Gian van Veen 6-1 Raymond van Barneveld
Evening Session
Quarter-Finals
Damon Heta 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ryan Searle
Michael Smith 6-5 Martin Schindler
Ross Smith 6-5 Gian van Veen
Semi-Finals
Dave Chisnall 7-1 Damon Heta
Ross Smith 7-5 Michael Smith
Final
Dave Chisnall 8-6 Ross Smith
Photos credit Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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