SUPER SMITH HITS BACK TO DENY JOYCE FOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP 9 TITLE

Michael Smith won his first ranking title for 11 months as he hit back to deny Ryan Joyce in Monday’s Players Championship 9 final in Hildesheim.

The BetMGM Premier League star had not tasted victory on the circuit since winning PC13 in June 2023, and had previously only reached one semi-final this year.

However, he scooped the £15,000 ProTour title and became the ninth different winner in as many Players Championship events this year with Monday’s Halle 39 success.

Smith’s run to the title included whitewashes of Adam Hunt and Richard Veenstra and ton-plus averages of 106 and 110 against Jonny Clayton and Luke Woodhouse respectively.

He also defeated Oskar Lukasiak and Krzysztof Ratajski in the event, before battling his way to the title against Joyce.

Newcastle’s Joyce found himself 3-1 down early in the final, but turned the game on its head in a four-leg burst to lead 5-3 – landing legs of 12 and 13 darts with the throw in the process after punishing Smith’s misses in leg five.

Smith responded with three straight legs of his own to wrestle back the advantage as a 12-darter moved the 2023 World Champion 6-5 up.

Joyce levelled in leg 12, but Smith fired in a crucial tops to regain the lead before double eight completed a 14-darter for victory.

“I’ve finally got my name back in that winner’s circle again and I’m over the moon,” said Smith.

“It’s been hard. I was so far behind but if he was going to keep giving me chances I had to take them.

“An 88 average in a final is not good, but it’s my first title in nearly 12 months.”

Smith will return to the Premier League stage in Leeds on Thursday, as he continues his bid to secure a Play-Off place.

He added: “It’s full focus for tomorrow and hopefully I win it again so I’ll be flying home on Wednesday, and then [Leeds] is where my focus will be.

“It’s in my own hands now, I’m two points behind Michael [van Gerwen] and three behind Nathan [Aspinall]. Wednesday I’ll start thinking about Thursday night.”

Joyce also enjoyed his best run of 2024 as he reached the final for the first time since winning Players Championship 26 last October.

His run to the final included defeats of former World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, top seed Dave Chisnall and former Masters winner Chris Dobey, before he saw off Ritchie Edhouse in the semi-finals.

Edhouse was a European Tour quarter-finalist in Germany last month, and he reached the last four with five wins on Monday, including a defeat of former UK Open champion Andrew Gilding and a quarter-final victory against Callan Rydz.

Ratajski’s semi-final appearance was his best display on the circuit since winning the German Darts Open in September, with a 104.58 average in his quarter-final win over Masters champion Stephen Bunting being his highlight.

Chisnall, Van Barneveld and Dobey joined Smith in producing 105+ averages during the event, as did Dutchman Danny van Trijp during his first round defeat to Daryl Gurney.

The ProTour double-header concludes on Tuesday with Players Championship 10, as the 128 players compete for the £15,000 title, with streaming from four boards throughout the event on PDCTV.

2024 Players Championship 9

Monday May 6, Halle 39, Hildesheim

Last 16

Ryan Joyce 6-5 Dave Chisnall

Chris Dobey 6-2 Robert Grundy

Callan Rydz 6-3 Scott Williams

Ritchie Edhouse 6-0 Andrew Gilding

Michael Smith 6-0 Richard Veenstra

Luke Woodhouse 6-1 Patrick Geeraets

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Kevin Doets

Stephen Bunting 6-4 Gian van Veen

Quarter-Finals

Ryan Joyce 6-4 Chris Dobey

Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 Callan Rydz

Michael Smith 6-3 Luke Woodhouse

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Stephen Bunting

Semi-Finals

Ryan Joyce 7-4 Ritchie Edhouse

Michael Smith 7-4 Krzysztof Ratajski

Final

Michael Smith 8-6 Ryan Joyce

Photo credit Simon O’Connor/PDC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *