King reigns supreme in European Darts Grand Prix


Mervyn King defeated Michael Smith 6-5 to win his first PDC European Tour title at the European Darts Grand Prix, edging a dramatic final to claim the £20,000 first prize in Sindelfingen.

King has previously lost in three European Tour finals, including against Steve Beaton on the Glaspalast stage 12 months ago, but finally claimed glory as he edged out Smith in a thrilling final.

The Norfolk ace had followed up Saturday’s second round win over Andrew Gilding by defeating Austrian prospect Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 in Sunday afternoon’s third round.

He then whitewashed Robert Thornton with a clinical quarter-final performance, and was taken all the way by Simon Whitlock in the semi-finals, in a game which saw all 11 legs eventually go with throw.

King took out 106 and 104 in the early stages and added a 12-darter, while Whitlock missed double 15 for a nine-darter as he forced a deciding leg, which the Englishman won with a superb 13-dart leg.

King carried that form into the final as he took the first three legs without reply, twice punishing missed doubles from Smith.

The former PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion took the fourth and fifth legs to pull back to 3-2, and though King fired in a 180 as he won his fourth leg of the game, Smith then took the next two to level at four-all.

A 121 checkout from King moved him to the brink of victory, only for Smith to finish 114 to take the game into a deciding leg – which proved dramatic as King missed three darts at double 16 for the match, only to see the youngster miss tops for a 102 checkout.

King returned and landed double 16 at the fourth time of asking, securing the £20,000 winner’s cheque and his biggest title since joining the PDC circuit almost eight years ago.

“It’s fantastic, it feels absolutely awesome,” said King. “I had a break during August – I just needed it and I felt I was burning myself out – but I’ve come back and this has happened!

“In the previous finals I ran out of steam and wasn’t really challenging, but in this one I was there. He missed a couple of doubles and I took full advantage of it – I pounced on him and was there ready and hungry.

“It’s never plain sailing and at 3-0 up I was never thinking about winning because the standard’s so high now and players can rattle off ten-darters or 11-darters like they’re going out of fashion, so to actually get over the line is brilliant.

“I’ve never been the most consistent player in the world, but this is a great start to the latter part of the season. When you know you’re the last man standing, in a world-class field, is unbelievable.”

King also gave his support to emerging talent Smith, adding: “You’ve got to learn to lose before you can learn to win and I said to him to take it on the chin.

“He’s a future World Champion and he has a lot more in him. As far as I’m concerned, I think he’ll win the World Championship inside the next two to three years – he’s a fantastic player but I think his final was the semi-final [against Stephen Bunting].

“He had his chances in the final but didn’t take them. He let me in and I took them.”

Smith was forced to settle for the runner-up cheque in his third ranking final of the year, although the 23-year-old from St Helens produced another weekend to enhance his growing reputation.

Having hit six 180s in his second round win over Kevin McDine on Saturday, he then overcame mentor Gary Anderson 6-2 in the third round before picking up 6-4 wins over two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis and Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting as he reached the final.

“I came here to win, not to be runner-up, so I’m still disappointed,” admitted Smith. “I threw the first two legs away in the final.

“I had three darts at a double in each leg and could have been 2-0 up, and then in the last leg I got a shot at the 102 but the dart didn’t come out of my hand right and I knew straight away that it wasn’t going in.

“I just can’t seem to win the finals, that’s three I’ve lost this year, but it’s more experience for me. I’ve won two ProTour titles before but I’ve lost three this year – I know it’s there and as soon as I win one, I’ll be okay.”

Bunting’s run saw him reach a second European Tour semi-final, matching his achievement in winning through to the last four in Berlin over Easter.

The Lakeside Champion had battled past Jyhan Artut, Peter Wright and Vincent van der Voort to reach Sunday evening’s quarter-finals – seeing off the Dutchman with an 11-darter in the deciding leg of their clash.

He then defeated Dave Chisnall 6-3 in the last eight, but found another St Helens rival too strong as Smith progressed.

Whitlock joined Bunting in reaching the semis, and agonisingly missed double 15 for a nine-dart finish during his last four defeat to King – scoring 171 and 180 before being off-target on the final dart of the 150 combination.

A favourite with the German crowd, Whitlock also defeated Matt Clark on Saturday, then whitewashed Kim Huybrechts in the third round and defeated Terry Jenkins 6-4 in the quarter-finals.

Adrian Lewis averaged 115.62 in an amazing 6-0 whitewash of Steve Beaton as he booked a quarter-final place in under ten minutes – denying last September’s Sindelfingen winner a dart at a double in the game!

Lewis, though, was unable to repeat the form against Smith as he missed out on claiming a second European Tour win in Sindelfingen.

Jenkins produced some superb darts as he reached the last eight, overcoming Joe Cullen and Darren Webster, while Robert Thornton booked his quarter-final place in dramatic style with a 6-5 win over Jamie Caven, who took out 164 as he came from 5-1 down to level.

Chisnall, meanwhile, was a 6-2 winner against James Wade in the last 16 but never recovered from going 4-0 down in his quarter-final against Bunting.


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