Michael Smith’s nine-darter: how darts fans reacted to the ‘greatest leg of all time’

It was a magical night for Smith as he beat Michael van Gerwen to win first world title

Darts world champion Michael Smith poses with the Sid Waddell Trophy 
Michael Smith poses with the Sid Waddell Trophy 
(Image credit: Pieter Verbeek/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Michael Smith hit a sensational nine-dart leg as he defeated three-time champion Michael van Gerwen in last night’s PDC World Darts Championship final.

Held in front of a raucous crowd at London’s Alexandra Palace, the rematch of the 2019 final saw the Englishman gain revenge over the Dutch master, winning 7-4 on the night to become the world champion and world No.1 for the first time.

“Bully Boy” Smith, who lost to Van Gerwen in the 2019 showpiece and to Peter Wright last year, finally “banished all the tears” to fulfil his world championship “destiny”, said Rob Maul in The Sun. And he did it in one of the “most spectacular matches” ever witnessed at Ally Pally.

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‘Leapt round the stage like a madman’

With 16 ranking titles between them, Smith and Van Gerwen have been the “best two players on the planet” throughout the last 12 months, said Aaron Bower in The Guardian. “We hoped this final”, the “most mouthwatering” in years on paper, “would deliver”, he added. “And how they delivered.” This was a meeting of the “two finest tungsten technicians”.

When he ended his major title duck in November by winning the Grand Slam of Darts, Smith said he would “eventually be a world champion”. And now he has the ambition to do what Van Gerwen has done and “take over” this sport. “It sounds amazing – world champion,” he told Sky Sports. “I finally took a chance that I didn’t deserve. I want to apologise to Michael as I’ve been in his position before.”

After sealing the win, Smith “could not hold back the tears” as he “leapt round the stage like a madman”, Maul added in The Sun. And he celebrated with his family “like Pat Cash at 1987 Wimbledon”.

From a sporting memory “it’s the greatest ever”, Smith said of his victory. “I don’t think that will ever be topped. Even if I won a second [world title], it will never top how I just felt then.”

Smith delivers the ‘magical nine’

Van Gerwen had “cruised through” his quarter-final and semi-final ties “without dropping a set”, said BBC Sport. After taking the opener in this “classic final”, it “needed something special” to end his run of 14 successive victorious sets.

Smith “duly delivered” in a final which featured the “greatest leg of darts the world will ever see”, Bower added in The Guardian. In the third leg of the second set Smith “pinned the perfect nine-dart leg” – but only after Van Gerwen had missed double 12 for a nine-darter of his own. “I thought I’d give the crowd what they deserved and they got one, the magical nine,” Smith said.

On social media video clips of the nine-darter went viral with fans left bewildered by the stunning feat. The PDC’s video on Twitter has already had more than 8m views. In the commentary box Sky Sports’s Wayne Mardle “lost his voice” as he “provided the soundtrack” for one of the greatest moments in darts history, said Ben Parsons in The Mirror. Going “berserk” as he called the nine-dart attempts, Mardle expressed the emotions of darts fans across the globe. “That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see!” Mardle said after Smith hit 141. “I can’t speak, I can’t speak!”

How fans reacted to the ‘greatest leg’

Smith “realised all his darting dreams at once” as he laid his hands on the Sid Waddell trophy, claimed the £500,000 cheque and became the No.1 player on the planet, said Parsons in The Mirror. In what will be considered “one of the sporting moments of 2023”, the man from St Helens “made fans lose their minds” by nailing the perfect nine. Here’s how darts fans reacted on Twitter…

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.