Rob Cross won his second major title after defeating Michael Smith 18-13 in the World Matchplay final at the Winter Gardens.
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The 2018 world champion, who is still in just his third year as a professional, has now landed the two biggest prizes in the sport - but had to survive a courageous comeback against Bully Boy to triumph in Blackpool.
The damage, albeit largely self-inflicted on Smith's part as the St Helens man made a terrible start and struggled to get anywhere near his best levels, was done in the first half of the match as Cross stormed into a 9-0 lead.
At this stage Voltage, who had come from 14-7 down to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in darting history 24 hours earlier against Daryl Gurney, had won his last 17 legs at the Winter Gardens and was threatening the biggest ever final victory here since Phil Taylor thrashed Terry Jenkins 16-4 back in 2009.
However, a rather subdued Blackpool crowd who arrived at the venue expecting a fitting climax to an unforgettable eight days started sensing another miracle turnaround, with the role of Cross now switching from hero to a potential victim.
Supportively ironic cheers greeted Smith when he got his first leg on the board and although he reduced the gap to 11-4 by the end of the third interval, Cross was 1/66 to complete the job amidst the expectation that Bully Boy had left his comeback far too late.
The 2018 Premier League, 2018 World Series of Darts Finals and 2019 World Championship runner-up, who is still seeking his first major title at the age of 28, was gradually lifting his average up to above 90 after that dreadful start and a 147 checkout plus legs of 12, 13 and 12 darts helped stay in touch - relatively speaking of course when you consider when the Cross comeback against Gurney started - at 13-7 down.
Another dominant mini session, including an 11-darter, reduced that deficit to an alarming 14-11 for Cross, but his 14th leg did at least halt the momentum somewhat when he brilliantly checked out from 110 when Smith was waiting for a chance to finish from 16.
The pressure cranked up further notches on Cross as Smith closed to within two legs at just 15-13 down. Once again the Winter Gardens crowd roared Voltage's missed doubles - this time six of them - although Smith also spurned five of his own before pinning tops for a 20-darter.
That would be the closest he got as Cross reeled off the next three legs - after surviving darts at the bullseye from Smith in two of them - to become just the fourth player in history to have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay.
Interestingly he's comfortably the second quickest to have managed it out of those elite group. Having turned pro at the start of the 2017, Cross completes the double in his third season while Phil Taylor (1994-95) did it in two, Michael van Gerwen (2007-2015) in eight (and Gary Anderson (2009-2018) in 10.
As well as picking up a cheque for £150,000, he's also just the ninth player to claim the second most prestigious title in the sport since the tournament began way back in 1994 although that's not a surprisingly low number when the man this trophy is named after won 16 of them (full list can be found further down).
Cross told www.pdc.tv: "It feels amazing. I'm lost for words - so happy that I've won this title. I've loved this place from day one and it's been so special to me. Everything about this tournament is amazing and to walk out with this [trophy] makes it all complete.
"It was a weird game. I went so far in front and towards the end I switched off, so the double 16 to put me 17-13 up was what won it for me.
"Michael played great darts all week but he struggled on doubles tonight and it made me more edgy. He came back well but I had to stay calm.
"The crowd were amazing, they carried me through yesterday and carried Michael today."
Cross is also celebrating his first title of any kind since the Brisbane Darts Masters in August last year while this was his third major televised final of 2019 having finished second to Nathan Aspinall at the UK Open and Michael van Gerwen on Premier League Finals Night.
Had he won the latter, then tonight's triumph would have obviously seen him complete the Triple Crown of Darts so it may not be too much longer before he joins Taylor, van Gerwen and Anderson in that special group as well.
"I've not played badly this year and I've broken my duck now," he added. "There was pressure because I've lost in two finals this year, so to get over the winning line is huge.
"I need to get a bit more ruthless for the rest of the year. I've got a bit of confidence now and I still feel I can improve, but if I can be consistent"
For Smith this represents another runners-up prize in a televised major but if he keeps knocking on the door then, like he said in the wake of his quarter-final victory over Mervyn King, the floodgates will surely open for a man of his talents and dedication to practice.
Tonight the former World Youth champion said: "My doubles deserted me tonight. I was constantly chasing and I didn't turn up. Even at 9-0 down I still believed that I was going to win, but you pay the price for being 9-0 down. I proved that I can fight but when I got back in it, my doubles disappeared again.
"My scoring wasn't there and my finishing wasn't, but all credit to Rob because he did a job. I've made another final and it's another runner-up trophy but it won't stop me.
"I'd rather have got beaten in the first round than lose in that final - it hurts less. I'm fuming - I keep making finals but I don't want to be "the nearly man", I want to be the one that wins them."
Michael Smith 13-18 Rob Cross: Final Statistics
- Smith: 95.91
- Cross: 95.16
- Smith: 8
- Cross: 5
- Smith: 13/44 (29.55%)
- Cross: 18/41 (43.9%)
- Smith: 147
- Cross: 115, 100
Routes to the final
- First round: 10-7 v Jamie Hughes (Av: 98.78)
- Second round: 12-10 v Max Hopp (Av: 96.72)
- Quarter-finals: 16-11 v Mervyn King (Av: 96.54)
- Semi-finals: 17-10 v Glen Durrant (Av: 100.77)
- First round: 10-3 v Chris Dobey (Av: 100.6)
- Second round: 11-5 v Krzysztof Ratajski (Av: 98.47)
- Quarter-finals: 16-14 v Stephen Bunting (Av: 101.83)
- Semi-finals: 17-15 v Daryl Gurney (Av: 96.64)
Tournament Statistics (pre final)
Smith stats on the left
- Tournament Average: 98.17 - 99.19
- Best Average: 100.77 (v Durrant) - 101.83 (v Bunting)
- Tournament 180s: 25 - 29
- Checkout %: 41.35% (55/133) - 43.90% (54/123)
- High Checkout: 137 - 170
- Ton+ Checkouts: 8 - 8
- Overall: 3-12
- Televised meetings: 2-8
Smith 1-8 Cross (Premier League '19)
Smith 3-7 Cross (Premier League '19)
Smith 7-11 Cross (UK Open SF '19)
Smith 10-9 Cross (Melbourne Masters QF '18)
Smith 8-2 Cross (Shanghai Masters F '18)
Smith 6-8 Cross (US Masters QF '18)
Smith 5-7 Cross (Premier League '18)
Smith 5-7 Cross (Premier League '18)
Smith 3-4 Cross (World Championship '18)
Smith 4-10 Cross (European Championship '17)
- 2019 Meetings: 0-3
Smith 1-8 Cross (Premier League)
Smith 3-7 Cross (Premier League )
Smith 7-11 Cross (UK Open SF)
- Nickname: Voltage
- Date of Birth: 21/09/1990
- Nationality: English
- World Ranking/Seeding: 2
- Walk-on music: Hot Hot Hot - Arrow
- Career highlights: World champion (2018), Six other non-major PDC titles including Brisbane Darts Masters (2018)
- World Matchplay previous best: Second round x2
- This time last year? Was struggling to deal with the pressures of being world champion and his second attempt at Blackpool glory ended in a surprise second-round defeat to Darren Webster.
- PDC Titles this season: 0
- Nickname: Bully Boy
- Date of Birth: 18/09/1990
- Nationality: English
- Seeding/World Ranking: 5/6
- Walk-on music: Shut Up & Dance, Walk The Moon
- World Matchplay previous best: Last 16 x 3 (2014, 2016, 2018)
- Career highlights: World Championship runner-up (2019), Premier League Darts runner-up (2018), World Youth champion (2013), winner of 10 non-major PDC titles including Shanghai Darts Masters (2018)
- This time last year? Having been a favourite for Premier League relegation, he finished runner-up in a year in which he really started delivering on his rich potential but could only manage the second round here.
- PDC Titles this season: 0
World Matchplay: Past finals
Final scores in legs
- 1994 - Larry Butler 16-12 Dennis Priestley
- 1995 - Phil Taylor 16-11 Dennis Priestley
- 1996 - Peter Evison 16-14 Dennis Priestley
- 1997 - Phil Taylor 16-11 Alan Warriner
- 1998 - Rod Harrington 19-17 Ronnie Baxter
- 1999 - Rod Harrington 19-17 Peter Manley
- 2000 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Alan Warriner
- 2001 - Phil Taylor 18-10 Richie Burnett
- 2002 - Phil Taylor 18-16 John Part
- 2003 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Wayne Mardle
- 2004 - Phil Taylor 18-8 Mark Dudbridge
- 2005 - Colin Lloyd 18-12 John Part
- 2006 - Phil Taylor 18-9 James Wade
- 2007 - James Wade 18-7 Terry Jenkins
- 2008 - Phil Taylor 18-11 James Wade
- 2009 - Phil Taylor 18-4 Terry Jenkins
- 2010 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Raymond van Barneveld
- 2011 - Phil Taylor 18-8 James Wade
- 2012 - Phil Taylor 18-15 James Wade
- 2013 - Phil Taylor 18-13 Adrian Lewis
- 2014 - Phil Taylor 18-9 Michael van Gerwen
- 2015 - Michael van Gerwen 18-12 James Wade
- 2016 - Michael van Gerwen 18-10 Phil Taylor
- 2017 - Phil Taylor 18-8 Peter Wright
- 2018 - Gary Anderson 21-19 Mensur Suljovic
World Matchplay Most Titles
- Phil Taylor - 16
- Michael van Gerwen - 2
- Rod Harrington - 2
- Gary Anderson - 1
- Larry Butler - 1
- Peter Evison - 1
- Colin Lloyd - 1
- James Wade - 1