Michael van Gerwen takes on Michael Smith in tonight's PDC World Darts Championship final. Here's our full preview including facts, stats and predictions.
So after 15 days, 27 sessions, 94 matches, 430 sets and around 1720 legs (I haven't worked that out exactly!) of darts, we now reach the crescendo.
Despite all the shocks, dramatic comebacks and underdog stories which have made this World Championship so memorable, we have a repeat of the Premier League final between two world-class players who have pretty much blazed their way through their sections of the draw without any real issues.
Michael van Gerwen starts as hot favourite to win his third world title but Michael Smith should - at the very least - run him much closer than Gary Anderson did, that's if he can maintain the same stunning standards he's produced so far.
Below I've compiled each player's tournament statistics and their respective routes to the final, as well as a detailed head-to-head record, before previewing the final and picking out my best bets.
- World Darts Championship results
- Follow @ChrisHammer180 on Twitter
- Click here for live final score updates & highlights
World Darts Championship final: Tuesday January 1
- TV Coverage: Sky Sports (2000 GMT)
- Format: Best of 13 sets
TOURNAMENT STATS (MVG first)
- 3-dart Average: 103.72 - 101.19
- 180s: 32 - 51
- 100+ checkouts: 7 - 11
- Highest checkout: 170 - 136
- Checkout %: 46.25% (74/160) - 44.83% (78/174)
- Sets won/lost: 22/5 - 22/8
- Legs won/lost: 74/37 - 78/45
- Legs won against throw: 28/54 - 29/60
- Legs lost on own throw: 11/57 - 14/63
ROUTES TO THE FINAL
Michael van Gerwen
- Second round: 3-1 v Alan Tabern
(Av: 102.59, 180s: 4, Doubles: 11/20)
- Third round: 4-1 v Max Hopp
(Av: 101.51, 180s: 6, Doubles: 12/34)
- Fourth round: 4-1 v Adrian Lewis
(Av: 108.08, 180s: 6, Doubles: 14/32)
- Quarter-finals: 5-1 v Ryan Joyce
(Av: 101.12, 180s: 5, Doubles: 17/34)
- Semi-finals: 5-1 v Gary Anderson
(Av: 104.76, 180s: 11, Doubles: 20/40)
- Second round: 3-1 v Ron Meulenkamp
(Av: 94.07, 180s: 7, Doubles: 10/20)
- Third round: 4-2 v John Henderson
(Av: 100.47, 180s: 9, Doubles: 16/34)
- Fourth round: 4-1 v Ryan Searle
(Av: 99.72, 180s: 10, Doubles: 14/29)
- Quarter-finals: 5-1 v Luke Humphries
(Av: 103, 180s: 8, Doubles: 15/46)
- Semi-finals: 6-3 v Nathan Aspinall
Av: 105.22, 180s: 17, Doubles: 23/45)
- Overall: 25-6
- 2018 meetings: 7-2
MVG 10-8 Smith - Grand Slam of Darts, Nov
MVG 7-2 Smith - European Darts Trophy, Oct
MVG 4-8 Smith - Shanghai Masters, July
MVG 11-4 Smith - Premier League Final, May
MVG 7-0 Smith - European Darts Grand Prix, May
MVG 7-1 Smith - Premier League, April
MVG 7-2 Smith - Premier League, Mar
MVG 1-6 Smith - UK Open Qualifier, Feb
MVG 6-3 Smith - UK Open Qualifier, Feb
- Career Titles: 116-11 (TV: 45-2)
2018 Titles: 18-3 (TV: 4-1)
Amidst all the carnage of the shocks and titanic battles that have grabbed most of the headlines, Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith have powered their way through to the final and nobody can possibly dispute they've been the superior players in each half of the draw.
Obviously MVG faced the tougher route on paper but with five more averages over 100 - a feat he's now managed in 18 straight matches on the Alexandra Palace stage - none of his opponents, including a lacklustre Gary Anderson, could live him and he's lost just five sets and 37 of the 111 legs he's played.
Smith, by contrast, had the easier-looking route and he's become only the third player since 2000 to reach the final without having beaten one of the top 16 seeds. However, that stat is misleading in the sense that both Luke Humphries and Nathan Aspinall ended up being two of the success stories of this tournament and he produced 100+ averages and a glut of 180s to put them both to the sword.
Indeed, Aspinall's performance in that thrilling semi-final on Sunday night was far superior to the test that Anderson gave MVG while Smith produced a statistically better display than the world number one.
Coming into this tournament both men had something to prove.
As daft as it sounds, Michael van Gerwen's dominance was being questioned having 'only' won three major trophies - the Premier League, Masters and the World Grand Prix - out of his overall haul of 18 in 2018, but now he's on the cusp of firmly silencing those critics and becoming the first man since Phil Taylor to become PDC world champion more than twice.
Michael Smith, who was soundly beaten by a ruthless MVG in that Premier League final, made huge strides in his career in 2018, winning three titles, but blew match darts to win his first proper big major against James Wade at the World Series of Darts Finals.
The St Helens thrower, 28, has repeatedly mixed it with the best but now he's hungry and ready to prove he can deliver when it really counts.
The way he handled the pressure in the last two rounds makes me believe that he can do it and when you look at the stats in the routes to the final section, you'll see he's statistically got the power to challenge MVG.
This season they've met seven times, with van Gerwen winning all three Premier League encounters including that final.
However, since then there have been two matches to give all Bully Boy fans real confidence that the gap between the pair has closed. Firstly he defeated him en route to winning the televised Shanghai Darts Masters.
And at the recent Grand Slam of Darts, he lost 10-8 in one of the best matches in the tournament's history but it could have been so different had his attempt at tops for a 160 checkout when trailing 9-8 not missed low.
Smith averaged three figures, weighed in with six maximums and also produced ton-plus checkouts of 121 and 112, underlining the fact that he's not fazed against such formidable opposition.
Regular readers will know I tipped Smith at 16/1 in my pre-tournament betting preview and I'm not about to desert him, even if there was always the chance he'd reach the final with someone else having done the hard yards for him on the other side of the draw.
Anyone who has backed Smith at 16s may want to consider the 15/8 on MVG winning the final but Smith to fire in the most 180s. If Bully Boy is to triumph, he will need to produce great numbers so another option is 6/1 on him to win, score over 15.5 180s and a checkout of over 131.5.
Overall I'm sticking with him to edge what should be a final worthy bringing to an end what's been a remarkable tournament.
Just to finish on a lighter note - Smith, who incredibly gets married to his fiancee Dagmara this weekend, knows he can't wait too much longer to win a world title given the rising standards of the game's young stars, and he's also wary about his 180-throwing four-year-old son Junior catching him up in the not too distant future!
PREDICTION & BETS TO CONSIDER (all with Sky Bet)
- Michael Smith to win at 3/1
- Smith to win, hit over 15.5 180s & checkout over 131.5 at 6/1
- Both players to hit 15+ 180's each & both players to checkout 125+ each at 6/1
- For those who think MVG will win, MVG to win and Smith to hit most 180s at 15/8
Related Darts Content
- Chris Hammer's in-depth tournament preview
- John Part's predictions & best bets
- Sporting Life Darts Podcast featuring John Part, Joe Cullen, Daryl Gurney & Paul Nicholson
- Full World Championship draw and schedule
- 2018 PDC event calendar & results
- 2019 Premier League darts fixtures
- 2018 Premier League darts results
- Sky Bet's darts odds
- 2019 PDC season results