World Matchplay darts: Michael Smith v Rob Cross final guide, statistics, head-to-heads, betting tips & TV start time

Who will lift the Phil Taylor Trophy?
Who will lift the Phil Taylor Trophy?

Our guide for the Betfred World Matchplay final between Michael Smith and Rob Cross includes head-to-head record, tournament stats, predictions, odds and best bets.

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After an incredible and unforgettable week of darts at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, we've now reached the final.

The easiest prediction to make is that it'll be another classic. The hardest is whether Michael Smith will be lifting his first major trophy or if 2018 world champion Rob Cross can land his second having somehow reached the final with one of the greatest darting comebacks of all time against Daryl Gurney.

Here I'll give it a try but under my preview there's plenty of stats, routes to the final, head-to-head records and facts here to help you make your own mind up.

World Matchplay Final: Michael Smith (11/10) v Rob Cross (8/11)

Click on the odds for more Sky Bet match markets

  • Date: Sunday July 28
  • TV Coverage: Sky Sports (1900 BST)
  • Final Format: Best of 35 legs. Either player must win by two clear legs until up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth additional leg is sudden-death.

Match preview and prediction

  • Scroll down for tournament stats, routes to the final & H2H records

I'm still trying to process - although probably not as much as a tortured Daryl Gurney - quite how Rob Cross is in tonight's final.

Winning 10 legs out of 11 against any of the world's elite players is astonishing regardless, but to do it when almost anything less will see you lose a World Matchplay semi-final is almost unfathomable. Well, it's not now because it happened!

Gurney had more than one foot in his first Blackpool final at 14-7 up and almost to at 15-9. If the 2017 World Grand Prix and 2018 Players Championship Finals champion had then kept his cool - like he so usually does on big stage occasions - by converting any of the four darts at tops he had when leading 15-10, then that surely would have been game over.

He then fell apart, only earning one more attempt at a double as Cross continued to stage one of the great comebacks ever seen in televised darts to draw level at 15-15 before moving one leg from victory.

It was then when Gurney salvaged a chance to save his skin when Voltage missed his first two match darts but he spurned all three attempts at double 12 and that was that.

Great entertainment for the world of darts but agony for anyone who had followed my advice to back the Northern Irishman at 25/1 each way to win the title!

Thankfully, the evening ended with my other 25/1 pre-tournament each-way tip Michael Smith ensuring more profits to add to the ones already gained from Glen Durrant winning the first quarter of the draw at 11/1 - but we could have been sitting on a guaranteed bumper payout regardless of tonight's outcome.

Oh well, you can't have everything.

Cross is the favourite to complete two thirds of the Triple Crown in what is still just his third season as a professional and had he won this season's Premier League final, he would be trying to complete it!

Voltage, who was also runner-up in the UK Open final during a season of consistently brilliant performances but no titles, is also aiming for his first trophy since last August but having been let off the hook by Gurney, he must raise his game to the levels we know he's to get his hands on the second biggest prize in the sport of £150,000.

Smith has been knocking on the door for a big major for quite some time and I'm pretty sure his natural talent and tireless hard work will finally be rewarded tonight.

The St Helens thrower, a runner-up at the 2018 Premier League, 2018 World Series of Darts Finals and 2019 World Championship, must not be considered a bottler just because of what happened in the middle one of those three finals verses James Wade, because in the other two he was up against the 'old' MVG.

Smith had a sluggish Premier League campaign but as we've discussed in previous articles, that was mainly down to a slow start which emanated from a lack of preparation in January due to his wedding and honeymoon. For a player that practices as much as Bully Boy, that did set him back.

Now he's close to his best and I feel his dominant performance against Mervyn King, who had knocked out Gary Anderson, and MVG's conquer Glen Durrant in his last two games shows he's arguably in better form than Cross, who was obviously pushed much harder in his corresponding matches.

Smith also had to hit the ground running at the start of the tournament against Jamie Hughes and Max Hopp and he's been able to maintain that and seems to be sprinting towards the finishing line.

Admittedly his head-to-head record against Cross isn't great, as you'll see broken down below, and although his last victory against his World Cup of Darts team-mate came when he last won a title, which was on TV, in the Shanghai Masters final of 2018.

I'm siding with Smith but will back him to win as well as scoring over 7.5 180s and having a checkout of over 112.5 at 2/1.

The match should go long so how about backing over 31.5 legs, a high checkout of over 141.5 and more than 18.5 total 180s at 4/1. The way they've both been peppering the 180s and ton+ checkouts throughout the tournament (full details below), these are very achievable targets.

Prediction: 18-15

Best Bets: Smith to win, hit over 7.5 180s and checkout of over 112.5 at 2/1

Best Bets: Match to have over 31.5 legs, checkout of over 141.5 and more than 18.5 180s at 4/1

Head-to-head Records

  • 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)

Tournament Statistics

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

Routes to the final

MICHAEL SMITH

ROB CROSS

Player Profiles

ROB CROSS

  • 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

MICHAEL SMITH

  • 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

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