Leg-by-leg report, highlights and reaction from the Betfred World Matchplay final in Blackpool, where Rob Cross beat Michael Smith 18-13 to win the Phil Taylor Trophy.
ROB CROSS IS THE WORLD MATCHPLAY CHAMPION!
2115: It's an incredible achievement for Rob Cross to become just the fourth player to have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay so soon in his career.
He's still only in his third year as a professional which means he's achieved this special double quicker than both Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson while Phil Taylor did it just one season quicker.
2110: "Everything about this tournament is brilliant!" Let's now here from the champion just before we sign off from what's been such a memorable week at the Winter Gardens.
2105: Michael Smith was understandably gutted with his finishing, especially in those opening nine legs but there's no doubt he'll soon get that first major trophy if he keeps knocking on the door like he has over the past couple of seasons. He's too good not to win one sooner than later.
2100: Rob Cross gets his hands on the Phil Taylor Trophy - just the ninth different player to do so - and will also pocket a cool £150,000, with Smith taking home a chunky consolation package of £70,000.
2055: It may not have been a vintage final in terms of stats and the standard of player we were expecting but Michael Smith's courageous comeback from that disastrous start - and he probably wanted the oche to swallow him up at 9-0 down - did at least create some drama to cap of a superb World Matchplay. Here are the final stats...
- 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
- Leg 31
Rob Cross is World Matchplay champion after overcoming a gutsy comeback to beat Michael Smith 18-13! He missed his first three match darts in this leg but after Smith failed to take out 110, he came back and kept his cool to seal the second biggest title of his young career.
SMITH 13-18 CROSS
- Leg 30
Cross is just one leg away from glory as he follows up his timely fifth 180 of the match to complete a 15 darter - although Smith gifted it to him after missing two darts from 25 after his attempt at the bull just missed for a 161 checkout.
SMITH 13-17 CROSS
- Leg 29
Smith strongly challenges for another leg with his eighth 180 Cross lets out a huge roar as he responds to the crowd with a huge 72 checkout to stop another rot.
SMITH 13-16 CROSS
- Leg 28
Once again the Winter Gardens crowd roar the Cross missed doubles - this time there's six of them - as they sense more astonishing drama. Smith also spurned five of his own before pinning tops for a 20-darter.
SMITH 13-15 CROSS
- Leg 27
Can't think of a sport where the same set of supporters can roar one player to an amazing victory one day, and then cheer his misses at doubles just 24 hours later! Anyway, while the crowd inspired Cross last night, they are helping Smith pull to within three legs after Voltage blew two darts at double eight.
SMITH 12-15 CROSS
- Leg 26 (Smith to throw first)
Cross hardly looks fazed despite the Smith comeback as he comes back out after the mini break by firing in a 13-dart break of throw which was made possible by three big ton+ visits. There was plenty of pressure on his checkout though, with Smith waiting on 41 to close the cap to two.
SMITH 11-15 CROSS
FIFTH INTERVAL: Smith 11-14 Cross
Sky Bet latest odds: Rob Cross remains favourite but now he's 1/5 from 1/66 at the end of the last interval while Michael Smith can be backed at 7/2 to complete this amazing turnaround. Click here now for all the Sky Bet live darts markets including most 180s & highest checkout.
- Smith: 97.12
- Cross: 95.58
- Smith: 7
- Cross: 3
- Smith: 11/32
- Cross: 14/24
- Smith: 147
- Cross: 115, 100
- Leg 25
Incredible atmosphere inside the Winter Gardens after it had been so muted for the first half of this now gripping contest. Voltage loses his cool from 96 and while his sloppy visit still leaves 54, Smith pins double 16 for a 15-darter as we head into the fifth interval. He was 250 points behind at one stage.
SMITH 11-14 CROSS
- Leg 24
Massive from Cross and his pumped up celebrations say it all as the pressure cranks up on the Winter Gardens stage. With Smith waiting to come back for a chance to take out 16, Voltage brilliantly checks out from 110 for a 15-darter that pulls him four legs clear again.
SMITH 10-14 CROSS
- Leg 23
We've got a real final on our hands now! Smith opens this leg with back-to-back 140s before a visit of 136 leaves 86 which he takes out in two for a 14-darter. The crowd are going wild here just like they were for Cross last night! What a sport!
SMITH 10-13 CROSS
- Leg 22
Just imagine if Cross blows his 9-0 and 12-4 leads a night after he came from 14-7 down to get here?! Well you might not have to imagine it for too much longer at this rate. Smith pulls another back after three ton+ visits helps him on his way to a 15-darter.
SMITH 9-13 CROSS
- Leg 21 (Cross to throw first)
Smith is back to within five legs of Cross - the nearest he's ever been since Voltage increased his lead to 6-0 - with a steady 14 darter, as he pinned tops under pressure with Voltage waiting on 12.
SMITH 8-13 CROSS
FOURTH INTERVAL: Smith 7-13 Cross
Sky Bet latest odds: Rob Cross remains 1/66 favourite like he was at the end of the third interval while Michael Smith can be backed at 16/1. Click here now for all the Sky Bet live darts markets including most 180s & highest checkout.
- Smith: 95.1
- Cross: 95.99
- Smith: 5
- Cross: 2
- Smith: 7/26
- Cross: 13/23
- Smith: 147
- Cross: 115
- Leg 20
Sorry to churn out some predictable cliches but no sooner had Smith turned up the heat has Voltage turned it back down again by holding his nerve to pin double 16 with his last dart in hand as his opponent waited on eight following his pressurising visit of 133. That 15-darter could prove to be the killer blow given the circumstances.
SMITH 7-13 CROSS
- Leg 19
Bully Boy definitely has his foot firmly on the gas now as he follows up an opening visit of 99 with back-to-back 180s before taking out 42 for a 12-darter - with Cross waiting on 70 - that reduces the deficit to 'just' six.
SMITH 7-12 CROSS
- Leg 18
Three ton+ visits paves the way for an impressive 13-darter from Smith as he strings two legs together and he seems to be entering his trademark turbo mode.
SMITH 6-12 CROSS
- Leg 17
Smith bounces back from the woes of the previous leg - and indeed the whole match so far - to break back with a stunning checkout of 147 that completes a superb 12-darter. To say that's out of character for this match is an understatement, but it's certainly a very welcome moment.
SMITH 5-12 CROSS
- Leg 16 (Smith to throw first)
Voltage sucks further life out of this contest with a lacklustre 16-darter which was only made possible by Smith's five spurned darts from 40 - including three at double 10. Such a shame to see a final unfold like this after all the drama of the previous seven nights.
SMITH 4-12 CROSS
THIRD INTERVAL: Smith 4-11 Cross
Sky Bet latest odds: Rob Cross is now 1/66 favourite while a Michael Smith comeback is 16/1. Click here now for all the Sky Bet live darts markets including most 180s & highest checkout.
- Smith: 91.49
- Cross: 94.41
- Smith: 3
- Cross: 2
- Smith: 4/17
- Cross: 11/20
- Smith: 84
- Cross: 115
- Leg 15
Just seven legs required for Cross to win the second most lucrative trophy in darts 19 months after he won the biggest. Voltage does it in some style too with the first ton+ checkout of the match as he hits treble 19, single 18, and double tops from 115 to complete his 15-darter.
SMITH 4-11 CROSS
- Leg 14
Smith may well have left this comeback too late but at least he's matched Terry Jenkins' haul of four legs from the 2009 final against the man this trophy is named after. He fired in his third maximum of the match to do it before checking out from 84 for a 14-darter.
SMITH 4-10 CROSS
- Leg 13
Voltage halts the mini rot by moving into double figures with a 15-darter completed with a 73 checkout, with Smith back on 153.
SMITH 3-10 CROSS
- Leg 12
Maybe there is life in the young Bull yet as he makes it three on the trot - although it was a pretty sub standard leg won in 19 darts, with Cross still left on 60. Neither player is anywhere near their best form so if Smith can up his levels dramatically there's no reason he can't overturn this deficit. It's a big if though based on what we've seen.
SMITH 3-9 CROSS
- Leg 11 (Cross to throw first)
The comeback is well and truly on now!! Three big ton+ visits including a second 180 of the match from Smith puts him in control of the leg and he eventually takes it with his fourth attempt at a double for a 14-darter after Voltage missed one at two 16s.
SMITH 2-9 CROSS
SECOND INTERVAL: Smith 1-9 Cross
Sky Bet latest odds: Rob Cross is now 1/50 favourite while a Michael Smith miracle is 14/1. Click here now for all the Sky Bet live darts markets including most 180s & highest checkout.
- Smith: 91.53
- Cross: 96.22
- Smith: 1
- Cross: 2
- Smith: 1/10
- Cross: 9/17
- Smith: 84
- Cross: 81
- Leg 10
Huge roar, albeit supportively ironic, as Smith takes out 84 in two darts to finally get a leg on the board. Surely this can't be the start of a miracle. I'd be pretty certain it's the start of a damage limitation exercise.
SMITH 1-9 CROSS
- Leg Nine
When you take into consideration that Rob Cross won the last eight legs in his semi-final with Daryl Gurney, he's now won 17 legs in a row on this stage! Phenomenal. This is another ordinary leg, won in 15 darts, with Smith back on 150.
SMITH 0-9 CROSS
- Leg Eight
Oh dear. It's now 8-0 and we could be looking at the biggest World Matchplay hiding since Phil Taylor crushed Terry Jenkins 18-4 in 2009! This was a pretty solid 14-dart leg but nothing spectacular - he's just murdering his opponent's freakishly miserable night at the oche.
SMITH 0-8 CROSS
- Leg Seven
I'm sorry to say it, but unless Michael Smith produces some king of miraculous comeback to at least make this close, then we're looking at a damp squib ending to what has been an exhilarating World Matchplay. It's now 7-0 as a second 180 from Cross and a 52 checkout seals a 14-darter, with Smith waiting for a chance on 30.
SMITH 0-7 CROSS
- Leg Six (Smith to throw first)
Cross misses out on a 128 checkout for a 15 darter in a leg of more mediocre scoring from both players after his attempt at bull hits single eight. Smith should finally get his first leg on the board but, having missed the bull himself in his previous visit, fails again from 25 and you can guess what happened next. Voltage is far from hot at the moment but he's somehow in a 6-0 lead. It's not good to watch unfortunately.
SMITH 0-6 CROSS
FIRST INTERVAL: Smith 0-5 Cross
Sky Bet latest odds: Rob Cross is 1/7 favourite but if you fancy Michael Smith to turn it around then he's priced at 9/2. Click here now for all the Sky Bet live darts markets including most 180s & highest checkout.
- Smith: 89
- Cross: 95.13
- Smith: 1
- Cross: 1
- Smith: 0/6
- Cross: 5/9
- Smith: 0
- Cross: 81
- Leg Five
Bully Boy finally hits a 180 in promising leg in which he later misses the bull for a 124 checkout that would have completed a confidence boosted 12-darter. After Cross misses bullseye for a showboating 125 checkout in which he already had one dart nestling in the red bit, Smith spurns two darts at double 10 and is again made to pay by the ruthless Voltage. One way traffic!
SMITH 0-5 CROSS
- Leg Four
Smith finally gets shots at a double but he misses all three of them from 24 and Cross, who had missed an attempt at bullseye for a 73 checkout, punishes him for a double break of throw.
SMITH 0-4 CROSS
- Leg Three
A long way to go but this is a worrying start for Smith who is averaging below 90 and yet to have a dart at a double. Cross, who isn't exactly firing on all cylinders apart from his finishing and his first maximum of the match, takes out 81 for a 12-darter and a 3-0 lead while Bully Boy was back on 266.
SMITH 0-3 CROSS
- Leg Two
Still no early 180 to get the crowd off their feet but Cross fans will be more than happy to see their man get an early break of throw with a second successive 72 finish for a 15-darter - although this was a different route than the first leg, going two single 20s and a double 16.
SMITH 0-2 CROSS
- Leg One (Rob Cross to throw first)
A sloppy start from both players in this race to 18 legs but it's Cross who holds throw in 18 darts with a 72 checkout as Smith waited for a chance to break on 40.
SMITH 0-1 CROSS
1910: The players will be coming out shortly so it's now time to get on the edge of your seat and prepare to be jumping off it many times tonight because darts will be the winner for the ninth night in a row!
1900: In terms of what the bookies think, Rob Cross is the marginal favourite at 8/11 with Sky Bet to claim what would be the second third of career Triple Crown in a PDC career that's still only in its third season! And had he won the Premier League final against MVG earlier this year, he'd be trying to complete it tonight.
Michael Smith is 11/10 outsider but I'm going to side with him like I have all the way through the tournament and hopefully he'll turn that 25/1 each-way tip into a winner for any of our readers that followed my pre-tournament preview! But don't cry for me if Bully Boy loses, we've already had plenty of profit thanks to Glen Durrant's 11/1 run to the semi-finals and the each-way part of the Smith bet.
I do have a couple of predictions and suggestions for tonight - as outlined and explained fully in my final preview which you can click here to read - and they are Smith to win, hit over 7.5 180s and checkout of over 112.5 at 2/1 and match to have over 31.5 legs, checkout of over 141.5 and more than 18.5 180s at 4/1.
1845: Now let's take a look at those 'all important' head-to-head records that I personally don't tend to read too much into...
- 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)
Obviously Cross boasts the superior record here 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.
1835: Here's the top level tournament stats from both players so far and, as you can see, there hardly anything between them. On a basic level you show Cross has a slight edge but on their last performance, Smith raised his game with his first 100+ average of the week whereas Voltage was sloppy and misfiring for a large proportion of his semi-final with Gurney before embarking on that stunning comeback from 14-7 down. That late burst will fill him feel like he has just won a match 10-1 but to be honest he was let off the hook by a crumbling opponent.
(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
1825: Now here's Rob Cross' route to the Blackpool showpiece. Again, just click on the round if you want to find out how each match unfolded...
- 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)
Unlike Smith, Rob Cross cruised through the opening two rounds before a brilliant display from underdog Stephen Bunting pushed him almost to the brink in his first ever Blackpool quarter-final. He was then down and out against Daryl Gurney but had the character to take 10 of the last 11 legs played to pull off one of the greatest ever darting comebacks.
1820: Let's take a look at how both players got here, starting with Michael Smith. Just click on the round if you want to read a report from the night to refresh your mind on what happened...
- 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)
Bully Boy had to hit the ground running with such a tough opening fixture against one of the fastest climbing stars of the PDC in Jamie Hughes while he was given a real test against a fellow World Youth champion in Max Hopp. Then a much older challenger in Mervyn King - the conqueror of Gary Anderson - pushed him hard until a late burst of brilliance towards the end but he was always in control against Glen Durrant as he ended one of the great storylines of the week.
1815: Good evening and welcome to our live blog from the climax of what has been a truly special World Matchplay, where there will be a new name on the Phil Taylor Trophy.
Michael Smith is of course bidding for his maiden major title in his fourth final at this level while Rob Cross is chasing his second having obviously beaten the man tonight's trophy is named after to win the biggest of them all around 18 months ago.
Over the course of the next hour I'll run through the story of how both men got this far, complete with some highlights, as well as their respective tournament stats, head-to-head records and my predictions.
Regular followers of our darts pages will know we're kind of hoping Smith will triumph after I tipped him at 25/1 each-way in my pre-tournament preview but with profits already secured, including Glen Durrant winning his quarter at 11/1, we can at least relax and enjoy what should be a fitting climax to a brilliant week in Blackpool.
It could have been better, however, had my other 25/1 each-way tip Daryl Gurney managed to win three of the last 10 legs of 'that' semi-final with Cross instead of just one!