Michael Smith is on the verge of qualifying for the Unibet Premier League play-offs despite mixed fortunes in his darting double header at the Manchester Arena last night (Thursday).
The St Helens ace made a flying start by crushing Peter Wright 7-1 but was then hammered 7-1 by world number one and title favourite Michael van Gerwen, who now leads the table on 21 points from Smith (18), world champion Rob Cross (18) and two-times world champion Gary Anderson (17).
Only two more rounds of the competition remain and if Smith overcomes fifth-placed Daryl Gurney in next Thursday’s showdown in Birmingham, or gains a draw, he will be guaranteed a play-off spot at the 02 Arena, London, on Thursday, May 17.
A repeat of the form he displayed in the demolition of Wright will do nicely for Bully Boy, who at the beginning of the competition was one of the favourites to be shown the exit door at the earliest possible stage.
The former World Youth Champion started like a house on fire against Wright by throwing a 180 on his first visit to the oche, taking the opening leg in 12 darts and quickly won the next three in 13, 14 and 12.
The last of this run of four successive legs was finished off with a superb 128 checkout before Wright finally got on the board.
Smith moved 5-1 up before taking out 126 on the bull’s eye and moments later completed the victory, ending with an average of 104.86.
It was a different story later in the evening as Smith was given a taste of his own medicine by Van Gerwen and made fully aware how far he is still away from lifting a title which is arguably the toughest to claim in the world of darts.