It’s already being dubbed as the master versus his apprentice.
Michael Smith, the 27-year-old St Helens ace of the oche, will come face-to-face with his close friend, Scotland’s two-times world champion Gary Anderson, in the Unibet Premier Darts League semi-final play-off at The O2, London, on Thursday night.
Smith, who had already qualified for last four the previous week, secured second place in the final table with a 6-6 draw against Raymond Van Barneveld in Aberdeen last night (Thursday), the point he gained setting up a meeting with the third-placed Scot.
The players know each other well as Anderson acted as Smith’s mentor and sponsor after spotting his potential on the circuit several years ago - and how ironic it would be if the apprentice beat the sorcerer and went on to defeat either world champion Rob Cross, or title favourite Michael Van Gerwen in the final.
The St Helens star came back from 5-4 down to earn a point in a high-quality affair against five-times world champion Van Barneveld which featured five ton-plus check outs and six maximums.
Smith went ahead twice in the first four legs, only to be pegged back on both occasions as the Dutchman fired in finishes of 122 and 126.
The Aberdeen crowd were treated to yet another ton-plus finish in the fifth leg as Smith regained the lead with a 124 finish.
Van Barneveld, keen to avenge his 7-0 defeat to Smith in Liverpool, hit yet another stunning 121 check out to level at 3-3, before the pair exchanged holds of throw.
The Dutch ace went ahead for the first time in the match at 5-4, thanks to a 14-dart leg, only for a determined Smith to wrestle back the advantage as he went 6-5 ahead.
Van Barneveld ensured he would not leave the game empty-handed as he produced another 14-dart leg, which ended with a 91 finish.
“I didn’t feel good tonight,” said Smith.
“I could’ve pulled out with illness but I didn’t want to let people down, I wanted to fulfil my responsibility as a Premier League player.
“My illness comes second at the moment, I want to win every match that I play in and I’m out here fighting.”