Michael Smith loses thriller in European Championship of Darts
Onlookers described it as the best match of the tournament but that will be no consolation to Michael Smith.
The 31-year-old St Helens ace bowed out of the £500,000 Cazoo European Championship of Darts at the first hurdle to Somerset's Ryan Searle in an epic encounter which could have gone either way with both averaging more than 100 per visit to the oche..
Smith, who had won their previous meeting 10-7 in the World Matchplay last month, looked to be on his way to the next round of the Saltsburg tournament after a whirlwind start in which he led 3-0 and playing out of his skin.
But a never-say-die Searle cut the deficit to 3-2 at the first interval and then went on to claim the match 6-5 in a nerve-tingling last leg.
There are still a number of titles up for grabs before the Word Championship, which starts in December, and they will be a target for Smith, as well as his local rivals, Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting.