Smith pipped at the post again by Van Gerwen in Grand Slam of Darts
Sky TV commentators described it as one of the best matches in the history of the competition - and they were bang on with their assessment.
St Helens ace Michael Smith took world no.1 Michael Van Gerwen down to the wire in an epic last 16 round of the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton last night (Thursday)
Reigning champion Van Gerwen, who is bidding for a record-breaking fourth successive title, booked his place in the quarter-finals with a stunning 108.32 average as the eight players who qualified from Groups A-D returned to the stage at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
Former Grand Slam semi-finalist Smith led in the opening stages of the Premier League final re-match before Van Gerwen, who landed an incredible 11 180s, took the lead for the first time at 5-4.
With the Dutchman leading 9-8, Smith missed a dart at double top for a 160 finish and Van Gerwen punished to march on to the last eight where he will take on Jonny Clayton in a repeat of their high-class Group A contest.
“It was an incredible game against an incredible player who produced some great darts but I did the right things at the right moments,” said Van Gerwen.
“I played so well but at times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to break his throw but I love playing games like this for the crowd, this is why we play darts.
“I want to keep playing to this standard for the rest of the tournament and I want to win.”