Michael Smith Continues His Rise
Michael Smith claimed his 6th PDC ranking tournament title last weekend when he defeated the world number one Michael van Gerwen in the final of the European Darts Trophy. A result which saw him retain the title he won against van Gerwen in the 2014 final.
Significantly for Smith the tournament win also moved him up into the top 8 in the PDC order of merit and is a continuation of his impressive rise up the rankings (my previous blog posted last week showed his win % progression over the last 5 years). With the quality he does possess it was surely only a matter of time that he found himself in the top 8.
The tournament victory at the weekend was the 4th time in a row that Smith has won having reached a final. Prior to that run of wins in finals he had lost his previous 5 PDC ranking finals, although it is worth mentioning that 3 of those came against van Gerwen. In total Smith has played 11 PDC ranking finals and has come up against van Gerwen in 5 of them. Smith has now won 2 in a row in his final meetings with van Gerwen.
Here is the list of ranking finals played by Michael Smith.
8 of his finals have been since the start of last year and 4 of his tournament wins have been since the start of September 2014. Only van Gerwen and Anderson have won more than Smith’s 4 PDC tournament ranking wins since September 2014.
The next challenge for Smith, and it is one that he is well aware of is the need to produce his best form in TV major ranking tournaments. He did of course famously defeat Phil Taylor in the World Championships but results like that have been too infrequent before or after.
Of all the players currently in the PDC top 16 Smith is the only one to have failed to have reached the quarter-finals of a PDC TV ranking major and from the same group of players only Smith and Ian White have failed to reach a semi-final in a PDC ranking major.
It would be no surprise to see Smith win more titles before the end of the season but to get to the next level he needs to make a strong showing in one of the big TV tournaments. There will be plenty of opportunity over the next few months with the Grand Prix, European Championship, Grand Slam (now a ranking event as of 2015), Players Championship and World Championship. We should see Michael Smith in the Premier League in 2016 but to really earn his place he will need to make an impact on the TV.