Ross Smith produced an outstanding display to defeat Michael Smith 11-8 in the 2022 Cazoo European Championship final, lifting his first televised title in Dortmund on Sunday.
In his first TV final, Ross Smith produced a 101.32 average, hitting eight 180s and pinning 50 per cent of his double attempts in an imperious display.
Michael Smith also averaged over 100 and hit eight 180s in a high-quality final, but was never able to wrestle the lead away from an unrelenting Ross Smith.
Ross Smith, whose previous best run in a TV ranking event was a run to the quarter-finals of the 2019 UK Open, began the event as a rank outsider but blew the field apart with a string of stunning performances.
“I think I’m dreaming, I have to pinch myself,” said Ross Smith, who defeated Peter Wright and Chris Dobey in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
“It hasn’t sunk in, it probably won’t do for weeks. I’ve never even won a Euro Tour, never mind a TV tournament.
“I kept telling myself ‘just play darts, don’t put yourself under any pressure and just throw’.
“It’s a real privilege to play darts on stages like this, in front of crowds like this. I love this game.”
Underdog heading into the final, Ross Smith enjoyed a dream start as he raced into a 3-0 lead, hitting checkouts of 133 and 121.
Michael Smith fought back to level at 3-3 before Ross Smith regained the initiative at 4-3, a lead he never relinquished.
Ross Smith took out 121 on the bullseye for a second time to make it 6-4, though he looked to have offered his opponent a way back into the contest when he missed three darts for an 8-4 lead, allowing Michael Smith to reduce the deficit to 7-5.
Michael Smith somehow found his way through to a seemingly blocked double five bed with his last dart in hand to once again pull within a leg of Ross Smith at 8-7.
However, it was to be Ross Smith’s night as the 33-year-old held his never, winning three of the next four legs to seal the biggest win of his life.
Meanwhile, Michael Smith suffered heartbreak for a sixth time in a TV ranking final.
The world number four produced memorable wins over Josh Rock, Luke Humphries and Dirk van Duijvenbode to reach the final but was once again left wondering what might have been.
“Every time Ross was on a ton-plus finish he was pinning it, fair play to him he did what he needed to do to win,” Michael Smith reflected.
“My scoring wasn’t the best but I wasn’t too upset with myself at how I played.
“It’s starting to become annoying [losing TV ranking finals] but I’ll get there eventually.
“I’ve just got to keep going, keep believing and keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe I will win the next one, or the one after that. We’ll see.”
2022 Cazoo European Championship
Sunday October 30
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-3 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 10-7 Luke Humphries
Chris Dobey 10-7 Dave Chisnall
Ross Smith 10-8 Peter Wright
Michael Smith 11-7 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Ross Smith 11-9 Chris Dobey
Ross Smith 11-8 Michael Smith