Michael Smith zaps Phil Taylor to smash World C’ships draw wide open
Michael “Bully Boy” Smith lived up to his nickname in no uncertain terms when he speared the bull’s eye to take out the 128-checkout which ended the challenge of 16-time and reigning World Champion Phil Taylor at the second-round stage.
In the wake of the finest performance of his life so far the St Helen’s darter was far from uncertain of his intentions, telling PDC.tv:
“I’ve beaten the best player in the world and my aim now is to put my name on this trophy – and I’m confident I can win this tournament now.”
Despite the mettle shown in a performance in which he recovered from a straight-legs first-set loss and missing darts for the match at 3-1 up Smith remains 40/1 in the betting.
The 23-year-old, who won the youth version of the world crown as recently as last year, is in fact, the outsider to progress from his quarter of the draw at 9/2.
Robert Thorton and Peter Wright share the lead in that particular market at 7/4, with 10/3 Wes Newton also thought more likely to prevail than Smith.
Premier League boss Michael van Gerwen assumes the mantle of 13/8 favouritism from the deposed champion, with dual Alexandra Palace victor Adrian Lewis hot on his heels at 2/1.
Jackpot is on course to meet Rapid Ricky Evans, like Smith a 23-year-old representative of the new breed of dartist, should he emerge from his own second-round clash with Vincent van der Voort.
Kettering youngster Evans produced an audacious display of his own to scalp Ronnie Baxter in straight sets in his opener.
Elsewhere Simon Whitlock continued his serene progress towards the fulfilment of his darting dream without dropping a set to Finnish flinger Jarkko Komula.
However the Aussie – 8/1 in the outright betting – is unlikely to have it so easy against Kevin Painter, in a tussle which sees the only two third-round ticket holders yet to drop a set face off.