Chris Dobey, Josh Rock, Gary Anderson, Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross are just some of the names who discuss how Michael Smith’s epic leg turned darts global; we’re back for the World Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts
By Raz Mirza, Interviews, Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
The players of the PDC reflect on Michael Smith’s perfect leg against Michael van Gerwen in the 2023 World Darts Championship final and how it sent shockwaves around the world by turning the sport into a global phenomenon.
From Melbourne to Manila via Miami and Madagascar, darts landed slap bang on the bullseye in terms of globalising its true potential and it was all thanks to the greatest leg you’re ever likely to see in your lifetime.
Just one little moment changed everything and rightfully so.
The scene is set! It’s the World Championship final and both Smith and Van Gerwen hit six perfect darts with the Dutchman one set in front and at 1-1 in the second set. A raucous Ally Pally are hushed into rare silence.
Van Gerwen then hits two more, only to narrowly miss double 12 for a nine-darter.
Sky Sports commentator Wayne Mardle picks up commentary for Smith’s final visit of the leg, where he declares: “I’ve never seen the like. Come on Bully Boy.”
After Smith hits treble 19, ‘Hawaii 501’ yells: “Yes, double 12. That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see in your life. I can’t speak, I can’t speak.”
It was so incomprehensible to understand that such a leg of darts could ever be achievable that we had to ask some of the best players on the PDC circuit about how it took the game to a new level. Here’s what they said…
“Darts was already becoming a global game, but the nine-darter in the final did help. It was unbelievable. I stayed over an extra night after losing to Michael in the quarter-finals. I was actually down at the Arsenal and Newcastle game at the Emirates on the night of the final so I missed it.
“When I heard that happened I was like ‘wow’. It just took off because you had the lads doing the fake commentary over the top which got shared all over the world. It just made the sport bigger. Just one little moment changed everything and rightfully so.”
“That was one of the best moments. ‘Michael may miss and Michael may hit’.
“I still watch darts even when I’m not playing and watching that final was brilliant. I don’t think we will ever see that again. Me and my missus were sitting up in bed while our son was sleeping next to us and we both shot up out of the bed – that’s just us being darts fans.”
“Darts is all over the world now. Once we started going to New Zealand, Dubai, Bahrain, China and Japan – I’ve seen the world through darts. I definitely wouldn’t make a football player.”
“I don’t think you’ll ever see that again. It was one of those freak moments, but darts is getting so big now and it’s getting seen everywhere. Things like that only help. There’s so many young players coming through because of that and it’s scary.”
“It’s all about expanding the game and the reach it got was absolutely amazing because it branches out a little further, but it’s also good for me if I want to pull my finger out.”
Berry van Peer
“I was sitting at home and I was like ‘what the hell is this?’ It made no sense but it was crazy. It made no sense.
“At the end of the day I’m a darts fan and I’m still watching. It was a very good thing it went viral. The publicity darts is getting these days is crazy in a good way and it also makes the sport more serious for everyone. Darts has grown a lot over the years and you can see the level is insane at times.”
“Players who are lower down the ranking are getting a lot better but I think the players at the top end like Peter Wright, Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen are not playing very well. They’re losing against players they shouldn’t be losing against.
“Peter is going through a difficult patch, Van Gerwen is up and down where years ago you’d think he’s going to win this easy but that’s not the case anymore. And obviously Michael Smith being world champion and world No 1. This time last year he was flying but he’s gone off the radar a bit so the World Championship is wide open.”
When is the World Darts Championship?
The sport’s biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.
You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.
Watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW