Peter Wright won the William Hill World Darts Championship for a second time as he defeated Michael Smith 7-5 in Monday’s final.
An Alexandra Palace thriller saw the lead change hands multiple times, before Wright finished strongly to lift the Sid Waddell trophy for a second time in three years, while Smith suffered a second World Championship final defeat.
Smith, seeking a first TV ranking title, was in control of the contest as he led 5-4 in sets and 2-0 in the tenth set, but Wright won nine of the next ten legs to join the list of two-time World Champions.
“I’m over the moon to lift this amazing trophy for a second time,” said Wright, a winner of three TV titles in 2021.
“It was a difficult start to the year from me away from darts but I’ve had a great year on the oche and this tops it off.
“Michael and I didn’t perform how we can for a lot of the game, but it was still an entertaining final because it was so close.
“Michael is the future of darts, I feel for him tonight because I’ve been in his position.
“But, I’ve got to take the chances I get and thankfully I was able to do that tonight.
“I can’t explain what went wrong with my game tonight, I kept swapping darts trying to find something that worked and thankfully I had a good run at the end.
“Thank you to the crowd for turning out to support us all tournament, they were amazing.”
Smith was left distraught after losing his eighth televised final in nine attempts, as his wait for a first TV ranking title goes on.
Despite his latest disappointment, the new world number five remains determined to break his duck in 2022.
“I got five sets in this time instead of three but losing these finals is doing my head in now,” said Smith.
“Tonight will be difficult but I’ll be back on the practice board soon, getting ready for the next one.
“The bullseye shots for big finishes wouldn’t go in, that’s darts I guess.”
Smith hit 24 180s in the match to take his tournament total up to a staggering 83, smashing the previous record of 71 set by Gary Anderson at the 2016/17 tournament.
Two of those 180s came in the opening leg, though it proved to be a nervous start from both players with 23 missed double attempts between the pair in leg two.
Wright took both the opening two sets 3-1, before Smith established himself in the contest by winning the next two sets to level.
Wright regained the lead by winning the set five decider, before Smith won six of the next seven legs to lead for the first time at 4-3.
After Wright levelled once again, Smith regained the advantage by winning the ninth set and looked on course for the title as he led 2-0 in the tenth.
However, Wright came back to win the set with a tide-turning 84 finish before whitewashing Smith in the 11th set to go back in front.
The world number two continued his sprint to the finish line, with Smith powerless to stop Wright winning the 12th and final set 3-1 to seal victory.
2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship
Monday January 3 (2000 GMT)
Peter Wright 7-5 Michael Smith (3-1, 3-1, 1-3, 2-3, 3-2, 1-3, 0-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-2, 3-0, 3-1)
Set One (3-1)
Smith landed two 180s against the throw in the opening leg but missed two darts at tops to win it, allowing Wright to step forward and pin the same double.
The Scotsman missed 13 darts at double in a bizarre second leg, which Smith won in 28 darts, before Wright edged ahead on double four and punished his opponent for more missed doubles to seal the set.
Set Two (3-1)
Smith fired in another maximum on the way to taking the first leg but missed three darts to break as Wright levelled. The world number two then took out 148 to break, followed by a brilliant bullseye finish of 124 to double his lead in the match.
Set Three (1-3)
The first two legs were shared before Smith broke for the first time with a sublime 167 finish. The former World Youth Champion then pinned double 13 to win his first set of the final, hitting three 180s during it.
Set Four (2-3)
Smith took out 80 after his opponent had missed a dart at the bull for a 170 checkout. Wright levelled with a 117 finish, before the pair again exchanged holds of throw.
He then missed two darts to break and Smith levelled the match by pinning double ten.
Set Five (3-2)
Wright changed darts at the beginning of the set and opened with a 180 before taking out 25 to hold. He then pegged double nine but Smith broke back with an 11-darter.
The St Helens ace then took out 65 to level up the set but couldn’t get a dart at double from 106 in the decider, which Wright won on double eight.
The fifth set also saw Smith land his 13th 180 of the match and 72nd of the tournament, surpassing the previous World Championship record of 71 set by Gary Anderson in the 2017 final.
Set Six (1-3)
Wright swapped back to his original set of darts and took out 76 to level the set after Smith had held his throw.
But Smith won the next two legs, sealing the set with a 13-dart break of throw to tie up the match at three apiece.
Set Seven (0-3)
Smith broke again after Wright had missed four darts at double 11. He then doubled his lead with a 64 finish before making it five legs on the spin with a clinical 93 checkout.
Set Eight (3-1)
Wright punished two missed darts at tops to break and doubled his lead on double four, but missed darts to return a whitewash set as Smith pinned double ten to hold.
Wright held it together to take out a set-winning 72 after his opponent had missed a dart at the bull to break.
Set Nine (2-3)
Wright took out 103 as the first four legs went with the throw, only to be broken in the decider after missing six darts for the set, allowing Smith to move 5-4 ahead.
Set Ten (3-2)
Smith followed another 180 by landing double 15 before tops saw him break, but Wright cancelled out that break immediately and forced another set decider.
The Scotsman then completed the comeback from two legs behind by following a maximum with an 84 finish to level up the final again.
Set Eleven (3-0)
Wright took out 96 for a 12-darter and then took out 80 for a fifth consecutive leg. That became six in a row when a 13-darter claimed the set after Smith had missed a dart at the bullseye.
Set Twelve (3-1)
Wright’s purple patch continued with another 12-darter, breaking Smith’s throw with an 81 checkout on the bull.
Double nine saw the 2020 champion move within a leg of another glory, but Smith pinned double ten to end an eight leg losing streak.
That was to be a stay of execution for Smith, as Wright landed double 16 to take the title for a second time.