Thousands of fans packed into London‘s Alexandra Palace for the World Darts Championship – as Covid cases hit record levels in England – to watch Michael Smith end Gerwyn Price’s reign and book a place in the semi-finals.
The popular PDC tournament has been rocked in recent days after three-time champion Michael van Gerwen pulled out of the competition due to a positive Covid-19 test – the third player to contract the illness since the contest began earlier this month.
He described the event at Alexandra Palace as a ‘Covid bomb’ but it continues to go ahead.
The World Championship Darts concludes on Monday, with the winner of that day’s final picking up £500,000, the largest cheque in the sport.
Alexandra Palace has welcomed thousands of people through its doors despite case numbers of the Omicron Covid variant soaring across the country.
A daily record of 162,572 Covid cases was recorded in England, up 47.9 per cent on last Saturday. There were 1,915 hospital admissions, up almost 50 per cent week-on-week, and 154 deaths.
Fans in fancy dress in the crowd during day fourteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace
The World Championship Darts concludes on Monday, with the winner of that day’s final picking up £500,000, the largest cheque in the sport
Micheal Smith celebrates beating Gerwyn Price during day fourteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship
Youtuber Jack McDermott in the crowd during day fourteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace
Defending champion Price had hit a nine dart finish in the second leg of set four, which was a third of the tournament overall and a record in any one World Championship – but Smith then took out 130 to level the match at 2-2.
The Iceman kept his cool to secure the fifth set with an impressive 108 finish and move ahead once again, only for Smith to respond once more as he claimed the sixth 3-0.
Smith, runner up to Michael Van Gerwen in 2019, looked to have the momentum, only to miss a chance to close out the seventh, which Price did on double top to move within a set of victory.
As tension mounted, Price paused mid throw during the fourth leg of the eighth set to ask for a heckler to be removed. Once play resumed, the Welshman had two match darts, but failed to land either as Smith forced a decider.
An early break of throw and then a 126 check-out on the bullseye put ‘The Bully Boy’ on the brink before he clinched the set 3-1 to deliver a hard-earned victory over the world number one.
Smith hit 16 180s with an average of just over 101 and speaking to Sky Sports following his win, the ninth seed said: “I just kept saying to myself ‘just focus on everything you have been working on over the last 12 months’.
Leicester City footballers James Maddison watching the match between Peter Wright and Callan Rydz during day fourteen
Leicester team-mates Hamza Choudhury (middle) and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (right) also made the trip to London for the World Championship Darts held at Alexandra Palace
World Championship Darts has carried on at Alexandra Palace despite coronavirus concerns
Michael Smith pulled off a big shock to beat world champion Gerwyn Price on New Years’ Day
Smith prevailed with a 5-4 victory to move into the semi-finals of the World Championships
Peter Wright celebrates beating Callan Rydz during day fourteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship
Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail