Win Earns Smith Challenge Tour Honour
ROSS SMITH won the final event of the 2013 PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour thanks to a 4-2 victory in the final over Durham’s Adam Hunt at the K2 Centre in Crawley on Sunday.
The Bolton-based thrower claimed his fourth victory on the Challenge Tour this year and with it ended at the top of the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour Order of Merit standings – securing a place in the field for the 2014 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
Smith also receives an invitation to the 2013 William Hill Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton in November, and will receive a two-year PDC Tour Card as well as 2014 PDC ProTour entries paid for.
After suffering two first round exits in Saturday’s double-header, Smith returned to winning ways as he overcame the challenges of Dan Dean and Luke Woodhouse for the loss of just one leg in Sunday's early rounds.
Smith, who has risen into the top 70 of the main PDC Order of Merit with some eye-catching performances over the last two years, then eliminated talented Austrian Rowby-John Rodriguez by a 4-2 margin before defeating Brandon Walsh 4-1.
Smith recorded the same scoreline to see off his semi-final opponent Dimitri Van de Bergh to reach his fifth Challenge Tour Final of 2013, where he went on to secure the £500 winner's prize with the aid of a 4-2 win over Adam Hunt.
Smith took the final's first two legs, winning the opener against the throw before finishing 90 to double his lead.
Hunt hit back to win the next two legs, including a 91 finish for a 12-darter to level after the pair traded 180s, but Smith landed double nine to break again and restore his lead before taking the next, despite a Hunt 180, to claim the win.
Smith had gone into the final assured of his spot at the head of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit after second-placed Ben Ward was edged out 4-3 in the quarter-finals by Dimitri Van de Bergh, with the victory crowning a fine season for the Kent-born prospect.
Ward, though, receives a two-year Tour Card to join the PDC circuit full-time next year, and will also receive his 2014 entries paid as part of the prize for finishing as runner-up in the Challenge Tour Order of Merit.
Hunt, who also holds plenty of PDC Tour experience, began his run to a second final of the year with wins over the Dutch pair of Hermie van Orsouw and Jeffrey De Graaf.
The County Durham ace, who won the fourth event of the 2013 Challenge Tour back in April, edged out Rainham’s Tony Cole with a 4-3 win before claiming an excellent whitewash win over Matthew Dennant, who had been victorious in Saturday's second tournament.
That put Hunt through to the last eight, where he overcame Sam Hewson in a deciding leg before enjoying a more comfortable 4-1 semi-final win over Leicestershire’s Curtis Bagley.
Hopes of a third Challenge Tour title for the 20-year-old were ended as he found Smith too strong an obstacle to overcome in the decider, having to settle for the £300 runner-up prize and fourth place in the final Order of Merit.
Belgium’s Van de Bergh, who enjoyed a fantastic Challenge Tour debut on Saturday with victory in the day's opening event, produced another excellent display 24 hours later as he reached the semi-finals, taking his earnings for the weekend to £700.
The 19-year-old’s run included a quarter-final over Ward as well as triumph over experienced pair Aden Kirk and Dirk Van Duijvenbode.
Leicestershire’s Curtis Bagley enjoyed the best performance of his career to date as he reached the semi-final stages of a Challenge Tour event for the first time.
Kettering’s Ricky Evans' slim hopes of claiming the Order of Merit title were ended at the last 32 stage when the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship finalist lost to Dennant.
PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour
Event 18 - K2 Centre, Crawley, September 29
Daniel Day 4-2 Nick Paenen
James Young 4-2 Logan Barnecut
Frankie Ansell 4-1 Michael Blake
Billy Holmes 4-0 Tommy Wilson
Paul Barham 4-0 Chris Aubrey
Adam Hunt 4-0 Hermie van Orsouw
Nathan Derry 4-1 Robert Marsden
Ben Ward 4-1 Sion Thomas
Daniel Day 4-0 Tom Anderson
David Pallett 4-3 Michael Bushby
Kurt Parry 4-0 James Young
Dimitri Van de Bergh 4-0 Shaun Michael Lovett
Aden Kirk 4-1 Jesse Sherred
Dirk van Duijvenbode 4-0 Jordan David Lewis
Nathan Aspinall 4-1 Reece Robinson
Josh Payne 4-2 Arron Fairweather
Frankie Ansell 4-3 Matthew Dicken
Lewis McGurn 4-0 Dan Dean
Brandon Walsh 4-1 Billy Holmes
Ross Smith 4-0 Dan Read
Luke Woodhouse 4-3 Ryan Harrington
Max Hopp 4-1 Danny Knight
Rowby-John Rodriguez 4-3 Shaun Griffiths
Ricky Evans 4-0 Sean Johnson
Matthew Dennant 4-3 Paul Barham
Tony Cole 4-0 Jonny Kinsella
Adam Hunt 4-2 Jeffrey De Graaf
Richard Baillie 4-3 Ben Songhurst
John de Kruijf 4-1 Jake Patchett
Sam Hewson 4-1 Kirsty Hutchinson
George Gilbert 4-3 Rick Veugelers
Adam Smith Neale 4-1 Oliver Stell
Geroge Killington 4-1 Nathan Derry
Keegan Brown 4-3 James Thompson
Sam Hill 4-2 Luis Barberan
Paul Cooper 4-3 Jon Farmer
Nicholas Day 4-3 Wouter Vaes
Curtis Bagley 4-3 Gaz Cousins
Ryan De Vreede 4-1 Adam Lipscombe
Ben Ward 4-2 Daniel Day
David Pallett 4-3 Kurt Parry
Dimitri Van de Bergh 4-2 Aden Kirk
Dirk van Duijvenbode 4-3 Nathan Aspinall
Josh Payne 4-2 Frankie Ansell
Brandon Walsh 4-3 Lewis McGurn
Ross Smith 4-1 Luke Woodhouse
Rowby-John Rodriguez 4-2 Max Hopp
Matthew Dennant 4-2 Ricky Evans
Adam Hunt 4-3 Tony Cole
Richard Baillie 4-3 John de Kruijf
Sam Hewson 4-0 George Gilbert
George Killington 4-2 Adam Smith-Neale
Keegan Brown 4-1 Sam Hill
Nicholas Day 4-0 Paul Cooper
Curtis Bagley 4-1 Ryan De Vreede
Ben Ward 4-2 David Pallett
Dimitri Van de Bergh 4-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Brandon Walsh 4-3 Josh Payne
Ross Smith 4-2 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Adam Hunt 4-0 Matthew Dennant
Sam Hewson 4-2 Richard Baillie
Keegan Brown 4-2 George Killington
Curtis Bagley 4-1 Nicholas Day
Dimitri Van de Bergh 4-3 Ben Ward
Ross Smith 4-1 Brandon Walsh
Adam Hunt 4-3 Sam Hewson
Curtis Bagley 4-2 Keegan Brown
Ross Smith 4-1 Dimitri Van de Bergh
Adam Hunt 4-1 Curtis Bagley
Ross Smith 4-2 Adam Hunt