GARY ANDERSON is backing Michael Smith to become the 2018/19 William Hill World Darts Champion following his semi-final defeat to Michael van Gerwen on Sunday.
Two-time World Champion Anderson suffered a crushing 6-1 loss to world number one Van Gerwen, with the Dutchman now set to take on Smith after the St Helens thrower ran out an impressive 6-3 victor over Nathan Aspinall.
A replay of the 2018 Premier League Final, Tuesday's showdown will be the first World Championship final since 1983 to feature two players under 30 years of age, and Anderson is backing Smith to walk away with the £500,000 top prize and the Sid Waddell Trophy.
"If Michael Smith goes up there and plays how he did on Sunday then we're going to have a new World Champion," said Anderson, who has been a long-term mentor of Smith.
"I think Van Gerwen is in for a hard time if Smith plays his best game, both Nathan and Michael Smith were absolutely fantastic in their game last night.
"I wouldn't say Van Gerwen was brilliant in our game, he had a really easy night's work but I think he's up against it in the final."
World Matchplay and UK Open champion Anderson was on the wrong end of a relentless onslaught from Van Gerwen in a replay of the 2016/17 World Championship final which saw him narrowly avoid a whitewash to the two-time World Champion.
The Scot gave an honest assessment of his performance and explained his plans for 2019.
"There was no panic from me, I was just miles off the treble 20. I was dropping low which was disappointing but that's the way it goes sometimes," Anderson continued.
"This tournament has been a real eye-opener with the kids coming through, to be honest I was lucky to get to the semis.
"The players coming through now are amazing, I've been banging on about Michael Smith for ten years and he's finally got there so I'm delighted for him, but all the youngsters have been brilliant.
"It's been a bit of a struggle for me over the last 16 months but I'll be back next year playing the TV events and on the ProTour."
The William Hill World Darts Championship Final will take place from 2000(GMT) on Tuesday January 1, and will be broadcast live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel and worldwide through the PDC's international broadcast partners.