Ross Smith vows to 'kick on' following European Championship triumph

Ross Smith (Karim Rahnama/PDC Europe)

Newly crowned European Champion Ross Smith has vowed to ‘kick on’ after lifting his maiden televised title in Dortmund on Sunday.

Smith defied the odds to scoop the £120,000 top prize on Finals Day at the Westfalenhalle, defeating Michael Smith 11-8 in a thrilling final to fulfil his darting dreams.

The 33-year-old averaged 101, landed eight 180s and converted 50% of his attempts at double to complete a fairy-tale victory, producing four ton-plus checkouts in the process.

“I’m over the moon. It’s an amazing feeling,” reflected Smith, who was featuring in his first televised final.

“I always believed that I could win a TV title but doing it is another matter. It’s incredible.

“To have beaten this calibre of players, I am very proud. I think I deserve this.”

Smith performed magnificently throughout the weekend in Dortmund, defeating four TV title winners en route to glory, which also confirmed his qualification for next month’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.

The Dover darter posted 101 averages in wins over Joe Cullen and Dimitri Van den Bergh, before reeling off seven straight legs from 8-3 down to stun World Champion Peter Wright in the last eight.

After defying a spirited comeback from Chris Dobey in a dramatic semi-final tussle, Ross then overcame his namesake Michael to cap off the greatest day of his darting career.

“It’s one of the best days of my life, without a shadow of a doubt,” added the former UK Open quarter-finalist.

“I owe Peter Wright a big thank you – even though I beat him, the first thing he said to me was: ‘Focus, you can go on and win this now.’

“That was massive for me. Peter didn’t have to say that, and for the World Champion to say that to me, it gave me a lot of confidence. He’s just a genuinely lovely guy.”

Smith has made consistent progress since reclaiming his PDC Tour Card in 2018, after he chose to briefly step away from the sport just 12 months prior.

He celebrated his first PDC title at a Players Championship event in July 2021, and after breaking into the world’s top 32 earlier this year, his European Championship triumph continues his impressive rise.

“I think I needed to walk away because I had been playing the game for so long – since I was a teenager,” Smith conceded.

“It was just silly things - I wanted to play a bit of Sunday league football with the lads down the park, but I got that out of my system after a couple of years.

“Everyone supports me back home and I’m so grateful. The support I’ve had is incredible and without them, I probably wouldn’t be as confident as I am now.”

Smith becomes the third player to win a maiden PDC televised title in 2022, following in the footsteps of Masters champion Joe Cullen and UK Open winner Danny Noppert.

The 33-year-old is now up to a career-high of 20th on the PDC Order of Merit, and he believes his Dortmund exploits can provide the springboard for further glory.

“This is life-changing," declared Smith, who returns to action when the 2022 Players Championship series concludes in Barnsley this weekend.

"I don’t want to be one of those players that goes: ‘That will do now’. I really want to kick on with my career and I’m going to get back on that board tomorrow.

“I’ll go to the gym, look after myself and get ready for Barnsley next week, and make sure I’m in the Players Championship Finals.”