Smith aiming to cement legacy with World Matchplay success

Michael Smith (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Michael Smith is bidding to cement his status as one of the sport’s greats by adding a maiden Betfred World Matchplay title to his growing haul in Blackpool this week.

World Champion Smith arrives at the Winter Gardens as the premier player in world darts, and he’s determined to underline his world number one ranking by lifting the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy next weekend.

Smith is also aiming to join an exclusive group of players to have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay, with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Rob Cross and Peter Wright the only others to have done so.

“I need to really cement my legacy,” claimed Smith, who landed an extraordinary nine-dart finish to defeat Van Gerwen in a memorable World Championship final in January.

“I know a few people have said that they won a World Championship and they haven’t been remembered as much because they haven’t done much after that.

“My main goal was to win the World Championship, so now it’s about setting new targets.

“I want to win every televised title the PDC has to offer, and as long as we take the World Grand Prix out of the calendar I should be fine!

“It’s nice having these dreams, but as long as I am remembered and my kids are proud of me, then I’m happy.”

Smith – who also won November’s Grand Slam of Darts - is now setting his sights on World Matchplay glory ahead of his first round tie against Steve Beaton on Sunday night.

Beaton, who celebrates his 60th birthday next year, is making his 22nd appearance in the summer’s biggest darts event, having made his Winter Gardens debut way back in 1998.

However, there will be no room for sentiment from 2019 runner-up Smith, who is desperate to improve upon his inauspicious record at the Winter Gardens in 2023.

“It’s an iconic venue. The crowd are right on top of you. It’s special for us as players,” added the St Helens star – priced as a 5/1 shot for the title with Betfred.

“I’m feeling confident. I’m feeling good. I’ve had a few disappointments in this tournament, especially losing the final to Rob [in 2019].

“This year feels different though. I’m going in as the world number one, and I’ve got to prove why I’m in that position.

“All of the losses I’ve had in finals has made me so much stronger mentally, and everyone knows if I play well, I am more than capable of getting my hands on that title.

“I will let my darts do the talking though. Everyone else uses their mouth, so I prefer to stay quiet, keep being myself and get on with the game.”

Listen to the full exclusive interview with Michael in the latest edition of The Darts Show Podcast - available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Evening Session (1930 BST)
4x First Round

Nathan Aspinall v Krzysztof Ratajski
Luke Humphries v Jose de Sousa
Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan
Michael Smith v Steve Beaton