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Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith: World Championship final preview

Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith will contest the 2019 World Championship final on New Year’s Day, in a repeat of this year’s Premier League showpiece.

Van Gerwen is bidding to become just the second player in history to win three PDC World Championship titles, whilst Smith is aiming to win his first major televised tournament.

‘The Green Machine’ sealed a place in his fourth World Championship final after storming to a 6-1 victory over fellow two-time world champion Gary Anderson in Sunday’s semi-finals.

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Van Gerwen won a tight opening set, before winning 13 of the next 14 legs to breeze into a 5-0 lead.

Anderson avoided the whitewash by claiming the sixth set, but the Dutchman responded by sealing victory in set seven; averaging 104.76, crashing in 11 maximums and converting 50 per cent of his attempts at double.

The Dutchman has dropped just five sets throughout the tournament, having lost a solitary set in the five matches he has played.

He kicked off his campaign with convincing 3-1 and 4-1 wins over Alan Tabern and Max Hopp respectively, before averaging over 108 in demolishing Adrian Lewis to reach the quarter-finals.

‘Mighty Mike’ then cruised past debutant Ryan Joyce 5-1 in the quarter-finals, before dismantling ‘The Flying Scotsman’ in a brutal semi-final display.

Van Gerwen has already scooped 19 titles in a trophy-laden season, but he will be desperate to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Smith is into his third televised final of the season, following on from final appearances in the Premier League and World Series Finals.

‘Bully Boy’ was beaten by Van Gerwen in May’s Premier League final, before he spurned five darts to defeat James Wade in a dramatic World Series finale in November.

The 10th seed was highly fancied to progress through the bottom half of the draw and he has negotiated the task with real maturity, going from strength-to-strength in terms of performances.

He defeated Ron Meulenkamp 3-1 in his opener, before recovering from 2-1 down to defeat John Henderson to reach the last 16.

The Premier League finalist then eased past Ryan Searle 4-1 to reach the last eight, before beating Rob Cross’ conqueror Luke Humphries 5-1; averaging 103 in the process.

However, his performance against Nathan Aspinall was impressive. He averaged 105.22, converted five ton-plus finishes and crashed in 17 maximums- a record for a World Championship semi-final.

Nevertheless, the St Helen’s star may have to produce a similar type of performance to topple MVG, who notoriously produces his best form against Smith.

The Dutchman thrashed Smith 11-4 in this year’s Premier League final with a blistering 112.37 average, whilst he also posted a world record 123.40 average in a 7-1 victory over Smith in the 2016 Premier League.

Van Gerwen has won 25 of their previous 31 meetings, but the Englishman has recorded two wins over the world No 1 this year, including the semi-finals of the Shanghai Darts Masters, which Smith went on to win.

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