Following Raymond van Barneveld’s outrageous victory over Michael van Gerwen, many tipped the bug Dutchman for a sixth world title. In Michael Smith he had certainly drawn a capable opponent, a big hitter with the ability to take out some huge checkouts once in his rhythm. Smith was out of the blocks like a shot, taking the opening three sets and leaving Barney bemused of where his earlier form had disappeared to.
A player of Barney’s pedigree doesn’t lay down easily and once a gained the methodical rhythm he began to produce the goods. He fired off three spectacular 121 finishes to spark an unbelievable fight-back. Big finishes were Smith’s specialism early on in the contest, but clearly bereft of confidence Smith began to sink. The youngster resurrected his chances and saved the match from the jaws of defeat, leading to a deciding set. To my disappointment Smith had ran out of fuel, and the persistent Barney walked on to seal yet another semi final spot.
We have seen many classics over the past couple of weeks, Bunting v Barney, Wright v Chisnall and not to mentions MVG’s incredible exit. But with 4th seed facing the world number 5, surely this bound to be a classic. Prior to a dart being thrown Lewis hadn’t dropped a set on route to the quarter-final, with Wright conceding one. The natural talent and sheer scoring power of Jackpot made him slight favourite. He justified these claims by demolishing the lacklustre Scot in the opening three sets. By now Lewis was flying, every dart was missiling towards the treble with supreme confidence. But then something changed, Wright lifted his head and started finding the treble bed. A nervous Lewis could only look on as his advantage was narrowed to two.
Lewis put an end to ‘Snakebite’s’ momentum by stealing the fifth set as the players were locked in a tussle at two legs a piece. With the finishing line in sight, and the third world title not too far ahead Lewis cruised through the final set 3-1 completing the semi-final line-up.