Michael Smith ended Gerwyn Price’s reign with a thrilling 5-4 victory to secure his place in the William Hill PDC World Championship semifinals at Alexandra Palace.
Defending champion Price had landed nine darts in the second leg of the fourth set, which was a third of the tournament total and a world championship record – but Smith then knocked out 130 to tie the game at 2-2.
The Iceman kept his cool to secure the fifth set with an impressive 108 final and move forward once more, only for Smith to react once more as he won the sixth 3-0 .
Michael Smith pulled off a big shock to beat world champion Gerwyn Price on New Years Day
Smith won with a 5-4 win to advance to the semi-finals of the World Championships
Price told the referee about the off-putting crowd noises on his throw and then posted ‘cheats’ on his Instagram story.
Smith, Michael Van Gerwen’s 2019 finalist, appeared to have the momentum, only to miss a chance to close the seventh, which Price did in doubles to move into a win set.
As the tension mounted, Price paused mid-throwing in Game 4 of the eighth set to request the removal of a rowdy.
Once play resumed, the Welshman had two match darts but failed to land either as Smith forced out a decider.
Seemingly referring to the post-match incident, Price posted “cheaters” with a thumbs-up emoji on his Instagram Story.
An early break in the pitch, then a checkout of 126 on target put “The Bully Boy” on the brink of collapse before winning the set 3-1 to secure a hard-earned victory over the world number one.
Smith reached 16,180 with an average of just over 101 and speaking to Sky Sports after his win the ninth seed said: “I kept telling myself ‘just focus on everything. what you have been working on in the past 12 months “.
Smith said he tried to stay focused and in control after taking an early lead
“I felt like I was in control and I knew if I could produce it in the last set then everything would be fine.”
To the heckling of Price, who is often the target of boo-boys, Smith said, “Someone in the back kept yelling my name, and that turned me off, too.
“As the game got tighter, Gezzy (Price) started to hear it more and more, but in recent years he has proven that he enjoys being the pantomime villain.”
In Saturday night’s opening game at Alexandra Palace, former champion Peter Wright ended debutant Callan Rydz’s run as he beat 3-1 to advance to a final tie-breaker. .
Rydz, 23, had taken out world number 10 Nathan Aspinall earlier in the tournament – and expected another upheaval after a nerve-wracking opening of a quality finish.
Price threatened to steal the game after hitting a nine-dart hit in the fourth set second leg
However, Wright, the 2020 champion, showed his wealth of match experience to tie the contest twice on the verge of defeat before moving ahead of the deciding set 4-2.
“Snakebite” hit 17 highs and an average of 99.75, but felt he was not at his usual clinical best.
“I’m happy with the win, but throughout the game at crucial points I was missing three double darts to win innings or sets which kept Callan coming back,” Wright said on Sky Sports.
“I should have won it a long time ago, but it was because I lacked myself. But what a dart game.
But despite two match darts, Price failed to wrap up the win as Smith won the deciding match.
Earlier, Gary Anderson kept his dreams of a third world title alive after beating Luke Humphries 5-2 to reach the last four for the seventh time.
Scotsman Anderson, champion in 2015 and 2016, averaged 96, hit eight 180 and produced finishes of four tons, including 148.
Anderson, who has suffered a back injury for much of the year, will play his compatriot and good friend Wright for a second consecutive appearance in the final.
“The crowd has their favorites, and of course, especially in England, they want to see the Jocks get beaten up, but that pushes me a bit,” Anderson told PDC media.
Smith now faces a semi-final against James Wade after pulling off the giant Price murder
James Wade is in the semifinals for the first time since 2013 after a 5-0 shutout from Mervyn King, and will then face Smith in Sunday’s showdown.
The 38-year-old is an underdog after seeing his rankings plummet in recent weeks, but “The Machine” insists he likes to prove people wrong, especially specialist Wayne Mardle.
“I don’t mean this in a personal or derogatory way to Wayne Mardle, but he always tells me not to do this and not to do that,” Wade said in his post-game press conference.
“I won more than Wayne in two weeks than his entire career, but he wants to be a little bit of a dumbass.”