Championship League Darts - Seventh Heaven For Smith
ANDY SMITH came from the brink of defeat to edge out Jelle Klaasen 6-5 and win Group Seven of Championship League Darts.
Smith did show some early nerves on the doubles, missing two darts for the opening leg as Klaasen held on double eight before the Dutchman landed a 180 but wasted five darts in leg two as Smith returned to level.
Double four for Klaasen saw him punish further misses from Smith in the third, only for Smith to level on double five and break on double ten for a 3-2 lead, which he extended thanks to double two after Klaasen missed double ten.
The Dutchman landed double 12 for the next two legs to level and then posted a 180 and double eight to move 5-4 up.
However, he missed double 11 for a 124 game shot in the tenth as Smith forced a decider, and - after opening with a 180 - saw two further match darts slip away as Smith hit double 16 to snatch the win.
Smith had also won his semi-final against Denis Ovens in a deciding leg, while four of his seven league matches also went the full 11-leg distance as he finished third in the league table.
Smith only returned to playing a fortnight ago after needing surgery on an infected leg wound in the summer, but will now compete in the Winners Group on Thursday.
"I kept hanging in there and got my rewards," said Smith, who won £3,100 on the day. "Jelle missed a few doubles to win it so I suppose I was a bit lucky but I^ll gratefully take it.
"I can rest my leg now on Wednesday and come back for the Winners Group refreshed.
"I^d love to win this competition and there^s the extra aim for me of getting into the Grand Slam of Darts but I know it will be tough against so many great players on Thursday.
"If I win the £20,000 first prize I^ll get the rest of the treatment for my bad leg privately!"
Klaasen had finished top with five wins from his seven league games, ahead of Ovens on leg difference, and had won an all-Dutch semi-final with Co Stompe 6-2.
Klaasen, Stompe and Ovens will now return to Crondon Park GC in Essex on Wednesday to compete in Group Eight, which will be their final chance to win through to Thursday^s big-money Winners Group.
Wayne Jones and Dennis Priestley also avoided elimination in Group Seven, with the latter defeating Smith 6-5 in the final round of matches to knock out Vincent van der Voort.
Mark Dudbridge was also eliminated, winning just one of his seven league games after entering the event in Group Seven.
Welshman Mark Webster will make his Championship League Darts debut on Wednesday when he comes in for Group Eight, alongside Canada^s three-time World Champion John Part and Holland^s Michael van Gerwen.
Championship League Darts is streamed exclusively live around the world through 16 bookmakers^ websites, as well as to PDCtv subscribers at the PDC^s official website, www.pdc.tv.