Gabriel Clemens’ World Cup fairy tale ends in semi-final
Gabriel Clemens lost his World Cup of Darts semi-final. After a sensational tournament, the Saar lost to Englishman Michael Smith, who expelled the second German. But fans once again experienced a real climactic battle.
DThe German darts sensation ended on January 2 at 9:21 p.m. local time. For twelve days, Gabriel Clemens caused a sensation at the 2023 World Darts Championship in London, won four in a row and was the first German to write history in the quarter and semi-finals. However, Michael Smith meant the terminus for the 39-year-old Saar the day before the final.
24 hours after Clemens toppled Welshman Gerwyn Price 5-1 from the top of the world rankings, he lost 6-2 in sets to the reigning Grand Slam champion and 2019 and 2022 World Cup runners-up. Clemens has hit 15 of 33 doubles attempts and finished with an average of 96.89 points. His opponent has an average of 101.85 points. Another stat shows how close and exciting it was. Six of the eight sentences were imposed only by the decision maker.
Smith, who had already beaten Martin Schindler in the third round, now meets superstar Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands or Belgium’s Dimitri van den Bergh in the final on January 3 at 9:15 p.m. (Sport1 and DAZN live).
In the semi-finals, as on previous days, the German fan community was the second largest faction at Alexandra Palace, and when it came to volume, the ratios were at least balanced. With 600 fans, it was officially a third less than the day before, but the whistles that accompanied Smith on stage during the walk-on were unmistakable. An Englishman, booed in the capital, London. Not fair, but inscribed in folklore and surprising in any case.
The match started with similar intensity, with both dart throwers setting off fireworks early on. First Smith and then Clemens each played six perfect darts in the first set, which was decided by the decider. Smith had 115.36 after four sets, Clemens 104.4. A blistering start that was only briefly interrupted by a 106 finish by Smith to take a 1-0 lead at the break.
Smith gets the decisive break at 4:2
The 32-year-old followed it up with two eleven darts to make it 2-0 in the second set, took his average to 117 points and barely gave his opponent a chance. Clemens, however, remained patient, didn’t argue and was there when Smith missed three darts on a double 15 to make it 2:1 and then hit his shot after Smith again missed three darts to win the set: 1:1.
The story of this match appeared very early: the “Bully Boy” scored better, but continued to allow himself chances after missed doubles. The crucial question: to what extent could the Germans use it?
In the third set, there was only one. After several mistakes by Smith on the double, “Gaga” was darted on the double 20 in the decider, but narrowly missed. After a third-round check of 144, Smith followed that up with the next best result in set four with 161 points. But the award went to Germany. Clemens distanced his opponent in the decider and equalized at 2:2 – all in the row.
There are no signs of pressure, whether due to sporting importance, the £200,000 prize money in the final or heightened home interest. Around four million Germans must have watched his knock against the world number one live in the quarter-finals, with a peak of 2.67 million viewers tuning in to Sport1 on linear TV alone. It must have been a lot more this time around, and they saw Smith get his 3-0 knockout – the first not to get past the decider. The Englishman’s average has stabilized at 103.34, six points better than the German number one.
But Clemens remained unfazed, patient and persistent. The next, meanwhile fifth, Smith (101) could not impress him either. In the now fifth decider of the match, it happened shortly after. The “Bully Boy” checked 83 points via the bullseye: 4:2 for the Englishman, who confirmed the break in his next set with the 5:2, of course in the decider.
The preliminary decision, as Clemens should have guessed going into the final break. Smith then made it, took another break and converted his first match dart. The German World Cup fairy tale ended on double 20.
Darts World Championship, semi-finals
Gabriel Clemens (D/25) – Michael Smith (ENG/4) 2:6 (2:3; 3:2; 2:3; 3:2; 0:3; 2:3; 2:3; 1:3 )
Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) – Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL/15) 6:0 (3:2; 3:0; 3:0; 3:2; 3:0; 3:0)
World Darts Championship, Final, January 3
from 9:15 p.m.:
Michael Smith (ENG/4) – Michael van Gerwen (NED/3)
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