How Michael Smith's World Darts Championship Win Inspired Snooker Ace Mark Allen

The Northern Irish potter is eyeing up his own big title win at the Masters in Sheffield this month
14:00, 04 Jan 2023

Snooker star Mark Allen says new darts world champion Michael Smith has inspired him to follow in his footsteps. 

‘Bully Boy’ landed a memorable maiden PDC World Championship, and became world No 1 in the process, by beating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in a famous Ally Pally final on Tuesday night.

It was arguably the greatest game of darts we have ever seen, but most certainly the best the raucous London crowd have been treated to since the switch from the Circus Tavern in 2008. 


But without doubt, it played host to the best leg in the history of the sport as the St Helens thrower became the second player ever to hit a nine-darter in a world final — after Adrian Lewis in 2011.

It was darting dynamite and left commentator Wayne Mardle lost for words. ‘Mighty Mike’ hit eight perfect darts and missed D12 before Smith coolly checked out 141 for a perfect nine of his own in the third leg of the second set en route to banking the tasty £500,000 winner’s cheque.

And seeing Smith celebrate with his family and lift the huge World Championship trophy aloft has given Allen a glimpse at what could be to come if he finally cracks the Crucible in May. 

Smith ended a painful run of eight major final defeats when he landed the Grand Slam of Darts in November and he backed that up by winning the most prized possession in the sport.

Northern Irish potter Allen pocketed the UK Championship in November and is eying up a first world title in Sheffield, which would also propel him to the top of the rankings after his most successful season to date. 

“Michael Smith was phenomenal. I sent him a message on Twitter because it was phenomenal to watch and he’s someone I really like,” said Allen. “That leg where he and van Gerwen were both on nine darters was incredible, it’s actually hard to imagine how good that is in top level sport, especially in a world final. 

"He just gets on with it, he scores heavy. He got a bad rep for a couple of years about being a nearly man and not hitting the doubles when he needed to. He’s put paid to all of those sorts of questions and I can see him going on to achieve huge things in the sport because he’s hard to stop when he gets going.

“It’s been a long time coming for him because he’s been tipped to be the future of darts for a long time and I think he will be now.

“He’s gone a bit further than me and won a world title and I’m not quite there yet. He’s just got to world number one as well and they’re still goals that I want to achieve. 

"If I can take something out of his perseverance, dealing with the setbacks because he’s lost eight finals in a row, then I'll be doing well. To show the mental strength to come through that and win a major at the start of this season and then win the worlds at the end of it; he’s doing really well. If I can learn from that then I’ll go in the right direction.”

Allen has been working exceptionally hard off the table after putting an arduous 18-month spell behind the scenes — which included bankruptcy, divorce proceedings and maintenance disputes over his daughter with women’s 12-time world champion Reanne Evans — behind him. 

The Antrim ace has shed almost six stone and also enlisted the help of sports psychologist Paul Gaffney to help him return to where he belongs at the top end of the game. 

And Allen has reaped those rewards this season. After losing to Ryan Day in the British Open final, he successfully defended his treasured Northern Ireland Open trophy and backed up that victory by clinching a second Triple Crown title at the UK Championship with a phenomenal comeback to beat Ding Junhui.


He has risen to fifth in the world, but is fully focused on “climbing Mount Everest” and becoming world champion after years of underachieving at the sport’s spiritual Sheffield home.

Just one semi-final, way back in 2009, is a poor return for a player of Allen’s undoubted calibre. 

And despite next week’s Masters, at Ally Pally, hotly on the horizon a five-hour chat with his mind coach revolved around winning the green-baize game’s greatest prize. 

“It’s easy to say what would be a successful 2023 for me, but it’s the world title,” admitted Allen, who will provisionally finish the season as world No 2. “If I win the World Championship I’ll be world number one, barring freak results elsewhere. Those are the aims you have when you’re coming through in the game; you want to be world champion and you want to be world number one. 

“Paul’s really focused my mind on it, it’s something we’re working towards already. It’s something I’ve tried not to build up too much in the past, but he feels like I need to do that a bit more and be more orientated heading towards Sheffield.

"The way Paul explained it to me was if you picture the World Championship being at the top of Mount Everest, you get little goals along the way in reaching other peaks and those other tournament victories can be your little peaks along the way, but the ultimate goal is getting to the top of the mountain. That’s something we’re looking at quite closely and how we are going to get there.

“It’s weird coming into the Masters because I went and had a five-hour chat with Paul last week. The Masters is such a big tournament but the whole conversation was about getting ready for Sheffield.

“Without taking anything away from the fact I still want to do well in the tournaments between now and then, that’s where my mind’s at.”

Former champion Allen kicks off his title challenge at the elite 16-man event in the first round against last year’s runner-up and 2013 World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins on Tuesday afternoon. 

Mark Allen is 11/1 to win The Masters 2023 with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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