Dartoids World

Column #HR409 WOW!

Thursday, June 8, 2023
Column HR409 

That describes the weekend for Canadian Jeff Smith who had a career weekend when he captured the North American Championship for the second time.  He achieved this milestone in spectacular fashion (which is a gross understatement).  The Show Biz Bible, Variety, would report Mr. Smith’s debut in New York City with a headline of “Smith Buffo… Takes a Major Bite out of the Big Apple.”  

It’s doubtful if any darter from North America has ever had a rocket ship ride over the moon like Smith.  The 47-year-old from New Brunswick emerged from an unsuccessful tour using his PDC Tour card in which everything went sidewise including winning.  “He kept going knowing he was a good dart player.  He believes in himself,” is the way three-times world champion John Part explained it.  The reversal of fortune validates a proverb from the year 1650.  That was the year that Mr. John Lowe won his first dart match in the Tinker’s Dam winning a Flagon of Mead.  “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.  The sun shone bright on Smith.

In the new format for the North American Championships, competition was limited to 8 players as designated by the CDC.  Smith started with his march against fellow Canadian Jim Long.  In the race to 6, Smith saw a 2-nil lead dissolve into a trailing 3-2 deficit.  Drawing level in 13, Smith then got rolling but Long used 14 and 10 to move a leg from advancing – BUT Smith kicked it into gear taking the next three – denying Long a shot at a match dart and ending it in 13 darts.

Next, Smith would slay the “Dutch Dragon”, Jules van Dongen, making him into roadkill 6-1. Dongen’s only win came in 17 darts.  Interesting that – “The Dutch Dragon” will be representing the USA in World Cup next week.

Smith would face fellow Canadian Matt Campbell for the North American title.  The match for a time went with the darts, Smith to throw first.  At 2-all.  Smith used 31 darts to open a 4-2 lead.  Campbell would break in 13 to get a leg back and then draw level at 4.  With the match back with darts Smith won 2 of the next three for the title.

Smith might have said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet, EH”.  He didn’t though…

The US Dart Masters would match the 8 from the North American against 8 from the PDC.  Prior to the event one “dart expert” described the contest as: “North America gets their ass kicked”.  

If the “dart expert” had instead prognosticated that the USA would get its ass kicked he would have been spot on.  Jason Brandon, J.T. Davis, Jules van Dongen and Alex Spellman all bowed out by scores of 6-2.  Only J.R. Davis would lead in a match – and that at 1-nil.

In the USA Dart Masters, Canada’s Jim Long would lead Michael Smith 3-1 as Smith missed doubles in 2 of those legs.  Smith would grab a second leg when Long couldn’t erase 80 with 3.  Smith had three chances from 18, coming up empty, which allowed Long a T15 check which was followed by 31 darts to cop the next 2 legs for the 6-2 win.

Jeff Smith would lay the wood to Peter “Snake Bite” Wright by the same 6-2 score.  Smith opened a 5-1 lead which was described as “workman like” with Wright missing doubles.  Wright got the second leg in his column showing a sign of the old “Snake Bite” as he used only 11 darts (T40, T40, T40 and an 81-check).  Way too late as Smith took the winning leg, closing 70 with Wright on 20.

Jim Long reached the semis only to run into the red hot Michael van Gerwen who captured his 4th Premier League title the precious week. The good news is that Long was 100% on doubles.  The bad news is that he only had two chances while van Gerwen nailed 6 of 9 averaging 96.71.

After Jim Long had exited the quarters, Jeff Smith drew Nathan Aspinall.  Smith broke in leg one – then legs with darts which resulted in a Smith 3-1 advantage.  Then, his scoring took a break.  Aspinall took the opportunity to narrow to 2-3.  Aspinall was on the verge of leveling at 3, resting on 32, when Smith made T20 go by the wayside.  With the darts Aspinall wasted 3 from 40 as Smith got to 5-2 with a slick 98-exit.  What proved to be the decider saw Aspinall at 36 when Smith erased 76 for the 6-2 win.

The semi between Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross was a humdinger.  Cross played well on the Euro Tour although he’s also one of the great chokers in the PDC.   MvG lately, when he gets on roll, could stop the Super Chief with a burned-out match.  Cross, using only 14 and 12 darts, led 2-0.  When Cross couldn’t finish 76 MvG got a leg which jump started a 4-leg run including a 10-darter.  MvG’s 4-2 advantage disappeared as Cross enjoyed his own 4-leg run getting not only the 6-4 lead but one leg from the finals.

An angry mate is not to be feared as much as MvG when cornered lately.  In 15, 14 and 11 darts MvG secured a finals berth with a 7-6 score.  Cross had a match dart in MvG’s 11-darter leg missing the bull.

Jeff Smith met “Cool Hand” Luke Humphries for a final spot.  Smith had just come off his North American a win over Matt Campbell.  It would not surprise anyone if he wasn’t 100%.  Smith broke out to a 3-1 lead which should have been 4-0 when “Cool Hand” checked 100.  Then the let down from Smith’s win over Campbell made as appearance with Humphries taking 4 on the trot that included a pair of 12-darters with checks of 121 and 88 – turning a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead.

Smith was energized after Humphries missed 3 from 40, needing only 13 darts to get one back – to 4-5.  With one back, that became none back as the match was level at 5.  Humphries used 14 darts to get within one leg from victory at 6-5.  Humphries had a shot at turning out the lights on Smith’s hope for a final in the following leg.  Faced with 70 remaining and 3-darts he could score only 38 leaving 32.  That opened the door for Smith to nail 36, his favored double, drawing level at 6.  After 12 darts in the decider, Humphrey sat on 132 while after 9 Smith wanted 167.  BOOM – 60, 57 and dead bull for the win.  Hello final.

The final against MvG was not pretty as Smith was hammered 8-0.  The Energized Smith, unlike the Energizer Bunny, ran out of power with no re-charging station available.  That was apparent when his favorite d18 took a hike.  Regardless, Smith was a star on Seventh Avenue between West 31st and 33rd.  All hail Jeff Smith.

Finally, next will be the long anticipated “World Cup Preview”.

Stray thirsty my friends.



  • Howie Reed

    Astute, often controversial, and always humorous, the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed (a former rodeo cowboy and advertising executive), is heralded as the Dean of Darts Chroniclers - the most prolific and widely followed writer ever about our sport. He goes back decades with the legends and knows where the skeletons are buried (just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers!). Here are four well-known facts about the Old Dart Coach: 1) he is a Republican, 2) he loves the ladies, 3) he can drink most anybody under the table, and 4) he throws darts as bad as Dartoid.