Raymond Smith will make his Alexandra Palace return at this year’s Cazoo World Darts Championship, after claiming victory in the DPA Satellite Tour Play-Off on Sunday.
Smith only realised he was eligible for the event just hours before the action got underway, but following a 14-hour drive to Wollongong, he sealed his qualification with a straight-sets victory over Joe Comito in the final.
“I am very stoked to have got through this field today and excited to go back to the PDC World Championships,” said Smith, who reached the last 16 at Alexandra Palace in December.
“Joe played really well in the final and the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.
“There were so many brilliant games today across the boards, and that is where Australian darts is at now.”
Smith was one of the stars of last year’s World Championship, dispatching Jamie Hughes, Devon Petersen and Florian Hempel before succumbing 4-3 to Mervyn King in a dramatic fourth round tie.
However, the Australian, who has also featured at the World Series of Darts Finals, believes his best is yet to come.
“Last year I was not quite prepared for the world stage, it was only after Ky [his son] qualified that I realised I had to prepare,” Smith added.
“This time I am prepared for it, in fact I have prepared for it all year. My game has come a long way even since last year.”
The 42-year-old will be joined at Alexandra Palace by TV debutant Nobuhiro Yamamoto, who defeated former World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist Sho Katsumi in the PDJ Japan Championship final to secure his place in the sport’s flagship event.
Elsewhere, last weekend also saw World Series of Darts qualifiers for the PalmerBet Queensland Darts Masters and the PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters take place across a bumper weekend of action.
Dave Marland booked his place in the New South Wales Darts Masters, which takes place in Wollongong from August 19-20, with victory in Thursday’s opening DPA qualifier.
Marland, a former Melbourne Darts Masters qualifier, defeated 20-year-old star Bailey Marsh 7-4 in the final, before sealing his spot in Queensland with victory over Comito on Monday.
Emerging star Marsh will also feature in Queensland, prevailing in Thursday’s second qualifier courtesy of a 7-3 victory over Koha Kokiri, to confirm his spot in Townsville from August 12-13.
Former World Championship qualifier Kokiri then ran riot in Friday’s double-header, dispatching Brandon Weening and James Bailey in the respective finals to seal qualification for both events.
New Zealand’s former World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist Haupai Puha will also feature in Townsville and Wollongong, coming through both DPNZ qualifiers to secure his big stage return.
Meanwhile, Raymond O’Donnell, who came within two legs of defeating five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld on his last World Series appearance in 2018, defeated Stuart Coburn to clinch qualification for the NSW Darts Masters on Monday.
Australia’s World Cup of Darts winners Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock will headline both events alongside PDC Tour Card Holder Gordon Mathers, with one additional spot in each event up for grabs in Tuesday’s final qualifiers.
World Champion Peter Wright leads the list of eight PDC representatives, with world number two Gerwyn Price and three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen also set to feature.
Jonny Clayton, Joe Cullen and Fallon Sherrock will make their World Series debuts Down Under, with World Championship runner-up Michael Smith and ten-time TV title winner James Wade completing the field.