Jeff Smith denied his Canadian World Cup partner Matt Campbell to win a second bet365 North American Championship title on an entertaining Saturday afternoon in New York.
The New Brunswick veteran edged out Campbell in a dramatic last-leg decider to secure the $10,000 title in front of an enthusiastic crowd in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The annual event saw eight US and Canadian stars doing battle, with Smith being the solitary former champion in the field after recent winners Leonard Gates and Danny Baggish had missed out on qualification.
Smith – who overcame world number two Peter Wright on Friday to reach the US Darts Masters quarter-finals – capped off a memorable 24 hours by reigning supreme in the Big Apple.
He opened his challenge with a comeback win over Jim Long, recovering from 5-3 down to progress to a semi-final showdown against American number one Jules van Dongen and then overcame compatriot Campbell to regain the title.
Long – who sensationally dumped out reigning champion Michael Smith in Friday’s US Darts Masters – fired in a ten-darter to lead 5-3 in their quarter-final, only for Smith to reel off three consecutive legs to triumph.
Smith then dispatched Van Dongen to race through to Saturday’s final, converting six of his ten attempts at double to wrap up a 6-1 success.
Smith and Campbell exchanged holds of throw to kick off the afternoon’s decider, before the 2018 champion followed up back-to-back 180s with a 14-darter to lead 2-1.
The 47-year-old extended his buffer in leg six with a clinical 117 combination to lead 4-2, only for Campbell to reply with legs of 13 and 17 darts to level at four apiece.
Campbell then missed a dart at tops to lead 5-4 and Smith capitalised with a nerveless 80 finish, although his rival was afforded a reprieve moments later when a missed match dart allowed the Hamilton ace in to take the game to an 11th leg.
However, Smith responded by kicking off the deciding leg with his third 180, before pinning double eight to prevail after Campbell was unable to threaten a 114 checkout.
“It feels good,” said Smith. “Winning in Las Vegas was special, but to win in New York – this is unreal.
“I think this is the venue for North American darts. We had a ton of support here, it’s unbelievable.
“I have played well all year, just without any results, so I needed a confidence-booster and this is definitely a confidence-booster!“
Smith will line up alongside Campbell in the My Diesel Claim World Cup of Darts in Frankfurt from June 15-18, and is excited about renewing their partnership.
“Matt pounds you on the treble 20 and if you don’t stay with him, you’re not getting chances. That’s how good that guy is,” he added.
“He will be a top 16 player in the PDC. I 100% believe that, and I cannot wait to partner him in the World Cup of Darts in a couple of weeks.”
Campbell had breezed through to Saturday’s showpiece with convincing 6-2 wins over Jason Brandon and Alex Spellman, averaging 92 in both matches before just falling short in a thrilling final.
Earlier in the afternoon, CDC Continental Cup winner Spellman recorded a 6-3 win over JT Davis in a battle of the debutants, producing a brilliant 11-darter midway through the quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Van Dongen recovered from 4-1 down to edge out Jake Macmillan in the last eight, despite the Canadian producing a majestic 164 skin-saver in leg ten to force a decider.
The North American Championship precedes the final stages of the US Darts Masters on Saturday evening, where Smith and Long take on former champions Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals of the PDC World Series of Darts event.
bet365 North American Darts Championship
Saturday June 3, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York
Matt Campbell 6-4 Jason Brandon
Alex Spellman 6-3 JT Davis
Jeff Smith 6-5 Jim Long
Jules van Dongen 6-5 Jake Macmillan
Matt Campbell 6-2 Alex Spellman
Jeff Smith 6-1 Jules van Dongen
Jeff Smith 6-5 Matt Campbell
Under PDC Rule 3.9, Jeff Smith (third year of Tour Card) is not eligible to qualify for the 2023/24 World Darts Championship or 2023 Grand Slam of Darts by virtue of winning the North American Championship.