Aspinall hits the Jackpot in Vegas
Nathan Aspinall came out on top in a high quality final against Michael Smith to claim the 2019 US Darts Masters in Las Vegas. Aspinall showed no signs of nerves in his first ever World Series event, seeing off the likes of Rob Cross, Peter Wright and Smith en route to the title.
Aspinall got his campaign underway on Thursday evening, seeing off the Canadian qualifier Shawn Brenneman 6-2. He went to his quarter final clash with Rob Cross as slight underdog, in what was a rematch of the recent UK Open final, in which Aspinall had come out on top. ‘The Asp’ started in majestic fashion, winning the opening 3 legs in only 37 darts, including a fabulous 121 checkout. Cross fought back to 3-2, but Aspinall pinned double 7 for a 4-2 advantage at the break. The 2018 world champion came out firing, winning 3 consecutive legs to open up a slight advantage at 5-4, only for Aspinall to hold and level at 5 a piece. The 27 year old found a crucial 10 dart leg to break the Cross throw in the next leg and didn’t look back, storming over the line to claim an 8-5 win with a 100 average. His opponent in the semi-finals was Peter Wright, who had overcome Daryl Gurney in an exciting quarter final. ‘Superchin’ had led 4-2 at the break with an average of around 106, but the World Cup winner didn’t give in, firing in a 10 darter en route to levelling at 6-6. Wright piled the pressure on Gurney with an 11 dart leg, and the pressure paid, with the former World Grand Prix champion missing 6 darts at double, allowing Peter to pin double 18 for an 8-6 comeback win.
In the semi final clash, Wright burst into a 2-0 lead, but Aspinall pegged it back to 3-2, before firing in a tournament high checkout of 161 to level it at the break. Once again, the Scotsman opened up a 2 leg advantage, but Aspinall responded again, this time with a 126 checkout, to bring the game level at 6-6. Both players held their throws to send the game to a decider, with Wright having the advantage of the darts. It was ‘The Asp’ however, who was down to a double first, but he squandered 2 darts at tops, only for Wright to miss a match dart of his own at the same target. Aspinall made no mistake this time, pinning double 20 to book his spot in the final.
Michael Smith was his opponent in the final, with the ‘Bully Boy’ having seen off Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price. Smith saw off the world number 1 in a very unusual semi final, where neither player came near their ‘A’ game. The game was level at 3-3 at the break, although the English man had darts to win every leg. Van Gerwen won 3 consecutive legs after the pause, opening up a 6-4 lead, but Smith hit top form from this stage on. The St Helens man gained a crucial break back with a 78 checkout, before pinning a wonderful 128 to close out an 8-6 win. His opponent in the semi final was Gerwyn Price, who had come out on top in the eagerly anticipated quarter final tie with Gary Anderson. The game was nip and tuck all the way, with the pair trading 12 darters and 180s to level the game at 5 a piece. Anderson found a 106 finish to lead 6-5, but the Welsh man responded on double 10 to level. The crucial blow came in the 13th leg, when Anderson missed 5 darts at double, allowing Price to pin double 9 to break, before closing the match out on double 20 for an impressive 8-6 win. The semi final between Smith and Price was dominated by the ‘Bully Boy,’ who’s scoring was superb throughout. He led 4-2 at the break, and reeled off 3 straight legs to go within one of the final, finishing it off on double 20 for an 8-4 win.
The final between Aspinall and Smith was billed as a rematch of the recent World Championship semi finalist, where Smith had come out on top 6-3. The final in Las Vegas got off to a terrific start, as Aspinall fired in a 10 dart leg, including a bounce out, in the opening leg. The UK Open champion started the second leg with 6 perfect darts, but Smith piled in a wonderful 130 checkout to hold his throw. The game was nip and tuck until the 6th leg, where Aspinall fired in a wonderful 120 checkout to break the Smith throw and lead 4-2 at the break. The English World Cup representative fought back however, nailing consecutive checkouts of 118 and 87 to level the enthralling final at 4-4. Aspinall held to reopen his lead, before landing the decisive blow with a 95 checkout on double 16. He followed this up by finishing 80 to go within a leg of the title, which he duly won, firing in a 13 darter to claim his second TV title of 2019 with a remarkable 106.7 average. It was the first World Series event of 2019, and Aspinall’s first of his career, and the roadshow continues in Cologne next week with the German Darts Masters, where Mensur Suljovic will defend the title he won last year.