ST HELENS darter Michael Smith played through the pain barrier to win his first ranking title for 11 months as he hit back to deny Ryan Joyce in Monday's Players Championship 9 final in Hildesheim.

And he did so despite playing suffering from a painful bout of gout. 

The BetMGM Premier League star had not tasted victory on the circuit since winning PC13 in June 2023, and had previously only reached one semi-final this year.

However, he scooped the £15,000 ProTour title and became the ninth different winner in as many Players Championship events this year with Monday's Halle 39 success.


Smith's run to the title included whitewashes of Adam Hunt and Richard Veenstra and ton-plus averages of 106 and 110 against Jonny Clayton and Luke Woodhouse respectively.

He also defeated Oskar Lukasiak and Krzysztof Ratajski in the event, before battling his way to the title against Joyce.

Newcastle's Joyce found himself 3-1 down early in the final, but turned the game on its head in a four-leg burst to lead 5-3 - landing legs of 12 and 13 darts with the throw in the process after punishing Smith's misses in leg five.

Smith responded with three straight legs of his own to wrestle back the advantage as a 12-darter moved the 2023 World Champion 6-5 up.

Joyce levelled in leg 12, but Smith fired in a crucial tops to regain the lead before double eight completed a 14-darter for victory.

"I've finally got my name back in that winner's circle again and I'm over the moon," said Smith.

"It's been hard. I was so far behind but if he was going to keep giving me chances I had to take them.

"An 88 average in a final is not good, but it's my first title in nearly 12 months."

Smith will return to the Premier League stage in Leeds on Thursday, as he continues his bid to secure a Play-Off place.

He added: "It's full focus for tomorrow and hopefully I win it again so I'll be flying home on Wednesday, and then [Leeds] is where my focus will be.

"It's in my own hands now, I'm two points behind Michael [van Gerwen] and three behind Nathan [Aspinall]. Wednesday I'll start thinking about Thursday night."

Joyce also enjoyed his best run of 2024 as he reached the final for the first time since winning Players Championship 26 last October.

His run to the final included defeats of former World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, top seed Dave Chisnall and former Masters winner Chris Dobey, before he saw off Ritchie Edhouse in the semi-finals.

The ProTour double-header concludes on Tuesday with Players Championship 10, as the 128 players compete for the £15,000 title, with streaming from four boards throughout the event on PDCTV.

2024 Players Championship 9 Monday May 6, Halle 39, Hildesheim.

Last 16.

Ryan Joyce 6-5 Dave Chisnall.

Chris Dobey 6-2 Robert Grundy.

Callan Rydz 6-3 Scott Williams.

Ritchie Edhouse 6-0 Andrew Gilding.

Michael Smith 6-0 Richard Veenstra.

Luke Woodhouse 6-1 Patrick Geeraets.

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Kevin Doets.

Stephen Bunting 6-4 Gian van Veen.


Ryan Joyce 6-4 Chris Dobey.

Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 Callan Rydz.

Michael Smith 6-3 Luke Woodhouse.

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Stephen Bunting.


Ryan Joyce 7-4 Ritchie Edhouse.

Michael Smith 7-4 Krzysztof Ratajski.


Michael Smith 8-6 Ryan Joyce.