LONDON — Canadian Jeff (The Silencer) Smith held on to down Irish teenager Keane Barry 3-1 Tuesday in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.
The win assures the 45-year-old from Hampton, N.B., of at least a payoff of 15,000 pounds ($25,600). Smith faces No. 22 Chris Dobey in the second round Wednesday.
The 2.5-million-pound ($4.3 million) tournament runs through Jan. 3 at London’s Alexandra Palace. The winner earns 500,000 pounds ($854,7640).
Ninety-six players from 29 countries are represented in the field.
Smith, runner-up at the 2016 BDO World Darts Championship, walked out to Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ‘69.”
The 18-year-old Barry, a two-time world youth champion, won the opening leg but Smith took advantage of some missed darts by his opponent to take the next three legs and the first set. The Canadian held off Barry to win the second set 3-2.
Barry won the opening leg of the third set and, after Smith evened it up, took the third leg after Smith missed a double-16 finish. The Canadian tied it at 2-2 but Barry won the deciding leg to force a fourth set.
After losing the first leg of the fourth set, Smith pumped his fist after taking the second. Barry rallied to go ahead 2-1 but let Smith off the hook and the Canadian’s double-20 tied it up at two legs apiece.
Smith put it away in the next leg, raising his arm in victory after finishing the match with a double-four.
Smith, the lone Canadian currently competing on the PDC Tour, works at an auto body shop in nearby Saint John when he is not on the pro darts circuit.
Pandemic travel restrictions have complicated his schedule of late, with Smith estimating he may have racked up the most air miles of any player on tour.
“I’m happy with that win tonight, I can’t wait for the next match,” said Smith.
“Kudos to Keane Barry. He’s a fantastic player. He’s an up-and-comer and I’m just happy to get through him,” he added.
Fellow Canadian Matt (Ginga Ninja) Campbell, a 31-year-old welder from Hamilton, faces Scott Waites, a former Grand Slam of Darts winner and two-time BDO World Darts champion, in first-round action Saturday. The winner advances to meet sixth seed Nathan Aspinall of England, who has been a semifinalist the last two years.
The tournament was to have been the first Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) event in the U.K. since March to feature a live crowd, with up to 1,000 fans at each session. But London is being placed under more severe lockdown restriction as of Thursday due to the pandemic so fans were only allowed for Day 1 Wednesday.
The new restrictions are subject to a review Dec. 23.
The draw sees the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit go through to round two, with the first round featuring the ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers up against qualifiers and international representatives.
Smith and Campbell combined last month to help Canada reach the quarterfinals of the BetVictor World Cup of Darts in Salzburg, Austria.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec 15. 2020.