Unicorn ace Michael Smith was beaten in a dramatic final of the German Darts Open on Sunday night in Saarbrucken.
It turned out to be a landmark tournament for German darts and 21-year-old Max Hopp, who edged out Smith in the final 8-7 to claim his first senior PDC title in front of a partisan packed house.
The 21-year-old is a former PDC UNICORN World Youth Champion and this victory is also a watershed moment in his career. The £25,000 winner’s cheque will see him qualify for all the big ‘Major’ TV events in 2018 as Hopp showed why he can be the darting hero that Germany has craved for so long.
Smith though will be bitterly disappointed. He led the final 3-0, 5-2 and 6-3 before Hopp managed to force a decider. The Unicorn man was sat on 64 for the title when the German youngster nailed an incredible 121 on the bull to win the tournament with a brilliant 12 darter.
“Fair play to Max,” said Smith. “He took his chances. It was a great atmosphere to play in but now I have to focus on Rotterdam and a big two nights for me in the Premier League.”
Smith saw off Mervyn King 6-5 in the last eight before dominating an all Unicorn semi-final against Ian White. He won 7-1 with an average of 107, 7/9 on the doubles including a superb 158 check-out.
White had earlier produced his best performance of the year. He thrashed Michael van Gerwen 6-2 in the quarter-finals with a 106 average!
Hopp had beaten Unicorn ace Joe Cullen 6-4 in the last eight. It was his time, his place, his day and his title.
Results - Q/Finals:
Ian White 6-2 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 6-5 Mervyn King
Max Hopp 6-4 Joe Cullen
Rob Cross 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Michael Smith 7-1 Ian White
Max Hopp 7-6 Rob Cross
Max Hopp 8-7 Michael Smith
Meanwhile at the PDC Unicorn Development Tour weekend, there were four different winners over the two days in Wigan.
On Saturday, Nathan Rafferty beat Dawson Murschell 5-3. Murschell hit a 9 darter during the event. Then Dutch teenager Wessel Nijman was a 5-4 winner over Bradley Brooks.
On Sunday, Rob Henson took the honours with a 5-3 victory over Melvin Fijter, while Niels Zomeveld beat Joe Davis 5-2.
Unicorn youngsters Jordan Boyce and Ted Evetts both reached a quarter-final, while Boyce, Adam Paxton and Harry Ward made the last 16 over the four tournaments.
Report by STUART PYKE
Photo courtesy PDC