ROSS SMITH burst into the darting elite with a sensational European Championship win in late October 2023.
It was his finest hour after 17 years playing in Professional Darts Corporation events since the age of 17.
Smith was the outsider who went all the way in the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund, Germany, beating Michael Smith 11-8 in the final.
It certainly wasn’t a flash in the pan, it was an exceptional performance and Smith Michael/Bully Boy? dubbed his Unicorn stablemate as “unplayable”.
Until that point, ‘Smudger’ had always been an oche star with bags of potential but had been unable to unlock the magic at the pivotal moments.
There had been flashes of brilliance. In 2013 he hit a nine-dart perfect leg against Adrian Lewis in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
A year later he openly admitted that he was struggling to juggle a new job with being a darts player. He then regained his PDC Tour Card, hitting another nine-darter during Qualifying School. However, in 2017 he declared that he was taking a break from the sport.
It wasn’t for long.
The comeback kid, once again smashed Q-School to gain a Tour Card for another push at the big time.
This time Smith meant business. In the 2019 European Championship he KO’d Michael van Gerwen and qualified for the Grand Slam and Players Championship finals.
There was more dramatic progress in 2020. Despite a disappointing World Championship opening round defeat, he bounced back and beat Nathan Aspinall and Kim Huybrechts in the Players Championship finals and was up to World No.48, his highest-ever ranking.
Then came that epic Euros night in October 2022 to claim his biggest prize yet.
During the group stage of the 2022 Grand Slam of Darts, Smith hit nine 180s in another victory over Van Gerwen, a record number for a group stage for the Grand Slam. Smith's year ended with a Third Round World Championship defeat to Dirk van Duijvenbode in a sudden death leg, having missed five match darts.
The match featured 31 180s, a record for a best of seven set match, 19 of which from Smith which equalled the individual record for a match of this format.
It was, remarkably, the second year in succession he had lost to the dynamic Dutchman in a deciding set in the third round.
But his sensational elevation in the sport sees Smith now sitting at World No.17 and a player to be reckoned with.
He’s also adopted one of the most memorable walk-on songs with the unique Red Light Spells Danger by Billy Ocean.
There’s no doubt though, it’s Smith who is on a crest of a wave.