Ky Smith and Amanda Loch clinched the singles titles and places at the 2024 WDF Lakeside World Championships this past weekend as the first Gold-ranked event of 2023, the Swiftflyte Classic, took place in Australia.
Smith makes most of format to claim maiden title
Smith claimed his first senior WDF ranking title thanks to a narrow 6-5 final victory over fellow Queenslander Josh Kime.
The first five legs of the final all went with throw, Smith consistently staying that bit in front with finishes of 94, 68 and 56. ‘The Prodigy’ opened up some daylight by breaking the Kime throw in the sixth leg, only for Kime to win the next two legs in 32 darts to level the score at 4-4.
Two further holds forced a last-leg decider, which Smith won in 19 darts to wrap up a remarkable victory and secure the $2,250 AUD top prize.
With victory, Smith is guaranteed a place at the 2024 WDF Lakeside World Championships and is also in contention for this year’s showpiece as his 180-point haul in South Australia puts him within striking range of one of the three available places.
What made Smith’s victory particularly remarkable was that he only just made it through to the knockout rounds after losing three of his five round-robin games.
He found his form in the business end of the tournament though, dropping just one leg in wins over Scott Gold, Dean Gibbs and Conner Smith to reach the quarter-finals.
There he accounted for Robbie King with his tournament-best average of 78.61 before following it up with a last-leg victory over Michael Cassar to book his spot in the final.
Cassar had knocked off Raymond O’Donnell and Australian No.1 Peter Machin in the previous rounds and despite averaging seven points higher than Smith and taking out finishes of 78, 124 and 90, ended up on the losing end of a 5-4 scoreline.
Loch battles her way to third career ranking title
Amanda Loch dug deep and showed some real battling instincts in South Australia, coming through three last-leg deciders to claim a third career ranking title and book a Lakeside debut.
After posting a 5-1 record in the round-robin phase, Loch defeated the experienced Christine Sheerin 4-3 in a Last 16 game that saw all seven legs go on throw.
Loch then defeated Bek Heidke 4-2 to book a semi-final meeting with Australian number one Kym Mitchell. Mitchell, who won five ranking titles in 2022, pinned a 123 finish to go 3-1 up, only for Loch to rally with three consecutive legs in 23, 18, and 23 darts to edge the game 4-3.
Waiting for Loch in the final was fellow Australia international Joanne Hadley. Loch raced into a 3-0 lead, only for Hadley to pull it back to level pegging with a three-leg burst of her own.
The next two legs both went with throw, forcing the game to a ninth and deciding leg. It was there that Loch produced her strongest darts, hitting double six for a match-best 16-darter.
Morton takes home the Youth title
The weekend’s action also included a Bronze-graded Youth competition, which was won by Terence Morton.
Having defeated Zac Tabb 2-0 in the semi-finals, Morton claimed the title with a 3-1 victory over Ollie Wade.