‘I’m an ex-PDC world darts champ – Michael Smith’s eye has gone off the ball’

Dennis Priestley, the man who defeated Phil Taylor to claim the first ever PDC World Darts Championship, reckons 2023 winner Michael Smith has 'taken his eye off the ball'.

Back in 1994, Priestley beat 'The Power' at the Circus Tavern 6-1 to claim the inaugural world title, which was the only one of his lengthy career. This week, the 2023/24 edition of the storied tournament gets underway, with Smith seeking to defend his 2023 title at the Alexandra Palace.

Earlier this year, the 33-year-old managed to get over the hump by claiming his first world title crown, defeating three-time winner Michael van Gerwen after having previously lost in the final twice himself – one of which came the year before against Peter Wright.

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However, one individual who knows all about the difficulties of defending a PDC title is Priestley, who failed to make the knockout stages of the 1995 edition following his win a year prior.

The 73-year-old, nicknamed 'The Menace', reached the showcase darts finale four more times in the years after his title win, losing out on all four occasions to Taylor. And speaking ahead of the 2024 Paddy Power World Darts Championship, Priestley reckons Smith has a difficult task on his hands to repeat his 2023 feat.

How do you think Michael Smith will fare in his Paddy Power World Darts Championship title defence? Let us know in the comments section below.

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"It's always tough to defend titles, I can assure you of that," Priestley told OLBG. "There are only two or three that have managed to do so.

"It will be tough for Michael this year and I'm not quite sure he's put the time in that's required. His eye has gone off the ball and I'm not sure if he's been on the practice board much lately. We'll have to see."

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Since his win earlier this year, Smith has endured a disappointing year. The defending world champion was dumped out of the Players Championship Finals in the first round by Dutchman Richard Veenstra last month.

And judging by the bookies odds, they reckon the likes of Luke Humphries, Gerwyn Price or van Gerwen have a better chance of hoisting the Paddy Power World Darts Championship title come January 3.

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