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Michael Smith determined to turn the corner at the 2017 World Darts Championship following a season of struggles

Smith reacts on the Ally Pally stage (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Michael Smith believes he can put a nightmare 2016 behind him by mounting a serious challenge for World Championship glory at Alexandra Palace.

Smith has suffered a crisis of both form and confidence this season, with wins in televised majors proving few and far between since finishing bottom of the Premier League on debut.

Smith's best performances came on the European Tour, where he reached the final of the Austrian Open in June, though he had suffered five consecutive First Round exits in televised tournaments heading in to the World Championship.

The St Helens ace, though, battled back from two sets to one down to edge out Ricky Evans in a high quality contest on opening night at Ally Pally and insists he can use that display as a springboard to recapturing his best form.

"I'm always ready to make a statement, it's just hard work for me at the minute," said Smith. "I'm either on it or I'm totally off, it's just about getting that consistency going.

"It's been hard convincing myself I can still do it but persistence pays off.

"I just need to keep believing in myself. I know I can be World Champion and I know I can win tournaments.

"The minute I doubt myself is the minute I'm going to stop playing."

Smith's barren spell in major competitions has seen him slip to eleventh in the PDC Order of Merit, and 'Bully Boy' is fully focused on regaining ground on those above him.

He added: "This year has been the first time I've gone backwards [in the rankings] since I started and that hurts.

"Last year I was making Semi-Finals and Finals or the floor constantly. 

"Since the Champions League on the BBC I'd made a disgrace of myself, I promised myself from then that I wouldn't let anyone down.

"The next few tournaments came and I didn't want to be there, my main focus was the World Championship. 

"I've been chopping and changing darts and doing everything differently."

The former World Youth Champion squandered a three-set lead in defeat to Raymond van Barneveld in last year's Quarter-Finals, and Smith admits that missed opportunity still plays on his mind.

"I was 3-0 up against Raymond [Van Barneveld] last year and I actually thought I was World Champion.

"I took my foot off the gas and that was the biggest learning curve ever for me, it still haunts me now."

Smith will meet either Mervyn King or Steve West in the Second Round of the sport's show-piece event, and having hit seven 180s and a 96.7 average in his opening salvo, is bullish about his chances of potentially mounting a title challenge.

"I know I have the game to beat anyone," he added. "I wouldn't have turned up if I didn't think I could win it."


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Michael Smith determined to turn the corner at the 2017 World Darts Championship following a season of struggles

Michael Smith believes he can put a nightmare 2016 behind him by mounting a serious challenge for World Championship glory at Alexandra Palace.

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