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Scott Williams: Lincolnshire lad with world title dreams

Scott Williams produced the latest surprise in a World Championship of shocks by beating Michael van Gerwen 5-3 on Monday to reach his first semi-final at Alexandra Palace.

The 33-year-old from Lincolnshire continued his march towards possible darting immortality with a potentially career-defining performance, going toe-to-toe with Mighty Mike and outlasting him to claim a superb quarter-final success.

Williams is into his maiden major semi-final and will face world number three Luke Humphries in Tuesday's second last four clash at the Ally Pally.

Van Gerwen's fans will point to mitigating factors for his performance, with the three-time world champion thought to have been struggling with a stomach ache.

However, Williams appears far from fazed by the situation and will happily play the underdog card again against Humphries.

Surprise package

Those who follow darts will feel that Williams' performance comes from somewhat out of the blue, with his progress slow since turning pro in 2018.

A debut second-round showing at the PDC Worlds last year, beating Ryan Joyce and losing to Rob Cross - also in this year's semi-finals - hardly hinted at stardom.

A solid player who had recorded decent results on the Challenge Tour, he has not always stepped up against the big boys, although he did beat Nathan Aspinall to win Players Championship 17 in 2022.

Even so, Williams' ranking was enough to earn a place directly in the third round of the UK Open, but even then he fell at the first time of asking, losing 6-5 to Jelle Klaassen.

Never short of confidence, Williams returned to the Ally Pally and has played like a man with little to lose.

'Shaggy' shines on the big stage

Williams began his campaign in the relatively distant past of 16th December, beating Japan's Haruki Muramatsu 3-1 and secured his place in the tournament beyond Christmas with a 3-0 second round success over Danny Noppert.

A gritty 4-3 triumph over Germany's Martin Schindler sent him into the last-16, where he defeated Damon Heta 4-1, a victory that included a superb 170 checkout.

Even so, the oddsmakers predicted that last year's beaten finalist, MVG, would prove too good after romping through to the last four.

Van Gerwen was the outright favourite ahead of the last-eight showdown, but as has often been his issue in recent years, whether down to stomach ache or not, he appeared out of sorts, missing 27 darts at doubles.

There is no room for sympathy or sentiment at the top table of darts and Williams punished the Dutchman's difficulties, winning the opening set in straight legs and keeping his cool as MVG recovered to go 2-1 up before striking back with two more 3-0 leg victories to go 3-2 up.

His rival found his darts in the sixth to level, but Shaggy kept on shining, hitting his doubles and punishing the world number two's profligacy to claim a 5-3 victory, which former finalist Wayne Mardle described as a "massive shock".

The outspoken lad from Lincolnshire, known for his outbursts and occasionally controversial comments, believed the result could have been more impressive, telling Sky Sports he "should have won it a little bit easier".

Humphries awaits

The understated Humphries is next up and presents another step up after firing a 103.50 average in his 5-1 last-eight win over Dave Chisnall.

'Cool Hand Luke' is 1/6 to win to Williams' 4/1 and victories at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship Finals meant he was arguably the form player in the world coming into the tournament.

However, this is also a new situation for the favourite as he bids to become world champion for the first time.

As he did against Van Gerwen, Williams will look to put the pressure on early and has admitted he is "loving" being in the spotlight in London.

Can he cause another shock and close his current outsider odds of 16/1 for victory against the 11/10 outright favourite?

With Luke Littler and 2018 winner Cross in the other semi-final, the battle to become the 2024 world champion looks wide open.

Into the top 32 in the world and showing no signs of slowing down, Williams' darts may now be matching his bravado.

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