The 2023 darts year was a “rollercoaster” for Van Gerwen, from trophies to rankings.

Michael van Gerwen has been boldly saying for years that there is no better darts player than him, as long as he plays his best game. But “Mighty Mike” remained dry at Alexandra Palace for five years. Tonight he begins his seventeenth world championship, three of which he has won.

That’s not enough for someone of his caliber who has dominated the sport for years. Van Gerwen knows this better than anyone. But it still remains the showpiece of global darts.

This was also noticed at the Dutch press day ahead of the World Cup. Journalists gather en masse around Brabander as he prepares his speech.

As always, a lot is expected from him. Van Gerwen is full of confidence as always. “There is this feeling, but now I have to show it,” says the 34-year-old darts player.

Physical challenges, impressive victories

The 2023 season was mixed for him. He missed the World Cup due to serious dental surgery in the summer. He wears braces now. He also suffered from gout. His performance seemed to have diminished, with many major tournaments ending for him in the first round.

Van Gerwen himself does not want his World Cup eligibility to be an issue. “That’s a worry for later,” he said firmly.

Physical problems were offset by impressive victories in the Premier League and World Series Finals. “It was a year with a lot of ups and downs, it was like a rollercoaster ride. It happened. But I think I showed good form again at the right time.”

Van Gerwen is talking about the Players Championship Finals, the last major tournament before the World Cup. The man from Vlijmen played well, reached the final and scored a nine-darter in the final fight.

Even though he lost the final by a large margin, Van Gerwen has positive feelings about it. “The Players Championship final was the best tournament I’ve played in months, so I need to continue that trend at the Worlds.”

absolute king

Between 2014 and 2020, Van Gerwen was the absolute king of darts. He even won all the major tournaments in 2016. However, Van Gerwen has not been world No. 1 for three years. The low point was 2021, when not a single tournament was won.

He will probably never be as dominant as he was seven years ago. The competition is stronger and Van Gerwen’s situation is not the same anymore. “Everything has changed,” says Van Gerwen.

And it’s not just about darts: “I wasn’t a father seven years ago. My whole life has changed. You move on and grow as a person. It’s all part of it.”

Watch the report on mental guidance for darts players. The situation is getting more serious.

He bounced back last year and won four major tournaments. On January 3 this year, Van Gerwen played and lost against Michael Smith in the spectacular World Cup final.

Van Gerwen was very strong throughout the tournament but Smith scored the match of his life, including a nine-darter, and was unbeaten. Another year without a world championship, another year waiting for a new chance.

“There’s only one World Cup a year, I wish there were five,” laughs Van Gerwen.

Injuries, competition and his own life cannot change anything: Van Gerwen is “just” full of self-confidence.

“Certainly. I shoot nine-darters in the Players Championship Finals and have high averages, but I also win very difficult games. Even my B game is pretty good. “I can definitely improve in this World Cup.”

Source: NOS