2016 World Darts Championship: Can anyone oust Van Gerwen?
Holly Thackeray | December 6, 2015
With the 2016 PDC World Darts Championship just weeks away, Coral continue their countdown to the coveted competition, which stretches across Christmas and New Year.
Favourite for the festive throw-down, which begins December 17th and finishes on January 3rd 2016, is of course dominant Dutch darts superstar Michael van Gerwen. Mighty Mike, no doubt decked out in his famous lime-green shirt, is 11/10 to take this tremendous title for the second time, having already stormed to four consecutive televised tournament trophies over the end of October and November.
Watch the PDC’s cracking Christmas promo below:
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) December 1, 2015
Recently, current pundit and ex-arrowsmith Chris Mason, also known in his playing days as Mace the Ace, posed the question on everyone’s lips.
Mason said: “I think Michael [van Gerwen] is relatively unbeatable right now. It seems hardly worth the other guys turning up at the Alexandra Palace the way he is playing.
“It’s almost like he is on autopilot and that must be an amazing feeling for him. When he needs a finish, he produces it – bang – just like that.”
Then the former darts star asked: “To be quite honest he could quite easily reel off the next four or five titles and take us into the next decade. Who is going to stop him?”
Fresh from formidable and thrilling victories in the European Championship, Grand Slam, World Series of Darts Finals and Players Championship Finals, MvG will arrive at Alexandra Palace for a first round fixture with one of Thanawat Gaweenuntawong or Rene Eidams, who will first play their preliminary round rumble.
Against one of those lesser lights, Mighty Mike will not necessarily have it easy, but the in-form thrower has been making mincemeat of top-draw opponents recently, so odds of 16/1 for a shock first round exit with Coral are of course long.
While, should he make the second stage as expected, either John Henderson or Darren Webster could ask a few more questions of the lethal finisher, but again it is truly tough to see an 11/1 second round departure.
After all, this is the big prize and one darting giant Van Gerwen clearly has his eye on stealing back from out-of-form holder Gary Anderson.
The world number one stated his ambitions, telling media: “At the beginning of the year, I had three targets. The MatchPlay, the Grand Slam and the World Championships. I’m still on the way for that.
“I’ve made my targets so far, so I just need to keep it going,” added the deadly Dutchman of his potential hat-trick of top prizes.
What sets this powerful PDC star apart, aside from his bullish celebrations, distinct style and incredible ability, is determination. Though, surprisingly, before becoming a tungsten titan Van Gerwen aspired to play football.
“Everyone starts off wanting to play football. That’s what you want to be. I am a really big PSV [Eindhoven] supporter and that was it,” said MvG.
“In my time as a youngster, it was Ruud van Nistelrooy who was the hero.
“But I was really rubbish. I was like a little Michelin Man walking about. I needed to find something else.”
Aged 13, Mighty Mike did just that, by swapping his football for a darts board, and the Dutchman has never looked back, as he went on to become European Youth Champion just a few years after his sporting switch.
The World Darts Championship third round could throw up tougher obstacles to prevent Van Gerwen from completing his ideal hat-trick, however, as compatriot Raymond van Barneveld may await at that stage.
Barney ran Mighty Mike all the way with a barn-storming semi-finals performance in the recent World Series of Darts Finals, making the third round a 6/1 shout to be MvG’s last stop.
Yet, Van Gerwen still produced the goods to pull a defiant victory out of the hat and has shown he has the natural tungsten tools to punish fellow title favourites Anderson, Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright, so truly looks terrific to go all the way again.
However, darts is a sport always full of surprises, as illustrated by outsider Robert Thornton’s fantastic comeback in the World Grand Prix of Darts to halt Van Gerwen in the final. So, he can on occasion be stopped, and customers can grab odds of 5/1 for this Netherlands icon to be runner-up again.
Though, the rest of the elite chasing pack are currently playing catch up, as Mighty Mike has raised the bar so high.
“The game is my life and I give it everything”, Van Gerwen stated. “If you don’t do that, you will fail. You can’t be number one.” So, who would bet against him?