Michael van Gerwen is well used to heading into the World Darts Championship as the bookies’ favourite. After all, he is one of the most talented and popular players to ever step up to the oche, and while only a reduced crowd will be admitted into Alexandra Palace this year, you can bet that a large proportion of them will be cheering on their beloved MVG.
Van Gerwen knows what it takes to win the top prize in darts, having done so on three prior occasions – in 2014, 2017, and 2019. He came close to making it a fourth last year, but lost out to Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright in the final, but the Dutchman will be gearing all his efforts towards putting that right come the start of this year’s competition.
As one of the most famous faces in the sport, van Gerwen is frequently listed among the favourites in the darts World Championship odds when the tournament rolls around each December. Often, this status as one of the kingpins seems to spur him on, providing the impetus and belief that he is indeed among the best, if not the best, that darts has to offer.
Yet again, van Gerwen heads to Ally Pally as the punters’ pick, and it would be no surprise to see him deliver another strong showing over the course of the tournament this year. At 31, van Gerwen still has plenty to offer, and it will be interesting to see whether he enjoys a second wave of dominance as he gets older, with maturity and experience on his side.
The Dutchman has made it to the final in three of the last four editions of the World Championship, but there can be no doubt that last year’s defeat to Wright in the final will have rankled with the three-time champion, and he’ll be out to ensure he goes one better this time around.
Indeed, Wright’s triumph proved to be revenge for when van Gerwen beat him in the final back in 2014, a win which secured the Dutchman’s first world title and truly announced his arrival as a major force in darts. Since then, van Gerwen’s stock has risen and risen, but Wright will have gained a lot of satisfaction in sweeping aside MVG last year.
Of course, there are plenty of other contenders that will push van Gerwen all the way. Wright himself is counted among the favourites again this year, while the likes of Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith and Jose de Sousa will all be raring to go when the tournament gets underway on December 15th.
But there is something within van Gerwen that makes him relish his status as top dog, and the sense that all his challengers are trying to bring him down seems to motivate the Dutchman, allowing him to step up the oche in his own inimitable style and deliver the devastating scoring blitzes that he has made his trademark over the years. It’ll take a mammoth effort, as it did from Wright last year, to deny van Gerwen another world crown.