It was his fourth major triumph this year. Michael van Gerwen had previously won the Premier League, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix. After mixed performances in recent years, “Mighty Mike” has regained consistency in his game. Even if the darts world rankings calculated based on the results of the past two years only show him as number three, the Dutchman is now the favorite in the world championship that begins on December 15th.
At least since last weekend’s Players Championship Finals in Minehead it has been clear that the Dutchman will be in top form at the big showdown. On the last day of the World Cup dress rehearsal, he first defeated compatriot Danny Noppert (11:7) and Luke Humphries from England (11:5). The fact that he didn’t give Rob Cross an opportunity to get back into the match after an early lead at 11:6 in the final is a big exclamation mark.
He had previously won the season-ending Players Championship series in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020. But Van Gerwen’s seventh title was a special one. Not only because he played the perfect nine-darter in the third leg and then spectacularly checked the highest possible finish of 170 points. The 33-year-old then showed unusual emotions.
“I think we both played well,” he analyzed while the confetti of the award ceremony blew across the stage. He recalled the nine-darter and the 170, but also praised his opponent who “played a phenomenal match. It means a lot to me. This trophy means a lot to me,” said van Gerwen and immediately explained his special motivation: “I’ll tell you a little story now. My daughter, she’s probably still awake now, has seen every single one of my matches here and asked me, ‘Daddy, are you going to come home with a big trophy again?’ I told her I didn’t know but I’d try .” Then his voice broke.
He tried not to hold back the tears, letting them flow as naturally as his game had before. “If I make it again, it will be yours,” he said to his five-year-old daughter Zoe. “And that’s why I wanted to win her.” Van Gerwen’s voice was tearful, his head was red, but he continued the interview, which resulted in a bizarre scene developing.
While he rhetorically went on to his almost obligatory declarations of war after winning tournaments, the image of the empathetic family man remained. The tears continued to flow down his cheeks, and the tone of his voice didn’t match the content either. He sobbed more than he spoke: “People don’t know me. People talk a lot. But I’m here to win tournaments. I love winning and performing on stage. And to show something extra in a final like this, to create something special, that gives me a lot of energy. If people want to beat me, they have to play well. And if I play my game, they can’t beat me. And they know that too. But I have to show what I can do. It doesn’t matter who comes, Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright – I want to show what I can do. And now I want to do that at the World Cup as well.”
Round of 16:
Callan Rydz (ENG/33) – Keane Barry (IRL) 10:8
Ryan Joyce (ENG) – Jonny Clayton (WAL/24) 3:10
Dirk van Duijvenbode (ENG/4) – Ryan Searle (ENG/13) 10:9
Rob Cross (ENG/5) – Martin Schindler (D/12) 10:6
Luke Humphries (ENG/2) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL/15) 10:7
Scott Williams (ENG/26) – Joe Cullen (ENG/10) 7:10
Matt Campbell (CAN/30) – Danny Noppert (NED/14) 9:10
Dimitri Van den Bergh (BEL/27) – Michael van Gerwen (NED/22) 6:10
Callan Rydz (ENG/33) – Jonny Clayton (WAL/24) 3:10
Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED/4) – Rob Cross (ENG/5) 3:10
Luke Humphries (ENG/2) – Joe Cullen (ENG/10) 10:3
Danny Noppert (NED/14) – Michael van Gerwen (NED/22) 7:10
Jonny Clayton (WAL/24) – Rob Cross (ENG/5) 7:11
Luke Humphries (ENG/2) – Michael van Gerwen (ENG/22) 5:11
Rob Cross (ENG/5) – Michael van Gerwen (ENG/22) 6:11