Michael van Gerwen has enjoyed the best year of his career in 2012, winning seven Pro Tour events and his first major PDC title, when he stormed to victory at the World Grand Prix in Dublin in October.
The 23-year-old Dutch sensation heads into the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship as a strong contender to lift the £200,000 title after a brilliant twelve months, which also included a spectacular nine-dart finish at the World Matchplay and a stunning victory over 15-time World Champion Phil Taylor at the Grand Slam of Darts.
In part one, van Gerwen shares his journey from his first foray into the sport as a fresh-faced 13-year-old up to becoming a major champion within four years.
It started when I was about 13-years-old. I would play darts with friends at my house or theirs. We switched it around and I liked the game. I started to enter and win a lot of youth tournaments. If you are playing well and picking up little cups or trophies, you think that you are really good. You feel good about yourself and your game and you enjoy it more and more and that’s how I started in the sport.
The next step was to get myself onto the circuit. At first I played in a lot of local leagues and local youth events and eventually that brought me to where I am now.
My first break into the professional game was after I’d been winning a lot of national tournaments and Master Darts, who still sponsor me now, offered to put me in for the Norwegian Open. I went to play in the youth tournament but I was also allowed to play in the men’s and that ended up being the first professional tournament that I won. That was very nice to win both tournaments. It was a fantastic start for me.
I then came over to play in the BDO and I played very well straight away. I reached number one in the rankings. I did well in nearly all of the tournaments. I won the Northern Ireland Open, the Norwegian Open again, reached the final in the German Open and just kept performing well and getting good results.
In my second year in the BDO, I went on to win the Winmau World Masters when I was 17-years-old. That was my first big major and I was the youngest player ever to win one. It felt really good to achieve something like that so early in my career.
I felt so good at that time. My head was on the game and I was growing up in the darts business. It also brought a bit of pressure for the first time though as I was expected to do well at every tournament from then but I believed that I could and would. My switch to the PDC came pretty quickly after that.”
By Chris Murphy
PART TWO OF THE MICHAEL VAN GERWEN STORY WILL BE POSTED ON WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 11.
Image courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC