Michael van Gerwen
MICHAEL van GERWEN
THE DUTCH COURAGE OF MIGHTY MIKE
Dutch darts sensation Michael van Gerwen is the world’s best darts player. He is the current PDC world champion and the youngest man in history to win the title. The gentle giant in the lime green has risen through the ranks to take down the biggest names in the sport and now be the one they’re all chasing.
Michael, congratulations on becoming world number one. Darts must be an amazing sport to be the best in. The fans jus get into it so much and create a real festival atmosphere. It must be amazing to be generating that through pure skill?
Yeah, the crowd is crazy. People enjoy watching the darts that they go to. It’s a day of relaxing for people who are in the crowd and nearly every venue is sold out every day. There has been a big progression in Australia too.
What do you think the fans have embraced darts so much then? I mean, it’s such a small board but the crowd is going mad the whole time.
Yeah, I don’t know why but the atmosphere and the fans are so incredible. It can be difficult at times with all the noise but we try to do our best. We are professionals and we do this for a living so we need to prepare ourselves for every tournament. You need to be mentally very strong to win a tournament.
Are you the kind that feeds off the crowd or do you need to block it out?
At the moment because I’m doing well the crowd loves me everywhere I go. Like Germany, Holland and England and even Dubai, that was amazing. Because I give a lot of emotion and I have a lot of passion for this sport and I just want to play my games. I just like to play my own game and don’t do anything strange. Haha.
Outside of England, you must get most of the crowd support just because you’re not English!
Yeah, that’s true because I’m from Holland. In my first year in the Premier League I did so well for the first time and the crowd went mental every time, even against Phil Taylor!
I guess you would love to see more tournaments held in Holland?
Yeah, we have the Dutch Masters tournament in Holland. It’s getting bigger and bigger again in Holland. They stopped for a while and now I’m back on television and radio that is big for everything. They have sports like tennis, football, whatever. For the Dutch, it’s a huge promotion for the sport of course. It’s getting more and more international. We play in Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Dubai, Boston, Canada, and Vegas. We play everywhere around the world and that’s what you want to do. It’s the same with other big sports.
What’s it like when you’re standing there and trying to take down a legend like Phil Taylor?
We’ve played so many times now. I’m still young but I’ve already been playing darts around for 10 years. We know each other pretty well and I had a record of something like the best record against him on television. But it’s not about beating Phil Taylor. It’s about winning the tournament. But if you can beat Phil Taylor like in the Premier League final and win the tournament, well that’s more special of course because he’s still the man. He’s a 16 times World Champion and I don’t have.
How did you start in the sport then?
I don’t like watching darts, I only like to play darts. I prefer to watch football than watch darts, seriously. When it’s winter you do something inside and you’re not going to play football outside. Then when I was young I got two friends that would play at my house. So then we go on to play youth tournaments and we won a little cup because we came second in the tournament. Well then of course I liked the game and I kept it going.
So your favourite sport is very different to the one you ended up being brilliant at and making a great living out of?
Yeah, everyone has their own choice. I can play football for 24 hours but I never will be a good footballer. That’s just how it is.
You just do what comes natural to you?
Yeah, you feel it,what people tell you and it’s great to know they believe in you. And then you want to keep going all the time.
How hard it is to be confident when you step out? Can you get the yips at the dart board? Can you go through a period when you can’t hit the target?
Yeah, I am damn sure. When I crossed over from the BDO to the PDC, which I think is the best thing I ever did, I had three or four very difficult years which was very tough. I couldn’t win a lot of games and so my confidence went down. It’s that simeple and that’s how it is. Then a few years ago I won some tournaments again and then you gain confidence and you win more. I go against Adrian, Phil, and James Wade, one of the most talented players on earth. And if you know, you play very well. I finally did it and my confidence is good, I feel good. I’m in good form and I hope I can continue to show everyone what I can do.
Do you think because darts has become so huge in Europe and in UK it can break into America for example?
It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. I think Australia has not been very difficult because the ticket have always been sold out every night so they have to keep finding a little bit bigger place to make it even bigger. And there is television, that’s the most important of course.
How did you come up with a good name for yourself as a darts player? What’s your nickname?
My nickname is Mighty Mike.
How did you come out with that?
My cousin. There was mighty mouse when I was young, then after that he called me Mighty Mike. Haha. And that’s how it goes. It’s stuck ever since.
Going forward, can you just keep playing darts forever and ever. Or do you have a shelf life in the game?
Oh yeah around 55’s or 60’s, it does end. If you look at Phil (Taylor) he’s in his 50’s and still wins the World Championship. That’s quite good but I still have 30 years to go, so you never know. Maybe, but if you break your own neck next week you’re gone.
With that in mind, do you insure yourself? Say your arm for example?
You insure yourself so that if you can’t play darts anymore for what reason, sickness or whatever, you’re insured for that. You need to insure yourself, that’s my living. That’s what I need to pay the bills and what I need to protect everything I can.
What’s your best fan story? What’s your best story on the circuit you have formed?
It’s difficult. The one when I won in the Premier League the crowd went mental, 11,000 people. May 11, 2012 that was amazing. I got goose bumps or chicken skin. That was unbelievable but I hope I can win more of them.