By J R Lott 10/04/2022
“When the PDC transferred the money to my bank account...”
At first MVG’s selection of his favourite moment, from his first World Championship win, seems rather mercenary or even cold. However, the rider to his opener remark leads to another conclusion.
Michael continued: “that’s when it really hit home that I was World Champion and it just felt amazing”
Now psychologists will tell you that that type of comment betrays a dash of what’s known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
Many people who achieve a dream or gain a big promotion etc., struggle at first being convinced someone is going to take it away or that they never deserved it. But the money hitting your bank is not a dream and it's not going to disappear, it's cast-iron proof that you are World Champion.
For the outwardly super confident MVG to confess to even an element of such doubt is quite a surprise. Perhaps, it shouldn't be.
Such was his conspicuous talent that the pressure to deliver must-have grown annually. Indeed, it had taken almost a decade for him to summit the darts mountain.
The Green Machine would dominate the game throughout the middle years of the 2010s adding two more World titles in 2017 & 19 as well as an enormous bounty of PDC major and Pro Tour titles.
Ask Michael about his most difficult world championship match and he does not hesitate:
“The 2017 semi-final against Raymond Van Barneveld took a massive effort to come through, I think it’s a landmark or record-breaking game with Raymond averaging 109 and myself with 114.”
The scoreline - finishing 6-2 in sets to MVG - does not represent the match. Many consider it one of the highest quality games witnessed at the Ally Pally. Both men seemed to realise that this was a true watershed moment and that they must rise to the occasion.
“The history of Dutch darts and all the matches between us….. It was a very emotionally tough game” added Michael
Things have changed considerably since that slight attack of imposter syndrome in 2014. Asked if he expects to win the World crown back this year he replies firmly:
“ Yes, I always expect to win it. Otherwise, you might as well stay at home”
Despite his previous reference to his Dutch compatriot, it is legendary English tungsten maestro ‘The Power’ who MVG considers his favourite World Champion:
“More so, it is Phil's sacrifices for our game that I admire. His record and his determination to maintain that level for the period he did was just breathtaking”
The Dutchman celebrated that first crown in the same way he has done ever since, with small groups of close family and friends. He adds wryly:
“You seem to have a lot of friends when you have won a major title….”
There may be many more if ‘Mighty Mike’ can recapture that trophy and join the three legends to win four or more World championships.
The original mount Rushmore shows four faces that helped build the USA. The foursome of Eric Bristow, Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and Michael Van Gerwen would hold a strong claim to a filling a darting facsimile.
(MVG with JR Lott courtesy of Winmau)