PDC World Darts Championship: Dimitri Van den Bergh is a major champion and major contender for Sid Waddell Trophy
Dimitri Van den Bergh takes on Dave Chisnall for a place in the World Darts Championship quarter-finals, live on Sky Sports Darts from 6pm on Wednesday night
By Paul Prenderville at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 29/12/20 10:42pm
After the year of his darting life Dimitri Van den Bergh has his eyes on the biggest prize in darts as 'The Dreammaker' turns his dreams into reality.
"It's the first time I have believed I could win it. Before I was dreaming it but I didn't have the belief, now I have the dreams, the belief and the ability to win it and that is such a different thing," he says.
Van den Bergh has had a year to remember, becoming a major champion, rising into the world's top 10 and thriving in the behind-closed-doors nature that sport has had to adapt to during the coronavirus pandemic.
Something changed in Van den Bergh when he made his major breakthrough at the World Matchplay earlier this year and, at Alexandra Palace, the Belgian continues his bid for darts' biggest prize with a new-found belief and a rising fear factor.
Despite spending half the year in a leg brace as he awaits knee surgery - which is on hold until there is sufficient time to recover - Van den Bergh has proved himself to be a title contender almost every time he turns up.
So what is the secret?
"I have always thought I could be one of the competitors that could go deep but I have never had the confidence that I now have - the confidence that I can come out as a winner, that is a big difference," he tells The Darts Show podcast.
"It's not that I have shown it in one or two tournaments I have shown it on a regular basis and that gives me thoughts and dreams of winning this tournament."
Van den Bergh is right too. His form over the last three years has been hugely consistent with semi-finals and quarter-finals at the World Cup, the Grand Slam of Darts and the UK Open as well as the World Championship.
The criticism has long been that the Belgian needed to turn his TV form to floor form to get himself into more events and climb the rankings. That has not been the case as his record in the biggest televised events has delivered enough prize money to climb into the sport's elite.
A major threat......
|World Darts Championship||Quarter-Final||-||Quarter-Final|
|Grand Slam of Darts||Quarter-Final||-||Semi-Final|
|World Cup of Darts||Semi-Final||Quarter-Final||Semi-Final|
The 26-year-old from Antwerp is still without a title on the Pro or European Tour with his Matchplay success in July, on his debut, the first senior title he had won on the PDC circuit, although as a two-time world youth champion the pedigree has always been there.
Van den Bergh is a product of the system, the system that has allowed young players to dream and throw their lot in on the Development and Challenge Tours. It has also brought about the World Youth Championship and it is a quirk of the last decade that no winner of that tournament has won the senior title.
Michael van Gerwen was beaten twice in the youth version, while Michael Smith has come closest. Youth champion in 2013, he was beaten in the 2019 final by MvG.
Van den Bergh is hoping to become the first to do the 'double', not only to make a little more history but to inspire the next generation of players and the next 'Van den Berghs'.
Dimitri's three brothers all play the game, Viani has spent two years on the Development Tour, and the names of all three are tattooed on his arm.
"I want to be that example for my younger brothers and give them the opportunity to become the player I have become.
"It would be amazing. I have looked back at the players who have become world youth champion - all players that have shown quality but maybe haven't stepped on.
PDC World Youth Champions
Aaron Monk (2010), James Hubbard (2012), Michael Smith (2103), Keegan Brown (2014), Max Hopp (2015), Corey Cadby (2016), Dimitri Van den Bergh (2017, 2018), Luke Humphries (2019), Bradley Brooks (2020)
"Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall - a runner-up - have all gone really deep [in tournaments] so I looked at them and thought to myself 'if they can do it why wouldn't I?'.
"I have always tried to be an example to younger players, if you use the system, have patience and give yourself time to develop you might be one of the players that can achieve their dreams."
Wednesday evening's Order of Play
|Dirk van Duijvenbode vs Glen Durrant|
|Gerwyn Price vs Mervyn King|
|Dave Chisnall/Danny Noppert vs Dimitri van den Bergh|
Up next for Van den Bergh on Wednesday night is Dave Chisnall, and at stake for the winner is a quarter-final appearance against Van Gerwen.
The Dreammaker is no stranger to the last eight at Alexandra Palace, he has made that stage in two of the last three years, beaten by Rob Cross in 2018 and Nathan Aspinall last year. He is better equipped than on those occasions to go further.
"This year I have learned so many things. I wasn't close to the top 20 and now I'm in the top 10, I have been learning but now I have a lot of belief in myself and self-confidence - those things are making me the player I am."
Dimitri Van den Bergh
"I think they all know that I now have a stronger B-game. They all know that I can beat anybody on my day with my A-game - now they know, good or bad Dimitri is going to be there, not whether or not Dimitri is going to show up.
"Everyone in this World Championship is quality, to qualify you have to be lucky and show quality, all things I have done and the other players in this tournament have had to do as well."
Van den Bergh came to north London as a genuine contender, not only in his own mind but in the mind of many experts.
Crucially for the man himself, with sights set on turning more dreams into reality, he believes everyone else knows it as well
"People know they have to play at a certain level to beat me, and that's what I have been saying to myself - I am continuing to show that other players have to play strong to give themselves a chance against me.
"All the things I have done I have learnt from, I have developed and given myself the opportunity to become the player I feel that I am right now."
Don't miss a dart as the PDC World Championship reaches its dramatic conclusion on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel. Watch every session, including the final on Sunday, January 3. Check out daily darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts