Michael van Gerwen showed early signs that he could conquer the world, says Rod Studd
By Rod Studd
Last Updated: 10/03/16 8:18pm
Michael van Gerwen is dominating the world of darts and Rod Studd recalls when he first took notice of the precocious Dutch teenager.
The world No 1 recently broke the record for the highest average in a televised match and has already won six PDC events this year.
Sky Sports commentator Studd casts his memory back to one of Van Gerwen's early TV appearances and admits he was not always certain that 'Mighty Mike' would rule the sport...
The first time I saw him play on the telly was at the BDO World Masters in October 2006. He was just 17-years-old back then and the PDC's long-serving PR man Dave Allen told me to keep an eye out for him after his appearance in the Holland Open, which he won by beating Colin Osborne in the final.
He looked like a teenager, but he played like a master.
Rod Studd on Michael van Gerwen
Michael, who was a skinny little blonde kid at that time, knocked out a few good players like Darryl Fitton, Mark Webster and he would play Martin Adams in the final. It was immediately evident that this kid was playing like he had been on a professional darts stage for all his life. He looked like a teenager, but he played like a master.
'Wolfie' Adams was 5-2 ahead and Michael went on to beat him, taking Eric Bristow's record as the youngest ever winner of the BDO World Masters. I think that really says it all - when you think of the calibre of the man whose record he had taken. Adams would go on to win the World Championship at Lakeside a few months later, so Michael had beaten the best player in the BDO, and in my opinion one of the top players in the world.
The following year, Van Gerwen played in a Dutch event featuring BDO and PDC players called the Masters of Darts, and was still only 17 when he defeated Phil Taylor 3-0 in a group match. Michael famously hit a nine-darter in his semi-final against Raymond van Barneveld, in front of a televised audience in Holland, eventually losing 6-4.
But then inexplicably this magical talent that he had - suddenly the spark disappeared. It was if he had lost his wand somewhere. Michael had that terrible run for up to four years really, disappeared off the darts radar, and couldn't win a game.
I must admit I was a doubting Thomas and thought we had seen two years of brilliance and that it was gone. But the Van Gerwen loyalists, including PDC referee George Noble, Dave Allen, and Richard Ashdown, MC at the Lakeside, all told me how wrong I was.
Suddenly he burst back in 2012 and boy those people have not let me forget it either! I hold my hands up, I was totally, utterly wrong and I'm absolutely delighted I was wrong. There are few greater pleasures in darts than seeing Michael van Gerwen in full flight.
Watch Michael van Gerwen return to action in the Premier League tonight, from 7pm on Sky Sports 1. Or watch live for £6.99 without a contract, on NOW TV.