Michael van Gerwen fears nobody as he eyes fourth World Championship
Watch coverage of the draw for the 2019/20 PDC World Championship on Sky Sports News from 7.30pm on Monday night.
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 25/11/19 8:01pm
Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his World Championship title on the tournament's opening night on December 13 and the irrepressible Dutchman is relishing the challenge as he eyes a fourth Alexandra Palace triumph.
'The Green Machine' lifted his third World Championship crown courtesy of a 7-3 win against Michael Smith in last year's showpiece and the world No 1 is hoping to retain a world title for the very first time.
MVG was faced with a similar obstacle at this year's World Grand Prix - a tournament he had previously won on four occasions. However, he did defend his title in Dublin back in October and he's hoping to repeat the feat in the capital.
"I'm in my retaining period," quipped Van Gerwen, speaking at media day ahead of next month's World Championship.
"I don't see why I can't do it again. I'm looking forward to it and people have to do something really special if they want to stop me.
"I don't see the difference if I've won it once, twice or three times. I go there with the same mindset, the same will to win.
"You always feel pressure but I also had that five, six, seven, eight years ago. That's good - it makes you stronger for your next games and you always need to bear in mind don't get too relaxed because then mistakes will be made."
The three-time world champion has enjoyed near perfect preparation for the annual pilgrimage to Ally Pally, scooping four of the last six major televised events.
He edged out Gerwyn Price in a thrilling contest to claim a fifth Players Championship Finals title on Sunday evening - his 50th individual televised triumph within the PDC.
Price defeated the Dutchman for the first time in 20 attempts to retain his Grand Slam crown just a week earlier, therefore Van Gerwen was delighted to strike back with a psychological blow ahead of the big one.
"I've got a big target on my back and when you're doing really well people don't want you to win. I know that - that's a fact.
"Then you get the great battles on the stage and I think that's good for darts, especially characters like Gerwyn Price because he's doing really well lately, but I'm glad I could put the pressure on him yesterday and beat him in a really important final.
"If I'm at my very best they cannot beat me but you can say whatever you want, you have to show it on the stage.
"You're not allowed to make mistakes because these are guys that practice every day and I've got a big target on my back - they always give a little bit extra against me than against anyone else," he added.
"If you fear anyone you are 1-0 behind and you shouldn't put yourself in that position. You need to focus on your own strengths and not your weaknesses."
MVG full of belief ahead of Ally Pally return...
It's been another trophy-laden campaign for the 30-year-old, although it's not been serene progress throughout the entire year, as he suffered a surprising blip in form during the summer.
Van Gerwen endured disappointment at the World Cup and World Matchplay and remarkably went 15 matches without posting a ton-plus average, which prompted some questions about whether his dominance was starting to diminish.
Nevertheless, 'Mighty Mike' has silenced any lingering doubters in emphatic fashion, something he's taken considerable pleasure from.
"I love that [proving people wrong]. You need to make sure you keep getting on top of them.
"People threw everything at me this year because I also showed some weakness in the summer - I didn't play 100% my game but the bounce back feels even better.
"Of course I don't fear anyone. If you fear anyone you are 1-0 behind and you shouldn't put yourself in that position. You need to focus on your own strengths and not your weaknesses.
"Yes they fear me, that's one thing for sure but I don't need mind-games. I want to let my darts speak and I need to make sure I do the right things at the right moments."
This year's tournament also marks the end of Raymond van Barneveld's illustrious career - as the flag-bearer for Dutch darts bows out after 35 years at the top level.
The pair have contested some thrilling battles on the Alexandra Palace stage but despite his struggles in 2019, MVG still believes his compatriot could be a danger in this year's event.
"Of course still Gary Anderson [is a threat] because he's not had the best year but he will step up like he always does," Van Gerwen added.
PDC World Championship winners
|Phil Taylor (14x champion)|
|Michael van Gerwen (3x champion)|
|Gary Anderson (2x champion)|
|Adrian Lewis (2x champion)|
|John Part (2x champion)|
|Rob Cross (2018 champion)|
|Raymond van Barneveld (2007 champion)|
|Dennis Priestley (1994 champion)|
"Raymond normally does really well here. Rob Cross, Gerwyn Price, James Wade is playing phenomenal darts. There are so many players playing really well who can go far in the tournament but are they capable of winning the tournament? I don't know."
The Dutchman's developing rivalry with Price has captured the imagination of the darting public ahead of the tournament - particularly with the Welshman having broken his duck against him.
'The Iceman' has climbed to a career high of third having reached three major finals in the space of four events, whilst 2018 champion Cross is second seed, having clinched two TV titles this term.
Van Gerwen and Cross contested one of the great World Championship games in the semi-finals back in 2018 and the world No 1 insists such rivalries are crucial for the sport.
"It's very important because if you don't have battles like that people can see it as boring. Now you see one goes away and Gerwyn Price steps up. Rob Cross had a few peaks this year at the World Matchplay and the European Championship, so it's been good this year.
"It's going to be tough because they are playing good darts against me. I know what I have to do to win the tournament but you still have to do it
"It's going to be good fun this year because there's a lot of players playing good darts and it's good for the people at home to see cracking darts and high standard matches."
Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts - the action is back on your Sky Sports screens in December with the World Championship from Alexandra Palace. It all gets underway on Friday, December 13.