He is a two-time World Matchplay champion but Michael van Gerwen has struggling in the event in recent years, admitting to a ‘weird’ record of late, but he expects to improve on that in Blackpool this time round.
MVG claimed the Matchplay title in 2015 and ’16, having reached the final the previous year and it looked like he was set to dominate the event for years to come.
Things have not turned out that way, though, with Phil Taylor ending his run with a 16-6 hammering in the 2017 quarter-finals and Mighty Mike has not been past the second round in the three years since.
He can’t quite put his finger on why he has struggled in Blackpool, and in last year’s trip to Milton Keynes, but has vowed to work hard and turn things around.
‘It is weird because I love the tournament,’ Van Gerwen told The Sportsman. ‘I love the format and everything but to be fair the last two years I have underperformed, simple as that. Of course that can happen but you need to make sure you do something against it and that is working hard.
‘I don’t have to prove anything. People know what I am capable of, I only want to do it for myself and the fans and those around me, that is the most important thing. You just have to work hard, nothing is coming automatically.’
Van Gerwen’s dominance of the sport had begin to slide away before the coronavirus pandemic, but he has really not enjoyed the time behind closed doors, dropping to number three in the world having held top spot for seven years.
With fans back at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool for the Matchplay, he expects to receive a serious boost on the oche.
‘Yeah, I think with the crowds, with the pressure, it makes me normally a better player,’ he said.
That theory will be put to the test in round one against Damon Heta on Monday night.
Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle expects MVG to come through that test and return to the semi-finals for the first time since 2016.
Asked for his predictions in Blackpool he told Sky Sports: ‘I have actually got as far as the semi-finals so far. I like [Gerwyn] Price’s draw. [Jonny] Clayton for me is not playing as brilliantly as he was just a few months ago. Form is hard to continue, so I’ve gone Price in the top quarter.
‘This is going to surprise a lot of people in the second quarter. I have gone Rob Cross. I have gone for Jose de Sousa in the third quarter, I think he could be the man to beat to be honest. Michael van Gerwen to come through the bottom quarter.’
Thanks for reading the whole article. If you wish to get an daily update about Michael van Gerwen aiming to end ‘weird’ recent record at World Matchplay , click on the bell button to subscribe for the notifications.