Van Gerwen boasts of strict trophy cabinet criteria after latest darts title

It's like the return of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films or the great white shark staking out that beach for its next lunch in Jaws.

Michael van Gerwen is back – and his rivals on the Professional Darts Corporation circuit know he's not just going to be the flavour of the month. Clog almighty picked up his second European Tour title in 2022 at the Austrian Darts Open at the weekend.

If there was any doubt that MVG was not yet back to full throttle before his 8-5 win against fellow Dutchman Danny Noppert in the final in Graz, there is none now. Van Gerwen won just one ranking title in the whole of 2021, and finished the year being thrown out of the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally after testing positive for Covid.

But the world No.3 has already won four tournaments in 2022, and despite the searing heat on stage in Austria, Van Gerwen is hot stuff again on the oche. He said: "I always want to win, I always put pressure on my shoulders to deliver the goods and, when I don't win, the first person I always blame is myself.

“I was No.1 in the world for seven years and I'm determined to get it back, 100 per cent. But I haven't lost it – and I won't lose it. I’ve got a big trophy room at home. I have loads of room for trophies – but only No.1 trophies. Runner-up trophies are not allowed in my cabinet.”

The biggest single factor behind 33-year-old Van Gerwen's resurgent form has been the return of crowds. Nobody seemed to suffer more in the sterile, behind-closed-doors environment during lockdown than the three-times world champion, and he admitted: “It’s different for everyone, and you have players who don’t mind playing in front of no crowds. But I do mind – I am a stage player.

“If crowds are against me or back me, I don’t care. I always want to perform for them, give it a go, and the adrenaline in my body pumps up. When that was missing, it was a bit difficult for me, to be fair. But everyone has to deal with the situation. We all can be grateful that we were able to play darts and do our jobs. That is more important.”

Van Gerwen's rivals are also keenly aware that he is well-placed to win a sixth Premier League title in the PDC's Thursday night travelling circus. Currently second, behind defending champion Jonny Clayton, MVG looks certain to reach next month's play-offs in Berlin.

Next stop is a short hop across the German border for the European Darts Open in Leverkusen this weekend. It is unlikely we have seen the last of Van Gerwen's trademark chest-beating, triumphant gurning and a trophy being raised above that Shrek-green top.

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