In years gone by, Phil Taylor has been the number one dominant force in darts but that has all changed in recent times. Dutch superstar Michael van Gerwen is a class above his peers at the moment and it is hard to see him slipping up as he looks to eclipse his incredible 2016 campaign.
Van Gerwen is a top talent, there’s no doubt about it. Time and time again, we’ve seen the brilliant Dutchman showcase his abilities at the highest level but neutrals will want the next big thing to come along and challenge his superiority.
Darts fans watched Taylor dominate for a prolonged spell and a much more competitive era could be on the cards if somebody can stop the machine that is ‘Mighty Mike’. Some would even argue that Van Gerwen deserves to be recognised as the greatest darts player of all-time; a fair argument when you consider his long list of accomplishments.
He almost certainly won’t surpass Taylor’s phenomenal tally of 16 world titles but Van Gerwen, who claimed his second PDC championship crown in January, has broken almost every record out there. The likes of James Wade, Adrian Lewis and compatriot Raymond van Barneveld have done their best to keep the 27-year-old at bay but he is just too good right now.
Only Scotland star Gary Anderson is capable of slugging it out with Van Gerwen on a regular basis and even then, the Dutchman tends to come out on top; just as he did at the Alexandra Palace earlier this year.
Perhaps somebody like Australian Simon Whitlock, currently priced at 100/1 to win next year’s World Championship with bet365, could surprise Van Gerwen if he manages to get back to his best in 2017.
‘The Wizard’ was once one of the very best players on the planet but a couple of years in the doldrums have hurt his world ranking – although two UK Open qualifying event wins could see his confidence return in the coming months.
And that is what it is going to take to end Van Gerwen’s dominance; something different could put the Dutchman off his game. The 27-year-old knows exactly what he is in for when he faces the likes of Anderson, Taylor and Lewis as he plays them so often but an outsider or young star might just push Van Gerwen to his limit.
In 2016, the Dutchman won 25 major titles – an outstanding achievement and one that tops anything that darts fans have seen before.
Beating Michael van Gerwen is easier said than done but it is possible. If you play him on an off day, he might average just under 100 and that is a beatable total; especially for the best players in the business. Anderson, Van Barneveld and even Whitlock, who appears to be over his struggles from back in 2014, could yet challenge his dominance at the top of the profession but right now, it is hard to see Van Gerwen slipping up.
If he manages to replicate his 2016 form, we could be seeing an awful lot of the ‘Big Green Machine’ in the next nine months.