Having dominated the world of darts for so long, Michael van Gerwen faces more challenges right now than ever before. The recently updated Players Championship Order of Merit confirms the point that this is a much more competitive sport in the present day.
He may be a three-time World Champion, but MVG hasn’t lifted dart’s biggest trophy since 2019. The Dutchman continues to claim titles on the circuit, but that ranking system shows the tests that he faces in the modern game.
Victory at the seventh Players Championship tournament in March 2023 saw Michael van Gerwen climb from a lowly 45th place to sixth on the Order of Merit. It’s been an inconsistent period for the Dutch thrower, but the neutrals are expecting a productive year.
With several months to go before the PDC World Championships, Van Gerwen is the favourite to claim the title. The Dutchman is currently priced at odds of 3/1 by most sportsbooks while defending champion Michael Smith is available at 4/1. A gap then opens up to a chasing pack led by Gerwyn Price at 8/1. Websites such as Pinnacle NZ may also have promotions to boost those figures, as Mighty Mike leads the markets. The odds show that the sportsbooks haven't lost faith in Van Gerwyn, despite the fact that his last world title came in 2019.
The player would have been happy to see his stock rise, but he isn’t entirely comfortable with his game right now. Following his overdue victory at the Players Championship, Van Gerwen stated that he has six gears, and he’s only in fourth.
The good news for darts fans is that we have a seriously competitive roster, but who are the throwers standing in the way of Michael van Gerwen and a fourth PDC world crown?
The Players Championship Order of Merit offers a good indication of the darts professionals who are in form right now. At the very top of those rankings is Dirk van Duijvenbode who has claimed £35,000 in prize money after eight tournaments.
Van Duijvenbode's best finish at the World Championship was a quarter-final place in 2021. Ryan Searle and Gary Anderson are also highly rated in the Players Order of Merit.
With defending champion Michael Smith lining up alongside the likes of Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright, the 2024 World Darts Championship should be the most competitive yet.
Does Michael van Gerwen have at least one more PDC World Championship in him? His undoubted quality says yes, but the Dutchman has struggled to get over the line when the knockout stages have become more intense.
The very nature of the ‘Worlds’ means that the best players in the sport will be looking to raise their game. They also have a lot of respect for Van Gerwen and they will consider him the man to beat.
When he’s at his best, nobody can touch him, but he’ll need to shift up into top gear if he is to claim that fourth-world title.