Dutch star Van Gerwen seeks to dethrone world champion at Alexandra Palace
- Credit: LAWRENCE LUSTIG
World No1 Michael van Gerwen returns to Alexandra Palace this weekend determined to add the icing on the cake after his remarkable year.
The 27-year-old Dutchman, who has won 25 titles so far in 2016, is aiming to add one more to his collection by claiming the £350,000 first prize at the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship.
Van Gerwen begins his quest for a second world title on Saturday at the prestigious north London venue, facing either Canada’s Ross Snook or Kim Viljanen of Finland.
“I’ve won 25 tournaments this year and I feel phenomenal,” said Van Gerwen, who cruised to a comfortable 11-3 victory over Dave Chisnall to win the Cash Converters Players Championship final last month.
“I go into this World Championship with loads of confidence. I didn’t do too well in the last two years so I hope I can do something special this year. Obviously with the bookies I am the man to beat.”
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Gary Anderson will have something to say about that as he attempts a unique world title hat-trick at Ally Pally, starting his campaign against qualifier Mark ‘Frosty The Throw Man’ Frost tonight (Thursday).
The 45-year-old ‘Flying Scotsman’ retained his world mantle last year with a 7-5 sets victory over Stoke’s two-time champion Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis.
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And second seed Anderson will not take his first-round opponent lightly, saying: “Mark’s been around the circuit for a lot of years and is a good player, so I know I’ll have to be ready for him.
“But I can’t wait to get back to Ally Pally and I’ll be putting in the work on the board because it would be special if I can win the title for a third time. I’d love to do it again.”
But nobody can rule out 16-time world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, who last won the title by beating Van Gerwen in 2013 and will face either John Bowles or David Platt in the first round on Sunday.
Other stand-out ties include Lewis against Sweden’s Magnus Caris and 2007 winner Raymond van Barneveld facing up to Liverpudlian debutant Robbie Green.
The flamboyant world No3 and 2014 runner-up Peter Wright plays either Dutch qualifier Jerry Hendriks or New Zealand’s Warren Parry.
James ‘The Machine’ Wade is matched with Belgian Ronny Huybrechts, while Chisnall, the world No7, takes on Austrian-Filipino Rowby-John Rodriguez.
Tickets are still available for some of the sessions by calling 0844 871 8807.