Mighty Michael van Gerwen has a lot to live up to this year after a remarkable 2013 which saw the Dutch darting superstar win the Premier League, the World Championship and become the top ranked player in the world knocking Phil Taylor from the No1 spot for the first time in seven years.
“I want to keep the No1. Phil is good but I also won a lot of other tournaments as well last year like Dubai. I was in a couple of finals like Sydney and the internet tournament, it was a fantastic year for me and the end there was the Players Championship finals,” said van Gerwen, who is in Belfast on Thursday night for the Premier League Darts at the Odyssey.
“This year is going to be a very difficult one for me because it is not easy to win more than four tournaments like I did last year, the pressure will be on but I’m really looking forward to this year.”
From an early age van Gerwen was marked out for big things in the game.
“Of course you feel the pressure but you need to handle it and you have to carry that pressure into every tournament but it doesn’t matter I’m a professional and I know what I need to do,” he said.
“I just want to keep this going and I’m happy to carry the pressure than not to have the pressure and be No 30 in the world.
“I have taken a bit of the pressure off my shoulders because I have done really well in the first two games of the Premier League.
“I won the Dutch Masters last week which was my first really good tournament in Holland. I want to keep it going my form is there and my confidence is there.”
The pinnacle of van Gerwen’s career so far was lifting the world title at the Alexander Palace on New Year’s Day.
“It was a dream for me since I was a little boy and then you win the tournament. Last year was a big disappointment because I lost the final and this year I won it and it has given me so much confidence and I’m so relaxed,” added van Gerwen.
“I want to win a tournament every time I play and that is what I’m looking for. You first need to know how to lose and take a couple on the chin, fall down and stand up again and that is very important in darts and in every other sport.”
Van Gerwen not only won the Premier League last season he became the first player other than Taylor to finish top of the table before the play offs.
He added: “I was the most consistent player last year and it was amazing for me. I played really well and didn’t do much wrong and I want to do the same this year.
“Everywhere we go from Ireland to Scotland to England is very nice and it is a dream for every darts player to play on stages like this.
“I’m really consistent and I showed that last year and I hope I can show it this year as well.”
Van Gerwen has a maximum four points from two games and meets Premier League newcomer David Chisnall at the Odyssey.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Dave and he is going to have a tough one because I know the crowd will be on my side.
“It is going to be a fast game but I like that and the pressure will be on me.”
The Dutchman kicked of the defence of his title with a 13 minute whitewash over Taylor.
“It was amazing to beat Phil 7-0 and I never expected that. It didn’t feel like a 7-0 and I didn’t give him a lot of chances,” he added.
“No one has ever done that to him in the Premier League and I’m the first one and he has played of 100 games in the Premier League. I just want to keep that level of performance going.”