Michael van Gerwen fired an ominous warning shot to his rivals following his BoyleSports World Grand Prix success on Sunday.
Van Gerwen defied an inspired fightback from Nathan Aspinall at Leicester’s Morningside Arena to land his sixth World Grand Prix title on Sunday night – his first in the double-start event since 2019.
The 33-year-old celebrated his maiden PDC televised title at the World Grand Prix a decade ago, with his comeback victory over Mervyn King sparking a darting dynasty.
Following a tumultuous 18-month spell, Van Gerwen has returned to winning ways in emphatic style in 2022, and his 5-3 win over Aspinall extends his remarkable haul of PDC televised titles to 60.
“It was a tough game, but to have this trophy back feels amazing,” said Van Gerwen, who led 4-0 before Aspinall threatened to produce one of the most improbable comebacks in darting history.
"I wasn't panicking at all - I think if someone deserved to win this game it was me, because I did all the damage early doors, but I had to battle really, really hard.
“Towards the end of the game I started to feel a bit unwell, and when a guy like Nathan puts his relaxed mode on he can play some phenomenal darts.”
Sunday’s showpiece followed a similar pattern to the pair’s clash in July’s World Matchplay quarter-finals, where Aspinall rallied from 11-4 down, only to succumb 16-14 in a thrilling conclusion.
The Stockport star is renowned for being one of the most tenacious competitors in the sport, and MvG was full of praise for Aspinall’s character post-match.
“Nathan is a phenomenal player,” added Van Gerwen, who also defeated Gary Anderson, Stephen Bunting, Chris Dobey and World Champion Peter Wright en route to the title.
“Nathan has been struggling with such a bad injury, and I think he’s a credit to the sport.
“He battled back and I think that is the difference between a winner and a loser. I think he was a winner tonight.
“This was great for darts. I was 4-0 up but we all know that Nathan never gives up and he kept battling, and there is more in the tank for both of us.”
Van Gerwen’s victory in Leicester marked his ninth title in what’s becoming a prolific 2022 season, which includes Premier League and World Matchplay success.
The pre-tournament headlines surrounded the ongoing battle for the world number one spot between Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright, but it was Van Gerwen who took centre stage.
The Dutchman was imperious for large periods of the double-start tournament, averaging 99 in his quarter-final win over Dobey, while dropping just a solitary leg in his semi-final demolition of Wright.
With the business end of the season underway, Van Gerwen is already setting his sights on further glory, and he insists his rivals must raise their game if they’re to return to winning ways.
“I feel comfortable and even in a ‘bad’ year, I have won the three biggest tournaments, and I think there’s more to come,” continued the three-time World Champion.
“I am starting to do some great damage again. Everyone knows what they have to do to beat me, and that’s not going to be easy for them.
“If they [his closest rivals] want to win these tournaments they have to up their game, because if they keep playing like this, I am going to win every one.
“This win means a lot to me and I’m incredibly proud of myself.”