Michael van Gerwen insists it will be a ‘privilege’ to fly the Dutch flag on Night 12 of the Cazoo Premier League in Rotterdam on Thursday.
Van Gerwen will be the sole Dutch representative in action at The Rotterdam Ahoy, and the reigning Premier League champion is desperate to deliver in front of a sell-out crowd of over 10,000 fans.
The 33-year-old will take on Nathan Aspinall in the quarter-finals, as he targets a fourth nightly victory of the campaign, and a first since his Night Six success in Liverpool.
“It’s always nice to play in front of your home crowd. It creates extra pressure, but also extra joy,” admitted Van Gerwen.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to win here, but you need to make sure you keep both feet on the ground, because it’s going to be tough.
“I feel good, I feel comfortable and I think it’s going to be an amazing night.”
For much of his Premier League career, Van Gerwen starred in Rotterdam alongside Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld, although now all eyes are on the Boxtel-born star.
Van Gerwen was edged out in a last-leg decider by Joe Cullen in last year’s Rotterdam final, and he’s determined to go one step better on his return to home soil.
“It’s a privilege to be the only Dutchman who can perform on this big stage,” added the three-time World Champion.
“I am glad all the fans are coming, I’m really looking forward to it, but it is going to be a tough night.
“Everybody knows how hard it is to win in the Premier League. I’m looking to forward to my first game against Nathan Aspinall and hopefully I can produce some good darts again.”
Van Gerwen boasts a two-point cushion at the Premier League summit, although his lead has been reduced over recent weeks by an imperious Gerwyn Price, who has won three of the last five nights.
The Welshman averaged 108 to edge out his Dutch rival in a compelling semi-final tie last Thursday, having earlier fired in a 115.97 average against Chris Dobey – his highest in the Premier League.
However, Van Gerwen remains in pole position to finish top of the league phase for the ninth time in 11 seasons, which would eclipse Phil Taylor's record-equalling tally.
“I’ve had some good patches, some good games. I’ve been quite steady,” reflected Van Gerwen, who is setting his sights on a record-breaking seventh Premier League crown next month.
“You need to keep sharp, because the Premier League is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
“The main target is to make sure you make the Play-Offs, and I think I am already in.
“Finishing top of the table shows that you’ve been really consistent and you’ve been the best player over 16 weeks, so of course I want to finish top.
“I am not keeping myself busy with records. The only thing I need to focus on is winning tournaments.
“Darts is a weird game sometimes so you need to make sure you’re sharp, and the most important thing is I need to enjoy myself.”
Elsewhere in Rotterdam, Price will take on World Champion Michael Smith in a repeat of last Thursday’s Brighton final, while Chris Dobey plays a resurgent Jonny Clayton.
Dimitri Van den Bergh and Peter Wright also lock horns in a basement battle, with the winner set to face either Van Gerwen or Aspinall later in the evening.
The quarter-final winners will return to the stage for the semi-finals, before the final sees the Night 12 champion crowned, with five league points and a £10,000 bonus awarded to the winner.
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night 12 - Thursday April 20
Chris Dobey v Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
Dobey/Clayton v Smith/Price
Van den Bergh/Wright v Van Gerwen/Aspinall
All matches best of 11 legs