Van Gerwen: "I believe in my own progress"

Michael van Gerwen (Jonas Hunold/PDC)

Michael van Gerwen hailed ‘a fantastic night for darts’ after claiming the BetMGM Premier League Night Two title in Berlin on Thursday.

Van Gerwen bounced back from a quarter-final exit on Night One by celebrating victory in the German capital, landing a trio of ton-plus averages to move up to second in the Premier League table.

The 34-year-old kicked off proceedings at the Mercedes-Benz Arena with a comeback win over Nathan Aspinall, before denying Michael Smith and Luke Littler in last-leg shoot-outs to triumph.

The Dutchman reeled off five consecutive legs from 4-1 down to sink World Matchplay champion Aspinall, and he avenged his Night One defeat to Smith with a magnificent display in the semi-finals.

Smith hit back from 4-1 down to threaten an unlikely victory, only for Van Gerwen to follow up an 80 combination with an 11-darter in the decider to prevail with a 107 average.

Van Gerwen then emerged victorious in his latest showdown against Littler, after the pair shared the spoils in their respective World Series of Darts finals in Bahrain and Den Bosch last month.

The teenage superstar spurned two darts at his favourite double ten for a famous victory, and Van Gerwen duly profited to leave Germany with five points to his name.

“I think it was a fantastic night for darts, and I’m really pleased with my own performance today,” declared the reigning Premier League champion.

“I played well, especially in the important moments, and I was able to keep the pressure on my opponents.

“This was a key moment for me. I feel good, I feel comfortable, but there is more to come.”

Following his defeat to Littler in Bahrain, Van Gerwen has now recorded successive wins over the 17-year-old, and insists he is relishing their emerging rivalry.

“To have games like this against Luke Littler is always good,” reflected Van Gerwen, the first player to inflict back-to-back defeats on Littler in senior PDC competition.

“In darts it is always good to have fresh blood and people who are in form. 

“People in form always boost the other players as well. Of course everyone wants to put the pressure on Luke now.

“In this format, in the Premier League, you have to be good week after week.

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I believe in my own progress and the way forward, but it’s still a long journey.”

Van Gerwen boasts an astonishing record in darts’ biggest roadshow, having made the final in nine of his previous 11 appearances; finishing top of the league phase on eight occasions.

The three-time World Champion is also targeting a record-extending eighth Premier League crown in 2024, and he believes consistency will be key in his pursuit of the £275,000 top prize.

“Me and my mate Vincent van der Voort have been speaking a lot, and sometimes my energy levels in certain games hasn’t been great,” conceded Van Gerwen.

“Then you need find solutions. I know I have the ability, but you still have to produce it time after time, and I was leaving my opponents too many chances.

“It’s the pressure, it’s the travel, it’s the whole lifestyle. Everything together has to be right. 

“We’re working on that, and at the moment it’s working really well.”