Darts: Michael van Gerwen - why the world champion is in crisis
His 10: 6 opening win against Steve Beaton at the World Matchplay in Blackpool, England was unspectacular, but then Michael van Gerwen switched to attack. At the press conference after the match, he complained that he was in perfect shape compared to other top players, that he would "defeat them all", of course. In short: Michael van Gerwen stuck in no crisis, as it was often claimed.
Two days later, however, the crisis talk became louder again, because van Gerwen lost in the second round of the most important darts tournament after the World Cup. With 9:11 he failed to Glen Durrant. MVG scored 98 points against the 48-year-old, staying below the 100-point mark for the ninth consecutive game. This last happened to him in 2011 - before his breakthrough in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Even the ambitious and usually self-critical van Gerwen could probably live with the weaker Averages, if he would still win his games and tournaments anyway. Only this he succeeds too rarely currently, he celebrated his last title so far in May by winning the Premier League. He won none of the following six events. Six tournaments in a row without a title were last in 2015 at the Dutch. In recent years, "Mighty Mike" has always won almost half of its tournaments. This season, there are eight out of 21 so far.
Double weakness and nerve failure
Van Gerwen's crisis has several reasons. For one thing, he has been struggling with "Double Trouble" for about one and a half years. This final weakness in the decisive phase of the game cost him, among other things, the 2018 World Cup finals. Van Gerwen awarded 27 darts to the outer double rings in a 10: 6 against Beaton in round one of the World Matchplay , In the 9:11 defeat against Durrant he missed four darts to 10: 9 lead.
Normally, the 30-year-old is not known that his nerves in such a game situations fail. For years the "Crunch Time" was the phase in which van Gerwen dominated his opponents. Often he even ran in the last legs of a game to his top form. And if that was not the case, at least he could count on his opponents to struggle with their own nervousness just before a possible triumph over "Mighty Mike."
In the meantime, van Gerwen had won 28 last leg deciders in a row over a period of almost two years, an extraordinary number. Until he lost in the final of the Dutch Darts Masters 7: 8 against Ian White in late May. This was followed by two more defeats for van Gerwen in decision-making.
The myth is crumbling
In three of the past four tournaments, the three-time world champion already failed in his first game. At the German Darts Masters in Cologne he lost in round one against the German Martin Schindler even after 5: 2-lead 5: 6. Strong competitors such as Gary Anderson, Peter Wright or Rob Cross have registered this, but also players from the second row. Van Gerwen's myth of "almost invincibility" is crumbling. More and more players believe that they can defeat the Dominator of recent years on the big TV tournaments.
To count on a crash of the Dutchman, however, would be a lot premature. His position as the number one is likely to be unimpeachable because of the great advantage in the money ranking of the PDC. But van Gerwen has never been so beatable in his time as number one in the world. The World Cup 2019 won van Gerwen in impressive style. It is difficult to imagine that he will dominate the new issue similarly in December.
The World Matchplay won the 2018 World Champion Rob Cross. In the final he defeated Michael Smith. Both of them, like Anderson and Wright, will start again in four months to set up the darts crown. If van Gerwen can not handle his weaknesses, their chances of winning the title will increase.