Michael van Gerwen: Victory is everything at World Darts Championship
By Stephen Mills. Last Updated: 12/12/13 12:08pm
Van Gerwen: Mighty Mike has his eyes on going one better than last year
Whenever Michael van Gerwen wins a major darts tournament he takes his shirt home and hangs it on the wall.
But the luminous green top that he wore in the biggest match of his life - his maiden World Championship Final against Phil Taylor 12 months ago - is not on display in his Netherlands pad.
For most sportsmen, appearing in a World Championship Final would be seen as the pinnacle of a career, but Van Gerwen - widely regarded as the most prodigious young talent in darts - is not satisfied with second place, even when the man in front is the greatest player the world has ever seen.
Van Gerwen pushed 16-time World Champion Taylor to the limit at Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day, but is clearly not interested in glorious failure.
Taylor claims sixteenth World title
"I was disappointed. Not one of us likes losing," he said. "I only put my winning shirts up in my house. If I win a tournament I hang it up at home.
"Even getting to the World Championship Final doesn't count. You want to be the winner, not the finalist. I won't hang my shirt up until I win!"
Van Gerwen is using the memory of that defeat as motivation for his assault on this year's tournament, which kicks off on Friday December 13 on Sky Sports.
The 24-year-old Dutchman claimed his first major title at the World Grand Prix in October 2012, but truly announced his arrival on the world stage with his performances at Alexandra Palace last December, which included a nine-dart finish in the semi-final against James Wade, followed up by eight perfect darts in the very next leg.
History missed by a wire
He looked like a certain champion when he surged into a 4-2 lead in the final, but two missed darts at set-point in the seventh set allowed Taylor back into the match and The Power never looked back.
"It was amazing," says Van Gerwen. "I played really well and to reach the final is very good, but you always want to win.
"I was very disappointed I didn't win because I had a chance to win. I had two darts to make it 5-2 up in sets and I didn't do that. I was a bit gutted for that.
"Of course you think about winning, but it's difficult when you miss two darts for 5-2 because you know Phil is going to play very well and make it really difficult.
"That's exactly what he did. He played like a real champion and put his best game up in the final. He did great and I didn't do bad.
"But you are learning all the way through and maybe that needs to happen for me. I've got time enough.
"What can I say? I learned a lot and I hope I can do it this year again and maybe do a little bit better."
Van Gerwen has enjoyed a measure of revenge in 2013, beating Taylor in the final of both the Premier League and the Players Championship, and is excited ahead of his opening match of this year's World Championship against either New Zealand's Rob Szabo or PDPA Qualifier Ian Moss.
Van Gerwen high on confidence
And he's so confident about his chances that he only sees Taylor and Adrian Lewis - the two men who have shared the last five world titles between them - as realistic rivals for the Sid Waddell Trophy.
"There are a couple of outsiders, but I think the main ones for the title are me, Phil and Adrian - and I hope it's me," he said.
"Phil and Adrian are playing well. Everyone expects a good World Championship of Phil because he's already 16-time World Champion and Adrian is on top form this year.
"We will see what happens. I've had loads of cracking games with both of them and I know I can do another couple of them and I'm ready.
"There's also Gary Anderson, Raymond (van Barneveld), James (Wade) and Simon (Whitlock) who are outsiders for the tournament but they are not the main ones, I would say, to win the tournament.
"We will see what happens. I'm really looking forward to it. I couldn't win it last year, but that happens in life and you can't win everything.
"I'm very happy with how I'm doing at the moment and I hope I can keep it going."
Every session of the World Darts Championship 2014 is live on Sky Sports. Michael van Gerwen's first-round match will be live from 7pm on Sky Sports 2 on Tuesday, December 17.