Michael van Gerwen admits he should have more than three world titles

Three world titles automatically grants a darts player legendary status. But for someone like Michael van Gerwen – the second greatest player of all time after Phil Taylor in the opinion of many – it feels like a moderate return.

After all, the Green Machine has won both the Premier League and World Grand Prix on six occasions. His recent Players Championship triumph was incredibly his seventh in that tournament.

Once again, Van Gerwen heads to the Alexandra Palace as the favourite for glory but there will be a massive target on his back as he looks to secure world title number four and his first since 2019.

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“I could have won it more,” he admits to Daily Star Sport. “I lost to Phil one year [in 2013], I could have won that. I think I could have won it five times.

“People think it’s easy but it’s not easy. You can’t compare it with any other tournament, it’s the big tournament of the year. I just want to win a few more, and I will do. Let’s see.”

While 2022 hasn’t been the most dominant year of Van Gerwen’s career, he has produced the goods when it has mattered most with four major tournament triumphs. He won the Premier League after surviving a match dart against Joe Cullen, overpowered Gerwyn Price in the final of the World Matchplay, repelled a Nathan Aspinall fightback at the World Grand Prix and then saw off Rob Cross in a high-quality Players Championship finale.

The big moments bring out the best in the 33-year-old.

“I love it when the pressure is one,” he declared. “But first they have to put me under pressure. Hurting someone with big scoring at really important moments, it’s all to do with confidence.”

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Along with Van Gerwen, there are at least 10 potential winners. Defending champion Peter Wright and world number one Price are obvious challengers. The likes of Cullen, Cross, Michael Smith, Jonny Clayton and Luke Humphries will also be threats in a field bursting with talent. But Van Gerwen doesn’t see anyone as a ‘rival’.

“The others are scared of me anyway so it doesn't matter if they see my softer side,” he said alluding to his emotional speech after winning the Players Championship.

“They know I'm always capable of winning tournaments, I'm mentally strong and tough to beat – and winning another title proves that.

“I don't really call anyone a rival at the moment because there are loads of good players who you can lose to. Michael Smith, Joe Cullen, Jonny Clayton, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, there's loads.”

The Cazoo World Darts Championship can be watched exclusively live on Sky Sports from December 15-January 3.

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