What’s On interviews Michael van Gerwen – nicknamed Mighty Mike – ahead of the Dubai Darts Championship at Dubai Tennis Stadium, featuring Phil Taylor.

The top six players in the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) Order Of Merit at the start of 2014 are automatic selections to compete: van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall and James Wade. They are joined by wildcards Peter Wright – 2014 World Championship runner-up – and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, who reached last year’s final in Dubai before losing to compatriot van Gerwen.

World No.1 Mighty Mike was still just 17 when he won the World Masters, the youngest player to do so. We met this behemoth of the board…


What first got you into darts? Winter in Holland is very cold, so we do things inside. When I was 12, we got a dartboard and I started playing with my friends and brother. I entered myself for a local youth tournament and I came third. I got a nice trophy and I thought, ‘At least I’m good at something.’ It all built from there.   

Are you able to have a life outside darts? Tournaments are at weekends, so I don’t have weekends off to see my friends and I miss out on things. Then if I want to go out during the week, my friends can’t because they have to work the next day.

What do you love most about the game? I’m a real winner. I like to get my emotions into the game. I want to win so badly and I pump that out on stage.

What is the secret to your success? You need to have raw talent. I could play football for ten hours a day but that wouldn’t make me a good football player. A darts player must be very strong mentally, with high levels of concentration.

You throw at a famously fast pace. Why? For me it’s natural. Everyone has their own throw. I’m not an aimer; I throw on my feeling. A lot of people try to aim the dart but that doesn’t work for me.

How do you feel about the threat of 16-time world champion Phil Taylor? Phil Taylor is the most successful darts player on the planet. In my opinion, no one is going to beat his number of wins. The level is too high now. There are so many good players, with not much difference between the top players.

Do you have a strict training regime? It depends how I feel. If my doubles don’t go well for a couple of weeks, I practise doubles. I set targets for myself. Right now I’m so busy with tournaments, I only have one day off a week. I don’t practise on my free day because I want to spend it with my missus.

What did you do before you played professional darts? I was a tiler, but I was always travelling with darts, so I stopped tiling and became a full-time player. The first three years were very difficult. It was a big step to go from the BDO [British Darts Organisation] to the PDC [Professional Darts Corporation], but I wanted to play with the big boys.

How do you prepare for a match? I have to be relaxed. Nothing can be on my mind before a game. If I have a 9pm game, I get to the venue at 6pm. The first two hours I get prepared. The last hour I concentrate on the game. People may talk to me, but I have to stay focused.

A lot of top players have a few excess pounds. Why do you think that is? If you are a tennis player, you are tennis fit. Darts players are darts fit. A tennis player couldn’t throw darts all day. I don’t need to lose weight for my sport. If darts players have a few excess pounds, it’s because darts used to be a pub sport.

How has success changed your life? Winning the World Masters was a dream come true for me. But most importantly I still love playing darts. I don’t feel like I’m going to work in the morning. You have to love what you do or you’ll never be a great darts player.

May 29 and 30
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, Dubai, Dhs250. Tel: (04) 2395000. Metro: GGICO. pdc.tv