It was never in doubt that, one day, Michael van Gerwen would be crowned a PDC world champion on the biggest stage in darts.
'Mighty Mike' went mightily close in last year's final; like many others before him, he fell afoul to the best right arm on the planet, that of 16-time world champion Phil Taylor. In his 2013 semi-final with James Wade, he came within millimetres of the unthinkable; back-to-back nine-dart finishes, missing double 12 after 17 perfect darts.
On New Year's Day 2014, Van Gerwen climbed the steps of the Alexandra Palace stage as 1/5 favourite to earn a maiden world crown and etch his name onto the iconic Sid Waddell Trophy. Peter Wright, arguably the star of the entire tournament, made it a match but once again the bookies had called it spot on.
After overcoming the likes of 2011 finalist Gary Anderson and two-time champion Adrian Lewis along the way - the latter in a shock 6-0 semi-final whitewash - Van Gerwen became only the sixth ever player to win the PDC code's most prestigious trophy since its inaugural running in 1994.
He joins Taylor, Lewis, Dennis Priestly, John Part, and fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld in a select group to have lifted the trophy - and it's been an astonishing rise to the top for the man who looks astonishingly like Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame, a fact not lost on the comedian last night:
I'm out at a friend's party tonight so do please let me know how I do in the darts.— Mattilicious (@RealMattLucas) January 1, 2014
Van Gerwen started chucking tungsten aged 13. Four years later, after joining the BDO code and winning several Open titles, he became the youngest ever player to claim a major victory in the World Masters at just 17 years and 174 days old.
In 2007, he switched to the PDC and from that moment, there was no looking back for the Netherlands' brightest starlet. During the 2007 Masters of Darts tournament, held in his native country, Van Gerwen enjoyed a marvellous 3-0 defeat of Taylor before going on to hit his first televised nine-dart finish against eventual tournament winner Van Barneveld. He was the youngest player to ever achieve that feat.
Having been named 2011 PDC Young Player of the Year, Van Gerwen started 2012 as the world No. 38 - by the end of it he was fourth in the Order of Merit. That rise included his first PDC major win at the World Grand Prix, as well as another televised nine-dart finish against Steve Beaton at the World Matchplay. Against the same player in a Championship League match, he averaged a ridiculous 121.86 in an eight-minute whitewash.
Success continued at the Grand Slam of Darts, where he again defeated Taylor only to lose out to Van Barneveld in the final. Following a remarkable run at the world championship, MVG lost to the 'Power' in his maiden world final, despite having led his opponent twice. However, his performances earned him a first-ever place in the prestigious Premier League. He won it, edging Taylor in the final and earning the title with a memorable 132 finish on the bull.
A plethora of Players Championship and European titles crowned a glorious 2013 - followed by his most famous win to date against Wright on the Ally Pally stage on the first day of 2014.
The pressures and expectations have been laid on 'Mighty Mike' since he first burst onto the scene as a spikey-haired youngster. He has now come of age as a world champion. Hold on to your flights because this could, and probably will, be the first of many more to come.
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