Michael Van Gerwen is ready to send a message to any rivals eyeing up his world darts title when he competes in the Unibet Masters at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston this weekend.
The 25-year-old Dutchman is in the Capital this weekend for the two-day event as 16-times world champion Phil Taylor defends the crown he claimed last year.
Van Gerwen, who will start his defence of the World Championships at Alexandra Palace in December, has hit form at the right time after winning the World Grand Prix in Dublin and the 888.com European Championship in Germany in the last three weeks.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Van Gerwen said: “I think in the last two tournaments I’ve sent out a message I’m on form, so I’m full of confidence. I may not be the favourite for the tournament this weekend, but even as the favourite there are never any guarantees. You don’t want to make any big mistakes because if you do then you will be punished.”
“The Masters is a big tournament and one I’ve never won before, but it’s not easy to do. It’s not that big a venue, but it’s a really nice tournament for us to play and also to watch. I enjoy being on the big stage all the time and that’s something you need to keep in your game.
Van Gerwen faces old foe and compatriot Raymond van Barneveld in the first round – a challenge he is relishing.
“We [Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld] know each other very well, but on the dart board we’re enemies and we need to try and beat each other – that’s how it is.”
On the possibility of a Scottish winner on Sunday, Van Gerwen added: “Gary Anderson is a phenomenal player, as are Robert Thornton and Peter Wright, but every player in this tournament is really good.”
• Tickets for the Unibet Masters are still available and can be purchased from pdc.seetickets.com and by calling 0844 871 8807. Tickets are also available through www.secc.co.uk and by calling 0844 481 8898.