A long dry spell lies behind Michael van Gerwen as he wins the Premier League darts. The Dutchman is happy about the triumph. But darts are over for now. His throwing hand has to undergo an important surgery just half a day after the win.
Michael van Gerwen was able to precisely quantify the time between the exuberant darts party and anesthesia in the operating room. “In eleven hours and 20 minutes” he will undergo the longer-planned operation on his throwing hand, the Premier League champion announced on Tuesday night in Berlin. “I hope my doctor is ready.” Van Gerwen himself was ready to end a one-and-a-half year major doldrums in good time before the mandatory break and to draw level with record holder Phil Taylor with the sixth Premier League title.
“These last 18 months have hurt me a lot, I’ve been through a very difficult time. But today I’m a happy man. This title means a lot to me,” said the 33-year-old Dutchman after defeating England’s Joe Cullen in a darts thriller in the final 11:10. The reward was the usual winner’s pyramid, a Berlin bear and the equivalent of around 320,000 euros in prize money.
The final premiere of Berlin offered emotional images at the end. Debutant Cullen missed the double 16 field at 10:10 and thus the title by just a millimeter, only a few seconds later van Gerwen was the winner. Both were now fighting back tears: one with pride, the other with disappointment. “Michael is an amazing player and champion, but I’m absolutely devastated,” Cullen said. That’s what he looked like when he was cowering in the corner after his short statement.
“I know there’s still more in my tank,” announced the self-confident van Gerwen. The fact that he now shares the Premier League record of six titles with England legend Taylor is not enough for him. He wants to be the sole record holder. “I still have 10 to 15 years left,” said van Gerwen, who after years of dominance has experienced a low since autumn 2020 and has long since lost his top spot in the rankings.
Before the man with the striking bright green shirt can win more titles, he must now master the consequences of the operation on his throwing hand. Van Gerwen has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and is struggling with tingling in his right throwing hand and arm. A structure in the wrist presses on the underlying nerve cords. The injury doesn’t seem to have bothered him much, it’s primarily about minimizing possible long-term consequences.
“There is no choice in this operation. My doctor said to me: you want to have a long career, so we have to do it. If we didn’t have to do it, we wouldn’t do it,” said van Gerwen at the winners’ press conference in the Berlin Arena at Ostbahnhof.
The Dutchman’s plan was tightly scheduled at the start of the week: final, award ceremony, press conference and the next afternoon already in the operating room. Van Gerwen chose the time and announced it at the end of May. He wanted to finish the Premier League, for him “the second most important title behind the World Cup”, but he will be unable to play the Team World Cup in Frankfurt this weekend.
Van Gerwen wants to be back by the time of the prestigious World Matchplay in Blackpool (starting July 16). “Of course I want to win more titles,” he said. The German audience praised the winner as “breathtaking” and “ready for the final evenings”. For the first time in the history of the competition, the finale of the league format was not played in Great Britain.
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