After winning nearly everything possible in 2016, it is no surprise that Michael van Gerwen topped off a perfect year with the big one, the one trophy that he 'would throw all other titles in the bin for' with a glittering display over the defending World Champion Gary Anderson. There is no doubt that he has deserved every bit of his recent success with astronomical averages and incredible performances against the most talented players, he can be at times unbeatable, but I can guarantee he won't carry the title of 'World Champion' with as much humility and grace as his predecessor.
Gary Anderson was, in my short time of following darts (10 years) the best World Champion I've seen in the way that he conducted himself on and off the board. He strikes me as a man that has achieved all he set out to do and just enjoyed the ride and his attitude towards losing is one that other players should look at and emulate, which is quite unlikely to happen with current crop of players.
Over-confidence seems to a mindset that works well for a lot of the young players such as van Gerwen, Daryl Gurney, Joe Cullen and the young Australian Corey Cadby and I can completely understand why this behavioural method would work. Darts is a game of mental strength and is decided on who can hit the key shots at the most important times in matches and if you have as much belief in your ability as these players, then you are more likely to punish your opponents and also bounce back from any big punches that your opponents might throw at you. It's a bullish approach that has been perfected by the 16 time World Champion Phil Taylor in the past, but in recent years his ego has taken somewhat of a battering from the young talent that do not show respect to the veteran players, and why should they?? After Suljovic destroyed Mr Taylor 10-3 in the European Championship he looked to me as if he was apologetic towards getting the better of his darting idol. It's this type of respect that is dwindling from the game and it is making for more competitive fields as a result. A low ranked 20 year old player would play a top 5 hardened professional with absolutely no fear and because of this it is no longer a surprise to see a player of this age to have some considerable scalps throughout the year.
In interviews over the past year I have noticed van Gerwen becoming more and more confident to a point where he is verging on an unlikeable arrogance and other fans have been noticing it too, but will the Dutch man care what other people think of him? No. Should he care? Not if he keeps his winning mentality and can back it up with his performances.
The game is changing dramatically and with the inevitable MVG domination and production line of Dutch youngsters looking to make a name for themselves, I can't help but think that Gary Anderson maybe the last player with the old school values to represent the sport as the World Champion.