Michael van Gerwen makes ‘harsh’ claim about World Darts Championship rival, 21

Michael van Gerwen has issued a withering verdict on one of his potential opponents following the draw for the World Darts Championship.

Fresh from losing to man of the moment Luke Humphries in the final of the Players Championship Finals on Sunday, MVG and his rivals’ focus has quickly switched to the Ally Pally extravaganza, which begins on December 15. The draw for the first and second rounds was made on Monday, with Van Gerwen to face either Keane Barry or Czech player Reynaldo Rivera in round two, when the 32 seeded players enter the tournament.

The three-time world champion fully expects Barry, 21, to come through that first round affair. And in typically bullish fashion, the Green Machine is confident he will see off the young Irishman, who has struggled to take his impressive form on the floor onto the big stage.

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“If you look on paper, it will probably be Keane Barry as the first opponent,” Van Gerwen told Viaplay. “That's a fast player that suits me. He is a guy who can never show his best game on television. I think that will be to my advantage.

“I am looking forward to it. It's the biggest tournament of the year and of course you want to perform there.”

Darts fans were not impressed with Van Gerwen's comments. One wrote: "Bit harsh, he is only a kid." As another said: "That’s the best possible motivation Keane could ask for."

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Van Gerwen hit a nine-darter and raced into a 9-5 lead against Humphries at the Players Championship Finals, only for Cool Hand to recover in stunning fashion, reeling off six straight legs to win 11-9.

It was Humphries’ third major title in less than two months, meaning, unusually, Van Gerwen will not be the favourite heading into the Worlds. “I don’t know if I am the favourite, Luke Humphries is playing some really good darts, he has had some fantastic results,” said MVG.

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“I am one of the favourites, everyone still wants to beat me, but there will be pressure on everybody. The worlds is a different kind of pressure.

“We are talking about the big tournament now. It is the biggest one so it adds extra pressure, you can’t compare the worlds to any other. It would mean the world to me.”

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