Michael van Gerwen’s dip in form was undoubtedly the biggest talking point in the 2020 Premier League, as the Green Machine missed out on the play-offs for the first time.
The Dutchman failed to find consistency in recent weeks, and he suffered a slide down the table, ultimately crashing out after an 8-2 defeat at the hands of Daryl Gurney, which came 24 hours after a swashbuckling win over Gary Anderson.
So what has caused the slump?
“There’s no B-game,” said Wayne Mardle. “He plays well, or really quite poor.
“The feeling in his hands and fingers just can’t be there, because [against Gurney] he was throwing in darts that were going in way too deep. Basically that means he’s throwing them flatter. They’re leaving the hand differently. It means that he’s gripping them differently because of nerves. Nerves and confidence.
“At the moment, he’s got worries in his game, and it’s so ridiculous to say he needs to relax, but he really needs to find a way to have that fluency and freedom and pace in his game again.
“It used to look so simple for him. It doesn’t look so simple anymore. He needs to find something. And he’s got three, four weeks off. I don’t know what he’s doing in the interim before the Grand Prix, but he needs to sort something out.
“His team around him, they can’t listen to him saying ‘I’m alright, I’m alright’. He’s not alright. We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. But on the board, his game is in turmoil.
“There’s going to be peaks and troughs, but for me it’s the way the darts are going in the board. When they start going in wrong, that’s when you know there’s an issue. Your mind won’t let you relax and won’t open quick enough.
“You’re effectively not throwing how you always throw, and that’s a worry.”
One of the more striking aspects of his form in recent weeks is that he has thrown sublimely in some matches. But his loss to Super Chin was down to an average of 91.74, and 15 per cent on doubles.
“It’s weird you know. If he would have played like that [on Friday night], it kind of would have been alright, as in, we saw it coming. Because he’d been pretty poor leading up to it. For him. It’s all relative. Let’s put that out there. He’s still playing some amazing darts, but not consistently enough,” said Mardle.
“[On Friday] night, we thought ‘wow he looks better’. And when we were talking to him, he was upbeat, he was saying ‘come on Glen’ and he was kind of joking and having a bit of fun. He was enjoying himself.”
So how long could this dip in form last?
“I think it’s a blip,” noted Mardle. “But how long does a blip go on for before their mind is scarred?
“He hasn’t gone through any real, real negative on the dart board for a long, long time. The way he played in the Matchplay, I didn’t see that happening. Against Simon Whitlock, the doubling was so poor, the angle of entry.
“It’s like a golfer, that’s always missing on the right-hand side, all of a sudden missing it left. And it’s like, ‘why am I missing there? What is happening there? What has changed?’
“Mentally he looks so ill-at-ease with himself. Composure? Just none. We saw that there against Gurney, who did more than enough, did a job on him averaging 92.”
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