Michael van Gerwen is determined to be crowned PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion when he takes on James Hubbard in the final on Thursday evening.
The Dutchman, who lost out to Arron Monk in the Under-21 final last year, believes his experience could hold the key to success.
Van Gerwen and Hubbard are set to do battle in front of a PDC record crowd of over 10,000, when they meet at London’s O2 Arena before the final of the McCoy’s Premier League.
“I’ve been getting a lot of practice in to prepare for Thursday,” said van Gerwen, whose final appearance will be his last ever game on the youth tour.
“Last year I lost in the final and I was very disappointed. It’s my last chance to win this title and I want to take it with both hands.
“It will be very difficult to play in front of a massive crowd of over 10,000 people. That’s a new thing for me, but I like to play in front of big crowds so it is something I am very much looking forward to.”
‘Mighty Mike’ has already tasted major professional success. He became the youngest player to win a major tournament when he won the Winmau World Masters in 2006, aged just 17.
The Dutchman believes that he if can perform at his best, then he will triumph once again.
“James has less experience than me in big tournaments, so I think he is the underdog in the game but he knows that, and it could work to the advantage of either player,” said van Gerwen, who is now 23.
“I have to play my own game and not make the mistakes I did last year. If I do that, I am sure I will win, but I have to go out there and do it before I talk about it.
“I’ve never played James before, but he is a very good player. He has done well in the last few tournaments so I know not to take him lightly, but for me it’s about playing good darts and not worrying about what he throws. I just need to win leg by leg.”
Van Gerwen has been in good form so far this year. He won a UK Open qualifier in Crawley and hit a nine-dart finish.
Fellow Dutchman Vincent van der Voort believes that his compatriot has what it takes to win on Thursday night and go on to claim bigger successes in the future.
He said: “I know he is determined to win and I think he will. I have never seen anybody with as much natural talent as Michael.
“He will be a top ten player soon. He has no fear and he is growing in confidence. You look at him and you don’t think of him as a youth player. He has been around for a few years now and that experience will definitely help him win.”
Despite his success on the professional tour, van Gerwen is focusing purely on winning his next match and being crowned as World Youth Champion.
He added: “I’m getting better step by step. It would mean a lot to me to win. Everyone knows how important I think this is. I want to win. It’s my last chance to do it and I want to make sure I do.”
By Chris Murphy