We're just a week away from the start of the 2020 PDC World Championship and Charles Perrin believes a new rivalry is about to emerge...
"A lot will be discovered about Van Gerwen and Price during the 16 days at Ally Pally and there may be some fireworks too!"
The PDC World Darts Championship returns next Thursday for the 27th edition of the event and the thousands that will be descending upon Ally Pally will be hoping for pure tungsten theatre.
Michael van Gerwen will be aiming to defend the title he won at the beginning of the year when he beat Michael Smith 7-3 in the final. As the world number one, he still remains the most feared player on the circuit. Nevertheless, there are fresh challenges that await the 'Green Machine', most notably Gerwyn Price, who has enjoyed a rise to prominence over the past 12 months.
New rivalry on the horizon?
Van Gerwen has sometimes been cast as the pantomime villain and he is a little like marmite - you either love him or hate him. Cast your mind back to last year at Ally Pally and he was having beer thrown at him while he was preparing to make his walkout to the oche. It made little difference, however, as he overcame Alan Tabern 3-1 in the first round. The Dutchman's supremacy is measured not only by the number of world titles he has clinched (three), but the astonishing stats he has racked up over the past three years. The 30-year-old - who has 35 majors to his name - has had five nine-darters in the past three years and he has thrown more 180s in the same time period (1331) than any of his competitors with Peter Wright trailing by some distance in second (957).
When you also factor he has 43% checkout rate, then he is pretty much the complete player.
Price - who has shot up to third in the PDC Order of Merit - got the better of Mighty Mike in the Grand Slam semi-finals last month. However, the van Gerwen, who is favourite at 2.285/4 to claim a fourth world title - has won 19 of their 21 meetings and he got revenge in a thrilling 11-9 victory in the Players Championship final. Price has just two major titles to date and he will need to seriously add to his collection if he is to be considered a great like the Dutchman. At present, he is second favourite at 6.205/1 to lift his maiden World Championship.
That point was conveyed clearly by Van Gerwen, who said: "Of course, he's doing so good lately, he's turned the crowd on his side and he deserves every credit.
"It will be a great rivalry but I need to first show who is really the boss and that's me today."
The World Championship has been marked by some great rivalries, including Van Gerwen's tussles with Phil Taylor, while Raymond van Barneveld and Taylor also produced some memorable nights. But Ally Pally could ignite a new long standing battle between MVG and Price.
Phil Taylor in view
When he announced his retirement last year, darts waved goodbye to a true legend in Taylor who was the most decorated player in the history of the sport and he dominated in a fashion that nobody else had done. The Englishman bowed out with 94 televised titles and Van Gerwen took his tally to the half century mark with his triumph at the Players Championship.
Van Gerwen has proved to be unbeatable at times and his relentlessness makes him hard to live with. Although Ally Pally has been a home from home for him, it is somewhat surprising he doesn't have more than three world darts titles in his bulging trophy cabinet. Price on the other hand, has been knocked out at the last 64 stage in four of his five appearances in London.
But what makes Van Gerwen so special is his desire to break records and his insatiable appetite for winning which was highlighted when asked about trying to surpass Taylor's record of TV titles.
He said: "You always have to set yourself targets and one of mine is to beat Phil's record of TV titles. To win 100 TV titles I think is definitely possible.
"To beat any record set by Phil Taylor would mean a lot to me because of how good he was for the sport both in darts and the mental aspect of the game."
A lot will be discovered about Van Gerwen and Price during the 16 days at Ally Pally and there may be some fireworks too!