PDC World Darts Championship Throwback: When Michael Van Gerwen Made His Alexandra Palace Debut Against Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen will head into next month's William Hill World Darts Championship as the man to beat when the action gets under way at the Alexandra Palace, London on December 13.
However, we have searched through the archives to look back at the dominant Dutchman's first appearance at the PDC Worlds and it's amazing to think 'Mighty Mike' made his debut at the Alexandra Palace in the 2008 showpiece.
A young star in the BDO, van Gerwen had moved to the PDC along with fellow Dutch stars Vincent van ver Voort and Jelle Klaasen as the three of them aimed to find their feet in the elite darting world, but MvG was certainly not handed an easy start on his World Championship debut as he was drawn against a certain Phil 'The Power' Taylor in the first round.
A 13-times champion at that stage Taylor wouldn't have relished stepping up to the oche to face a fresh-faced van Gerwen and the Dutchman gave the Stoke sensation a real first round test.
In a best-to-5-sets clash, Taylor stormed into a one-set advantage before van Gerwen - donning a spiky hair look - claimed victory in the next two sets to put himself on the brink of a career-defining victory. With van Gerwen needing 81 for victory in the fourth set he threw a wayward single three before landing a delightful treble 18, but failed to hit the double 12 to win the match, and Taylor due checked out 57 and went on to win the fifth leg and make it two sets each.
Heading into the final set, van Gerwen held his own against Taylor, who was fighting desperately to remain in the tournament, and as the match went two sets each, two legs each then the game had to be won by two clear legs.
Taylor's experience eventually got him through one of the great first round matches as he bagged a fine double eight to win 5-3 in the final set and Taylor's exuberant celebrations just emphasised the pressure he had been under and van Gerwen's fine display showed that he was to be a star of the future.
Watch Michael van Gerwen play in his first ever PDC World Darts Championship match here against Phil Taylor: