Must see: Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
It’s better perhaps than any hole-in-one witnessed on a golf course. Greater, even, than any 147 maximum break in snooker or 300-point game in bowling. Michael van Gerwen’s 17 perfect darts during his 2013 World Darts Championship semi-final against James Wade are the stuff of legend. A remarkable feat of sporting excellence.
Put into perspective, there have been over a 100 hole-in-ones in golf, over 50 televised 147s, countless perfect bowling games and 43 televised 9-dart finishes.
That van Gerwen hit the 44th of those before going within millimetres of hitting another in the very next leg - is special. That it was in the semi-finals of the world championships makes it doubly so.
Little wonder then that the enigmatic Dutchman, world champion in 2013, is the man most will want to see when he returns to the emirates next month for the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.
Van Gerwen, 26, is the reigning two-time champion of the fledgling event and will go in search of a hat-trick of titles when this year’s event gets underway at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on May 28-29.
To do so, “Mighty Mike”, who beat Peter Wright 11-7 in last year’s showpiece, will have to beat seven of the best players the sport has to offer, including five of the world’s top six. Van Gerwen is ranked No1. Among those competing at the two-day, £200,000 event will be current world champion Gary Anderson, making his Dubai debut, the sport’s greatest of all time Phil Taylor, and last year’s beaten finalist Wright.
"I am very much looking forward to coming to Dubai," said Anderson. "I’ve heard that the crowd and atmosphere are great in the Dubai Tennis Stadium, and I look forward to vying for the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title to add to my World Championship.”
Completing the line-up alongside Anderson and co is five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, two-time world champion Adrian Lewis, 2013 BDO world champion Stephen Bunting and eight-time major title winner James Wade.
The eight men will compete in four knockout quarter-final matches on Thursday May 28 (Best of 19 legs), before the semi-finals and final are held on Friday, May 29 (both best of 21 legs).
With perhaps the greatest line-up in the tournament’s history there’s sure to be plenty of high scoring to thrill a capacity crowd, who will be just as eager to party as they will watching the drama unfold.
Expect van Gerwen to produce fireworks yet again to retain his title, and who knows, he may even treat you to a 44th televised nine-darter! Just don’t expect him to recreate his heroics of 2012.