Michael van Gerwen and the Premier League is a match made in heaven. ‘The Green Machine’ has topped the league phase in his seven previous appearances and has never failed to reach the final. As he begins his bid for title number six, Colin Lloyd assesses the Dutchman’s dominance.

Given the calibre of the Premier League competitors, it’s incredible to think that Van Gerwen and Phil Taylor are the only players to have won the league phase since the tournament’s inception in 2005.

‘The Power’ topped the tree for eight successive years, although MVG broke that monopoly when he made his debut in 2013 and he could equal the 16-time world champion’s record by winning this year’s league phase.

‘The Green Machine’ has broken new ground throughout his Premier League career. His average of 123.40 against Michael Smith in 2016 remains the world-record televised average and he also boasts an unblemished record in Premier League semi-finals, winning all seven showdowns.

Former world No 1 Colin Lloyd was a finalist in the tournament’s inaugural staging and he attributes the dominance of Van Gerwen to his desire to consistently prove himself against his closest rivals.

I think the reason why Michael loves playing in this event is because he’s up against the very best, Lloyd told the Darts Show podcast.

He’s up against the very best and he wants to dominate. He wants to try and put them in their place to say ‘I’m the world No 1, I’m the one you’ve got to beat’.

He doesn’t do it in an arrogant way – he has respect for the other players. Peter (Wright) is going in there as world champion but Michael will stand there and go ‘I’m the world No 1, I’m the man to beat’.

He just goes up there and tries to stamp that authority. The last seven times he’s been in it, he’s always there and thereabouts and he’s always at the top. He just loves winning tournaments.

The ninth-placed player will be eliminated from this year’s competition following Judgement Night in Rotterdam and Lloyd believes Van Gerwen’s ability to get points on the board from the outset is fundamental to his success, as it alleviates any fears of a top-four scrap.

You want to stamp authority, you want to get points on the board early and that’s where Michael does that.

He goes up there, he gets the points on the table early so when it does come to maybe a pressurised situation, he can stand back and think ‘it’s okay, because I’m either top or second, people are really chasing for points whereas I’ve already put my points on the board early’.

He’s got that mental attitude of points, points, points and points make prizes. He just enjoys the competition of playing against the other players. He likes to pit his skills against the skills of everybody else.

Nevertheless, Van Gerwen doesn’t enter this year’s roadshow as world champion, after ‘The Green Machine’ relinquished his title against an inspired Peter Wright on New Year’s Day.

Wright’s success – coupled with Gerwyn Price’s impressive form and signs of a Gary Anderson resurgence – gives this year’s tournament an intriguing outlook and Lloyd believes it could be more competitive than ever.

Michael looks at it like: ‘Are you ready for me?’ It’s not done in an arrogant way, it’s just a confidence thing. Well, I think a few people are going to be ready for him this year.

He’s got the new darts. I saw him throw some great stuff over in Holland at the exhibition nights that I did, but that’s an exhibition, it’s not match-play or tournament play.

Sometimes there are those crucial shots and a little bit of doubt creeps into your head – new darts, new darts. You don’t want it to go in there but it does go in there and sometimes there’s that little wayward dart.

He knows that and he’ll overcome that and just get on with the job in hand, but I think it’s going to be a tough year for Michael and a fantastic year for darts.

We also spoke to some of this year’s current crop – including the man himself, to get their perspective on why Michael van Gerwen is so difficult to stop in the Premier League….

Peter Wright: He wasn’t difficult to beat, I should have had him a few years ago! That was only down to me missing. I think he just loves playing darts week on week, so that’s why he’s very difficult to beat, because he loves the game.

Daryl Gurney: He’s just so competitive and he doesn’t really play bad games. It’s easy to prepare for playing against Michael because if you don’t play your A-game, you’re going to get beaten.

Michael Smith: I think it’s the way Phil Taylor did it as well. I think people are already beaten before they go up and play him. When I play him I try way too hard because I know if I bring my game I can beat him. That’s my problem – relaxing. I think people tense up against him.

Rob Cross: He’s ultra-consistent. He knows what he wants – he gets that number one spot and to be honest, it’s probably a lot of pressure there but it’s a lot of motivation to try and keep that.

Glen Durrant: He’s the best player in the world and he can win games backstage.

Nathan Aspinall: He’s the world No 1 and he’s won everything.

Michael van Gerwen: I believe in myself and I know what I’m capable of. I can do it weekly and my mental strength is much bigger than the other players and I use that against them.

Follow every week of the Premier League on Sky Sports, kicking off in Aberdeen on Thursday, February 6, as 17 weeks of action continues every Thursday through until the Play-Offs on London on May 21.

(c) Sky Sports 2020: Colin Lloyd analyses Michael van Gerwen’s Premier League dominance