Michael van Gerwen has told the Portsmouth public to pump up the volume ahead of his debut in the city.
The Dutch darts ace is the rising star of the sport who has been tipped by many as the successor to Phil Taylor’s crown.
And van Gerwen is an exciting new addition to the line-up for tonight’s sold-out Money Shop Untouchables event at The Pyramids.
The 23-year-old is in the form of his life having lifted his first major PDC title in October – the World Grand Prix – while he again beat 15-time world champion Taylor in the recent Players Championship in Barnsley.
‘Mighty Mike’ – as he is nicknamed – continues the proud Dutch tradition of producing world-class darts stars and he is also among the favourites for the PDC World Championship title, which starts later this month.
But first, van Gerwen faces the small matter of a raucous Saturday night in Portsmouth at what has become one of the most popular recent additions to the city’s sporting calendar.
Van Gerwen said: ‘It’s the first time for me in Portsmouth and I know it’s a big exhibition to play in and the crowd are a big part of that.
‘I can’t wait. I’ve heard good things about the support from the crowd and the event and the fact it is sold out is great for all of us.
‘There should be a lot of noise but I like playing when it’s a good atmosphere. Hopefully, everyone will enjoy the night because there are some great players here.
‘It should be a good night for everyone who is coming along.’
There is a big Dutch contingent at tonight’s tournament with five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld the biggest name of all.
He will kick off the entertainment when Petersfield Darts Academy Harry Annals gets his shot at him, with Vincent van der Voort awaiting the winner.
Cosham’s Andy Jenkins then has the huge task of taking on the in-form van Gerwen, before popular Australian Simon Whitlock, who now lives in Waterlooville, goes up against Aaron Monk.
A James Wade tussle with Co Stompe completes the first-round fixtures on what van Gerwen believes is good preparation for the forthcoming World Championship at Alexandra Palace.
Van Gerwen said: ‘I’m playing very well at the moment.
‘But I want to keep that form going for the World Championship so I’ll be looking to do well again.
‘I’ve been talked about by a few people as someone who can win it this year but I don’t feel any great pressure and I’m not getting too carried away with that yet.
‘There are so many good darts players that we can all beat each other when we play well.
‘It’s all about doing it on the day and taking things step by step and trying not to make mistakes.’
Untouchables spokesman Lewis Jones said: ‘We’ve got a great line-up for this year’s event with many of the world’s top players and we’re hoping for another successful show.
‘It’s totally sold out but we do have some tickets available on the door for the after-show party.’
The VIP pre-show entertainment starts at 6pm, doors open for ticket-holders at 7pm, with the first game scheduled for 7.45pm.