Snakebite, spiders and pizza: How Dimitri Van den Bergh won the World Matchplay


1:06 Highlights from the final of the World Matchplay in Milton Keynes

Van den Bergh, who sits at a career-high of 12 on the Order of Merit, is now looking to use his Matchplay success as a catalyst for improved form on the Pro Tour.

Despite his performances in Milton Keynes, he also believes there is still room for improvement to his game.

“I actually already said that to myself,” he said. “I’ve shown now I can win a prestigious tournament like this just with all the other top 31 players that are the best of the best.

“I said to myself ‘now it’s time to step up and start getting yourself a few wins on the pro tour’.

“I know I’ve played very strong and more consistent but I still believe I have a stronger level than I performed at. I still see a lot of chances that I gave away in my games, a lot of things I need to work on to get closer to perfection maybe.

“I do see myself as a stronger player, I can average over 100 easily and especially long and I haven’t done that in either of the games I’ve played.”

Travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic meant Van den Bergh had been living on Peter Wright’s farm throughout the lockdown period.

That experience entailed some welcome practice against the world champion, collecting eggs from the chickens, archery in the garden and evidently some pranks at his own expense.

1:08 The Belgian lifts the Phil Taylor trophy after being crowned World Matchplay champion

“He is a lot of fun to be around, he is funny,” said Van den Bergh. “The man even scared me at some points, he was cleaning out his garage and he found a big fluffy spider from Halloween and where I was staying in his house, that was behind like a secret book shelf that you need to walk through and then you’re in the room.

“What he did is, he put that spider right there on the floor, that’s the first thing you will see as you go through the door. I don’t know if I’m able to say, but I s*** myself. I was like ‘what are you doing?!’

“Even though that thing wasn’t real I couldn’t touch it. I am scared of spiders. Don’t ask me why, I just am.

“Afterwards, I found out from his missus that actually he is scared of spiders too so I got him back. As soon as they walk up and open the door, I thought if you walk in and open the door you turn that way so I put the spider right there behind the door, so at the moment he closed the door he would be scared as well and it worked.”

While circumstances were not ideal, the experience came as a timely taste of an extensive period in the UK as Van den Bergh plans to move over to the country.

Given the hectic nature of the darting calendar, he is hopeful of it helping him in the long run.

2:05 Watch some of Van den Bergh’s big finishes against Anderson

“It’s all about being more professional,” he explained. “It’s all about trying things to improve my game which means if I have to fly a whole lot less than might even have a positive effect on myself as well.

“Every year we have like 50-70 tournaments to play and every time I was flying, maybe the World Championship was the one I was driving to and a few European tours.

“That gets into your system so it’s probably going to be a whole lot easier for me and I’m so happy that my girlfriend wants to follow me in that.”

The celebrations may still be ongoing, but Van den Bergh is already turning his attention back towards life at the oche in view of building on his Matchplay landmark. For him, this is just the start.

“My mind right now is already on the World Championship, and tomorrow, no joke, I will starting practicing again,” he admitted.

“Obviously I will be building it up slowly. I don’t want to jump straight into it, I want to enjoy this win, but I’m going to give myself a little week to loosen up and then the full focus will be back on again. I’m excited.”

Darts is back on Sky Sports this month, as the Premier League returns with six consecutive nights of action getting underway on Tuesday, August 25.


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