MICHAEL VAN GERWEN has told the Ally Pally losers: You’ve only got yourself to blame!
Five of the top-10 darts players will spend their Christmas eating cold turkey having departed early from the William Hill PDC World Darts Championships.
Some pundits see their early exits as a sign the strength of the sport is growing with several unknown names reaching the fourth round.
The Dutchman said: “Maybe their preparation isn’t good enough. That could be an issue.
“They all think it’s the same as any other tournament, but it is not. It’s the worlds.
“This is different, with a different pressure, different mentality.
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“Everything has to combine right for this tournament.
“Whoever it is, they have all underperformed and played badly.
“You need to be strong for the worlds. Of course, I’m not perfect. But I only blame myself when I lose because I know I have done something not right.”
Van Gerwen will play Adrian Lewis in the Last 16 after the Christmas break.
The 29-year-old admits he has a slight lower-back issue but will not let it derail his mission for a third world title.
He added: “My back isn’t the best to be fair. It could be a little bit better. It’s a bit stiff.
“It doesn’t disturb me when I play darts. But I feel it constantly.
“It’s not I play bad darts or it disturbs my throw. It’s there and I don’t like it.
“I’m not in pain, but I need to make sure I take it easy and it doesn’t get worse.
“I’m not taking painkillers. You have to watch that because we’re on the doping list.”