Never write off Mervyn King. If the darts in 2019 has taught us anything, it is that at 53 years of age, there is still plenty of life left in the career of the King.
These days, hitting the 50 mark for the players at the top of the game tends to bring with it thoughts of retirement. Phil Taylor, at the start of 2018, and soon Raymond van Barneveld at the end of this current season.
That could have been the case for King a few years back, but he has shown incredible resilience to hang around.
Once as high as number four on the PDC Order of Merit, King has spent the vast majority of recent times located in the late teens or early 20s in the rankings.
He has done that despite having had a barren spell of more than three years without a major quarter-final on his CV, between March 2016 and July 2019.
At the start of 2019, King’s last run to the last eight on TV was at the 2016 UK Open. Last night he dumped out James Wade to reach his second major quarter-final in as many tournaments.
During the summer, King made the last eight of the World Matchplay, beating UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall and two-time world champion Gary Anderson on the way.
You may not be prepared to call 2019 the year of the King, but there is no getting away from the scalps he has tallied up over the season.
Wade was the latest player in the top 16 to be added to his list, along with Aspinall, Anderson and, of course, the world number one Michael van Gerwen at the UK Open.
Van Gerwen just so happens to be his next opponent in Dublin this week. It was at this very tournament, as if King needs reminding, in 2012 that van Gerwen burst into life. From 4-1 down, MVG won five straight sets to defeat King 6-4 in the final and win his first PDC major.
Van Gerwen has gone on to win countless majors since, while King is still searching for PDC major number one.
His darting CV, spanning more than 20 years, deserves a lot of credit. A former World Master, twice a Lakeside finalist, plenty other titles and finals. Yet a PDC televised title is not on that list.
If he can repeat his heroics in Minehead, and knock out the defending champion in the quarters, he will likely be made favourite to get through to the final from the top half.
That would be some achievement, considering Boylesports, the title sponsors this week, priced him at 250/1 before the tournament, the biggest odds of any of the 32 players in the field.
Beating van Gerwen once on TV is always a task, to do it twice in a row, even bigger. Still in the best of five sets, it is more than doable.
King has dropped the first set in his wins against Dimitri van den Bergh and Wade, before coming back. Van Gerwen dropped set one in his first game against Jamie Hughes too.
Yes, King should have probably been 2-0 down in sets to Wade last night, but Wade missed and King took his chance and ran with it.
It’s easy to say King will have to take his chances when they present themselves against MVG. If it’s as many as last night, when he whitewashed Jeffrey de Zwaan, he won’t have many.
King needs another big performance. He knows he has it in his locker. “If the real Merv King shows up I’m a match for anyone” or words to those affect are have been said by King more times than we can remember.
If the real Merv King turns up tomorrow, van Gerwen is in a match. If he doesn’t, van Gerwen highly likely makes it to a sixth World Grand Prix final, and he’s won four of the five he’s been in before.
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC