The 2016 Betway World Cup of Darts gets underway in Frankfurt on Thursday evening, as Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis aim to defend their title, and secure a fourth World Cup crown for England. Josh’s Dartistry assesses the contenders and darkhorses for this year’s title!
Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis defeated the Scottish duo of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright in last year’s final. They have won this competition in three of the last four years and they’ll enter this year’s event as top seeds. Taylor and Lewis are very good friends and they form a strong partnership which is imperative, particularly in the doubles format.
Taylor enters this competition in excellent form, having reached the Premier League final a fortnight ago. However, he could meet his nemesis Michael van Gerwen if the Netherlands reach the final. Adrian Lewis also qualified for the Premier League play-offs for the first time in five years, and Jackpot always remains dangerously mercurial.
England face a potential banana-skin against the Spanish pairing of Cristo Reyes and Antonio Alcinas in round-one, although the draw has been relatively kind to them. They will face either Czech Republic or China in round-two, whilst Austria and Northern Ireland would be the other obstacles to overcome before the final.
World champion Gary Anderson will be joined in Frankfurt by Robert Thornton, rather than Peter Wright. Wright is unquestionably playing better darts than ‘The Thorn’ at present, but given the tension between Anderson and Snakebite, Thornton will provide the Scots with a better team dynamic.
The Scots should progress through to the quarter-finals with minimum fuss. They face New Zealand in round-one, whilst Norway or Gibraltar will await if they overcome the Kiwis. Nevertheless, they could face Belgium’s Huybrechts brothers in the last eight, and they are expected to face tournament favourites Netherlands in the semis.
Anderson defeated Michael van Gerwen in last week’s Dubai Darts Masters which could give the Scottish team an important psychological advantage. However, both Gary and Robert are rhythm players, which could create difficulties in the doubles format. If Thornton brings his A-game, Scotland will be extremely tough to beat.
The Netherlands are favourites to win this year’s competition, despite entering the tournament as third seeds. Their seeding is due to Raymond van Barneveld being ranked 11th in the world, although we all know that van Barneveld’s ability, experience and class does not reflect in his world-ranking.
Netherlands and England remain the only two winners of this event. Van Barneveld and Co Stompe won the tournament’s inaugural staging in 2010, whilst Barney and MvG claimed glory in 2014, breezing past England in the final.
Despite this, the Dutch pairing have a difficult route if they want to reach their third World Cup final. The experienced American pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler potentially await if Holland progress to round-two, whilst Australia’s Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson are their prospective quarter-final opponents.
Although he tasted defeat in the Dubai Darts Masters final, MvG is in simply imperious form, which is the key reason for Netherlands’ tag as favourites. However, Van Barneveld remains one of the most capable players in world darts and he thrives on the pride of representing his country. The Dutch vans could be on the road to success this week.
Gerwyn Price will make his World Cup of Darts debut in 2016, alongside former world champion and World Cup veteran Mark Webster. Price has enjoyed a fantastic season so far, winning his first two Players Championship events during the last month.
Mark Webster also enjoyed a remarkable renaissance towards the latter stages of 2015, reaching the World Grand-Prix semi-finals and the last eight of November’s Grand Slam. ‘Webby’ transferred this form to the Pro Tour at the start of the year, and whilst he has tailed off slightly in recent weeks, he still enters this competition with self-belief.
The Welsh pair are fifth seeds this year, but they could cause a major upset. They face Finland in round-one, whilst either Greece or Canada would be their prospective second-round opponents. Northern Ireland are fourth seeds and will be boosted by Daryl Gurney’s presence, but Brendan Dolan’s form has been underwhelming of late.
I also believe that Webster and Price have the necessary ingredients to form a strong doubles partnership. Both are relatively methodical throwers s so they shouldn’t be disrupted by the extended wait between visits, whilst both are clinical finishers, which is absolutely vital in the doubles format.
Australia will be hoping to better their 2011 exploits, when Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson lost to England’s pairing of Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis. For the first time in World Cup history, Nicholson will not represent the Aussies, with ‘The Original’ Kyle Anderson replacing ‘The Asset’.
Australia are sixth seeds in this year’s competition, which is their lowest seeding since the competition was first established in 2010. Nevertheless, this isn’t necessarily reflective of their chances.
Whitlock is currently ranked 17th on the PDC Order of Merit, but ‘The Wizard’ has enjoyed a welcome return to form over recent months, which was prompted by his decision to wear glasses, both on and off-stage. Whitlock has always been galvanised when wearing the green and gold colours, and I expect this year to be no different.
It will be intriguing to see how Kyle fares on his World Cup debut. He has made tremendous sacrifices to play on the PDC tour, moving away from his family in Australia and relocating to the UK. Whilst it’s been a difficult personal adjustment, his form has certainly benefited, and he reached his maiden TV quarter-final in March’s UK Open.
Nevertheless, the Australians have the toughest first-round draw out of their fellow seeds. They face hosts Germany on Thursday night, with World-Youth Champion Max Hopp and the experienced Jyhan Artut flying the German flag. Netherlands would also be Australia’s prospective last eight opponents, but the Aussies are capable of springing a surprise.
Underdogs- (Unseeded Nations)
Max Hopp and Jyhan Artut will be carrying Germany’s World Cup hopes for the second successive year. Germany reached the quarter-finals last year, before losing to eventual winners England. They’ll be hoping for a repeat performance in 2016.
Hopp, who was crowned World-Youth champion in November last year, is one of the most exciting talents in the modern game. At the age of 19, he already possesses a wealth of experience and he appears to thrive on the big occasion.
Although Hopp is the higher ranked German player, Jyhan Artut will provide crucial seniority within the German side. Artut has been an ever-present at World Cups and he also enjoys the big occasion. His two best performances in the PDC have arguably come on the World Championship stage, against Wayne Mardle and Gary Anderson respectively.
They face a very difficult tie against Australia on the opening night, but they will undoubtedly be buoyed by home advantage. The Aussies are a strong team, but with Kyle Anderson making his debut, and Whitlock lacking recent big-stage practice, the Germans may be able to capitalise on potential nerves from their opponents.
On the big TV stage, experience is crucial. The American pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler have this in abundance, but they face a potential second-round tie against the Netherlands, which is compounded by the fact that the singles format will be introduced in round-two.
Nevertheless, one unseeded nation with a relatively favourable draw is South Africa, a nation with previous in this competition. The South Africans are two-time quarter-finalists here, and they will be led by the popular Devon Petersen, along with the experienced Graham Filby.
South Africa were beaten comprehensively by The Netherlands in last year’s event, but they face Singapore in round-one, a tie they’d be expected to win. If they progress to round-two, they will either face Italy, or eighth seeds Austria. Whilst Mensur Suljovic will be tough to beat, Rowby-John Rodriguez still lacks consistency on the big stage.
Devon Petersen thrives on the big occasions and he is throwing solid darts at present, having recently posted a 9-darter in a European Tour qualifier; his second in as many years. Graham Filby is also an experienced campaigner who won’t be perturbed by the pressurised environment. The South Africans could be the unseeded nation to watch.
Betway World Cup of Darts
Thursday June 2 (8pm local time)
First Round x8
Hungary v Thailand
USA v Philippines
Norway v Gibraltar
Denmark v Sweden
Belgium v Poland
Scotland v New Zealand
Netherlands v Russia
Australia v Germany
Friday June 3 (8pm local time)
First Round x8
Czech Republic v China
Greece v Canada
Republic of Ireland v Hong Kong
South Africa v Singapore
Northern Ireland v Japan
Wales v Finland
England v Spain
Austria v Italy
Saturday June 4
Afternoon Session (2pm local time)
Second Round x4
Belgium/Poland v Hungary/Thailand
Northern Ireland/Japan v Republic of Ireland/Hong Kong
Wales/Finland v Greece/Canada
Austria/Italy v South Africa/Singapore
Evening Session (8pm local time)
Second Round x4
Scotland/New Zealand v Norway/Gibraltar
Australia/Germany v Denmark/Sweden
England/Spain v Czech Republic/China
Netherlands/Russia v USA/Philippines