Netherlands and Scotland both survived scares on the opening night of the 2016 World Cup of Darts, whilst host nation Germany were dumped out by Australia on Thursday night in Frankfurt.
The Dutch duo of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld prevailed 5-3 in a hard-fought affair against Russia’s pairing of Boris Koltsov & Aleksandr Oreshkin. Oreshkin’s methodical style, coupled with the doubles format, made it extremely difficult for either MvG or Barney to gain any rhythm, which reflected in the performances.
The Netherlands averaged just 82.52 and converted 38% of their attempts at double, but they produced their best leg to cross the winning line, with Van Barneveld converting D10 for a 16-darter. Koltsov in particular acquitted himself extremely well, but the experience of the Dutchmen eventually paid dividends.
Elsewhere, Scotland reeled off four straight legs to scrape past an impressive New Zealand; represented by Cody Harris and veteran Warren Parry. However, Harris stole the headlines with a wonderful performance, recording eight 140s and a 137, whilst also completing a spectacular 125 checkout (T18, T13, D16) in the opening leg.
This saw New Zealand storm into a 3-1 lead, but Robert Thornton took out 124 on the bullseye to reduce the arrears to 3-2, whilst world champion Gary Anderson restored parity for the Scots with an impressive 95 outshot. The Kiwis continued to battle, but Scotland moved into round-two, with 16 and 14-dart legs respectively.
Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson survived a partisan atmosphere to dump out hosts Germany in the final game of the evening. The Germans kicked off proceedings with a fine 13-darter, but Anderson grew into the contest and posted two maximums as the Aussies established a 4-2 cushion.
Whitlock missed one dart at tops for a 70 finish which would have handed the Australians victory, and Hopp prolonged the contest by pinning D4. The Germans stole the darts in the eighth leg, but Artut missed D16 for a 107 finish which would have forced a decider, and the debutant Anderson sealed Australia’s progress by nailing D8 with his first dart.
Belgium breezed into round-two with an emphatic 5-1 triumph against Poland. The Huybrechts brothers performed solidly, averaging 91.78 to ease past Poland’s pairing of Krzysztof Ratajski & Mariusz Paul, to set up a second-round clash against Hungary, who edged past Thailand in the tournament’s opening encounter.
Nandor Bezzeg & Patrik Kovacs reached round-two for the second year in succession, after coming through a battle against Thailand’s Thanawat Gaweenuntawong & Attapol Eupakaree. Thailand led 3-2, but missed doubles cost them dearly, as the Hungarians claimed three consecutive legs to seal their progression.
The biggest shock of the night saw the experienced American pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler dumped out by the Philippines’ Gilbert Ulang & Alex Tagarao. The Americans averaged a miserly 72.35, hitting just 10% of their doubles. The Philippines took full advantage, to set up a second-round meeting with tournament favourites; Netherlands.
Norway’s Robert Wagner and Cor Dekker saw off Gibraltar’s representatives Dyson Parody and Manuel Vilerio, to set up a last 16 clash against second seeds Scotland. Wagner has a wealth of experience, particularly in this competition, but it was the debutant Cor Dekker who impressed, hitting a 114 checkout in the fourth leg to wrestle control of the contest.
Finally, Denmark defeated their Scandinavian rivals, Sweden, to book a second-round spot in Frankfurt. Per Laursen gave the Danish duo an early 2-0 advantage, with clinical 80 and 76 finishes. However, Daniel Jensen also impressed on his World Cup debut, as Denmark defeated Sweden’s Magnus Caris and Daniel Larsson 5-2.
On Friday evening, England’s Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis begin the defence of their World Cup crown with a potential banana-skin against Spain’s Cristo Reyes and Antonio Alcinas. Elsewhere, Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price will make their respective World Cup debuts for Northern Ireland and Wales, as the first-round action concludes.
Betway World Cup of Darts
Thursday June 2 (8pm local time, 7pm BST)
First Round x8
Hungary 5-3 Thailand
USA 3-5 Philippines
Norway 5-2 Gibraltar
Denmark 5-2 Sweden
Belgium 5-1 Poland
Scotland 5-3 New Zealand
Netherlands 5-3 Russia
Australia 5-3 Germany