Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld recorded the second highest pairs average in World Cup history to kick off their campaign in stunning style, as reigning champions England battled through on another eventful night of darts in Frankfurt on Friday evening.
Tournament favourites Netherlands signalled their intent with a sensational victory over the Czech Republic. Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld finished with an astonishing 109.33 average- the second highest in the tournament’s history, behind their previous record of 117.88 set in 2014.
Van Gerwen’s participation in this year’s event had been cast into doubt due to a serious foot injury, but the world number one produced a sublime display alongside Van Barneveld to sweep aside an impressive Czech Republic pairing of Frantisek Humpula & Karel Sedlacek- who averaged a very respectable 88.23.
‘Mighty Mike’ dispatched 76 and 75 finishes in the opening two legs for successive 15-darters, before rounding off a 13-darter via D18 to extend the Netherlands’ lead. However, the Czech Republic opened their account in magnificent style- with Humpula converting a brilliant 121 outshot on D14 for a 12-darter.
Despite this, the Dutch duo responded superbly. They fired in five perfect darts to kick off the fifth leg; clinching it with a majestic 10-darter after Van Barneveld landed D16. The Czech Republic pairing continued to toil, but Barney sank D10 in the sixth leg to seal an emphatic progression for the two-time World Cup winners.
Reigning champions England kicked off their title defence with a comfortable 5-2 victory over Gibraltar, despite an abject display from Adrian Lewis. ‘Jackpot’, who is going in search of an unprecedented fifth World Cup crown this year, averaged a miserly 71.66, but a solid debut from Dave Chisnall sealed victory for the Englishmen.
Gibraltar’s Dyson Parody registered the only two maximums of the contest, but Parody and his teammate Dylan Duo were punished for missing a multitude of opportunities at double, as England prevailed with a modest 75.98 average to keep their hopes of retaining their title alive.
Host-nation Germany sent the Frankfurt crowd into delirium with a dramatic deciding-leg victory over sixth seeds Northern Ireland. The German pairing of Max Hopp and Martin Schindler are the youngest in the tournament’s history- with a combined age of 40. However, they displayed nerves of steel to prevail in a thrilling finale.
Daryl Gurney performed valiantly for Northern Ireland- registering three maximums and taking out a spectacular 124 checkout, with Brendan Dolan struggling for large periods. However, ‘Super-Chin’ spurned one match dart at D12 in the decider, as Schindler converted D10 with his last dart in hand to triumph on his World Cup debut.
Seventh seeds Austria breezed into round-two with an impressive whitewash win over new Chinese pairing Weihong Li & Yuanjun Liu. The Austrians were spearheaded by Mensur Suljovic, who posted an individual average of 98.84 and crashed in a classy 110 checkout to record a convincing victory alongside Rowby-John Rodriguez.
Three-time world champion John Part helped seal Canada’s progression to round-two with victory over Hungary. It was a very scrappy affair, but the game will largely be remembered for the antics of Canadian debutant John Norman Jr, who celebrated every shot with tremendous euphoria, as Canada prevailed 5-2 with a 72.65 average.
The veteran American pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Italy. Daniele Petri drew first blood for the Italians with a brilliant two-dart 96 finish, but the Americans fought back magnificently.
Larry Butler was the stand-out player across both sides; averaging a solid 89.94. Nevertheless, Darin Young also produced clinical checkouts of 70 and 121 in successive legs to seal their emphatic progression; setting up a tie against third seeds Netherlands in round-two.
Devon Petersen led South Africa to a hard-fought opening round victory over Sweden, to book a second-round tie against reigning champions England. Petersen was partnered by debutant Deon Oliver, who struggled throughout, but the South Africans defied a brief fightback from Magnus Caris and Daniel Larsson to prevail 5-3.
Finally, the Brazilian duo of Diogo Portela and Alexandre Sattin prevailed in a dramatic decider against fellow debutants Switzerland. Brazil led 4-2, but Patrick Rey inspired the Swiss to draw level and force a decider, only for Sattin to convert a nerveless 72 kill on tops; provoking jubilant scenes of celebration from the South American stars.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Betway World Cup of Darts
Friday June 2 (8pm local time, 7pm BST)
United States of America 5-1 Italy
Canada 5-2 Hungary
Austria 5-0 China
South Africa 5-3 Sweden
Brazil 5-4 Switzerland
Germany 5-4 Northern Ireland
England 5-2 Gibraltar
Netherlands 5-1 Czech Republic