Today the Betvictor World Cup of Darts began at the Salzburgarena in Salzburg, Austria. A total of 32 nations compete in the so-called “Team World Championship” of the PDC. Two players represent their country and today they competed in the first round in pairs over the best of 9 legs.
In the nine previous editions of the event, only three different nations have won the title. England (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016) and the Netherlands (2010, 2014, 2017, 2018) each won the tournament four times, while Team Scotland picked up the trophy last year.
Team Germany was able to send out a message: Gabriel Clemens and Max Hopp clearly defeated Marko Kantele and Veijo Viinikka from Finland by 5-0 in the evening and with 96.35 had the highest average of all teams in round 1. Especially in the early stages of the game the Germans played great darts and decided the match early on.
The favorites for the title from the Netherlands and Wales were also in good form and underlined their claim to the title in the evening session. The Welsh players Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton were also able to win their game against Russia 5-0 and had it not been for the third leg in which they needed 28 darts to finish the game, they would probably have averaged beyond the 100 point mark. In the end the average was 93.94.
An almost identical average was played by the Dutch Michael van Gerwen and Danny Noppert in their 5-1 victory over Brazil. Diogo Portella and Bruno Rangel with their average of 76 points were no serious test for the world number 1, van Gerwen and his new team mate Noppert.
“Danny asked me before the game what he has to consider for this event and I told him, just play your game. That worked well and now we are looking forward to the second round”, MVG said after the match.
The defending champions Scotland are into the second round after a 5:3 victory over Japan. This year neither Peter Wright nor Gary Anderson, who won the title last year, are competing for Scotland. However, replacements John Henderson and Robert Thornton held their own against Seigo Asada and Yuki Yamada. The Japanese led 2:1, but their average of 74 points was not enough to threat the Scots.
At the start of the Friday afternoon session two favored teams were able to win. The first match of the day saw the meeting of Lithuania and Gibraltar. Team Lithuania, Mindaugas Barauskas and the former World Championship quarter finalist Darius Labanauskas, won 5:3 against the youngest team of this year’s World Cup. However, Craig Galliano and Justin Hewitt from Gibraltar, both just 18 years old, showed a very decent performance at their WCOD debut and kept the match open until the score of 3:3. In the end it was Labanauskas’ class and routine that made the difference.
Less close was game number two at the Salzburgarena: Team Portugal, led by José de Sousa, who recently won his first PDC title on stage at the European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen, emerged victorious from the game against Hungary as the clear 5:0 winners. De Sousa’s still relatively unknown teammate and namesake José Marques proved to be a very solid debutant and made his contribution to the success over Patrik Kovacs and Janos Vegsö, who did not get a single darts at the doubles.
Per Laursen and Niels Heinsøe for Denmark had a similarly bad day at the office in their 5-2 defeat to New Zealand’s Cody Harris and Haupai Puha. Although Laursen knows the World Cup stage better than almost any other player, as he has represented his country at every single edition of the WCOD so far, the Danes never really found their rhythm and ended up with an average of only 73 points.
The first major surprise came in the afternoon’s fourth game, when the number four seeds Northern Ireland, Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan, were defeated by Canada in the first round. However, this was not so much due to a bad performance by Northern Ireland, but rather to the good performance of Jeff Smith and Matt Campbell from Canada, who played a strong average of 94 points, including a 154 finish by Smith.For Northern Ireland it is the second first-round exit in a row after their 4-5 defeat last year against South Africa.
A similar average was played by the number five seeds Belgium, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts. Team Czech Republic gave them a real run for their money however. Karel Sedlacek and Adam Gawlas also performed well with an average of 90 points, forcing Belgium into a last-leg decider. Here the Belgians kept their nerves and brought the match to the finish with a lot of emotion and passion, which they also showed in the interview after the match: “For us this is the most important event of the year, maybe even more so than the World Championship!”
The World Cup of Darts is also very important for Team Austria, who are playing on home soil in Salzburg. Although Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez did by far not display their top performance, they were able to achieve a relatively comfortable 5:2 victory against the US-Americans Chuck Puleo and Danny Lauby. Especially Lauby, who had stood in for USA`s number one Darin Young, found it difficult at his debut and the experienced Austrians had little trouble.
The English team with former world champion Rob Cross and the “Bully Boy” Michael Smith had much bigger problems. Noel Malicdem and Lourence Ilagan from the Philippines made sure that ne top-seeded Englishmen could not settle into the game, kept up well until the score of 3:3 and could even have taken a 4:3 lead. But the English were able to deny the Philippines of the upset and won the game by 5:3.
“We know that we have to improve in the next rounds, but if we can do that, we have a great chance of holding the trophy in our hands in the end,” said Smith after the game.
The afternoon session could have ended with a WCOD premiere, when Team Italy came as close to a victory as never before in their eigth. Andrea Micheletti and Daniele Petri took a 2-0 and 3-1 lead, before the favored Spaniards Toni Alcinas and Jesus Noguera found their way into the game and won three legs in a row. The Italians then went on to make it 4:4 before Toni Alcinas stumbled over the finish line for Spain.
The evening session began with a surprisingly clear victory for Greece over Sweden. John Michael and Veniamin Simeonidis were able to impress the Swedes Daniel Larsson and Dennis Nilsson early with a great start and a 110 finish, so that the Scandinavians never really found to their game. In the end the Greeks marched to a 5-0 victory with an average of over 91 points.
The third match of the evening saw another so-called “white wash”! Team Poland displayed a sensational performance in their match against South Africa. Krzysztof Ratajski and Krzysztof Kciuk played an average of well over 100 points in the first half of the match and even if this average was “only” 90 points by the end of the game, Devon Petersen and Carl Gabriel had no chance against the “Krzysztof Connection”.
Last year’s finalists from Ireland had to pack their bags in round 1 after their match against Australia. The Australian Simon Whitlock, who took part in every World Cup so far, is playing alongside Damon Heta for the first time this year and the new selection worked well. An average of a good 92 points was enough to pull away from William O’Connor and Steve Lennon at the score of 2:2 and win the game 5:2.
At the end of the first day the match between Hong Kong and Latvia was not very high class, but it was very exciting. Neither Kai Fan Leung and Royden Lam for Hong Kong, nor Madars Razma and Janis Mustafejevs for Latvia were able to gain a lead of more than two legs, so the decision in the last leg was logical. Here both teams had chances to win the match, but in the end it was debutant Mustafejevs who won the match for his country on double 12.
Betvictor World Cup of Darts 2020, Friday, 1st Round
Lithuania 5:3 Gibraltar
Portugal 5:0 Hungary
New Zealand 5:2 Denmark
Northern Ireland 2:5 Canada
Belgium 5:4 Czech Republic
Austria 5:2 USA
England 5:3 Philippines
Italy 4:5 Spain
Sweden 0:5 Greece
Japan 3:5 Scotland
Poland 5:0 South Africa
Ireland 2:5 Australia
Wales 5:0 Russia
Germany 5:0 Finland
Netherlands 5:1 Brasil
Hong Kong 4:5 Latvia
This results in the following second round matches for tomorrow:
Betvictor World Cup of Darts 2020, Saturday, 2nd Round
Canada – New Zealand
Austria – Portugal
Belgium – Latvia
England – Lithuania
Wales – Scotland
Australia – Poland
Netherlands – Spain
Germany – Greece