A solo sport becomes a team one this weekend when the World Cup of Darts takes place in Frankfurt. 32 of the leading darts nations in the world head to the German city with the best two players from that country representing their nationality on the big stage.
That means we have some of the best darting stars in the world on show and some who will want to prove their worth all doing battle in a format which is a tremendous leveller to add to the excitement.
2016 – England
2015 – England
2014 – Netherlands
2013 – England
2012 – England
2010 – Netherlands
The 32 countries have all been placed into a pre-determined draw with eight seeds avoiding each other and the rest fair game. The tournament is a straight knockout from the outset. The first round is a doubles match which will be the best of nine legs.
The second round through to the semi-final is the best of three rubbers with each tie consisting of 2x best of seven leg singles play and if needed a best of seven doubles to decide the contest. The final is played over the best of five rubbers with the tie seeing two best of seven leg singles followed by a best of seven doubles and then the two reverse singles should they be needed.
Scotland are the top seeds in the tournament for the first time this year. Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, arguably the best player in the world on current form, pair up to make up their team. It must be said these two have only paired up once when they were second in 2015.
England are the second seeds as they look to defend their title. If they are going to defend it they will do so with a new pairing as it is Dave Chisnall who plays in the tournament for the first time. He replaces Phil Taylor to pair up with Adrian Lewis in a high scoring twosome.
The Netherlands are the third seeds this weekend with Michael van Gerwen and Raymond Barneveld combining once again to try and win the title back. The pair won the event alongside each other in 2014 and can’t be ruled out this year if they gel nicely.
Wales go into the tournament as the fourth seeds with Gerwyn Price making his tournament debut to partner Mark Webster. Price might need to take the lead with Webster’s form and game the way it is but they are seeded to go strongly if it all clicks.
The pairing of Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson arrive in better form for Australia this year than they did 12 months ago and as a result they are likely to be much stronger players in this tournament. Whitlock partnered Paul Nicholson to the final in 2012 so they can’t be ruled out.
Northern Ireland are the sixth seeds with Daryl Gurney the man looking to take the lead for the Ulstermen. Brendan Dolan is once again his partner as the duo look to build on a run to the semi-finals last year. If they are to go further Dolan will need to give Gurney good support.
Austria head in with their highest ever seeding this weekend. Mensur Suljovic’s rise up the rankings mean that the Austrians are the seventh seeds and if Rowby-John Rodriguez is on top form this is a pair who could surprise a few of the supposed better sides.
Belgium are down at eighth seeds but the Huybrechts brothers always combine very well especially in the pairs contests and they might well have the edge on a number of sides in that. They usually use emotion to their advantage in this tournament and as such the 2013 finalists could be overpriced at 40/1.
The host nation Germany will be represented by Max Hopp and Martin Schindler this year and if nerves don’t affect the latter they could ride the wave of home support to negotiate a few rounds. They have the potential to be a talented side.
The emergence of Cristo Reyes makes Spain a side to watch whenever they take to the oche. Antonio Alcinas can be brilliant but he can be brutal just as easily. If he’s good Spain could be ones to avoid as Scotland might find out in the second round.
New Zealand have a talented pairing in the form of the highly rated Cody Harris and Rob Szabo and if they hit their straps from the off they are capable of upsetting a few in this format. If you are throwing loose change at this event you could do a lot worse than direct it their way.
I don’t think this is a tournament to go too mad on from an outright point of view and those who are taking a flimsy interest at it can do worse than backing New Zealand at outrageous prices but I’m going to have one proper bet on the outright market.
Simon Whitlock has been one of the players of the year so far and his partner Kyle Anderson is very dangerous especially over the shorter formats. The two never really got going last year but Whitlock was in a slump then. I expect him to dominate matches this year and the pressure won’t be on Anderson as much.
The Australia side are seeded in a perfect part of the draw with Wales looking no match for them in a worst case scenario quarter final and even the Scots are beatable in this format in a worst case semi. At 25/1 Australia look the obvious value pick to the short priced favourites.
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