32 nations go head-to-head to claim the coveted World Cup of Darts trophy in Frankfurt, with play starting tonight.
The annual pairs tournament is in its fifth renewal, which has previously won by England (Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis) twice and the Netherlands team (Raymond van Barneveld & Co Stompe in 2010 & then Raymond van Barneveld & Michael van Gerwen last year.)
In the first round of the event, being held across Thursday and Friday, the pairs will do battle in doubles matches played over the best of nine legs.
The weekend’s action will see a mixture of singles and doubles matches from the second round onwards.
Here is a look at some of the main contenders and a few outsiders.
The Stoke-on-Trent duo are paired together again and they need no introduction. Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis have won this event twice and will start their campaign to win back the title against Denmark (Per Laursen and Per Skau), this evening. Last year they were beaten finalists against the Dutch pair and with their good chemistry they will look to go one better this time around and will be in contention. In terms of the draw they have the ‘easier’ top half and will most likely face Japan in the next round if the form book works out.
Best price to win: 19/10
Two-time champions and won the event last year. World number one Michael van Gerwen and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld compliment each others play very well and are no surprise the bookies favourites. Van Gerwen heads into this tournament on the back of winning the Dubai Masters and the Dutch Masters in a week. Looking at the draw they are in the more difficult bottom half with the likes of Scotland and Wales. They start their campaign on Friday against the United States of America pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler.
Best price to win: 15/8
World and Premier League Champion Gary Anderson pairs up with Snakebite Peter Wright. The Scottish pair are the perennial underachievers in this competition having never got further than the quarter-final stage. However this year looks different considering the form of Anderson. Ranked as the second seeds they starts their tournament tomorrow evening against the Singapore pairing of Paul Lim and Harith Lim. Again if you follow the form book they are likely to face Sweden in the second round before a more difficult test against Wales.
Best price to win: 7/2
The Huybrechts brothers were beaten finalists in 2013 when losing 3-1 to England. They are fourth favourites, so no entirely outsiders however the form of the pairing would be a slight one. Kim Huybrechts best recent form is a quarter-final defeat to Jamie Caven in the Dutch Masters. While his brother Ronny is struggling for form at all. They face the Philippines (Lourence Ilagan and Gilbert Ulang) in the first round before a possible tricky test against the Spain duo in the next round.
Best price to win: 25/1
The pairing of Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez looks a strong one on paper. They have been ranked as the eighth seeds for this year’s competition and could be formidable opposition. Austria’s best World Cup performance was in the inaugural event when they reached the Third Round, which was a group stage. The pairing then of Suljovic and Maik Langendorf finished bottom of the group from which the Netherlands and Australia were the top two. This year they could do quite well. Suljovic is playing some high quality darts in floor events and is a consistent player while Rodriguez has had more exposure after participating in the Grand Slam of Darts and the World Championship. The pair starts with a tie against Czech Republic (Michal Kocik and Pavel Jirkal) before a likely tie with Germany in the second round. I would fancy these to do well but a potential quarter-final meeting with England could somewhat suppress my intentions of backing them.
Best price to win: 80/1
In previous year’s the Spanish pairing have pulled off some major shocks. In the inaugural tournament in 2010 they (Carlos Rodriguez and Antonio Alcinas) knocked out the English pairing of Phil Taylor and James Wade. They followed that up with a win over Scotland (Robert Thornton and Gary Anderson) before losing to the eventual winners the Netherlands in the semi-finals. This year a pairing of Cristo Reyes and Antonio Alcinas will go to battle and they look somewhat overpriced. Reyes reached the last 16 of the World Championships where eventual winner Gary Anderson knocked him out. Since then in floor events he has hit two nine-darters and is going from strength to strength.
In last year’s event they were beaten by the Dutch pairing, so luck hasn’t been on their side. However the draw looks a bit more favourable this time around. They start against Norway (Robert Wagner and Vegar Elvevoll) this evening and a victory could see them face Belgium in the next round. For me, this pair is the stronger of those.
Best price to win: 100/1
When looking at the draw the semi-final matches on paper look to be England v Spain and Netherlands v Scotland.
Of course from there it is based on opinions. For me, with the form Gary Anderson holds over the Dutch pair, I would fancy a final of England v Scotland. But of course if you fancy a shock pairing reaching the final then it would have to be Spain, who’ll hold no fears.
Name the Finalists – England/Scotland 5/2 (Skybet)
Winner – Scotland 7/2 (Coral & BetVictor) & Spain 100/1 (each-way Coral)