World Cup of Darts: Dutch pair to defend their crown with form doubts over England

Can Barney and MVG defend their World Cup of Darts crown later this week?
Can Barney and MVG defend their World Cup of Darts crown later this week?

Darts returns to our screens this week with Sky Sports showing the World Cup, a 32-nation knock-out competition that Mike Norman believes rests between just a few possible winners, though our man suggests highly-fancied England could be vulnerable...


"Taylor and Lewis have to be feared of course, but their recent form on the big stage, in particular in the Premier League, was far from inspiring. The Power failed to make it to the play-off stage for the first time in his career while Jackpot was always battling at the wrong end of the table."

World Cup of Darts
Thursday 11 June - Sunday 14 June
Live on Sky Sports


History

The brainchild of PDC chairman Barry Hearn, the World Cup of Darts was one of three new tournaments introduced to the calendar in 2010 with the inaugural winners being the Netherlands, the Dutch pairing of Raymond van Barneveld and Co Stompe beating Wales (Mark Webster and Barrie Bates) 4-2 in the final.

Twenty four nations participated in the first three tournaments but last year's renewal saw the number of participating nations increase to the current number of 32, 16 seeds and 16 non-seeds. The 2010 edition was held in England but the World Cup of Darts has been held in Germany ever since.


Previous Winners

2014 - Netherlands (Barneveld & Michael van Gerwen) beat England 3-0
2013 - England (Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis) beat Belgium 3-1
2012 - England (Taylor & Lewis) beat Australia 4-3
2011 - No tournament
2010 - Netherlands (Barneveld & Stompe) beat Wales 4-2


Format

The World Cup of Darts is a straight knock-out tournament with each first round match involving all four players (two on each side) taking alternative turns under the standard 501, double finish rules. The winners is the first nation to reach five legs (best of nine).

The second round, quarter-final, and semi-final stages consist of two best of seven legs singles matches, and should the same nation win both these matches then they will progress to the next round. If the scores are tied after the singles then a best of seven legs doubles match is played to determine the winner.

The final will consist of four best of seven legs singles matches (each of the two players from each nation face each other) and should any nation win three of these matches then they will win the World Cup of Darts. Should the match be tied at 2-2 after the singles matches then a best of seven legs doubles match will decide the winner.


Market Leaders

Quite rightly, the market suggests that there are effectively no more than three nations who can win this year's renewal of the World Cup of Darts, and the simple reason for that is the standard of players who represent those nations.

The Netherlands just shade favouritism at 2.8815/8 on the Exchange and are represented by the brilliant duo of Raymond van Barnevled and Michael van Gerwen, while England (2.962/1) have few weaknesses in the shape of Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis. Third favourites Scotland (5.04/1) have current World and Premier League champion Gary Anderson to call upon, and he will be backed up by the talented Peter Wright.

On current individual form it's impossible not to fancy the Netherlands to defend their crown. Barneveld was the outstanding Premier League player in the final two months of that particular tournament (unbeaten in eight matches, winning six) and there was no disgrace in losing at the semi-final stage to fellow Dutchman Van Gerwen.

Van Gerwen himself has been in scintillating form on the PDC circuit and on Sunday won his fourth consecutive European Tour event, whitewashing Justin Pipe in the final of the Dutch Darts Masters. He is now unbeaten in his last 20 matches outside of the Premier League.

Taylor and Lewis have to be feared of course, but their recent form on the big stage, in particular in the Premier League, was far from inspiring. The Power failed to make it to the play-off stage for the first time in his career while Jackpot was always battling at the wrong end of the table.

Scotland must also be considered with Anderson in their ranks, but the Flying Scotsman has had to mix being a new father with competition this year and he has publicly admitted to being extremely tired. Of course, he can still motivate himself for the 'big ones' but how highly he rates this tournament remains to be seen.

Teammate Peter Wright was bitterly disappointing in the Premier League, and despite a few low-key Players Championship victories this season he has generally been performing at a level below what we have witnessed in the last two years.


Outsiders

Of the remainder only Belgium (Kim and Ronnie Huybrechts) and Australia (Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson) trade below the 70.069/1 mark - both available to back at 29.028/1 - and both certainly have a chance of going deep in the tournament given they are in England's 'weaker' side of the draw (Netherlands and Scotland are in the other side).

Both should have few problems getting to the quarter-final, where they would then meet each other meaning one of them should face England for a place in the final, and with question marks about the current form of the English pair then an each-way wager on the Sportsbook is advised - both available to back at 20/1 with each-way terms being 1/3 odds 2 places.


Recommneded Bets

4pts Win Netherlands @ 2.8815/8
1pt e/w Belgium @ 20/1 (Sportsbook)
1pt e/w Australia @ 20/1 (Sportsbook)

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