The World Cup of Darts starts on Thursday and our new columnist Abigail Davies makes the case for backing Wales to go all the way again and recommends a couple of opening round bets...
"Both Price and Clayton have improved and developed individually since becoming the first Welsh pair to triumph in this tournament in November 2020. Wales are 2/1 favourites and backing the defending champions is the sensible choice."
The World Cup of Darts returns this week and, with 32 nations, two-player teams, backstage footage of players anxiously watching their team-mates at the oche and psyching themselves up, it is not to be missed.
The format divides opinion with many - including myself - in favour of it becoming an outright pairs tournament - but it's still one of the highlights of the PDC calendar.
Clayton's rise key to Welsh dominance
The World Cup provided the stimulus for Welsh darting dominance. Since the 3-0 demolition of England in last year's final, Jonny Clayton's rise has, without doubt, been my favourite thing. His talent and new found self-belief has seen the most likeable man on tour crowned Masters and Premier League champion. He hit his second televised nine-darter en route to his second major individual title in Milton Keynes.
Clayton's success in floor tournaments, improved finishing and fewer miscounts at the business end of legs got me wondering whether we'd ever see another darts final contested without him. That was a little extreme but 2021 has still become The Year Of The Ferret.
Clayton's victories, as well as the success of world number one and world champion Gerwyn Price, means Welsh darts is in a very healthy place. Jim Williams has just won his tour card whilst Swansea born Lewy Williams is proving to be one of the world's most exciting teenage talents.
As a pairing, it is hard to argue against another Wales win in this year's World Cup, as both Price and Clayton have improved and developed individually since becoming the first Welsh pair to triumph in this tournament, back in November 2020.
Wales are 2/1 favourites and backing the defending champions is the sensible choice.
Back Gawlas and Sedlacek for highest Czech-out
For many fans the pick of the first round ties is Germany v Canada, which is on Friday, but the stand out for me is Czech Republic v Poland on Thursday.
Czech ace Adam Gawlas is one of the most exciting prospects in darts. The 19-year-old shone in last weekend's Euro Tour and, in reaching the quarter-finals, became only the third player in the history of the event to do so before his 20th birthday. Gawlas will partner the man nicknamed Evil Charlie - Karel Sedlacek - who on his day, can produce some mightily impressive finishing.
They come up against the two Krzysztof's, the formidable Ratajski and dangerous Kciuk. Whilst The Polish Eagle's combination finishing was superb at this year's World Matchplay, I'm backing Czech Republic at 6/5 to produce the highest checkout in this match.
Scots to crush Chinese debutants
Scotland begin their campaign against Chinese debutants Jianfeng Lu and Wenqing Liu. John Henderson and Peter Wright will be trying to win a second World Cup title for Scotland. Crowd favourite Henderson has said that he's looking forward to being guided by recently-crowned World Matchplay Champion Snakebite Wright.
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