It’s time to double up on the fun at the PDC World Cup of Darts.
Everyone’s favourite team event is back for another spectacular showing in Hamburg. 64 players feature, representing 32 nations, with one world title on the line. The number of participants will be brutally halved in a quick-fire first round. Seeds are at serious risk, and PDC world rankings mean little. That’s the magic of the World Cup of Darts.
18:00 Gibraltar v Japan
We start with Dyson Parody and Guest – a.k.a Gibraltar. The combustible Parody has been at every edition of the event, but to date has masterminded just one win. They’ve drawn England and Netherlands in the past two years. Japan are an easier opponent on paper, but Haruki Muramatsu (another ever-present) and Seigo Asada are a top quality pairing. Antony Lopez is the man tasked with completing the Gibraltar team this year.
18:30 Northern Ireland v South Africa
Northern Ireland are a strong duo – Daryl Gurney’s star continues to rise, while Brendan Dolan is a tricky opponent for any player. They’ve been handed an interesting draw. South Africa’s side is made up of a veteran and a rookie, in Devon Petersen and Vernon Bouwers. But the sole African representative at the World Cup of Darts has a history of causing shocks.
19:00 New Zealand v Lithuania
Lithuania need to build their history from scratch. The Eastern Europeans are the only side who weren’t here last year. They replace Thailand, mostly thanks to the presence of Darius Labanauskas. Mindaugas Barauskas will be looking to help Labanauskas and his nation past the New Zealand pairing of Cody Harris and Haupai Puha. Both teams are dark horses, but one will suffer the ignominy of an early exit.
19:30 Belgium v Hong Kong
Belgium are among the select group of teams who have been close to winning this tournament without ever doing so. The 2013 runners-up boast an excellent team in Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri van den Bergh, though neither are in stunning form. Royden Lam and Kai Fan Leung will be aiming to lead Hong Kong to a shock win over the seventh seeds.
20:00 Brazil v Sweden
This is already guaranteed to be a landmark World Cup of Darts. Magnus Caris, the Scandinavian star, will bow out of the professional game after this tournament. It’s up to him and Dennis Nilsson to make sure it isn’t a short goodbye. They play Brazil, who smashed Denmark on debut last year. This tie is a repeat of football’s 1958 World Cup final, which Brazil won 5-2. Diogo Portela – surely the Pele of Brazilian darts – will be key to possibly matching that scoreline.
20:30 Wales v Singapore
There is plenty of talk about Wales as possible champions. And why not? Gerwyn Price is one of the best in the world. Jonny Clayton isn’t far behind. They make a good team, and sit on the opposite side of the draw to the only two teams ever to win this thing. How embarrassing it would be, then, if they were to lose to Singapore in round one. Paul and Harith Lim have previous in that regard.
21:00 Hungary v Germany
Germany are once again the World Cup of Darts host nation, and will benefit from partisan backing. Max Hopp and Martin Schindler shouldn’t need it in round one. They face Pal Szekely and Janos Vegso of Hungary, one of those nations which has so far acted as filler. They could really shake things up if they can conjure up a surprise.
21:30 Scotland v Denmark
The night ends with the second seeds taking to the stage. On paper, you can’t get a pairing much stronger than Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. Yet Anderson is injured, and has barely played. Wright has, but his erratic performances have hardly been inspiring. You wonder, then, if Denmark’s mix of the wily Per Laursen and the former Denmark Open doubles champ Niels Heinsoe can’t cause a major upset.
Thursday session schedule (play starts 1800 BST)
Gibraltar v Japan
Northern Ireland v South Africa
New Zealand v Lithuania
Belgium v Hong Kong
Brazil v Sweden
Wales v Singapore
Hungary v Germany
Scotland v Denmark
Author: Ed McCosh