Three nights after the latest Premier League Darts champion was crowned two players from 32 nations will head to Germany for the 2022 World Cup of Darts, the event which pits singles and doubles play in the same tournament.
Scotland mastered the format to take the title down 12 months ago and they are back to look to make a successful title defence but the field has a much more competitive look to it with some dangerous pairings this year.
2021 – Scotland
2020 – Wales
2019 – Scotland
2018 – Netherlands
2017 – Netherlands
2016 – England
2015 – England
2014 – Netherlands
2013 – England
2012 – England
Sadly the ridiculous format of this tournament hasn’t changed. That means the opening round is still the best of nine legs in a pairs format. The second round, quarter finals and semi-finals are all the best of three rubbers. The first two of them are singles over the best of seven legs and if the tie goes 1-1 it will be settled on a best of seven doubles. The final will be contested over five rubbers. The first two are best of seven singles and then comes the best of seven doubles. Should they be needed the remaining two rubbers are the reverse singles over the best of seven. The first to three rubbers are the champions.
England are the number one seeds this week with the high quality pairing of James Wade and Michael Smith teaming up to do battle for them. I don’t think England will be too disappointed with their draw either because their quarter final opponents are seeded to be the defending champions Scotland but the form of John Henderson in that pairing will need Peter Wright to be at his brilliant best for them to retain the title. The other two seeds in this half of the draw are Belgium and Australia. Belgium will once again be represented by Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh while Australia will use the pairing of Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta.
There are 12 other nations who are unseeded in the top half of the draw. The pick of those are probably the Czech Republic although when it gets round to the singles stage then Portugal and Poland could be tough to beat with Jose de Sousa and Krzysztof Ratajski in their ranks. USA are also in this half of the draw as are Japan who usually give their all and are competitive. Hong Kong and South Africa are in it too which means we’ll see Devon Petersen in this half of the draw.
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It is the 2020 winners Wales who will be the highest seeds in the bottom half of the draw this year. They will be represented by the same pair who landed the title two years ago in Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton and on paper look the team to beat. The Netherlands are seeded to be their semi-final opponents but there is no Michael van Gerwen for them. UK Open champion Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode are their pairing. The other two seeded nations are Northern Ireland with regular pair Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan on show for them and the host nation Germany who have the duo of Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler playing for them.
There are some really good World Cup pairs among the unseeded teams in this half of the draw. They include the beaten finalists of 12 months ago in Austria, who once again have Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez playing for them. Former finalists Republic of Ireland are also in this half with Steve Lennon and William O’Connor once again in action for them. Canada are potential dark horses too with Jeff Smith and Matt Campbell representing them while Singapore are always a popular team with Paul Lim one of their players. Spain and Finland are other sides who could go well.
This isn’t my favourite tournament to bet on at all because I think the format is horrendous in comparison to what it could be but there are a couple of prices which catch my eye. In the top half of the draw the Belgium team look worth backing after Dimitri Van den Bergh returned to form in Copenhagen at the weekend. Kim Huybrechts is always bang up for this tournament and you sense he’ll be determined to get his hands on silverware both for his nation which is getting better at darts all the time and for his own career with Grand Slam spots available for the finalists here and much more besides. Van den Bergh can beat anyone in this field but this tournament has always been about how strong the second player is rather than the first player. Huybrechts is in the top three second string players and as such Belgium look a great price with a weak draw.
In the other half of the draw I was tempted by the host nation Germany but the fact it is a pairing which hasn’t been used in the competition before puts me off a little bit so I’ll go with Austria to go one better than they did 12 months ago. They have the same pairing so we know the format suits them and while Mensur Suljovic hasn’t been that active and not in great form nobody ever likes to play him. Rowby-John Rodriguez can mix it over this short format and although they could run into Wales in the second round, Jonny Clayton is beginning to look like a player who has played a lot of big time darts over the last 18 months. I think this bottom half is quite competitive but 50/1 Austria carries enough juice to have them as my back up to Belgium.
Back Belgium to win World Cup of Darts (e/w) for a 2/10 stake at 12.00 with Unibet (1/2 1-2)
Back Austria to win World Cup of Darts (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 51.00 with Boylesports (1/3 1-2)
Back them here: