The 32 top nations in darts will do battle in Hamburg, Germany, during the weekend of 6-8 June, with the 2014 PDC World Cup of Darts on the line.
England will be defending their title against a strong group of challengers, with the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Scotland all having their eyes set on the title and the £200,000 prize money.
Friday's opening session will see the 16 seeded countries go up against their unseeded opponents, giving some of the outsiders a chance at pulling off a major upset.
Note: All results are courtesy of PDC.tv.
Sunday Update: Quarter-Finals and Final Session
The 2014 PDC World Cup of Darts came to a conclusion on Sunday. In the final matchup fans were anticipating, the Netherlands notched a clean 3-0 sweep of defending champion England.
But the road to that triumph wasn't easy for the stalwart Dutch tandem of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld. In the quarter-final, Belgian brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts gave the Netherlands all it could handle. The former Huybrechts defeated van Gerwen in the opening singles match 4-2.
When van Barneveld won his showdown 4-2, doubles were necessary to determine who would advance to face Northern Ireland, who had won 2-1 over Scotland to get through to the semi-finals. The doubles decider was lopsided, as the Dutch moved forward with a 4-0 rout.
PDC noted how unstoppable the Dutch were in that particular instance, as they wouldn't be denied before the final:
Australia blanked Wales in another doubles grudge match, while England took care of South Africa as the only team to get to the semi-final without the need for a doubles match.
Brendan Dolan of Northern Ireland edged the Netherlands' van Gerwen 4-3 to open the semi-finals. However, van Barneveld was there again to respond for the eventual champions, blanking Michael Mansell 4-0, and carrying that momentum over to a 4-0 doubles clincher.
England's Phil Taylor put away Simon Whitlock of Australia 4-1, yet his struggling partner Adrian Lewis came up short versus Paul Nicholson by a score of 4-2. Once the Englishmen finished off the Aussies 4-0, though, the stage was set for a rather anticlimactic final that was one-sided.
Four singles matches and one double was scheduled, but only three wins were needed to take the title. The Dutch managed to clean up (h/t PDC.tv):
Singles Match 1: Michael van Gerwen def. Phil Taylor; 4-0
Singles Match 2: Raymond van Barneveld def. Adrian Lewis; 4-0
Singles Match 3: Michael van Gerwen def. Adrian Lewis; 4-2
Van Gerwen took to Twitter afterwards to celebrate the massive accomplishment:
It appears there may be a changing of the guard in the darts world. The English looked unstoppable in cruising to the final, devastating Australia in the doubles finale. However, the Netherlands held firm and dismantled Taylor and Lewis.
Next year there will be a new team to beat. Given the recent success van Gerwen and van Barneveld have had this season overall, it stands to reason they'll be back for more. England should be poised for revenge after not bringing its best stuff to the final, though. That should create a great slate of major tournaments moving forward and a compelling World Cup of Darts in 2015.
Saturday Update: Evening Session
The Dutch duo of Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen reaffirmed their status as the team to beat in this tournament, as they overcame Spain with consummate ease.
Premier League champion Van Barneveld and World Champion Van Gerwen both won their singles matches 4-1, and in truth, neither had to get out of first gear in their respective games.
The pairing tipped to run the Netherlands’ mercurial duo closest is England’s Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis. But the twosome from Stoke-on-Trent looked as though they were in danger of dropping out in the second round at one point, after Lewis lost his singles match against Darin Young 4-1.
Taylor’s earlier 4-1 over Larry Butler meant that a doubles decider was needed, and in the end the class of the English pair shone through. They secured their place in the quarter-finals after a 4-1 win in the playoff.
Elsewhere, the Australia also needed a doubles decider in their match with Hong Kong, as Paul Nicholson struggled for form. His partner Simon Whitlock was a calming influence however, as his presence enabled Nicholson to settle down and play under less pressure in the third game.
The Australians eventually triumphed 4-0 in the deciding game. In the other clash this evening, it was the Scottish pair of Peter Wright and Robert Thornton that prevailed, knocking out Sweden after they both won their singles matches. The Scottish pair are potentially a dark horse for this title.
Both Wright and Thornton have plenty of pedigree and a host big tournament experience. If they can somehow manage to match the big scoring of the Dutch and English pairings, then they’re clinical shooting on the doubles could see them upset a few.
Here are the results from the evening session, courtesy of PDC.tv:
Australia 2-1 Hong Kong
Singles 1 - Simon Whitlock 4-2 Ting Chi Royden Lam
Singles 2 - Paul Nicholson 1-4 Scott Mackenzie
Doubles (if needed) - Whitlock/Nicholson 4-0 Lam/Mackenzie
Scotland 2-0 Sweden
Singles 1 - Peter Wright 4-0 Magnus Caris
Singles 2 - Robert Thornton 4-1 Peter Sajwani
Doubles (not needed) - Wright/Thornton v Caris/Sajwani
England 2-1 USA
Singles 1 - Phil Taylor 4-1 Larry Butler
Singles 2 - Adrian Lewis 1-4 Darin Young
Doubles - Taylor/Lewis 4-1 Butler/Young
Netherlands 2-0 Spain
Singles 1 - Michael van Gerwen 4-1 Antonio Alcinas
Singles 2 - Raymond van Barneveld 4-1 Carlos Rodriguez
Doubles (if needed) - van Gerwen/van Barneveld v Alcinas/Rodriguez
Saturday Update: Afternoon Session
Wales and South Africa both suffered close shaves in the second round of the World Cup of Darts, with both needing a sudden death doubles leg to progress.
A major shock looked as though it was going to be on the cards when Welshman Mark Webster lost his singles clash to unknown Polish player Krzysztof Chmielewski, but he was bailed out by his compatriot Richie Burnett, who recovered from 3-2 down to beat Krzysztof Strozyk 4-3.
The match went to a sudden death doubles leg and Webster—a one-time World Champioship finalist—eventually managed to redeem himself. With the scores poised at 3-3 and with the Polish side needing only 40 to win the match, Webster checked out 112 to see the Wales through to the next round.
Clearly struggling for his best form, Webster was quick to pay tribute to his teammate for digging them out of a hole, per PDC.tv:
I was devastated after the Singles but that's the beauty of this being a team event, and Richie put in a captain's performance. I'm struggling with my technique at the moment and Richie gave me a lift, but the 112 at the end was the least I could do for the team.
I need to work on my rhythm for the quarter-finals and I want to get back to the form which got me to number six in the world, but I know I've got one of the best partners around in Richie.
South Africa almost looked as though they were heading for a shock exit too. Devon Peterson and Graham Filby looked nailed on favourites to progress against Singapore. Peterson got them off to the perfect start when he won his singles clash 4-0, but Filby struggled in his game, eventually losing out 4-3. With the scores tied at 1-1, a decider was necessary and the pressure told.
South Africa missed seven darts to secure the tie with the score poised at 3-2, and it looked as though they were going to choke on the big stage. But Peterson eventually held his nerve to check out 68 and send his nation to the quarter-finals.
Aside from those two thrilling encounters, Belgium and Northern Ireland booked their place in the last-four, triumphing 2-0 over Austria and Japan respectively.
Here are your full results from the afternoon session, per PDC.tv:
Northern Ireland 2-0 Japan
Singles 1 - Michael Mansell 4-1 Haruki Muramatsu
Singles 2 - Brendan Dolan 4-2 Morihiro Hashimoto
Doubles (not needed) - Mansell/Dolan v Muramatsu/Hashimoto
Belgium 2-0 Austria
Singles 1 - Kim Huybrechts 4-1 Mensur Suljovic
Singles 2 - Ronny Huybrechts 4-0 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Doubles (not needed) - Huybrechts/Huybrechts v Suljovic/Rodriguez
Wales 2-1 Poland
Singles 1 - Mark Webster 3-4 Krzysztof Chmielewski
Singles 2 - Richie Burnett 4-2 Krzysztof Strozyk
Doubles - Webster/Burnett 4-3 Chmielewski/Strozyk
Singapore 1-2 South Africa
Singles 1 - Paul Lim 0-4 Devon Petersen
Singles 2 - Harith Lim 4-3 Graham Filby
Doubles (if needed) - Lim/Lim 3-4 Petersen/Filby
Friday Update: Evening Session
Singapore started the evening session off with a bang, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to knock out eight seed Ireland 5-3.
Live Darts were as shocked as the people in attendance in Hamburg:
Connie Finnan and William O'Connor seemed to have little difficulty handling Paul and Harith Lim in the first three legs of their contest, twice converting double 16 to take the first two and scoring a 180 in the third.
In his first ever appearance at the World Cup, the younger Lim kept his cool in the next two legs before Singapore star Paul Lim landed a 180 on his way to tying things up 3-3.
Ireland were suddenly lost, failing to routinely throw over 100 as Singapore rode a wave of momentum to two more leg wins, Harith taking out 87 in the seventh and his partner hitting another 180 in the last.
Wales surprisingly needed a deciding leg against the French duo of Jacques Labre and Lionel Maranhao, after going down 2-0 and 4-3 in their match.
Richie Burnett struggled with his placement for much of the evening but was fortunate to have Mark Webster playing with him, and in the final leg, it was Burnett who redeemed himself with an excellent hit on double 10.
Kim and Ronny Huybrechts absolutely dominated their Indian foes, recording a 5-0 whitewash. Last year's losing finalists will be looking to do even better in 2014, and if their first round dominance was any indication, some of the other top nations better watch out.
Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis had little more difficulty taking care of Thailand, last year's champions also progressing to the next round with a whitewash, as shared by Sky Sports Darts:
Taylor has had a difficult season in 2014, but against Thailand, he was nearly flawless. Both Taylor and Lewis had misses to close the fourth leg, the only time when Thailand looked like they had a shot of stealing a leg.
The Power and Jackpot both looked exceptionally sharp in their first round win, boding well for the remainder of the tournament.
The Netherlands looked strong against Italy, Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld keeping their calm to win 5-2, as shared by the PDC's official Twitter account:
The Dutch took a quick 3-0 lead but seemed to unravel, giving up back-to-back legs to the Italians thanks to inspired play by Daniele Petri.
Van Gerwen then put his foot down on the gas, opening with a 180 on his way to an 11-darter and a good look at the second round. Van Barneveld missed three chances at double 12 to close the match, but his partner converted on double six to put away their opponents for good.
Here are the full results of the evening session, via PDC.com:
- Republic of Ireland (8) 3-5 Singapore
- Wales (5) 5-4 France
- Belgium (7) 5-0 India
- Northern Ireland (6) 5-2 Malaysia
- Scotland (3) 5-1 Russia
- England (1) 5-0 Thailand
- Netherlands (2) 5-2 Italy
- Australia (4) 5-2 Denmark
Singapore and South Africa will play each other in a battle of the underdogs in the second round, meaning at least one unseeded team will make it to the quarter-finals.
The USA looked very solid in their opening round, and they will challenge defending champions England in the second round. Taylor and Lewis should be able to overcome their opponents, particularly if their form from the first round holds up.
The Netherlands will play Spain, who somewhat struggled against New Zealand on Friday.
Friday Update: Afternoon Session
The Hamburg crowd got the chance to see some of the less heralded players take the stage during the afternoon session, with the eight lowest-seeded teams trying to book their place in the second round.
The biggest upset came near the end of the session, when South Africa eliminated host nation Germany, the ninth seed, by a score of 5-3, as shared by Live Darts:
Devon Petersen and Graham Filby jumped out to a three-leg lead in no time at all, needing just 15 darts to take the first and 12 to take the third. Jyhan Artut and Andree Welge had to look on, powerless, as the South African duo was money finishing the leg every single time, taking the crowd right out of the fixture.
Two errors from Petersen and one by Wilby gave the Germans life, allowing them to climb back to 3-2, but Petersen quickly atoned with an out on double 16 to give his country the chance to win the match.
A great effort from Welge made things 4-3, finishing a 110 while behind on the board, but the German was unable to repeat his heroics one leg later, missing on 100 to give Filby a shot at double 18, winning the match.
Germany weren't the only seeded team to fall at the first hurdle, as Finland and Canada both lost final legs to Poland and Japan, respectively.
Canada's loss in particular was painful, with John Part and Shaun Narain squandering a 4-2 lead with misses to end the match in back-to-back legs. Morihiro Hashimoto did a better job controlling his nerves, taking out 60 in the final to complete Japan's comeback, as shared by Live Darts:
The USA destroyed Hungary 5-1, with Darin Young and Larry Butler looking in fine form as they head for the second round. @Tungstendarts couldn't help themselves:
Young started the party with a 180, and the duo never looked back, with Butler eventually ending proceedings by taking out 86. The duo averaged an impressive 94.15, a good omen for the rest of the tournament.
Here are the full results from the afternoon session, via PDC.tv:
- Finland (12) 4-5 Poland
- USA (16) 5-1 Hungary
- Hong Kong (13) 5-2 Norway
- Austria (10) 5-2 China
- Sweden (14) 5-2 Gibraltar
- Canada (11) 4-5 Japan
- Germany (9) 3-5 South Africa
- Spain (15) 5-3 New Zealand
All eyes will be on England and the Netherlands when they take the stage for the evening sessions. Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis have won the tournament in back-to-back years, but Taylor has struggled with his finishing in 2014 and cannot afford to do the same in Hamburg.
Raymond van Barneveld was part of the Dutch team that won the inaugural World Cup, and he will be pairing with in-form Michael van Gerwen, who has never tasted World Cup glory. Van Gerwen, the current world champion, told his official website how painful it was to lose to Finland last year and touched on the great form his compatriot has been in:
Losing to Finland last year was a big disappointment but it shows what can happen in this tournament.
Everyone is proud to be representing their country and you have to be at your best to get the right result.
Raymond and I finished first and second in the Premier League table and played the final – but it won’t mean anything over the weekend.
We have to get up there and play good darts or we will be going home early like we did 12 months ago.
The Netherlands will start their tournament against Italy, while England will take on Thailand.