World Cup of Darts first round: Dutch and Scots take to the oche
Coral preview day two of the World Cup of Darts in German city Frankfurt, as the likes of title holders the Netherlands (7/4 title second-favourites) and Scotland (7/2) begin their campaign on Friday night.
British Isles nations Wales, Northern Ireland (both 40/1) and Republic of Ireland (100/1) also feature, as well as a John Part-led Canada (300/1).
Here are the main clashes of the evening…
Netherlands v USA
Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen may be two of the best players in the game right now and are the reigning World Cup champions, but are seeded just third for this event, perhaps due to Barney’s low world ranking of 14th.
They have suffered as a result, as they face arguably the most difficult run to the final than any other top nation, starting off against unpredictable USA, before possibly having to face South Africa, Northern Ireland, Scotland and then ultimately England.
The Netherlands are understandably heavy 1/12 odds-on favourites to beat the USA (6/1), but may not have it all their way. Back the Dutch at a more enticing 11/4 price to triumph 5-2.
Scotland v Singapore
Although Scotland have always had top players, they have never reached further than the quarter-finals in the four World Cups to date, having lost to lesser darting nations Spain (twice), South Africa and Northern Ireland in the past.
This time, though, they happen to have the best player in the world on the big stage right now in world champions and Premier League Darts winner Anderson.
The Flying Scotsman will partner Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, and the duo are odds-on 1/10 to see off Singapore (11/2), who shocked the Republic of Ireland last year. Scotland are 11/4 to beat them 5-2 too.
Northern Ireland v Thailand
Brendan Dolan and Michael Mansell know each other well, having played together at the last three World Cups, and in that time have reached the quarters and semis.
While they are not expected to win the tournament, they do have the potential to go far, especially if The History Maker is on fire, as he was at the last finals.
Northern Ireland (1/8 odds-on favourites) should walk all over Thailand (9/2), who got thrashed 5-0 by England in their first World Cup last year, and are 11/2 shouts to whitewash them as well.
Wales v Hong Kong
Richie Burnett has been replaced by rising star Jamie Lewis to partner 2008 BDO world champion Mark Webster, and the 2010 runners-up are another British nation that can go far if they play their cards right.
Wales (4/11) have always done well at World Cup, having reached the final, semis (twice) and then quarters, and start off against Hong Kong (2/1).
The Asian nation, fronted by Brazilian-born, half-Scot/half-Japanese Scott MacKenzie, do have ability, though, so back Wales to triumph 5-3 at 4/1.
South Africa v Finland
This will be perhaps one of the closer battles of the evening, as two-time quarter-finalists South Africa (8/15) take on 2013 semi-finalists Finland (11/8).
The Finns will be without their star duo Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula, though, so back South Africa to triumph 5-4 at 9/2.
The three remaining fixtures of the evening are between Canada (8/13) and New Zealand (6/5), Sweden (2/5) and Hungary (7/4), and Republic of Ireland (2/7) and Poland (5/2).
Betting tip – Netherlands beat USA 5-2 @ 11/4