Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up, which this week will take a deeper look into the BetVictor World Cup of Darts, kicking off on Thursday at Hamburg’s Barclaycard Arena. The competition features many of the big names who have just completed the Premier League season, with some notable absentees, and as we look at how the competition might go, we will see what the top bookmakers think – and see where they might have got it wrong.
For this week, the world’s best throwers set aside personal glory to represent their countries. Each competing nation is sending their two highest-ranked players, a format rule which means that Premier League semi-finalist James Wade misses out in favour of Michael Smith and, for the first time, Raymond van Barneveld will not be turning out for the Netherlands. For darts bettors, then, it’s worth thinking further than which nation has the best individual player; Michael van Gerwen may be by far the world’s best, but can he work in tandem with a lower-ranked partner to give the Dutch a third-consecutive title?
The tournament begins with a first round that includes eight seeded teams plus 24 outsiders. This means eight matches between unseeded nations, and eight which pair the seeds with underdog opposition. Below, we’ll look at some of the first-round matches, as well as checking out odds on some of the best bets you can make.
Little reason to expect a shock in the opening round
The seeded nations in this World Cup are, in order: England, 2018 runners-up Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Australia, Northern Ireland, Belgium and Austria. All of these countries, bar Australia, include one player who was involved in the Premier League although, in the case of Belgium, Max Hopp was only included as a one-off challenger. In that one match, he lost to Raymond van Barneveld.
It’s difficult to see any of the seeds losing in the first round – tournament sponsor BetVictor has Australia as ⅕ favourites in their pairing with Finland, and that’s the closest they get to forecasting an upset. Frankly, without an odds boost, there is no reason to even take a punt on any of the matches involving a seeded team – the odds are so short on the favourites, and so meaningless for the outsiders, that you’re best off keeping your powder dry for later rounds.
Hotting up by the quarter finals?
Looking down the draw for the tournament, it’s tough to see any of the seeds being seriously tested within the first two rounds, although England will be aware that their second-round contest against the Republic of Ireland will see Smith and Rob Cross go toe-to-toe with two players currently in the world’s top fifty. The top seeds should have enough to see off the Irish, though, and it will be at the quarter-final stage that things get particularly interesting.
If matches follow seedings, then Sunday’s last-eight matches will be: England-Austria; Netherlands-Australia; Scotland-Belgium; and most intriguingly, Wales-Northern Ireland. The tournament’s third seeds, Wales are Evens with Ladbrokes to win QF4 and move on to a semi-final against Scotland. However, with Daryl Gurney a recent Premier League semi-finalist, the NI team of Gurney and Brendan Dolan – at 6/4 with the same bookmaker – may be a smarter bet to reach the semi-finals. This is all the greater a possibility given that Gurney has reason to want to beat Wales’ Gerwyn Price – there is existing bad blood between the pair.
Can Holland keep their run going?
In 2017 and 2018, this tournament was won by the Dutch pair of Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen. As we’ve noted, “Barney” will play no part in this season’s edition, having been edged out in the rankings by Jermaine Wattimena. That said, there is some argument that this is no bad thing for the Dutch side – van Barneveld has gone somewhat off the boil in the last year and may not have helped his side’s cause. However, the fact remains that as well as the World Number One, Holland are also bringing the 23rd-ranked player. England have #2 and #6. Scotland can claim the third- and fourth-ranked players. Wales, too, can point to a pairing who are both inside the top 16. If the Dutch are to retain their title, it may be that MvG has to do a lot of heavy lifting.
The tournament format means that England are slated to face the Dutch in the semi-finals, and have an advantage given that rankings suggest van Gerwen would win his singles match but Wattimena lose his, no matter which players are paired in those matches. This would then lead to a best-of-seven doubles contest; Cross and Smith would be favoured to win that.
Where it gets very interesting is that, although ranked first in the world, England’s partnership is probably weaker than third-favourites Scotland. Especially if a win for Northern Ireland over Wales opens up the bottom half of the draw, it could be that the smart money for the tournament winner is not on Holland, nor on England. Instead, look at Betway to find Scotland at 7/2. That could be excellent value, particularly if the expected Anglo-Dutch semi-final goes the distance and Scotland win their preceding matches as solidly as they should.