24 nations are ready to battle for the World Cup of Darts in Hamburg later today, and some of MODUS’ superstars are widely expected to be challenging for the title.
Seven players from the MODUS stable are in action over the three day event, including three all-MODUS pairings in the Dutch, Australian and Spanish teams.
Raymond van Barneveld won the inaugural tournament with Co Stompe, and he is aiming to defend his title for the Netherlands. ‘Barney’ will be partnered by Vincent van der Voort for this year’s event.
He said: “I haven’t practised enough recently and that’s why I haven’t been winning. I’m practising everyday now and I feel fantastic. I think some people have written me off prematurely but I know I haven’t lost my ability. I’m not far from being back to the old ‘Barney’, trust me. I was very proud to win a title for my country when I won it with Co last time, so I hope that Vincent and I can do it again.”
Van der Voort is delighted to be representing his homeland with five-time world champion van Barneveld. He said: “Raymond is the reason why darts is so big in Holland and he is a great friend of mine, which is important when playing as a pair. It is a new tournament for me and I’m sure we can win it.”
The Netherlands are seeded third for the tournament, one seed below the Australian pairing of Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson.
‘The Wizard’ and ‘The Asset’ return to the tournament after reaching the semi-final in 2010 and are aiming to go all the way this time around.
Whitlock reached the semi-final of the world championship to cap off another solid year but he is desperate to win his first major title this weekend.
He said: “I want to win a major this year; hopefully it will happen in Hamburg. I have reached a lot of semi’s but not enough finals so we will be looking to go two steps further than last time and win the World Cup. Paul is great player, he has been playing consistently well for a while now. I feel good too so I’m sure we can win it.”
Australia’s seeding of second means they could meet an England team consisting of the two highest ranked players in the world in an ‘Ashes’ style final. Nicholson is excited at that prospect.
He said: “Everybody wants to see an Australia versus England final, including me, but we will have to work very hard to get there. There are some brilliant teams in the competition this year, none more so than Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis but Simon and I have a great relationship and I think we have both got the attributes to go all the way.”
Australia lost out in the 2010 semi-final when they ran into Wales and a rampant Mark Webster. ‘Spider’ was in blistering form throughout the tournament but lost in the final despite winning both of his singles matches. He believes that he and his new teammate Richie Burnett can help Wales upset the odds once again.
He said: “Barrie Bates and I surprised a few people in 2010 and achieved a lot more than was expected of us. I’m really looking forward to playing with Richie and I think we have a really good chance. Everyone will be expecting England to win but if we get a chance we will we take it.”
England had been expected to win the first World Cup tournament but were subjected to a shock exit at the hands of Spain. Antonio Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez reached the semi-final in 2010 and the pair will be back in action this afternoon when they take on South Africa for the chance to play Scotland in the second round.
The seeded countries will begin their respective campaigns in round two, which will be spread across this evening and tomorrow afternoon’s sessions. The Netherlands will face the winners of Austria versus New Zealand, Australia will play either Malaysia or Republic of Ireland, and Wales will take on Finland or Croatia.
The quarter-finals will be played on Saturday afternoon, with the semis and final taking place on Sunday.
MODUS.darts.tv will provide updates and reports throughout the tournament.
By Chris Murphy