USA and Denmark can upset the odds early
The start to the 2013 World Cup of Darts might be a bit of a low-key affair but the first evening session should be anything but as the big names join the party in Hamburg.
The re-arranged format of the tournament will see all the unseeded nations taking each other on in the afternoon session on Friday which may well include a fair few scrappy encounters but then the big boys join in to take on the afternoon's winners in the evening.
With the opponents for the seeded team as yet unknown though we must delve into the world of the lesser known players representing the darting backwaters on Friday lunchtime.
One of the more recognisable names from the more obscure nations is Kim Huybrechts who is paired with his brother Ronnie for Belgium in taking on the Hungarian pairing of Nandor Bezzeg and Meszaros Zsolt. The Eastern Europeans really don't have a lot of pedigree in the game and the Huybrechts brothers certainly do, especially Kim who was in the final of a PDC major not too long ago at the Players Championships. There is no surprise that the best odds on the Belgians available are 1/8 and if you fancy sticking your house on it then you can feel pretty safe in the outcome to be honest.
A much closer affair will be the next clash between Denmark and South Africa, who the bookies can barely separate. The standout performer from either side though is the Dane Per Laursen who has appeared in numerous world championships and famously beat John Part 3-0 in 2011. His partner Jann Hoffmann is certainly in the veteran bracket but did perform in four BDO world championships in the '90s winning a couple of matches along the way. Most bookies have this match as even but some push the Dane's out to 11/10 second favourites and that looks a good price to me.
The Spain v Italy contest is another walkover that is not really worth betting on. The Spanish pair of Carlos Rodriguez and Antonio Alcinas are former semi-finalists here and high quality players whilst Italy are on debut and will struggle to mount a challenge really. Again if at 1/5 you fancy a substantial punt then the Spaniards will be a very reliable one.
Croatia v New Zealand will be up next and that could be a real slug-fest between two sides that lack much quality at all. Robert Marijanovic was at the world championships this year and looked alright which may be why the bookies make the Croats favourites at 4/7 for this one but it certainly isn't the most tempting of odds-on prices and NZ could pinch this one at a decent price of 13/8.
One that could be worth putting a fair amount on is Canada taking on Sweden which sees John Part and Jeff Smith facing Magnus Caris and Par Riihonen. Caris is a well established player but is very unreliable on the big stage and he would be a very long price to beat Part in singles competition. Smith is a very solid player and you would take him over Riihonen any day. This is why Canada are 1/2 to win it but they could really be shorter than that and of all the odds-on bets this could be the one worth taking.
This leaves three contests between six real newcomers on the darting landscape except the USA who have been producing players for some time, none possibly more memorable than former Matchplay champion Larry Butler who returns to a PDC stage with Darin Young. They face a talented Finnish team who both performed at the world championships but Young has just won a doubles event partnering Simon Whitlock so he is in form and Butler has all the experience in the world so as 6/5 second favourites, the US look good.
Finally Gibraltar take on Poland and Austria face Japan in what could really be pick 'em contests. Of the two bouts Gibraltar at 10/11 to see off Poland might just be the best bet as both Dylan Duo and Dyson Parady have been around the circuit for a while and are far more experienced than their opponenets.
Denmark to win @ 11/10 with Sky Bet
Canada to win @ 1/2 with Bet365
USA to win @ 6/5 with Paddy Power