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  • Ryan James Mingay

Five Dark Horses to Watch at The 2023 PDC World Cup of Darts

By Ryan James Mingay

The PDC World Cup of Darts has seen many shocks and upsets over its history. England and

Holland have dominated the event with Scotland, Wales and Australia also claiming the title

before. The Spanish team caused a shock at the inaugural World Cup when they beat

England and reached the Semi-Finals. Finland also caused a stir by reaching the Semifinals

in 2013. The Republic of Ireland and Austria went one better as they reached the finals in

2019 and 2021 respectively before both were defeated by Scotland. The 2023 edition has

seen an expansion to 40 teams and many of these could replicate the feats of Austria and

Ireland. So which teams are the dark horses of this year's edition?


The partnership of Matt Campbell and Jeff Smith are about to pair up for their 4th world cup

for the team Canada. Both were seen in action at the US Darts Masters and the North

American Championship at MSG. Jeff 'The Silencer' Smith put on a fantastic display as he beat Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries to reach the final of the US darts

masters where he was whitewashed as he lost 8-0 to legendary Michael Van Gerwen.

Campbell went out to Aspinall in round one. The pair faced each other in the final of the

North American Championship where Smith prevailed by 6 legs to 5 to claim his second

North American title but he was denied a spot at ally pally due to a rule change. He vowed to reach the worlds via the pro tour and has looked dangerous recently.

The pair's previous best was in the quarter-finals in the debut year of 2020 where they lost to

Belgium. They exited at the first time of asking in 2021 and 2022 to Germany and The

Republic of Ireland respectively.

They should be the clear favourites in their group as they face off against India and Hungary. Should they win their group they easily have the potential to upset a major favourite and high-seeded team and improve their best record in the quarter-finals.


Led by tour card holder Vladimir Andersen and talented young prospect Benjamin Drue

Reus, the Danes look to cause a shock in their group. Their group is arguably the most

stacked as they have to face off against The USA and Austria. Andersen hasn't entered

many pro tour events and mainly plies his trade in the Nordic and Baltic tour as he seeks

qualification for the World Championship. Drue Reus has impressed on the N&B tour but he

hasn't yet claimed a title. His only major appearance so far came at the 2022 WDF World

Masters where he won all 4 group games before he lost in the L128 in a last-leg decider to

flow Dane Simon Bak.

Andersen is a historic figure in Scandinavian darts as he became the first Dane to win a tour

card at Q school. He has only played in 3 Majors, the World Masters in 2009 where he made

the L24 and the UK Open in 2022 and 2023 where he lost in the first round in both years. He

picked up one N&B title last year and one title this year. Both are capable of great things and

could cause a shock against the USA and Austria in a close and potentially thrilling group.

The Danes hope to go further than their previous best of the second round.


The young pairing of Justin Hewitt and Craig Galliano nearly caused a huge shock last year

as they were engaged in a tough match with Northern Irelands Daryl Gurney and Brendan

Dolan before Gurney bailed them out with some big checkouts. Galliano and Hewitt have

impressed on the development tour recently and Galliano impressed on the Euro tour last

year before he was downed by Peter Wright. The pair are capable of good things and they

could easily stun defending champions Australia and should be favourites against

newcomers Guyana. Their nation only has one previous win which came against Italy in



The inclusion of France feels like a long-awaited one as fans have been clamouring for their

participation for years. Many fans thought the WDF world championship runner-up Thibault

Tricole would spearhead the French Team and gain a card at Q school. To the shock of

many it was his compatriot Jacques Labre who gained a tour card and now captains the team. The pair made the 15th of October 2022 a day to remember for French darts as

Tricole won the first challenge tour becoming the first Frenchmen to do so and then Labre

sealed the second event of the day. Labre is a WDF Europe Cup singles champion and

together with Tricole, he forms a dangerous team. They should beat Ukraine and might even

be favoured over the seeded Northern Ireland. Labre partnered with Lionel Maranhoa in

2015 as they lost in round one. The French team has been absent since then until their justly

return this year. They are definitely ones to watch and the seeded teams should be on high


The Philippines

The Filipino team might be familiar to some fans although their captain Christian Perez

hasn't been seen in the Pro Tour until this weekend. Perez picked up a card at Q school but

Visa issues prevented the Inaugural PDC Asian Champion from entering the pro tour events

this year. He was seen in the Grand Slam last year where he went 0-3 and the Worlds

where he went down against Simon Whitlock after spurning multiple match darts. Perez is a

great player and has thrown numerous high averages. His partner is Lourence Ilagan who is

a former World Masters Semi-Finalist. Ilagan has won a title on the Asian tour this year as

he seeks to reach ally pally again. The pair played together in 2021 when they were

eliminated by Austria.

They face stiff opposition as they are in a group with the Czech Republic and Singapore

where they face familiar opponents in Paul and Harith Lim (no relation).

Honourable mentions

The Swiss team of Bellmont and Walpen have demonstrated their skill on the pro and euro

tour this year and this is rewarded by their status as the 16th seed. The pair look to justify

this by reaching the L16 or further.

Singaporean Legend Paul Lim is a fan favourite who looks to lead his nation to the knockout

stages with his regular partner Harith Lim.

Latvia faces a tough night against New Zealand but should beat Bahrain comfortably. The

team will hope Madars Razma can lead them to victory against the NZ team and move

them to the L16 as they aim to improve on last years close loss to England.

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