Took a little while for this event to bed in but I think its about to take off this year. It could prove to be a very shrewd signing by the sponsor Bwin. The format is exciting, particularly in the early round where it is the best of 9 played in a doubles format, a bit like foursomes in golf. The teams really do bond and there is a great atmosphere in the later stages of the tournament.
Upsets do happen as we have seen with last years defending champions and this years favourites, the Dutch losing to lesser known rivals in the past. Every year the World standard gets better and so a country taking it easy against a minnow can be in serious trouble with some struggling to find their flow only getting to the board every fourth throw.
I think all the seeded teams below 8 are capable of causing an upset, those most notably being Austria, Germany (at home – don’t underestimate the partisan crowd) and South Africa, possibly Spain but I really think the best you can hope for is that one of those makes it to the quarter final stages.
So who is going to miss out form the top 8 – well probably Northern Ireland. Brendan Dolan has arrived but he has to carry a lot of weight and they would be my tip to go home early.
Getting down to the semi’s is very difficult, with the odd numbers of the draw looking to toughest way home. That being England, Netherlands, Belgium and Wales. You would have to think England and the Dutch are booked for the 1st semi but no guaranteed if Barney has an off day MVG will play well but if he gets under pressure because of Barney and doesn’t get his normal rhythm then doubles could become a real problem. The even side of the draw is also interesting. I just don’t see how Scotland can miss out on the final. Gary Anderson is brilliant in these types of events and Peter Wright does us proud every time he plays. Who they platy in the Semi is another matter. Paul Nicholson brings out his best game when playing for his country as does the Wizard but they are scratchy at the moment and whilst they should account for Northern Ireland or Austria, that isn’t a given.
Taking this in to account our positions are going to be :-