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Article: HUMPHRIES & SMITH LEAD ENGLAND TO BETVICTOR WORLD CUP GLORY

HUMPHRIES & SMITH LEAD ENGLAND TO BETVICTOR WORLD CUP GLORY
PDC

HUMPHRIES & SMITH LEAD ENGLAND TO BETVICTOR WORLD CUP GLORY

Luke Humphries and Michael Smith guided England to a record-breaking fifth BetVictor World Cup of Darts title with victory over Austria in Frankfurt on Sunday.

 Following a thrilling four days of action at the Eissporthalle, World Cup debutant Humphries and Smith delivered the goods to secure England's first World Cup triumph since 2016.

 Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis were the only players to have lifted the World Cup title for England since the tournament's inception in 2010, but Humphries and Smith created their own history with a 10-6 success on German soil.

 The top seeds had kicked off their title bid with a resounding 8-3 win against France on Saturday, before closing out successive 8-4 victories against Northern Ireland and Scotland on Finals Day.

 Humphries landed back-to-back 130 and 140 checkouts to catapult England to victory over Northern Ireland, and the English duo produced another clinical display to deny their old adversaries Scotland in the semi-finals.

 This set up a showdown against 2021 runners-up Austria for the coveted title, and Humphries took centre stage, averaging 113 in the final and converting four ton-plus checkouts to cap off a mesmerising display.

 The World Champion conjured up a superb double-double 18 finish in leg four, and that sparked an astonishing sequence of big finishes as England took control.

 Smith produced the power scoring and Humphries delivered at the double, converting 151, 121, 130 and 112 combinations to inspire England to a landmark triumph.

 Austria displayed some mid-game resistance to reduce the arrears to 6-4, although Humphries and Smith were undeterred, winning four of the next six legs to prevail with a superb 100.62 average.

 “This is the biggest buzz I’ve felt since the World Championship,” reflected Humphries, who continues his dream run over the last nine months.

 “We really wanted this. We really believed we could win it, and when you’ve got the world number one and world number three playing together, it’s a bit of a cheat code!

 “After that first game on Saturday we just clicked. We knew if we played our best we could win this title, and I just hope we get to come back to defend this title as champions next year.”

 Smith – making his fifth World Cup appearance in 2024 – adopted the captain’s role throughout the event, and he was visibly emotional after returning to winning ways on the big stage.

 “This is what I’ve always wanted. I’ve finally got my gold medal now,” declared the St Helens star.

 “It is hard to put into words how much this means. England are World Cup champions again and it’s not just Phil and Adrian, it’s now Luke and Michael as well.

 “Hopefully now that gives me the confidence to kick on. I know my game is starting to come, and now I’m going into the World Matchplay as a World Cup champion!”

 Suljovic and Rodriguez had conceded just five legs in three matches to progress to Finals Day, and they continued their challenge with a thrilling deciding-leg victory against Croatia.

 The Austrian duo had fought back from 3-0 and 4-1 down to deny Boris Krcmar and Romeo Grbavac, surviving a match dart in a breathless last-leg shoot-out.

 The 2021 runners-up then raced through to Sunday's showpiece with an emphatic 8-3 success against Belgium, reeling off seven consecutive legs to reach their second final in four years.

 “We lost to the world number one and the world number three,” reflected Suljovic, one of four World Cup ever-presents in this year’s field.

 “Luke and Michael played brilliantly. 140s, 180s, big finishes. Absolute respect. It was a super performance from England.”

 The Austrian duo are now provisionally set to feature in November’s Grand Slam of Darts, and Rodriguez believes it could be a defining moment as they battle to retain their PDC Tour Cards.

 “We are disappointed to lose in the final, but we are happy with the way we played this weekend,” added the former World Youth Championship runner-up.

 “If somebody had told us before this weekend we would have made the final, we would have signed for that, 100%.”

 Belgium suffered a seventh semi-final defeat in eight attempts after succumbing to Austria, having followed up their last 16 demolition of Netherlands with an 8-7 victory against Italy.

 Elsewhere, Scottish stalwarts Peter Wright and Gary Anderson were the only former World Cup winners involved in the last eight, and they sealed their place in the semi-finals with a hard-fought 8-7 victory against Sweden.

 Jeffrey de Graaf and Oskar Lukasiak surrendered a 7-6 cushion as Sweden crashed out in the quarter-finals for a second straight year, while Italy also suffered deciding-leg heartbreak against Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts.

 However, Italian duo Michele Turetta and Massimo Dalla Rosa broke new ground in their run to the last eight, while Northern Ireland’s Josh Rock and Brendan Dolan were swept aside by an imperious England performance.

 2024 BetVictor World Cup of Darts

Sunday June 30

Afternoon Session

Quarter-Finals

Austria 8-7 Croatia

Belgium 8-7 Italy

England 8-4 Northern Ireland

Scotland 8-7 Sweden

 

Evening Session

Semi-Finals

Austria 8-3 Belgium

England 8-4 Scotland

 

Final

England 10-6 Austria

Credit Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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