2018 WDF Europe Cup XXI - Heren
From 26 to 29 September, the 21st edition of the WDF European Cup was held in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. In the men’s competition 38 different countries came to the oche, which is an absolute record for the WDF Europe Cup. Four countries left their ladies at home, but with 34 countries this edition is also a record breaker for the ladies. In the MOM Sports Centre an exciting tournament was played with some surprising winners. Ukraine is there for the first time, making it the 41st country to ever participate in a WDF Europe Cup.
Men’s Pairs tournament
The 2018 tournament is very open. This was already evident in the team tournament and in the singles. The pairs tournament is no exception. Eight different countries eventually reach the quarterfinals. Ross Montgomery & Alan Soutar beat the Danish pair Mogens Christensen & Lars-Andersen Helsinghof for Scotland without losing a leg. Martijn Kleermaker & Chris Landman from the Netherlands beat Jim Williams & Arwyn Morris from Wales 4-1 in the same round. The other two quarterfinals are a lot more exciting. Scott Mitchell & Daniel Day win in a seventh and deciding leg over Ireland's John O'Shea & Martin Heneghan. Michal Ondo & Roman Benischko from the Czech Republic are the last duo to reach the last four. They beat the Belgians Roger Janssen & Jeffrey van Egdom, also in a seventh leg.
The "big" countries eventually reach the final. Especially in the pairs England and the Netherlands have always been very successful at WDF Cups. Kleermaker & Landman beat the Scots 5-3 and Mitchell & Day win 5-0 against the Czechs, who may have been just a bit too happy to have a medal. Rightly so, because until 2018 the Czech Republic had never won any medals in a WDF Europe Cup.
Prior to the final, Martijn Kleermaker & Chris Landman know that if they beat Scott Mitchell & Daniel Day, the overall title is also immediately won for the Netherlands. If the English duo win then they will be at the top of the rankings for the time being, but the Netherlands will still have the team final to play and by winning it they can grab the overall Cup. The pressure seems too much for the Dutch because they do not reach the level of earlier in the tournament. The English tandem makes good use of this and plays strongly. Scott Mitchell & Daniel Day take the pairs title. For England, this is the tenth time in history that they have done that. Scott Mitchell had also previously won the pairs title in 2014. Mitchell is the ninth player with multiple gold medals in this discipline.
Men’s Singles tournament
Defending champion Richard Veenstra loses early in the tournament to Paul Hogan from England. Because he is the only former champion in the bracket, we immediately know that there will be a new singles champion. Roger Janssen from Belgium beats the Lithuanian Darius Labanauskas 5-3 in the quarterfinals. Pavel Jirkal from the Czech Republic wins with the same numbers from John O’Shea from Ireland. Both remaining English also lose in the quarterfinals and both 5-1. Nigel Heydon loses to Alan Soutar and Paul Hogan to the second Irishman in the last eight, Martin Heneghan.
Heneghan also defeats Roger Janssen in the semi-finals, again with big numbers, it ends 6-2. The other finalist is a surprising one. Alan Soutar loses the semi-final of the rather unknown Czech Pavel Jirkal 6-4. In the final, which can mainly be described as nervous, both players never get into their rhythm. It will certainly also have to do with the fact that the final is played two days after the semi-finals and both finalists have little experience on a big stage with cameras. It is Martin Heneghan who handles the circumstances best and wins 7-2. He takes gold for the second time in history in the WDF Europe Cup singles for Ireland after David Concannon four years ago.
Men’s Team Event
The record number of participating countries also means a long group phase in 2018. The eight groups consist of four or five teams, the best two of which go to the last 16. The biggest victims in the group phase are Scotland and the Czech Republic. The Scots stumble over Ireland and Russia, while the, this year strong playing, Czechs have to let Finland and Hungary progress from the group.
In the last sixteen, Wales then faces Denmark and crashes out. Wales had previously won the group in which also England was, with that England is now linked to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. That became a true thriller which was won in a deciding leg by Martijn Kleermaker who beats Scott Mitchell. Norway also needed a seventeenth leg to shake off Denmark. Sweden beats the host country Hungary 9-3 and Finland completes the last four by sending Ireland home 9-4. For the second time in history, this means that there are no British countries among the last four.
A lot of Scandinavian team in the semi-finals. Daniel Larsson, Oskar Lukasiak, Edwin Torbjornsson & Andreas Harrysson beat the Norwegians Stig-Jarle Knudsen, Kent Sivertsen, Andres Rokstad & Kjell Vaabeno on behalf of Sweden. It ends 9-4 in favour of the yellow-blue brigade. In the other semi-final, Ulf Ceder, Marko Kantele, Asko Niskala, Pauli Finnala on behalf of Finland are no match for the strong Dutch quartet Willem Mandigers, Richard Veenstra, Martijn Kleermaker & Chris Landman. The Dutch win 9-6 and thus qualify for the final. It is already the eighth time in the last ten editions that the Netherlands plays in the final of the team tournament.
However, this is not a guarantee of gold. The Dutch team knows that they have to win this team tournament to grab the overall victory from England. Of the previous seven finals, the Netherlands has won "only" two. And again, this year it does not work. The Swedish foursome is just better in the final and crowns a beautiful tournament with a gold medal. Daniel Larsson, Oskar Lukasiak, Edwin Torbjornsson & Andreas Harrysson win 9-5 against the Netherlands. It is the first time in history that Sweden has won the team tournament and the first gold since the pairs victories of Stefan Lord, Bjørn Enqvist and Lars-Erik Karlsson in the 1980s.
Men’s Overall classification
It is a WDF Europe Cup that remains exciting until the very end. The Netherlands seems to be the big favourites before the final day, but it is still the English foursome Nigel Heydon, Paul Hogan, Scott Mitchell & Daniel Day who get the gold medal. Also, thanks to the historic Swedish victory in the team tournament. England finishes on 92 points. The Netherlands takes the silver with 85 points and the Irish Republic takes the bronze with 76 points. It is the second time in history that the winners of the team tournament do not win an overall medal. It does not put a damper on the joy in Sweden at all, which finishes fourth overall with 68 points. Scotland completes the top 5 with 51 points.
1 - 92 points England
2 - 85 points Netherlands
3 - 76 points Republic of Ireland
4 - 68 points Sweden
5 - 51 points Scotland
6 - 48 points Czechia
7 - 44 points Finland
8 - 42 points Belgium
9 - 36 points Wales
10 - 32 points Denmark
11 - 28 points Norway
12 - 25 points Hungary
13 - 23 points Northern Ireland
14 - 22 points Germany
15 - 21 points Serbia
16 - 20 points Lithuania
17 - 16 points Ukraine
18 - 15 points France/ Greece
20 - 13 points Malta
21 - 10 points Russia /Jersey
23 - 7 points Isle of Man/ Romania/ Slovakia/ Cyprus
27 - 6 points Spain/ Luxembourg
29 - 5 points Latvia
30 - 4 points Austria/ Bulgaria/ Estonia
33 - 3 points Gibraltar/ Catalonia/ Iceland/ Turkey/ Italy
38 - 1 point Switzerland