Darts World Champion Peter Wright wins as “Grinch” 2022

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Peter Wright could not have imagined a quieter start at the start of the 2023 Darts World Cup. The defending champion is not challenged at all in his first game. However, the highlight of the first day of the tournament is provided by a South African who laid the foundation for victory in the pub.

Before the start of the Darts World Cup, defending champion Peter Wright was a walking question mark. Does the 52-year-old Scot have the form to win the biggest tournament of the year for a third time? Is the Wright family finally closed on site again? And in which outfit does the reigning world champion enter the stage in the venerable Alexandra Palace?

These are the stars of the Darts World Cup

Wright was able to answer some of these questions on Thursday evening at the start of the World Cup. In the bright green “Grinch” outfit with a white Santa Claus beard, the world number two went to the sounds of “Don’t stop the party” on the darts stage in London. Wright was supported by his wife and manager Joanne, his wife’s presence made the world champion play visibly relieved.

The question of form remains, which cannot yet be answered after this one-sided opening game. Wright’s opponent Michael Mansell was far too weak for that. Leading 3-0 in sets, Wright won the game easily, conceding just one leg to his unfortunate opponent. “I’m not happy with my performance, but it’s a win so I’m happy,” Wright summarized his first game.

round 1

Mickey Mansell 3-1 Ben Robb

Keane Barry 1-3 Grant Sampson

Jermaine Wattimena 2-3 Nathan Rafferty

round 2

Peter Wright 3-0 Mickey Mansell

Mickey Mansell had shot his powder earlier in the evening. After a solid performance, he won the opening game of the World Cup against the New Zealander 3-1. But Mansell was apparently no longer up to par at the time. In any case, his interview on stage was – let’s say – special. Mansell answered the questions of the “Sky Sports” presenter in a slurred manner and noticeably off track. “Mickey played really well in his first game and I wanted him to push me, but I think he got tired,” Wright suspected after an extraordinarily long game day for Mansell with two games.

For Wright, the favorite tournament in London should become a turning point after a weak year in 2022. On January 3, “Snakebite” won his second world title on the spot after 2020, but as the year progressed his form continued to deteriorate. In August he had to undergo gallstone surgery and missed a few tournaments. A short time later, his wife and manager Joanne was struggling with health problems. The Scot skipped another tournament because he couldn’t get mentally involved in darts during the difficult time.Spectacle at “Ally Pally”

The Darts World Cup is back after the “Corona bomb”.

A week before the start of the World Cup, the happy news from the doctor finally followed that Joanne was on the mend. “Now luckily the boss is fine again. We still have to be careful, but Joanne is over the worst,” Wright said on the “Checkout” podcast immediately before the start of the tournament.

Now Wright has plenty of time before his third round match. Only on December 27th will the defending champion continue in “Ally Pally”. The long break suits him perfectly. “It’s great. I can now train a lot, rest a little and take care of all the Christmas preparations, such as the food.”

South African lays foundation stone in pub

After the holidays, Wright’s next opponent will be either Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts or South Africa’s Grant Sampson. The 40-year-old from Cape Town caused a big surprise on the first day of the tournament. Sampson beat 20-year-old top talent Keane Barry 3-1. The reward is a second round match against Huybrechts this Friday afternoon. “At home in South Africa we play in front of 30 people, this is an incredible experience. I was very nervous, my darts didn’t go straight in the first two legs at all,” said Sampson in an interview after his surprise coup.

In the first set, the World Championship debutant suddenly turned up the heat after a stuttering start. As the game progressed, Sampson repeatedly benefited from a number of mistakes made by his opponent when throwing onto the crucial double squares. That’s how Africa’s only World Cup qualifier snagged victory. Before the game against Huybrechts, Sampson will now go to the pub. But not to celebrate his success. “There’s a pub next to my hotel, the only one around with a dartboard. I’ve been training there all week,” Sampson told Sport 1.

Grant Sampson is surprisingly in round two.

On the second day of the World Cup, in addition to the South African’s second appearance, there will also be a German’s first game at this year’s World Cup. Florian Hempel, sensational in round three when he first took part last year, has to deal with the Englishman Keegan Brown. Experts expect an even “50-50 match”. The first appearance of the 18-year-old Beau Greaves is also eagerly awaited. The Englishwoman is one of three women in the 96-strong field. In the last match, Northern Ireland’s Nathan Rafferty tried a sensation. After his 3-2 opening win against Jermaine Wattimena on Thursday, the 22-year-old is a blatant underdog against title candidate Michael Smith.