Croatia dumped out reigning champions Wales to reach the BetVictor World Cup of Darts quarter-finals on Saturday, as former winners Australia and Netherlands exited to Italy and Belgium on a dramatic day in Frankfurt.
The third day of action in the Doubles event saw 16 nations competing across two sessions at the Eissporthalle, as the knockout phase of the tournament began.
Croatia’s Boris Krcmar and Romeo Grbavac caused a major upset with a terrific display, defying a 91 average from Welsh duo Jonny Clayton and Jim Williams to reach their first World Cup quarter-final since 2013.
The unheralded Croatians punished some early profligacy from the two-time champions to seize the initiative, although Clayton and Williams fought back valiantly to level at six apiece.
Nevertheless, after Wales squandered four darts at double for a 7-6 advantage, Grbavac landed successive 84 and 83 combinations to cap off a famous triumph.
“This is beautiful – it’s like a dream,” reflected Croatian trailblazer Krcmar, who landed three 180s in inspiring his side to victory.
“I know that we can beat anybody, but this is a big moment for Croatia and Croatian darts and we’re very happy.”
Grbavac, who will compete in his first PDC televised quarter-final on Sunday, added: “This is a very good feeling.
“This is the biggest win of my career. Boris believed in me, and I believed in him. I’m very happy for me, Boris and all the Croatian people.”
However, it was former finalists Belgium who produced the performance of the day, defying six 180s and a ton-plus average from Dutch duo Michael van Gerwen and Danny Noppert to storm into the last eight.
BetVictor World Cup of Darts 2024
Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts knocked out Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode at the same stage of last year’s event, and they repeated the feat with an inspired display of finishing.
Huybrechts was the star of the show in the opening exchanges, following up an 89 kill with 129 and 121 outshots on the bull, before Van den Bergh sank a classy 86 finish to continue their charge.
Van Gerwen and Noppert scored superbly but struggled on the outer ring, and they paid a heavy price as the fifth seeds powered to a crushing 8-2 victory.
“We didn’t give them a chance – we were in total control,” declared Huybrechts, a runner-up with his brother Ronny back in 2013.
“I always say to Dimitri that if we do our own thing, we are very dangerous. Tonight was a complete performance!”
Belgium will now play Italy for a place in the semi-finals, after Michele Turetta and Massimo Dalla Rosa won through an extraordinary last-leg decider against 2022 champions Australia.
The Italian duo survived six match darts in an epic finale, as Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock crashed out at the last 16 stage for the first time as a partnership.
“This is very emotional. We have worked hard to arrive here, so it’s unbelievable feeling,” reflected Turetta, who became the first Italian player to win a PDC Tour Card earlier this year.
“We know that every darts fan in Italy will be having a big party tonight, but we are still pushing to improve.”
Elsewhere, England began their bid for a record-breaking fifth World Cup crown with an 8-3 demolition of 2023 quarter-finalists France, as World Champion Luke Humphries made a winning start on his World Cup debut.
BetVictor World Cup of Darts 2024
Despite Humphries’ status as world number one, it was Michael Smith – in his fifth World Cup campaign – who adopted the captain’s role as the top seeds recovered from a sluggish start to sweep aside Thibault Tricole and Jacques Labre.
France capitalised on some early profligacy from the decorated duo to establish a 2-1 lead, although Humphries and Smith soon found their feet, winning seven of the next eight legs to cap off a resounding win.
“Michael was fantastic tonight. I wasn’t at my best, but you’re not usually going to average 110 in the first round,” admitted Humphries, who is confident of an improved showing on Finals Day.
“We’re back again tomorrow which is all that matters, and if we start playing like we can, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
“We’re going to keep the same regime tomorrow. We will play our own game, and we believe we can win, which is the most important thing in winning big titles.”
England’s reward is an enthralling quarter-final showdown against sixth seeds Northern Ireland, as Josh Rock and Brendan Dolan defied a late onslaught to deny hosts Germany in a deciding-leg thriller.
Martin Schindler landed a brace of ton-plus checkouts as Germany threatened to overturn a 7-4 deficit, until Rock sealed Northern Ireland’s progress with a 15-dart hold in the decider.
“When you’re against the host nation it’s always going to be tough,” reflected Rock, who crashed in four 180s and a 177 in a high-scoring display.
“Tonight was a major test,” continued Dolan, one of four World Cup ever-presents. “Josh was absolutely superb there and I love him to bits for carrying me, but I will turn up at some point.”
Earlier in the day, two-time winners Scotland opened their challenge with an emphatic 8-2 win over Poland, as Peter Wright and Gary Anderson converted 47% of their attempts at double to set up a last eight showdown against Sweden.
Sweden advanced to the quarter-finals for a second straight year after Jeffrey de Graaf and Oskar Lukasiak closed out a hard-fought 8-6 success against Czech duo Adam Gawlas and Karel Sedlacek.
In the day’s other tie, 2021 runners-up Austria continued their serene progress in Frankfurt, with Rowby-John Rodriguez conjuring up a superb 121 checkout to wrap up an 8-4 victory over history-making debutants Chinese Taipei.
Austria will now take on Croatia in Sunday’s opening quarter-final, as the remaining eight nations compete for the coveted title on a bumper final day of action at the Eissporthalle.
The BetVictor World Cup of Darts is being broadcast on Sky Sports for viewers in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s international broadcast partners, including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.
PDCTV Subscribers have the option of commentary in either English or Italian throughout the BetVictor World Cup of Darts.
2024 BetVictor World Cup of Darts
Saturday June 29
Second Round
Afternoon Session
Sweden 8-6 Czechia
Austria 8-4 Chinese Taipei
Scotland 8-2 Poland
Italy 8-7 Australia
Evening Session
Northern Ireland 8-7 Germany
England 8-3 France
Croatia 8-6 Wales
Belgium 8-2 Netherlands
Sunday June 30
Afternoon Session (1300 local time)
Croatia v Austria
Belgium v Italy
England v Northern Ireland
Scotland v Sweden
Best of 15 legs
Evening Session (1900 local time)
Croatia/Austria v Belgium/Italy
England/Northern Ireland v Scotland/Sweden
Best of 15 legs
England/Northern Ireland/Scotland/Sweden v Croatia/Austria/Belgium/Italy
Best of 19 legs
Photo credit Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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