Darts: New Zealand to face Lithuania at PDC World Cup of Darts

Haupai Puha and Darius Labanauskas.
Haupai Puha and Darius Labanauskas. Photo credit: PDC

New Zealand has drawn newcomers Lithuania in the first round of the Professional Darts Corporation's World Cup of Darts in Germany next month.

This year's tournament is the ninth staging of the annual pairs event, held in Hamburg, with prize money worth £350,000 (NZ$684,986) up for grabs - £70,000 (NZ$ 136,997) to the winning nation.

Cody Harris and Haupai Puha will face Darius Labanauskas and Mindaugas Barauskas, with the winners to face either sixth-seed Northern Ireland or South Africa in the round of 16.

The first round sees the teams take part in a best-of-nine legs as a team, before the tournament moves into singles and doubles format in the latter stages.

While New Zealand have avoided the bigger nations in the first round, Lithuania will make for an intriguing encounter.

This is the first time Lithuania has competed at the World Cup, but it's also a rarity to see New Zealand face the Baltic nation in sport, with contests usually taking place on the basketball court or on the water in rowing or kayaking.

But the Kiwis shouldn't take Lithuania lightly, as Labanauskas is arguably one of the most underrated professionals on the circuit.

The world number 91 reached the third round of the World Darts Championship last year, beating five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in the process, and he's also the top-ranked player from the Nordic and Baltic region.

Cody Harris will compete at his fourth World Cup.
Cody Harris will compete at his fourth World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

For New Zealand, Harris will compete at his fourth World Cup, while Puha is making his debut, earning his spot after dominating the New Zealand circuit, competing in nine of the 14 finals on the DartPlayers New Zealand circuit and winning eight of them.

The duo will also compete in the upcoming New Zealand Darts Masters in Hamilton in August.

New Zealand have made it out of the first round twice - in 2010, they beat Poland 6-2 and in 2015, they beat 11th-ranked Canada 5-4.

The Netherlands are two-time defending champions, with Michael van Gerwen and van Barneveld lifting the trophy.

The competition runs from June 6-9 (NZT).


For the full draw and team lists, click here