With the this year’s PDC World Cup of Darts starting in Hamburg on Thursday, here is part one of our guide to all you need to know about the teams, from past records to tournament odds and the ones to watch.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Runners-up 2012 Player to watch Kyle Anderson First round vs Finland Tournament odds 25-1
When you think of Australia and PDC World Cups, thoughts immediately turn to 2012 and the nail-biting Ashes final against England. Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson both spurned match darts to topple the English duo of Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis in a sudden-death doubles leg. This year will see Kyle Anderson partner up with Whitlock for the fourth consecutive year, with their record together reading: QFs, L16, SFs. The pair can often blow hot and cold when it comes to the singles, with all six of their games as a pair in the knockout stages all going to a deciding game of doubles. Both come into the tournament not in the best of form, but 12 months ago they came within a leg of reaching the final, losing out to Scotland 4-3 in a doubles decider. Write them off at your peril.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2016, 2017 Player to watch Mensur Suljovic First round vs Russia Tournament odds 33-1
World number eight Mensur Suljovic once again leads the Austrian team this year. While Suljovic has featured in every PDC World Cup to date, his partner has not been as familiar. Zoran Lerchbacher became Suljovic’s fourth World Cup partner in 2018, following in the footsteps of Maik Langendorf, Dietmar Burger and Rowby-John Rodriguez. Having reached back-to-back quarter-finals alongside RJR in 2016 and 2017, Suljovic and his new partner Lerchbacher did not click as well first time round. Austria were the only one of the eight seeds to fall at the first hurdle last year, losing in a deciding leg to Japan. Up against a Russian team which features the highly-rated Boris Koltsov, a winner on the Challenge Tour earlier this year, in the first round, Suljovic and Lerchbacher cannot afford another slow start.
Listen to Episode 107 of the Weekly Dartscast podcast with special guests Michael Smith and Dyson Parody via the player below
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Runners-up 2013 Player to watch Dimitri van den Bergh First round vs Hong Kong Tournament odds 25-1
The highly-successful World Cup pairing of brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts was split up last year, but it did not bring a halt to Belgium’s impressive record in this tournament. The Huybrechts duo reached one final, two semi-finals and two quarter-finals in their five years as a pair, while in 2018 Dimitri van den Bergh joined up with the younger Huybrechts brother and reached the semi-finals, losing 2-0 to eventual winners the Netherlands. Priced at 25-1, Belgium appear to offer a lot of value as an outsider, they’re a team who thrive off of playing on the stage. Last year the Belgians averaged over 100 in a 4-0 doubles whitewash to knock out England in the quarter-finals, and it took averages of 105 and 113, from Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld, to deny them a place in the final.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Three Best World Cup Last 16 2017, 2018 Player to watch Diogo Portela First round vs Sweden Tournament odds 500-1
A third consecutive World Cup appearance for Brazil and their star man Diogo Portela, and it will also be a third different partner for Portela. After teaming up with Alexandre Sattin and Bruno Rangel, Portela’s newest partner in the Brazilian team is Artur Valle. In their previous two World Cups, the Brazilians have negotiated their way through the first round, before losing in straight singles in the last 16, first to Germany in 2017, and then Scotland last year. A potential rematch with the Scots, and Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, awaits Brazil if they can preserve their perfect record in round one and overcome Sweden.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2016/Last Eight Group Stage 2010 Player to watch Dawson Murschell First round vs Italy Tournament odds 500-1
There will be a new look to the Canadian team this year, as for the first time there will be no John Part. The three-time world champion misses out, with his partner last year, the young Dawson Murschell, joined by Jim Long. Murschell rose to fame with a win over James Wade in the World Series a couple of years ago, and has since moved over to the UK and gone on to win a tour card. Back in North America, Long sits third on the CDC rankings and also competed in the 2019 PDC World Championship. Aged just 23, Murschell has his best years still ahead of him, but he will hope to find some form this weekend and overwrite what has been a tough start to the season for him on the main tour. Part and Murschell eased past Italy in the first round last year, the Canadians will be desperate for a repeat when the two nations face off again in the opening round.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Six Best World Cup Last 16 2016 Player to watch Xiaochen Zong First round vs United States Tournament odds 1000-1
With there being no World Series event in China in 2019, this World Cup represents a golden chance for China’s young pairing of Xiaochen Zong and Qingyu Zhan to potentially face some of the PDC’s biggest stars. The birth of the Asian Tour over the last few years has certainly helped grow the steel-tip game in that part of the world, so much so that the Philippines, a 250-1 outsider, have been tipped in some quarters to beat top seeds England in the first round. For China, though, who are also in the same quarter of the draw as England and the Philippines, the first task is to see off the United States in their opening game. China have only come through the first round once in five previous attempts, but the rewards are there if they can match their best-run of 2016.
UPDATE 05/06: Qingyu Zhan has withdrawn from the Chinese team due to a passport issue and has been replaced by Yuanjun Liu. The Guangxi thrower represented China in the 2016 and 2017 World Cups and lost to Brendan Dolan in the PDC World Championship last year.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Six Best World Cup Last 24 2010 Player to watch Karel Sedláček First round vs Poland Tournament odds 300-1
It is fair to say the PDC World Cup has not been a happy hunting ground for the Czech Republic. In their five campaigns so far they have yet to taste a victory. In the last four years they have lost at the first hurdle to Austria, China, the Netherlands and England, while in the tournament’s inaugural year in 2010 the team had to withdraw, as they were unable to travel due to the bad weather. Karel Sedláček is back for a third go, having played in the most recent defeats to the juggernauts of the Netherlands and England, and his partner Pavel Jirkal, who is back in the World Cup after a four-year hiatus from the event. Jirkal narrowly missed out on a tour card at European Q-School in January, while Sedláček reached a quarter-final on the European Tour only six weeks ago. This could be the Czech Republic’s best shot yet at breaking their World Cup hoodoo.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Last 16 2012, 2016 Player to watch Per Laursen First round vs Scotland Tournament odds 500-1
Per Laursen is one of nine ever presents in the PDC World Cup, and it is a testament to his longevity in this Denmark team as his partner Niels Heinsøe will be the eighth different man to play alongside him. In fact, Heinsøe continues a run of seven different players to partner Laursen in the last seven years. Denmark’s 2018 campaign was a low point in their World Cup history, as Laursen and Henrik Primdal averaged 65.58, the lowest average of the first round, in a 5-1 defeat to Brazil. Laursen and his assortment of Danish team mates have pushed the big teams close in the past, including the likes of Australia and Northern Ireland, but they will need to play a lot better if they are to avoid a similar one-sided scoreline like last year when they take on the second seeds Scotland.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Winners 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 Player to watch Michael Smith First round vs Philippines Tournament odds 3-1
Football nearly came home last summer, the nation is currently willing Joe Root and co to bring cricket home in their World Cup, but Rob Cross and Michael Smith could bring darts home as early as this Sunday. Ok, so unlike their football and cricket counterparts, Cross and Smith would only end “three years of hurt” if they were to get their hands on the trophy this weekend and secure a record fifth World Cup for England. As the second favourites at 3-1, England will be well fancied, and even more so if they avoid a potential banana skin against the Philippines in round one. One of only two teams to boast two players in the top eight in the world, England have star power. Cross has been one of the most consistent players on the tour this year, without picking up a single title. If Smith can find his form from 2018, expect them to go close.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Semi-Finals 2013 Player to watch Kim Viljanen First round vs Australia Tournament odds 400-1
Of the 24 unseeded nations, few can match the consistent line-up of Finland. Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen pair up together for the fifth year in a row, with the former coming into the field as a tour-card holder, after coming through European Q-School in January. Kantele’s partner Viljanen does not have a tour card, but also possesses bags of experience. It was 20 years ago that Viljanen won the WDF World Youth Cup in 1999, how he would love to add a PDC World Cup to his collection. That might be a bit of a stretch, but Finland are known for an upset in this tournament. Back in 2013 they produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history to knock out the Dutch team of MVG and RVB in the last 16.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 Player to watch Max Hopp First round vs Hungary Tournament odds 33-1
If Germany get their hands on a first World Cup this weekend, there will not be a more popular winner. Well, in the Barclaycard Arena, in Hamburg, at least, which is the host venue this year. Germany are the hosts of the PDC World Cup for an eighth successive year and the home crowd will be unstinting in their support for Max Hopp and Martin Schindler, who will be representing their country on the stage. Both are very talented, young players and, although Hopp has now won two PDC senior titles, like Schindler, you would say he has yet to fulfill his full potential. An opener against Hungary is perhaps one of the more favourable draws for this youthful German duo to shake any nerves, but tougher tests will surely lie ahead, including possibly Belgium in round two and then Scotland in the last eight.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Last 16 2015 Player to watch Dyson Parody First round vs Japan Tournament odds 1500-1
The rank outsiders of this year’s World Cup are Gibraltar. The always-entertaining Dyson Parody is back, as one of the nine World Cup ever presents, to lead his country in another bid for glory, this time with a new partner in the form of Antony Lopez. A policeman, Lopez will be hoping to arrest Gibraltar’s recent slump in this tournament, they have lost in the first round in each of the last three years. Gibraltar’s, to date, only World Cup win came in 2015 when they beat Italy 5-2. This new pairing will have their sights on causing an upset when they face Japan in the opening game on Thursday. A win for Parody’s Gibraltar would provide an eye-catching start to this year’s event.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Four Best World Cup Last 16 2017 Player to watch John Michael First round vs Ireland Tournament odds 1000-1
They may not be up against one of the eight seeds in round one, but Greece look to be up against it with Ireland their first-round opponents this year. Steve Lennon and Willie O’Connor make a formidable duo, while John Michael will be the man tasked with inspiring Greece to an upset on Friday night. Michael won a tour card at European Q-School in January and has cashed in at nine of the 14 Players Championship events he has entered. His partner in this Greece team, for the second year running, will be Veniamin Symeonidis. He could be the weakest link in this match up.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Six Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2015 Player to watch Royden Lam First round vs Belgium Tournament odds 500-1
Kai Fan Leung returns to partner the unmistakable Royden Lam in the Hong Kong team this year, as he replaces Ho-Yin Shek from last year’s line-up. Lam was unsuccessful in winning back his tour card at Q-School at the start of this year, but he has put that disappointment behind him with some impressive results in Asia. The former World Cup quarter-finalist has won an event on the PDC Asian Tour, as well as reach a final, a semi-final and a quarter-final in three other events. With the growing standard of the Asian Tour, that is some record. And, of course, away from steel tip, Lam continues to make his mark on the soft tip circuit too. Last year he was crowned soft tip world champion and recently he began the defence of his title with a victory in Malaysia.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Eight Best World Cup Last 16 2015, 2016 Player to watch Pál Székely First round vs Germany Tournament odds 1000-1
It’s a relatively fresh-looking line-up for Hungary this year, as Pál Székely makes his World Cup debut, while Janos Vegso, a debutant in 2017, returns after missing last year’s event. The duo replace Tamás Alexits and Nándor Bezzeg and will want to quieten the crowd when they take on host nation Germany on the opening night. Székely got a taste of the stage only two weeks ago, and again facing a crowd favourite, when he took on Raymond van Barneveld in the Dutch Darts Masters. That time it did not go in the Hungarian’s favour, but at least he will have an idea of what the atmosphere will be like when him and Vegso go up against the Germans in round one.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Last 16 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017/Last 16 Group Stage 2012 Player to watch Willie O’Connor First round vs Greece Tournament odds 80-1
As much as Ireland seem to be a safe bet on your first-round 16-fold accumulator, the same cannot be said for when the Irish do battle in the last 16. Only twice, in eight previous PDC World Cups, have Ireland gone out in the first round (in 2014 and 2018), the other six times they have fallen at the last 16. Could Willie O’Connor and Steve Lennon, the duo who lost in the first round last year, guide Ireland to their maiden World Cup quarter-final? In all likelihood it will be the top seeds England waiting for them in that dreaded last 16, if they first overcome Greece, but as written earlier in this piece, O’Connor and Lennon are a formidable duo. O’Connor recently won his first PDC senior title as Lennon was one of the Premier League ‘Contenders’ this year. Both are capable of taking the Irish to the last eight.