Who will win the final? Who will be the team to watch? Which seeds are most in danger of going out in the first round? A host of darts journalists, pundits, commentators and former players tackle these and other questions on the eve of the 2019 PDC World Cup of Darts.
Who will reach the final – and who will win it?
Wayne Mardle (Sky Sports pundit and commentator): Scotland to beat Austria.
Rod Studd (Sky Sports commentator): England v Belgium final and England to win it. The traditional big three of England, Netherlands and Scotland all have questions to answer so it’ll be interesting to see how they play.
Chris Mason (ITV pundit and commentator): England v Northern Ireland could be a real possibility looking at the draw but both lads from each country would have to fire at the same time, I think this year it’s as open as I can remember, Wales could also be in with a big shout if Clayton finds his best form, but that could be said for a few of the sides this year where one of the lads is in great form while the other looks to be struggling.
John Gwynne (Former Sky Sports commentator): I only commentated on the first World Cup of Darts, 2010 in Sunderland. It was long-time colleague Dave Lanning’s swansong tournament as a Sky Sports commentator. It was in February 2012 that the second one was held and I was bitterly disappointed not to be a part of the team for Frankfurt, particularly as Sid Waddell was too poorly to go. It was, therefore, the first tournament for 18 years in which none of Sid, Dave or I featured in a Sky broadcast. When I was left out for the 2013 staging, the first WCoD since Sid’s death, I was more than disappointed; I was heart-broken. I knew it was time for me to go and I bowed out at the end of the 2013 World Matchplay. Whilst I don’t watch every dart, I still follow events closely and will be doing so this weekend when Berlin stages the ninth World Cup.
Whom do I fancy? So much depends on how players gel with one another as a pair and I have a feeling that the Rob Cross/ Michael Smith partnership, the first time they will have played together, will work. Both were in the Premier League, Rob enjoying a better tournament than ‘Smiffy’, but I think Michael can rise to the occasion and that the two will make a big impression. I expect them to reach the semi-finals where, I believe the Netherlands team, in the form of Michael van Gerwen and Jermaine Wattimena will lie in wait. That should be an amazing match! I expect experience, as well as ability, will tell in the other half of the draw. I shall be very surprised if Gary Anderson and Peter Wright don’t make their presence felt. That stated, Gary has been short of tournament play this year and ‘Snakebite’ has, seemingly, lost some of his venom! This can work one of two ways; they might not be fully ready or they might be all the hungrier. I think it is more likely to be the latter. I expect the tartan boys to meet a dangerous Belgium in the last-eight and, should they overcome Huybrechts and Van den Bergh, meet Wales in the semis. Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton are not the number three seeds for nothing. They represent a real threat!
Dan Dawson (PDC TV commentator): Northern Ireland to beat Australia in the final.
Rob Mullarkey (PDC TV commentator): Gerwyn Price has produced some brilliant darts recently and is one of the game’s most in-form players, and I believe he and Jonny Clayton – a PDC title winner in April – can take the honours. There is an abundance of team spirit with these two and the importance of that shouldn’t be under-estimated. Price, by his own admission, isn’t a fan of the pairs game as he feels it disrupts his rhythm and while their opener against Singapore won’t be easy, I think they can grow into this tournament and finish it by beating England in the final.
Listen to Episode 107 of the Weekly Dartscast podcast with special guests Michael Smith and Dyson Parody via the player below
Who will be the team to watch?
Wayne Mardle: Austria and the Philippines, and Scotland because I think they’ll win it.
Rod Studd: I always enjoy watching Paul and Harith Lim. They provide a real feel good factor and it’s brilliant watching the German duo of Max Hopp and Martin Schindler in front of the fervent home crowd.
Chris Mason: I am looking forward to seeing how the Asian teams go, could be a few upsets! Also Poland could really be the dark horses this year.
Dan Dawson: The Philippines.
Rob Mullarkey: I think Germany could have another good run. Back-to-back quarter-finalists, the hosts should get the measure of Hungary and I don’t think they would have too much to fear from Belgium, if they negotiate their opener against Hong Kong. Max Hopp and Martin Schindler have a good understanding and Schindler in particular will want to make the most of this opportunity on the stage having qualified for only one of this year’s European Tour events. Russia could also make the last eight.
How far will England go?
Wayne Mardle: They will lose in the first round or final.
Rod Studd: Winners.
Chris Mason: I think they have a great chance of lifting the trophy.
Dan Dawson: I think there’s a very real chance they get knocked out in round one.
Rob Mullarkey: Finalists.
Which first round match are you most looking forward to?
Wayne Mardle: England v Philippines.
Rod Studd: Wales v Singapore with Price and Clayton up against the Lims.
Chris Mason: Poland v Czech Republic and England v Philippines.
Dan Dawson: Probably that England v Philippines game, although Japan v Gibraltar may well be a hipster’s dream as well.
Rob Mullarkey: Michael Smith has had to be patient for his opportunity to play in the World Cup and he’ll really want to make up for lost time as he fulfils a childhood ambition when England take on the Philippines. There will be a lot of scrutiny on Smith’s finishing, although the scoring is clearly evident, but there is a danger that England might be caught cold by the Filipinos. The PDC Asian Tour has produced a high standard this year; Lourence Ilagan is a multiple winner in the Far East and his team-mate Noel Malicdem hit a nine-darter during the first ever PDC Asian Tour event in Seoul last year.
Which seeds are most in danger of going out in the first round?
Wayne Mardle: England.
Rod Studd: Any seed is vulnerable in a best of nine doubles match as we’ve seen with Scotland v Singapore and Netherlands v Finland.
Chris Mason: I think they all come through but rest assured there will be some real squeaky moments along the way.
John Gwynne: It is hard to see any of the seeded eight losing in the first round. If there is to be a shock, Lithuania might provide it against Northern Ireland. I don’t know much about Mindaugas Barauskas but, if he’s anything like as tenacious as his partner, Darius Labanauskas, Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan had better be on their guard!
Dan Dawson: England, the Netherlands, Wales and Austria are most at risk, I think.
Rob Mullarkey: Austria.
This will be the ninth staging of the PDC World Cup. Where do you stand with the current format? Would you make any changes?
Wayne Mardle: It’s time to make it just a pairs format. A real team effort, win together, lose together.
Rod Studd: I think the current format is ideal. It’s evolved over the years and now works very well. The short format matches are exciting and give the underdogs a chance. I enjoy the mix of singles and doubles and like the “Davis Cup tennis” format of the final.
Chris Mason: I have said it many times, it should be doubles all the way through.
John Gwynne: I like the format. A 32-team knockout lends itself to some likely one-sided first round matches, for sure. Equally, potential banana skins await one or two of the fancied sides as well. I don’t think England and Scotland will fail the seeding system, though. I expect England to narrowly beat their neighbours and great rivals to lift the title.
Dan Dawson: I’m with MvG on this – I would like to see more pairs games. I think it’s a shame that after round one, you could have a team that doesn’t play any pairs stuff at all until the final… which kinda defeats the object. The solution I’ve just dreamed up in the last eight seconds is this: have a three man team – so for round 2, QF and SF, you play pairs for the first game, the leftover player has to play a singles game, and then if it’s level you have another pairs game (with whichever two players you want) as a decider.
Rob Mullarkey: I would prefer a tournament with a greater emphasis on doubles; a format of two singles, a doubles and two reverse singles matches from the last 16 onwards. I also think it would be worth considering the idea of three-man squads, including a Ryder Cup-inspired ‘Captain’s Pick’ (a wildcard selection by the country’s No.1 player, who would then have to decide how to best rotate his team).