With the this year’s PDC World Cup of Darts starting in Salzburg on Friday, 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) Ten Best World Cup Runners-up 2012 Player to watch Damon Heta First round vs Ireland Tournament odds 16-1
For the first time in PDC World Cup history, Australia come into the tournament without a number next to their name. World Cup ever-present Simon Whitlock has a new partner alongside him this weekend, with first year tour-card holder Damon Heta called up. Heta and Kyle Anderson both flew back to Australia in March as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the world and, while Heta has travelled back to the UK and won his first PDC ranking title during the recent Autumn Series, Anderson has elected to stay in Australia. This may be Heta’s first year on the PDC main circuit, but he is quickly making a name for himself. A winner on the World Series last year, Heta has since moved over to England and won a tour card at Q-School in January. Of the 24 unseeded teams, the Aussies were the ones that all of the top eight wanted to avoid.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2016, 2017, 2019 Player to watch Mensur Suljovic First round vs United States Tournament odds 22-1
The host nation for this year’s World Cup, Austria becomes only the third country to stage the tournament in its 10-year history. While the PDC announced at the start of this week that this weekend’s action will now be played behind closed doors, due to Austria’s new lockdown having come into place, Mensur Suljovic and the returning Rowby-John Rodriguez should still go into the competition with confidence. For starters, they have had to do the least amount of travelling out of all 32 teams competing, which will make them more comfortable in their surroundings. And these two are good friends off the oche and have pedigree, having reached back-to-back quarter-finals in their last two years together in 2016 and 2017.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Runners-up 2013 Player to watch Dimitri Van den Bergh First round vs Czech Republic Tournament odds 12-1
The newest PDC major winner leads the line for the Belgium team this weekend, as World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, currently 11th in the world rankings, partners up again with Kim Huybrechts, who is close to dropping out of the top 40. Aside from Australia and their sudden-death heartbreak in the 2012 final, you could make a good case for Belgium being the next country most unfortunate not to have got their name on this trophy yet. Even last year, Van den Bergh and Huybrechts were stopped by eventual champions Scotland, in a quarter-final tie which saw Peter Wright average 110, Van den Bergh 103, Anderson 100 and Huybrechts 99. Facing a Czech Republic side who have lost all six of their previous World Cup ties should on paper be the opener they are looking for to ease themselves into the weekend.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Four Best World Cup Last 16 2017, 2018 Player to watch Diogo Portela First round vs Netherlands Tournament odds 750-1
Diogo Portela’s Brazil once again fly the flag for South America this year, but Portela’s run of different partners has snapped with Bruno Rangel back for a second appearance. The duo first paired together in 2018 when they got past Denmark in the first round before going out to Scotland in straight singles in the last 16. It’s a tough-looking first assignment for the Brazilians this weekend as they take on the Netherlands, and Michael van Gerwen and debutant Danny Noppert. Any frailties in the new-look Dutch team will need to be pounced on by Portela and Rangel, otherwise they will be heading home early.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2016, 2019/Last Eight Group Stage 2010 Player to watch Jeff Smith First round vs Northern Ireland Tournament odds 150-1
Last year saw Canada line up without their star man, the three-time world champion John Part, for the first time, but it would be an understatement to say Dawson Murschell and Jim Long did OK in his absence. Their first-round tie against Italy was a hidden gem, with the Italian’s averaging 95 and Canada 97. After getting past Italy 5-3, Murschell and Long then put out Australia in straight singles, both winning in deciding legs, before bowing out to the Netherlands in a doubles decider in the quarter-finals. Hopes will be high again for Canadian fans this year, even with another new-look pairing as tour-card holder Jeff Smith is joined by Matt Campbell.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Seven Best World Cup Last 24 2010 Player to watch Karel Sedláček First round vs Belgium Tournament odds 250-1
The Czech Republic’s hunt for a first World Cup win continues this weekend, with tour-card holder Karel Sedláček joined by debutant Adam Gawlas. Last year Sedláček and Pavel Jirkal were beaten in the first round by Poland, which extended their losing record in the tournament to P6 W0 L6. While the draw has not been kind to them, there will be optimism from Czech darts fans, with the duo of Sedláček and Gawlas potentially a pairing that could do some damage in years to come. Sedláček won a tour card on the third day of European Q-School in January, while Gawlas became the youngest player to appear in a PDC World Youth Championship final last year, at the age of just 17. Now 18, Gawlas will be making his Grand Slam debut later this month, and is one to watch.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Last 16 2012, 2016 Player to watch Per Laursen First round vs New Zealand Tournament odds 500-1
The absence of Haruki Muramatsu, Dyson Parody and Darin Young this weekend means that Denmark’s Per Laursen is now one of just six ever presents in the PDC World Cup. Laursen’s partner has not been as consistent, with Niels Heinsøe last year becoming the eighth different player to play alongside him. The Danes did not have much of a chance last time out, as Scotland averaged 101 in beating them 5-0 in the first round on the way to lifting the title. Although they have avoided a seed in the first round this time round, New Zealand, who made the quarter-finals in 2019, will still ensure Denmark are the underdogs once again.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Winners 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 Player to watch Michael Smith First round vs Philippines Tournament odds 3-1
In a year which has been anything but normal, there is some signs of similarity when you delve into the England team. Michael Smith and Rob Cross partner up for the second year in a row, once again as the top seeds, and as players ranked right at the top of the Order of Merit. Smith is fourth and Cross is fifth, but neither will be completely happy with their game right now. For the second year running, England have drawn the Philippines in round one. A 5-1 win for Smith and Cross provided a confident start in 2019, before surprise packages Ireland put them out in a high-quality last 16 tie. Going up against the Philippines again will keep England honest in round one, and the draw could open up nicely after that for a run to the final stages.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Semi-Finals 2013 Player to watch Marko Kantele First round vs Germany Tournament odds 750-1
The five-year run of Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen as Finland’s pairing comes to an end after Viljanen withdrew last month. Up steps Veijo Viinikka to make his World Cup debut. Viinikka appeared in the 2011 PDC World Championship, losing out to Roland Scholten in the preliminary round, so it has been a long time between big stage appearances for him. It was seven years ago that Finland produced one of the biggest shocks in the tournament, putting out the Dutch team of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld on their way to a run to the semi-finals. With tournament odds of 750-1, a similar run this weekend would be just as surprising.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 Player to watch Gabriel Clemens First round vs Finland Tournament odds 14-1
Germany are back among the seeds this year, but for Max Hopp, and his new partner Gabriel Clemens, they will miss out on the home support of a German crowd. Since the first World Cup in 2010, held in England, Germany has hosted the event in the eight staging that followed and was due to in June, before the virus forced a postponement and then a change of location to Austria. Clemens recently overtook Hopp as the new German number one, based on the Order of Merit, but has said that is not something he is interested in. Currently fifth favourites to go all the way with title sponsors BetVictor, Hopp and Clemens are one team that many are tipping to have a successful weekend.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Last 16 2015 Player to watch Justin Hewitt First round vs Lithuania Tournament odds 1000-1
Alongside Italy, Gibraltar are the rank outsiders for this year’s World Cup, but don’t let that put you off from what is an exciting and young line up. While many darts fans will miss the absence of Dyson Parody, an ever present in the World Cup up until this year, and his larger than life persona on stage, he missed out on qualifying by virtue of the performances of Craig Galliano and Justin Hewitt. The teenage pair, both 18, could well be the youngest team to play in the PDC World Cup, and that inexperience puts them among the least fancied countries. But this will be an invaluable experience for Galliano and Hewitt to get a taste of the big lights and what could come their way in the future.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Five Best World Cup Last 16 2017 Player to watch John Michael First round vs Sweden Tournament odds 500-1
Greece v Sweden is one of the 16 first-round ties which does not jump off the page, but for all four players involved it is a massive opportunity to progress in this year’s World Cup. John Michael, who won a tour card at Q School at the beginning of 2019, is joined by Veniamin Symeonidis for a second year, and will see the draw as a chance to match Greece’s best-ever performance in the World Cup and get to the last 16. With Portugal making their debut this weekend, in place of Singapore, who with the Lims you would expect to be back involved in 2021, a first-round win for Greece would do their hopes of staying in the field next year the world of good.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Seven Best World Cup Quarter-Finals 2015 Player to watch Kai Fan Leung First round vs Latvia Tournament odds 80-1
You will be hard pressed to find a country whose pre-tournament odds from 2019 have been slashed as much this year than Hong Kong. Kai Fan Leung and Royden Lam were 500-1 outsiders last time out, but are priced at 80-1 by title sponsors BetVictor for this weekend’s event. Now, a lot of that movement will be because of Leung, who won a tour card at Q-School in January and has been racking up the experience of PDC darts by committing to the tour in 2020. Lam, a former tour-card holder, did not appear as much when he was eligible. The same line up as 2019 for Hong Kong, but they look a lot stronger now.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Nine Best World Cup Last 16 2015, 2016 Player to watch Patrik Kovacs First round vs Portugal Tournament odds 500-1
Like Greece, it is hard not to put Hungary in the category of countries that will be fearing for their World Cup spot in 2021 if they do not perform this weekend. Originally scheduled to face Singapore in round one, Hungary now go up against debutants Portugal, and one of the in-form players right now in Jose De Sousa. There is some hope for Hungary though, with Patrik Kovacs coming into this in some sensational form, albeit in online tournaments. Kovacs is into the WDF Virtual Cup final after beating three-time world champion Martin Adams in the semi-finals, and in the earlier rounds averaged an eye-watering 112. With no crowd in Austria this weekend, conditions will be more similar to home than Kovacs would have been expecting, and that could play into his hands.
World Cup appearances (including this year) Ten Best World Cup Last 16 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017/Last 16 Group Stage 2012 Player to watch Willie O’Connor First round vs Australia Tournament odds 25-1
When we put together this team-by-team guide for the 2019 tournament, we wrote about Ireland’s awful record in the last 16 of World Cups. It read P6 W0 L6. Boy did they put a stop to that! Willie O’Connor averaged 115 in beating Rob Cross, who himself averaged 106, to end Ireland’s last 16 hoodoo, and from there the Irish did not look back. O’Connor and Steve Lennon averaged 100 in a pairs decider against the Netherlands to make the final, before Lennon beat Gary Anderson in the opening singles of the final, but Scotland regrouped to win the next three matches to clinch the title. O’Connor and Lennon were 80-1 shots in 2019, 25-1 this weekend shows you that they are genuine contenders.
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