And now for something completely different – our PDC World Cup of Darts 2019 betting tips.
After four months of Premier League action, the second half of the PDC darts campaign kicks off with the only major team event on the schedule.
Most kids dream of scoring a winning goal for their country in the final of the football World Cup, but even so that should not diminish the importance and prestige for these 64 tungsten tossers of representing their nations in darts’ own version of the international showpiece.
There have been eight editions of the World Cup of Darts and all of them have been won by either England or the Netherlands; six by the pairings of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor alongside Adrian Lewis.
But it’s all change in 2019, with Barney replaced by Jermaine Wattimena in the Dutch set-up and England being represented by Rob Cross and Michael Smith.
Does that make these perennial World Cup champions vulnerable to a new name on the trophy?
Tournament History & Format
As mentioned, this tournament made its inaugural bow in 2010, when the Dutch duo of RVB and the legendary Co Stompe defeated the Welsh pairing of Mark Webster and Barrie Bates in the final at Sunderland’s Rainton Meadows Arena.
It’s testament to the growth of the sport that the 2019 edition will take place in Hamburg’s 13,000 capacity Barclaycard Arena, and with the prize fund more than doubled since the event’s inception there are plenty of reasons for those involved to deliver some national pride on the oche.
The teams are automatically picked based on world ranking and Order of Merit performance – hence why Wattimena makes his World Cup debut – with seedings decided based upon the combined rankings of the players. So that’s why the Netherlands are seeded four despite having the world’s number one ranked player in their midst.
The format remains the same, with the top eight teams seeded and the remaining 24 hoping to avoid one of the big guns in the first round of the straight knockout draw.
The first round sees both players team up in a best-of-nine leg doubles match – that short format really can be a graveyard for the fancied nations, while the second round, quarters and semis features two singles matches over the best-of-seven legs, with a doubles match played if the tie is level at 1-1 after the singles.
The final requires the winner to pick up three points to lift the trophy. There are two best-of-seven singles matches followed by a pairs encounter of the same length. Should the tie not be settled at this point, reverse singles matches are played.
It’s a rare treat to see many of the world’s best players taking out of their comfort zone in this unique pairs format.
England, the number one seeds and tournament favourites, will be represented by Rob Cross and Michael Smith, while Gary Anderson makes a rare appearance on the oche as he battles a variety of injuries. He will team up with his old nemesis-turned-friend Peter Wright in Scottish colours.
The third seeds will be Wales, for whom Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton will slip into the red shirt, while Wattimena has the unenviable task of trying to replace Van Barneveld in the Dutch line-up. Good luck with that!
Seeds five, six and seven are Australia (Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson), Northern Ireland (Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan) and Belgium (Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh) respectively, with Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher making up the eighth seed pairing for Austria.
The picks of the non-seeds include hosts Germany, who reached the last eight 12 months ago, talented Republic of Ireland pairing Steve Lennon and William O’Connor and Polish pair Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik.
And don’t write off the Asian teams: Japan, Singapore and the Philippines can all play, and they will be targeting a decent run in Hamburg.
The Betting Favourites
England, with a World Championship winner and runner-up in their team, are an understandable favourite at 3/1 with Unibet.
But a potentially difficult draw – the Philippines followed by possibly Republic of Ireland – means others will be fancied; the Netherlands, at 11/4 with TonyBet, one such option.
It would be fair to call Northern Ireland a lively outsider. Daryl Gurney is a major winner, while partner Brendan Dolan is a wily old campaigner. At a mammoth 14/1 with Bet365, there will be plenty of interest.
Australia have plenty of World Cup pedigree, and while Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson haven’t been in the best of form this term they cannot be discounted. Interested parties can take 25/1 with Ladbrokes.
Austria, 33/1 with Betfred, have the ‘Mensur factor’, while Germany on home soil will take some stopping. Max Hopp is fast becoming a top 16 player in the world, but he will need Martin Schindler to raise his game here. Odds of 30/1 with MansionBet say he can.
England are a warm favourite with the bookies, but with Smith on debut and Cross coming down from losing in the Premier League final they look to have a tough job on their hands.
The Philippines pair of Malicdem and Ilagan should be respected. Both performed well at the World Championship and regularly average 95 and higher on the Asian Tour. This is the epitome of a stinky draw for the English, and with Republic of Ireland and Austria also lurking in this quarter there are plenty of reasons to give them a wide berth.
The same can be said for the Netherlands. We really have no idea of how Wattimena will perform under this pressure, and he isn’t a player with masses of big stage experience. There’s only so far Van Gerwen can take this team.
Much more of interest are Wales, who have an agreeable enough draw assuming they can get past the tricky Singapore and Japan. Northern Ireland also lurk in this quarter, and these two teams look to be the strongest in the bottom half of the draw.
Scotland have an injured Anderson and an out-of-nick Wright….they simply cannot be trusted by punters.
Elsewhere, there isn’t too much for punters to work with in a series of one-sided encounters in the first round. The second round is where the best of the betting value will be found!