First Round Tips World Cup of Darts by James Punt
Played as a best of nine legs in a pair’s format. This is the only time we get to see a team format in a PDC event so it is very unusual. Obviously individuals form is still important but you have to factor in something for the fact that it is pairs. It is not two mates playing together it is the two highest ranked players from each nation so there may be some teams where the two players have little in the way of chemistry between them. It isn’t an easy tournament to judge, but James Punt has had a go. He has a few First Round tips for you to get stuck into.
Form Usually Stands Up
For the last three years there have been just eight seeded teams and it is a little surprising that so few seeds have lost. Last year the only seed to lose was Austria, the 8th seed. They went down to a useful Japanese team who went on the reach the 3rd round. As a ‘shock’ it wasn’t a great one.
In 2017 we did see a very big shock when 2nd seed, Scotland, lost 5-2 to Singapore. Gary Anderson and Peter Wright played together and let’s just say the chemistry was poor. The 6th seed, Northern Ireland lost to the host nation, Germany. Again not a huge shock given home advantage for Germany.
In 2016 all the seeded nations won their 1st round matches.
In 2015 and 2014 there where sixteen seeds. 2015 saw three seeds going out in round 1 but only Wales, who lost to Hong Kong, were ranked in the top eight. In 2014 four seeds lost but again only one top 8 seed, 8th seed Ireland.
So a format which would appear to be perfect for producing shocks hasn’t really done so. Only Scotland losing to Singapore could be called a big shock.
First Round Tips: Gibraltar vs. Japan
Japan is the 1.25 favourite to win this and deservedly so. Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu played in last year’s World Cup while Dyson Parody has yet another partner, this time Antony Lopez. Last year Japan beat Austria 5-4 in the first round and Canada 2-0 in the 2nd before losing 2-0 to Scotland in the quarter finals without winning a leg.
In the last five years Gibraltar have won just one 1st round match and that was against Italy, a true minnow of the game. Dyson Parody is a permanent fixture for Gibraltar, a journeyman pro whose claim to fame was having match darts to beat MVG in a Euro Tour quarter final. He missed. Lopez is a Policeman.
The Japanese pair is more experienced, more talented and should find themselves in the 2nd round.
Darts World Cup Tips: Northern Ireland vs. South Africa
Northern Ireland will have been delighted not to be drawn against Germany and they cannot meet their nemesis until the semi-final. Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan have played in the last three World cups. They reached the semi-final in 2016, lost in the first round to Germany in 2017 and lost again to Germany last years in the 2nd round.
South Africa again features Devon Petersen, Africa’s only professional darts player. This year he is partnered by Vernon Bouwers who by definition isn’t a professional.
Northern Ireland has a slightly lopsided team with world number 4 Gurney in a different class to number 39 Dolan. To be fair Dolan was top 16 player at his best so he can play and can still put in some good performances. He has a ton of experience of this event and lots of big match experience. Dolan reached the quarter finals of the World Championship this year and the last 16 in the Players Championship finals. He may be past his best but he is not just making up the numbers.
It will be very hard for South Africa to win this. Northern Ireland has the better team by far and they are used to playing together. Petersen effectively has to win this single handed unless his partner turns out to be a real dark horse. Petersen has never beaten Dolan or Gurney (0-3 against both) and his recent form is five wins from ten. This should be a comfortable win for 1.15 favourites Norn Iron.
World Cup Of Darts First Round Tips: New Zealand vs. Lithuania
This is a more competitive affair. New Zealand is the marginal 1.80 favourites with Lithuania 2.20. New Zealand is the more rounded team but they are not that strong. Cody Harris made the second round of the World Championship after beating Martin Schindler in the first round. He then lost 2-3 in the second round to Ally Pally specialist, Jamie Lewis. Harris failed to win a tour card at Q school and he plays on the challenge tour. He won a challenge tour event last season and he has won multiple titles in New Zealand and Australia. Harris is partnered by Haupai Puha who plays on the Australian pro tour where he has won two titles this year and has won eight of his last ten matches.
Lithuania Vulnerable Favourites
Lithuania is such a short price thanks to the form of Darius Labanauskas. He recently reached the semi-final of Players Championship 14 and then went on to be runner up in PC 15 and he is now ranked 23rd in the Players Championship OOM. Labanauskas beat Raymond van Barneveld in the World Championship and he is an experienced pro these days. He is in good form with seven wins from his last ten matches.
His problem is that he is paired with Mindaugas Barauskas, the BDO’s 176th best player. He isn’t a professional, has never played in front of the TV camera’s before and is very much the weak link. Lithuania has the best individual player in Labanauskas but this is a pair’s match and he needs his partner to make a contribution.
New Zealand makes more appeal as a team Harris is a decent player and his team mate is more of a player than Barauskas.
2 points New Zealand to win @ 1.80 with Ladbrokes, Coral
First Round Tips : Belgium vs. Hong Kong
There is the chance of an upset here. Belgium has an excellent World Cup pedigree and has made the semi-finals for the last four years but both Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri van den Bergh are in very poor form. Van den Bergh has lost eight of his last ten matches. Huybrechts has lost seven of his last ten and the confidence of the two Belgians will be fragile at best.
The question is can the Hong Kong pair of Royden Lam and Kai Fan Leung take advantage if the Belgians are poor? Royden Lam is not new to this event and he made his debut in 2014 when Hong Kong beat Norway in the first round. In 2015 he was again representing HK and they beat Wales in the first round, Ireland in the 2nd round before losing to Scotland. In 2016 they narrowly lost 4-5 to Ireland so Lam has got some good memories of this event. He has played in two World Championships and beat Gary Anderson in a World Series match last year. He is 1st on the PDC Asian Tour OOM and he cannot be dismissed lightly at all.
His team mate has played in one World Cup in 2017 alongside Lam but they lost to Russia in the first round. Leung is the weak link here but if he can settle and make a contribution, Lam has the potential to pressure the out of form Belgians. Hong Kong can be backed at 7.00 but perhaps the more sensible approach is the back them on the handicap.
2 points Hong Kong +2.5 legs @ 2.30 with Betfred
First Round Tips : Brazil vs. Sweden
Brazil is another of the countries that are effectively a one man team. Diogo Portela is their main man but he is only 126th in the Players Championship OOM. He has played in the World Cup with different partners for the last two years and won both first round matches one against Switzerland and last year against Denmark. His partner this year is Artur Valle a keen amateur player.
This is the farewell tournament for Magnus Caris, the Swedish veteran. Since it became a straight knock out he has been on the winning team in just one World Cup match, in 2014 when Sweden beat Gibraltar in the first round. He is paired with Denis Nilsson again but they lost 3-5 to Germany last year. Nilsson plays on the Challenge Tour and won an event in 2018. He also plays on the Baltic and Nordic Tour and he has played in two Euro tour events this year, reaching the last 16 in Dutch Darts Masters a couple of weeks ago.
Sweden is the 1.62 favourites here, mostly due to Brazil being a bit of a one man team. Are they value at the odds? Not really. Portela can play some good stuff and Sweden is no great shakes but it doesn’t make much appeal betting wise.
First Round Tips: Wales vs. Singapore
Wales has a strong line up and should be too good for the Singapore duo of Paul Lim and Harith Lim. That said Singapore beat Scotland in 2017 and gave England a fright in the second round last year. Paul Lim rolled back the years to beat Rob Cross 4-2 and averaged 102. Harith Lim was beaten 4-2 by Dave Chisnall and they lost the deciding pairs match 4-1.
Wales cannot afford to underestimate Singapore as they love to compete and even at 65 years of age Paul Lim can still give the top players a game. However Gerwyn Price on recent form is one of the very best players in the world and he should be too good while Clayton is more than capable of making a big contribution.
One note of caution is that Gerwyn Price is currently making his way back from a holiday in Florida and will get home, repack and make his way to Hamburg pretty much straight away. I like players that take time out and have a break, especially after a long Premier League campaign. However then having to make a transatlantic journey to get to this tournament at the last minute is not ideal. Ironically it may lead to Price being a bit tired. If they do win he will have a day off to settle in and he should feel the benefit of his holiday then.
We have backed Wales outright so hopefully Price will be switched on enough to avoid a potential banana skin and justify odds of 1.17
Darts World Cup: Hungary vs. Germany
A bit of a mismatch and Germany have the added advantage of playing in front of the home crowd. Hopp and Schindler make up their team once again and they have enjoyed some success in the past. They beat Sweden and Northern Ireland to reach the quarter final last year, losing 2-0 to The Netherlands. They beat Northern Ireland and Brazil before losing 1-2 to The Netherlands in 2017. Schindler’s lack of form is a slight worry but Hopp is in great form and they should have too much for Hungary.
Hungary is represented by Pál Székely and János Végső. Székely recently made is Euro Tour debut in the Dutch Darts Masters but he averaged just 73 in a 2-6 defeat to Van Barneveld. Végső played in two Euro Tour events in 2016 but lost both first round matches. He played for Hungary in the 2017 World Cup but they lost to Canada.
Easy home win for the 1.13 favourites.
First Round Tips: Scotland vs. Denmark
Scotland, represented by Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, will be happy with their first round draw. They are tougher teams than Denmark out there. This will be a nice gentle opening match for the returning Gary Anderson and along with Peter Wright they should be looking to win this to nil.
The Danes are represented by Per Laursen and Niels Heinsøe this year. Laursen has been a Danish stalwart in this event but success has been hard to come by. Denmark lost 1-5 to Brazil last year, 4-5 to Australia in 2017. They beat Sweden in the first round in 2016 and Laursen beat Kyle Anderson in his 2nd round singles match but they lost 1-2 in the end. They lost 0-5 to England in 2015 and in 2014 it was a 2-5 loss to Australia.
Scotland Hard To Oppose
Laursen has had a different team mate in each of the last five World Cups and that is the problem, there is no great depth of talent in Denmark. Niels Heinsøe is his team mate this year. The 49 year old is making his TV debut and his darting CV is a bit thin. He has taken to playing in some UK Challenge Tour events this year with limited success.
Anything but an easy win for the 1.09 favourites would be a huge shock. Anderson’s fitness is the only possible danger for Scotland. He has been suffering with a bad back for some time but while he has been recuperating from that he has developed Tennis Elbow. He has taken to wearing an elasticated sleeve to help manage the problem but we have seen what Tennis Elbow has done to Darren Webster’s form.
Fridays 1st Round Matches
First Round Tips: China vs. USA
Are China the weakest team in the competition? Very probably. Xiaochen Zong and Qingyu Zhan make up the Chinese team this year. Zong has played in two Shanghai Masters events and failed to win a leg. He qualified for this year’s World Championship and failed to win a set but set a record for a Chinese player’s highest average which was 86.9.
Last year’s Chinese pair included a lady player and they won two legs….against Switzerland. In the last five years the Chinese have suffered two 0-5 defeats but they did win a match vs. the Czech Republic in 2016.
The USA is represented by Darin Young and Chuck Puleo. Young is a veteran, aged 46. He has played in eight PDC World Championship’s and represented USA in the competition on a number of occasions. He is now a BDO player and ranked 84th. Puleo is another veteran and is also 46 years old. He played in his first PDC World Championship this year losing 0-3 to Dimitri van den Bergh. He qualified for that by winning the American pro tour OOM in 2018. After the World Championship he hung around and attempted to win a tour card at Q school but was unsuccessful. He then played in four Challenge Tour events winning four of his nine matches.
China may avoid another 0-5 defeat but the experienced USA team should be too good for the Chinese.
First Round Tips: Italy vs. Canada
Andrea Micheletti and Stefano Tomassetti make up the Italian team this year. Andrea Micheletti tries to play in professional events but he has never got beyond the qualifying stages for any event. His total earnings? £0. Yep, fuck all cubed. Tomassetti matches his team mate’s total earnings. This isn’t really a darts team.
There is no John Part for Canada this year and they will be represented by Dawson Murschell and Jim Long. Murschell we know as he now lives in the UK and earned a tour card at Q school last year. It must be said that his darts career has hit the buffers. He has won just 30% of his last 50 matches and has lost eight of his last ten.
Jim Long played at Ally Pally thanks to being the highest ranked Canadian player on the CDC tour. He ‘beat’ Micky Mansell in the first round in one of the worst matches ever played at Ally Pally. Mansell was later fined for ‘not trying’ 3-1 in that match which Long won with a 75 average. He then lost 2-3 to Benito van de Pas.
The Canadian team isn’t very strong but they will beat Italy.
Darts World Cup: Poland vs. Czech Republic
Poland is the best of the non-seeded teams. Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik can both play. Ratajski has three pro tour titles under his belt and is ranked 46th in the PDC world rankings. He also won the World Masters in 2017 and he is a class player. Kanik is the weaker player but he is improving. He reached the semi-final of player’s championship 10 in April and reached the third round of the Austrian Darts Open last month. He won a tour card last year and now that he is playing against top professionals on a regular basis he is getting better and he can and has beaten a fair few top players like Ricky Evans, Dave Chisnall, Danny Noppert, Jonny Clayton and Glen Durrant.
First Round Tips: Best Ever Czech Team
The Czech Republic feature Karel Sedláček and Pavel Jirkal and that is the best ever Czech line up. Both have played in the Euro Tour this season and Karel Sedláček reached the quarter final of the German Darts Grand Prix. He took Max Hopp to a deciding leg in that match and his confidence will have been massively boosted by that run.
He has lost three times to Ratajski but he has beaten Kanik once. Jirkal qualified for the European Darts Open and won his first round match but lost 3-6 to Darren Webster and he lost his first round match 0-6 to Luke Humphries in the German Open.
Poland is by far the stronger team but the Czech’s will be up for this. It would be a big surprise if Poland failed to progress but they may have to work for their win.
Darts World Cup: Republic of Ireland vs. Greece
Another total mis-match. Ireland has two top 50 players in O’Connor and Lennon while Greece has the ever present John Michael and his partner Veniamin Symeonidis. Michael has been the Greek number 1 for a hundred years but I have no idea who Veniamin Symeonidis is but he partnered Michael in their 1-5 loss to Finland last year. Michael is a farrier by trade but he has a tour card and has won over £90000 playing professional darts. He has played in 14 player’s championship events averaging 88.50 overall.
O’Connor won players championship 13 last month and his pro tour average is 95.13. Lennon is averaging 93.87 on the pro tour and while his recent form isn’t great Ireland has one of the strongest un-seeded teams. Michael will try and make a game of it but what of his team mate? Michael isn’t a good enough player to win this by carrying a team mate. Ireland will win.
First Round Tips: England vs. Philippines
The most interesting match of the evening. England is the joint 4.00 favourite to will the tournament and just 1.14 to win this match. However this may not be the easy pick up which the odds suggest.
Rob Cross and Michael Smith are a very strong combination but they do have a chink in their amour and that is doubles. Smith blew his big chance to win a TV major late last year when he missed about eight darts to win the match. He just couldn’t hit a double and lost to James Wade. He bounced back and was runner up in the World Championship but since then his game has gone downhill and missed doubles have really started to get to him. His frustration is palpable and it is hurting his career.
Rob Cross didn’t enjoy his reign as world champion. It was too much too soon and his confidence fell away and his form dropped. He has started to play better again now that he is no longer world champion but there is still some scar tissue in his game. Not as often as Smith but he too can have games where he finds the doubles hard to find. He is struggling at the business end of tournaments as he knows he really should be winning more titles.
Philippines Could Surprise
The Philippines are represented by Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem and while they are not well known in Europe they are both highly regarded and are 3rd and 5th on the PDC Asian Tour rankings. Obviously they are nowhere near the level of Cross and Smith but they can both play to a high standard. Ilagan lost 1-3 to Vincent van der Voort in the World Championship but he averaged 95.
Malicdem is much less experienced and still improving but he has had a nine darter already and won a match at Ally Pally in this year’s World Championship. He beat Jeffery de Graff before losing 1-3 to Kyle Anderson, averaging 92.9.
Yes England is the mega favourites here but in this format, a short game of pairs, there is the potential for them to struggle. Their opponents can play make no mistake and if the English duo have a wobble on their doubles then the Philippines could quite easily nick the leg and put some pressure on the hot favourites.
First Round Tips: 2 points Philippines to win + 2.50 legs @ 2.50 with Betfred
World Cup Tips: Austria vs. Russia
Austria is the 1.14 favourite to beat the Russian duo of Boris Koltsov and Aleksei Kadochnikov. Koltsov doesn’t have a tour card but he plays on The Challenge Tour with quite regular if unsuccessful forays in Player’s Championship events. He is 3rd in the Challenge Tour OOM and is averaging 88.5 in Tour Championship events. Kadochnikov was paired with Koltsov in this event back in 2015 when they lost their 1st round match to Australia. He is the weak link in the Russia side. He took Daryl Gurney to a deciding leg in a BDO event many moons ago and Raymond van Barneveld to a decider in a Euro Tour qualifier but winning was never a habit he picked up in a sparse darting career.
Suljovic and Lerchbacher bombed in the first round to Japan last year and with Suljovic losing his last five matches in a row they will have to be careful not to let that happen again. Lerchbacher has a tour card but his form has slipped back this year. He reached a players championship final in 2017 but in 2019 he has got to the last 16 just once and he is averaging 91.1. He has lost six of his last ten matches so neither of the Austrians can be said to be in good form.
Austria looked to have gotten lucky with the draw. Russia have one half decent player and a make weight. Austria should get past the Russians but odds of just 1.14 are too short. They didn’t gel well as a team last year and if there is any more of that then their involvement in the tournament may not last very long.
First Round Tips : Australia vs. Finland
Australia is once again represented by Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson. Both are in indifferent form, winning six of their last ten matches. Neither is playing any eye catching stuff. Anderson has his moments but he hasn’t put a good run together since reaching the quarter final of PC6 back in February.
Finland is represented by Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen for the 5th year running. In that time they have won just once, a 5-1 win over Greece but they took South Africa to a deciding leg in 2015 and Wales to a decider in 2017 where they missed match darts to win. They are no mugs. Viljanen reached the quarter final of The Austrian Open in 2017 and he looked like a player who could make a go of it if he were to go full time and try and get a tour card.
Kantele won a tour card in January in the European Q school so he is getting more experience against the regular tour pros but is struggling. He reached the last 16 stage in PC 10 in April but most recently he has lost nine of his last ten matches.
I can see Finland winning a few legs but Australia should be just that bit better.
First Round Tips: Netherlands vs. Spain
This will be an early test for the new look Netherlands team. The Spanish duo of Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas are long time partners and both are dangerous opponents on their day. Alcinas was a member of the Spanish team that beat England’s James Wade and Phil Taylor back in 2010 and who also beat Scotland that year to reach the semi-finals.
In 2016 Reyes and Alcinas took the English pair of Taylor and Lewis to a deciding leg in the first round. Alcinas has reached the 3rd round of the World Championships for the last two years. Reyes looked to have a bright future in the game after reaching two Euro Tour semi-finals in 2017 but the last 18 months has seen his form become very inconsistent. Occasionally he can still turn it on but it is becoming less and less common.
Nerves Could Play A Part
Any team with the world number 1 in it will be very tough opponents. MVG has very few off nights but if he does it tends to be early in tournaments. Wattimena is making his World Cup debut so is bound to be a bit nervous. His form in floor events has been generally pretty good this year and he is 11th in the player’s championship OOM but he hasn’t really got going on the Euro Tour, failing to get beyond the 2nd round in four events.
The Spaniards will be up for this. In the last five years Spain has lost just one first round match, 4-5 to England and this pair has a 3-1 first round record. A shock is not out of the question but MVG is capable of carrying Wattimena if he has to. Can Spain win a few legs? Yes and they are worth a small bet on the handicap.
First Round Tips: 1 point Spain to win +2.5 legs @ 2.25 with Betfred
First Round Tips: 3 points USA, Canada, Poland and Republic of Ireland all to win @ 2.54 with Ladbrokes, Coral, Marathon Bet