THE 2019 BetVictor World Cup of Darts begins on Thursday, with the new-look Netherlands bidding to retain their title at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg.
The £350,000 event will see each country represented by two players in a combination of Doubles and Singles matches in a battle for the title, which was won by the Netherlands for a fourth time last June.
Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld’s triumph in Frankfurt last year saw the Netherlands equal England’s record of four World Cup crowns in the eight stagings of the competition.
This year’s event will see Van Barneveld absent in the Dutch line-up for the first time, with World Champion Van Gerwen teaming up with world number 23 Jermaine Wattimena, the second-highest Dutch ranked player on the PDC Order of Merit.
The fourth seeds will face Spanish duo Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas in their first-round assignment, with Van Gerwen feeling confident of retaining the title.
“With all respect to Raymond, I think Jermaine deserves his place,” said Van Gerwen, who has won the tournament three times alongside Van Barneveld.
“I love to hold records and this would be a special one. “It would be something special for the Netherlands to overtake England and I am really determined to do that.
“Also for myself, it would take me level on titles with three great World Cup players and if I do that then I have the chance next year to break that record too.”
The first round will take place across Thursday and Friday, with the second round split across two sessions on Saturday, June 2, with the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon and the semi-finals and final on Sunday evening.
Round one will see English top seeds Rob Cross and Michael Smith pair up for the first time against highly-rated Filipino duo Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem
For Cross, this will be the former World Champion’s second taste of World Cup action having reached the quarter-finals alongside Dave Chisnall in 2018, while Smith is relishing the prospect of pulling on an England shirt for the first time.
“I can’t wait to represent my country, it will be one of the proudest moments of my career,” said Smith.
“Even if I were to fall down the rankings in later years and this turns out to be the only chance I get to play for England, I will always look back on it with pride.
“Everyone wants to represent their country in any sport, and last year I was doing everything I could to get into the team, it was one of my biggest aims.
“I think we’ve got a good chance of doing well, Rob had a great Premier League season, whereas I didn’t play badly but my doubles let me down.“
Number two seeds Scotland will once again be represented by Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, who will be looking to go one better than their runner-up placings in 2015 and 2018.
They will begin their bid for a first title against Denmark, while Welsh third seeds Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton get their campaign underway against Paul Lim and Harith Lim’s Singapore.
Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson will fly the Australian flag for Australia for a fourth consecutive year, and 2012 runner-up Whitlock admits it would be one of the biggest disappointments of his career if he were never to win the title for his country.
“Every tournament is important but this one is really special to me,” said Whitlock has reached the semi-finals on three other occasions.
“The final defeat in 2012 really hurt me but I’ve still got the chance to win it. Paul (Nicholson) and I were a strong team and the title was there for us to win but we missed our chance.
“That fuelled my hunger to win the event. It would be huge for Australian darts. I have built up a good rapport with Kyle and I think we are ready as a team to go and play our best darts in what I think is a very open tournament that we have every chance of winning.”
2016 semi-finalists Northern Ireland will once again be represented by world number four Daryl Gurney and World Cup ever-present Brendan Dolan, who will face South Africa in their opening game.
Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh will compete for Belgium for a second successive year, having made it to the semi-finals in 2018, and they will meet Hong Kong in round one.
Austrian duo Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher will be hoping to erase the memory of their first round exit last year when they take on Russia.
Japanese pair Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu, who were quarter-finalists in 2018, will open this year’s event against Gibraltar, who are represented by ever-present Dyson Parody and debutant Antony Lopez.
China, who meet the USA in Friday’s opening tie, suffered a late team change when Yuanjun Liu stepped in to make his third World Cup appearance following the withdrawal of Qingyu Zhan due to a passport issue.
Following the first round on Thursday and Friday, the tournament’s second round will be split across two sessions on Saturday June 8, featuring a combination of Singles and Doubles tie.
The event the concludes on Sunday, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session to be followed by the semi-finals and final in the evening session.
2019 BetVictor World Cup of DartsNations & Competing Players
(Seed 1) England – Rob Cross & Michael Smith
(Seed 2) Scotland – Gary Anderson & Peter Wright
(Seed 3) Wales – Gerwyn Price & Jonny Clayton
(Seed 4) Netherlands – Michael van Gerwen & Jermaine Wattimena
(Seed 5) Australia – Simon Whitlock & Kyle Anderson
(Seed 6) Northern Ireland – Daryl Gurney & Brendan Dolan
(Seed 7) Belgium – Kim Huybrechts & Dimitri Van den Bergh
(Seed 8) Austria – Mensur Suljovic & Zoran Lerchbacher
Brazil – Diogo Portela & Artur Valle
Canada – Dawson Murschell & Jim Long
China – Xiaochen Zong & Yuanjun Liu (Qingyu Zhan replaced by Yuanjun Liu)
Czech Republic – Pavel Jirkal & Karel Sedlacek
Denmark – Per Laursen & Niels Heinsøe
Finland – Marko Kantele & Kim Viljanen
Germany – Max Hopp & Martin Schindler
Gibraltar – Dyson Parody & Antony Lopez
Greece – John Michael & Veniamin Symeonidis
Hong Kong – Royden Lam & Kai Fan Leung
Hungary – Pal Szekely & Janos Vegso
Italy – Andrea Micheletti & Stefano Tomassetti
Japan – Seigo Asada & Haruki Muramatsu
Lithuania – Darius Labanauskas & Mindaugas Barauskas
New Zealand – Cody Harris & Haupai Puha
Philippines – Lourence Ilagan & Noel Malicdem
Poland – Krzysztof Ratajski & Tytus Kanik
Republic of Ireland – Steve Lennon & William O’Connor
Russia – Boris Koltsov & Aleksey Kadochnikov
Singapore – Paul Lim & Harith Lim
South Africa – Devon Petersen & Vernon Bouwers
Spain – Cristo Reyes & Toni Alcinas
Sweden – Dennis Nilsson & Magnus Caris
United States of America – Darin Young & Chuck Puleo
Session Times:Thursday June 6 (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Gibraltar v Japan
Northern Ireland v South Africa
New Zealand v Lithuania
Belgium v Hong Kong
Brazil v Sweden
Wales v Singapore
Hungary v Germany
Scotland v Denmark
Friday June 7 (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
China v USA
Italy v Canada
Poland v Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland v Greece
England v Philippines
Austria v Russia
Australia v Finland
Netherlands v Spain
Saturday June 8Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Second Round x4
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Second Round x4
Sunday June 9Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Winners (Per Player) £35,000
Runner-Up (Per Player) £20,000
Semi-Finalists (Per Player) £12,000
Quarter-Finalists (Per Player) £8,000
Second Round Losers (Per Player) £4,000
First Round Losers (Per Player) £2,000
Best of nine legs Doubles
Second Round, Quarter-Finals & Semi-Finals
The Second Round, Quarter-Finals & Semi-Finals will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play. In the event of both nations winning one Singles match apiece, a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
The Final will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play the first two matches, followed by a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match and then Reverse Singles matches. The first team to win three games is declared the winner.