2019 World Cup of Darts in Hamburg live on Sky Sports

The 2019 World Cup of Darts gets underway in Hamburg on Thursday and it promises to be one of the most open tournaments since its inception in 2010.

The Netherlands are bidding to lift their third straight title although they will be without Raymond van Barneveld for the first time in World Cup history, as debutant Jermaine Wattimena partners world No 1 Michael van Gerwen.

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The previous eight World Cups have been shared with four wins apiece for the Dutch and English sides, but England also boast a new-look pairing, as Rob Cross returns to team up with World Championship finalist Michael Smith – who is representing his country for the first time.

Gary Anderson and Peter Wright again lead Scotland’s assault for a maiden World Cup crown, while former finalists Wales, Australia and Belgium all feature, with Northern Ireland and Austria making up the eight seeds.

The 32-nation tournament is one of the most unique on the darting calendar, featuring a combination of singles and doubles matches, as the two-player teams prepare to do battle at the Barclaycard Arena from June 6-9.

Speaking on the Darts Show podcast, former world No 1 Colin Lloyd hailed the tournament’s growing appeal and admitted that the pairs format adds a different dimension to the event.

“I think it’s great,” said Lloyd. “In the early days of me being in the PDC we still had some pairs events, when we used to go to America and Canada.

“You’re not just thinking of yourself, you have to think of your teammate as well and that puts that added bit of spice and pressure on you as well.”

Lloyd on the World Cup

“You’re not just thinking of yourself, you have to think of your team-mate as well and that puts that added bit of spice and pressure on you as well.

“I was predominantly a double top hitter but I could have been paired with say Rod Harrington or Alan Warriner, where I know they love double 16.

“As I was throwing and I was trying to set up a shot, you’d like to try and leave what is their favourite because they’re going up next.

“They’ve got the three darts in their hand that could win that leg that could be crucial. That’s what I love about it. You’ve got to think about your team-mate.

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Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle thinks there will be a new name on the trophy in 2019 and he believes the tournament is becoming more unpredictable due to the development of the global game.

“There were times back in the day where England would win 5-0, Netherlands would win 5-0, Wales would win 5-0 and it was all a bit boring but now it’s not.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It was never one of my favourite events but it kind of is now and I hope the new arena helps.”

The Draw

(1) England v Philippines
Republic of Ireland v Greece
(8) Austria v Russia
China v USA
(5) Australia v Finland
Italy v Canada
(4) Netherlands v Spain
Poland v Czech Republic
(2) Scotland v Denmark
Brazil v Sweden
(7) Belgium v Hong Kong
Hungary v Germany
(6) Northern Ireland v South Africa
New Zealand v Lithuania
(3) Wales v Singapore
Gibraltar v Japan

Schedule

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 8
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)

Second Round x4

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Second Round x4

Sunday, June 9
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)

Quarter-Finals

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Semi-Finals
Final

The History

Netherlands and England are the only two nations to have lifted the World Cup of Darts although given their respective changes in personnel, their rivals will sense a major opportunity.

Van Gerwen could win a record-equalling fourth World Cup crown which would draw him level with the trio of Van Barneveld, Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, but the Dutch enter Hamburg as fourth seeds.

World Cup of Darts Winners

Nine players will retain their ever-present World Cup records this weekend, including Premier League star Mensur Suljovic, two-time world finalist Simon Whitlock and former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan.

William O’Connor, Toni Alcinas, Darin Young, Per Laursen, Haruki Muramatsu and Dyson Parody will also maintain their 100 per cent appearance records, while Lithuania become the latest nation to make their World Cup bow, with Darius Labanauskas captaining the side.

What the players say:

Michael van Gerwen:

“With all respect to Raymond, I think Jermaine deserves his place. 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.”

Michael Smith:

“I can’t wait to represent my country, it will be one of the proudest moments of my career. 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.”

Simon Whitlock:

“Every tournament is important but this one is really special to me. 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.”

Thursday’s Action

Second seeds Scotland headline Thursday’s opening night, as Anderson and Wright kick off their campaign against Denmark.

Two-time runners-up Wales, represented by Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton, take on the dangerous Singapore side led by the ever-green Paul Lim, while sixth seeds Northern Ireland take on former quarter-finalists South Africa.

Host-nation Germany meet Hungary in their opener, whilst last year’s semi-finalists Belgium lock horns with 2015 quarter-finalists Hong Kong.

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