Wayne Mardle’s World Cup of Darts: Things to watch

The World Cup of Darts begins this Friday, so Sky Sports Darts’ expert Wayne Mardle returns with his crystal ball and picks out the things to watch in Salzburg, Austria.

Wales are the pre-tournament favourites to claim a first World Cup of Darts title with Gerwyn Price teaming up again with Jonny Clayton, having competed together for the past two years.

Four-time winners England will have Michael Smith and Rob Cross teaming up as they look to emulate former champions Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis in lifting the trophy.

And the Netherlands, another nation with four World Cup victories to their name, have world No 1 Michael van Gerwen pairing up with Danny Noppert this weekend.

Wayne runs the rule over three titanic tungsten days, live on Sky Sports Arena from midday on Friday.

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Are England at risk?

I really do rate, maybe falsely, the Philippines pairing of Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem. They’re two players who are dangers. Malicdem is the man who had the world champion (Peter Wright) on toast over five sets, so don’t tell me that he can’t cope with anyone over five legs in a pairs game or four legs in a single game. I think he can. Ilagan is a danger.

I think that England sneak through it, I think that they can… Cross and Smith. On paper if they’re both playing well, you say that they’d win. However, they’re not playing well. They might gel and who knows? You’ve only got to have a couple of good openings legs, which settle you, and you can go from there. I don’t think that the upset is coming from there, I really don’t.

Upset of the round?

The upset might surprise people… I think that the Czech Republic can turn over the Belgians.

I think that Karel Sedlacek is impressive, improving and getting better. Adam Gawlas is a young guy, who has been in the world youth championship, and I think they could be the ones to pull the win off against the fancied Belgians.

I’m not sure about Dimitri van den Bergh’s form. I see him play well, like he did in the first round against Michael Smith in the Grand Prix and then he went missing again. I’m not sure… I’m just not sure. Kim Huybrechts is playing okay, but this is where I’m sticking my neck on the line!

I think they can pull it off over nine legs… that could be the main upset of the round.

Which team will deliver a surprise run?

This is all draw dependent…

Scotland have a tough opener, they’ve got Seigo Asada who I rate really highly with Yuki Yamada, that’s a tough opener. But, I think they can get through that and then give Wales a run for their money.

If Scotland can get the doubters off their backs, because there are some, if Robert and John go into it and think that they’re going to have a bit of fun, then they’re going to do some serious damage. I wouldn’t rule out a semi-final or final place for them, if they can get over Japan and Wales.

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Final Four

My final four will be England vs Czech Republic and Scotland vs Germany.

I’m looking at it and we don’t see big discrepancies like we used to.

There are some teams that I’ve not mentioned here, just because there’s so much going on. Let’s give them a mention; William O’Connor and Steve Lennon, Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez and Simon Whitlock with Damon Heta.

Predicting the outcomes in this event… it’s almost impossible!

There will be 5-0 5-1 matches in the first round but from the second round through to the final, it’s going to be full of drama. These players have got their nation’s shirt on their back and it means all the more because of that.

The Final

I’m going to go for…. England vs Germany in the final. Then I think that Germany will take it, with the pairing of Max Hopp and Gabriel Clemens.

Hopp will take out 59 and he hits treble 19 first dart!

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