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World Cup of Darts 2020: Wayne Mardle’s things to watch – Sky Sports

Three days of World Cup of Darts coverage at the Salzburgarena gets underway from Friday and will conclude on Sunday evening – live on Sky Sports Arena. Scotland, this year represented by John Henderson and Robert Thornton, will be aiming to hold onto their crown

Last Updated: 06/11/20 11:29am

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

Friday’s World Cup of Darts – First Round matches

Afternoon from 12pm Evening from 6pm
Lithuania v Gibraltar Sweden v Greece
Portugal v Hungary Japan v Scotland
New Zealand v Denmark Poland v South Africa
Northern Ireland v Canada Republic of Ireland v Australia
Belgium v Czech Republic Wales v Russia
Austria v USA Germany v Finland
England v Philippines Netherlands v Brazil
Italy v Spain Hong Kong v Latvia

Are England at risk?

Rob Cross and Michael Smith are teaming up for England

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?

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Take a look at some of the biggest shocks at the World Cup of Darts
Take a look at some of the biggest shocks at the World Cup of Darts

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?

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Scotland pair Peter Wright and Gary Anderson celebrate clinching the World Cup of Darts in 2019
Scotland pair Peter Wright and Gary Anderson celebrate clinching the World Cup of Darts in 2019

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.

Final Four

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A look back to the story of the World Cup, that’s been dominated by England and the Netherlands since its debut in 2010
A look back to the story of the World Cup, that’s been dominated by England and the Netherlands since its debut in 2010

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.

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The World Cup of Darts demonstrates the passion felt by the players, carrying the hopes of their nations on their shoulders
The World Cup of Darts demonstrates the passion felt by the players, carrying the hopes of their nations on their shoulders

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!

Darts is back on Sky Sports with a double bill, starting with three days of coverage from the World Cup of Darts (Novomber 6-8) and continuing with nine days of the Grand Slam of Darts which gets under way on November 16. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.