Column #HR197 2017 PDC World Cup

Monday, May 29, 2017
Column HR197
2017 PDC World Cup

It’s time for the PDC’s World Cup VI. (Note to PDC: If you want to be a big time event you must use Roman numerals, hence the “VI.”) Thirty-two 2-man teams will play in Frankfurt June 1-4 for a piece of the £300,000 on offer and all the glory.

This event has evolved during its short history into a great event to watch and even more fun to bet on. The PDC World Cup now dwarfs the WDF World Cup as it continues to outpace its fast fading rival. At press time, two stalwarts of the WDF (Scotland and Wales) will not be travelling to Kobe (the city of Japan, not the beef) for the WDF World Cup this year.

The WDF World Cup isn’t really a team event; it’s a singles, doubles, and four person team (men) event. Some 20-plus years ago, there was a detailed suggestion to change the format. The change would have made the event more country vs. country, better for spectators, and perfect for TV. The suggestion was ridiculed, the “suggester” tossed out of the WDF and sent on his way with nary a fake gold wristwatch or a fare-thee-well, but instead with the rigid digit.

For Yanks, who love their NCAA Basketball brackets, the PDC World Cup sets up beautifully. Prior to this year’s event a few enterprising Yanks will run brackets, but only for fun and not profit.

England has won four of the five previous World Cups but they’re not favoured this year. Even with the #2 seed England will be lucky to finish in the top four. Gone is Phil Taylor, replaced by Dave Chisnall. It’s the aura of Taylor that will be missed. His leadership. Adrian Lewis will have to provide the leadership. Asking Lewis to do that is like asking a World War II Italian General to lead a war.

“Fight, hell. We surrender.”

Eight teams were seeded by Order of Merit with the remaining 24 placed by random “honest” draw, which in itself is refreshing.

Scotland is the #1 seed ( Gary Anderson and Peter Wright), Netherlands the #2 (Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld). Both America and Canada will have to play lights out to make the top 8.

America (Darin Young and Larry Butler) should get by Italy in the first round, although first round matches are always a struggle. As the format is best of 9 doubles the Yanks will have the edge. A win and they’d meet the Netherlands in the second round where they’d probably get run down by speeding “vans.” For all you open border whack jobs that means “adios amigo.” The positive side is that each player will receive £4,000 which would more than pay for the removal of the tire tracks from their darting shirts.

Canada (John Norman and John Part) has a draw that may look more favourable. Canada should advance after meeting Hungry in the first round. Then they run into the buzz-saw pair of Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez from Austria. Suljovic has banked £330,000 and is coming off the European PDC Tour where he’s been sizzling. His slow play drives most pros crazy. Shades of “Yank” Gerald Verrier. So put both North American teams out after the second round which should allow they time for sightseeing. Being happily married men they’ll surely “abstain” from a visit to the Taunusstraße. Naughty, naughty.

There’s half a North American team when the Lim’s, Paul and Harith, represent Singapore. They really do get the old “sausage.” That’s pronounced “SAW SEE GA.” They drew #1 seed Scotland. Bummer.

For those that would like to prepare their own brackets, for amusement only, The Old Dart Coach hereby presents his picks…

The first round is best of 9 doubles. The winners: Scotland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, England, South Africa, Canada, Netherlands, USA, Switzerland and Northern Ireland. Is there an upset lurking in the first round? Yes. Hong Kong is vulnerable vs. Russia and New Zealand has a shot against Belgium.

From the second round through the semi-finals the format changes to two singles 501, best of 7. If each country wins a singles then a doubles 501, best of 7 will decide the winner.

The second round is ripe for upsets with Scotland, Belgium, Australia, England, Austria, Netherlands and Northern Ireland moving on. Possible upset alert for the Wales duo of Gerwyn Price and Mark Webster against Republic of Ireland (Mick McGowan and William O’Connor). Also, there’s a good chance South Africa could send England home.

In the third round Scotland will run over Belgium (the Brothers Huybrechts). Australia (Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson), who have struggled, will finally lose to the Republic of Ireland and England will bow out to Austria (the latter in spectacular fashion with Lewis pouting throughout the match). The vans from the Netherlands will end Northern Ireland’s run as a black cab runs over “Dead Bills.”

The finals should be a barn burner as Scotland meets the Netherlands. Gary Anderson comes off a fantastic win against Michael van Gerwen in the Dubai Duty Free Masters. It was a match for the ages as Anderson came from 1-3 and 3-5 down for the 11-7 win. The averages were through the roof with Anderson garnering 110.88 and van Gerwen topping 110 also.

Either team could win with the betting edge favouring Scotland with Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. Anderson is the 2-time world champion and Wright has had a brilliant run lately. Some have criticized Wright saying, “He had his wins against a diminished entry list and choked against van Gerwen in the Premier League final.” Let he who has not choked at least once throw the first opinion. Wright is quality.

The finals is played with two best of 7 singles matches. That’s followed by a best of a 7 doubles. To win a team needs 3 points so sweeping the singles and double would have the fat lady singing Die Fledermaus, which could be German for The Party’s Over.

Scotland will take a 2-1 lead when Gary Anderson takes a win against Raymond van Barneveld and Netherland will take the pairs. The reverse singles will see Peter Wright winning against van Barneveld to knot the score at 2. In the decider Gary Anderson will jump out to a 3-1 lead when “Marvellous” Michael van Gerwen catches fire taking 3 on the trot for the win and the Cup.

Or not.

Sometime during the telecast the interviewer will say to a losing team…

“You played well enough to win.”

That’s stupid – either you win or you don’t.

Another explanation for losing comes from Aussie Russell Stewart when he explains the game of darts…

“Darts is a game that matches my skill against your incredible luck.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.