First of all, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Scotland’s Peter Wright and John Henderson on their superb World Cup of Darts victory.
The highlight for me was definitely the performance of Hendo. From start to finish, he was truly magnificent. Having a multi major winner in Peter Wright by his side obviously gave Hendo a massive boost in terms of confidence and motivation. As a team, they were excellent and thoroughly deserved the title.
We all saw what happened to Jonny Clayton after he won the World Cup for Wales last year. Similarly, in Gezzy Price, he was partnered with a big major television winner and has since gone on to claim titles of his own. Maybe Hendo can follow in Jonny’s footsteps?
I have to say though, it’s my opinion that the World Cup format has gone a little stale and desperately needs shaking up. Firstly, it should be a pairs-only tournament. Being from South Africa, I’ve had several different partners over the years. Not being paired with a team-mate based outside the UK does make it far more difficult to compete against the top seeds. It’s a definite advantage to them in the individual matches. The pairs games are a great leveller and often more dramatic.
This is a team event so the nations should compete solely in that format. When you perform in pairs, there is a big change in rhythm as well as timing. It gives the lesser players an opportunity to show what they can do. I would also look, to begin with, groups as opposed to knockout matches. A lot of these countries travel far, often at a huge personal expense, to be there. They could be heading home after just one game.
You could possibly look at introducing a ‘World Cup of Darts qualifier’ where the smaller darting nations could attempt to make the main tournament. Then reduce the finals to 24 countries and perhaps have eight groups of three. This way, every participant is given at least two matches. There is a chance of progression to the knock-out stage still guaranteed in the second game. In a way, they get given a lifeline should they fall at the first fence.
You would get to watch more of the players that you would otherwise never get to see on your television screens. We need to give them a longer platform to showcase their skills to the darting world. I also like the idea of some minor darting countries staging an open competition where the winner represents their nation. That would really heighten the profile of darts in places where exposure is desperately needed.
Imagine – you are a keen talented player and an opportunity to play for your country in the World Cup came up. It would create an enormous buzz and generate massive interest in our sport. All that said, however, it is refreshed, the World Cup certainly needs to remain on the PDC calendar.
It’s a fabulous event and allows us to look at our sport in so many different ways. As a proud South African, I am immensely grateful to be given such a wonderful opportunity to step on that stage wearing the shirt of my country. Others would relish that same chance.
Devon Petersen is a PDC professional player currently ranked within the top 32
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