This year again there are several players who will take part in the PDC World Cup for the first time. One of the reasons is that many of the participants are decided by qualifiers which not always are won by the same players.
Another reason are changes in the ranking - for example this year Michael Smith will give his debut in Team England. Last year England had been represented by Rob Cross and Dave Chisnall and was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Belgians.
Rob Cross will be back this year - he held his position in the rankings, but Dave Chisnall now sits behind Michael Smith. It easily could turn out Cross and Chisnall are a good team. Cross got a lot of experience in the last year and by now is a stable top player. At least for me it as well looks like he is capable to work in a team. Michael Smith shows a positive trend as well; his only weakness in the last months was his cumulated double trouble. But he looks more determined to fight through it and not just to give in in frustration. As he mentioned in a PDC interview, it has always been a childhood dream for him to represent his country in this tournament. He as well told the PDC he often played pairs in local tournaments and prepared over the last few weeks with loads of pairs matches for the event. From the players strength to be sure Team England is this year one of the top favorites to win the event and it could well happen the Team Cross/Smith will live up to the successes of the Taylor/Lewis team.
Sometimes it happens that the PDC shifts the participating nations and so this year we will see a new nation giving the World Cup debut - instead of Switzerland Lithuania will stand at the oche.
In the PDC Order of Merit Switzerland is only represented by Stefan Bellmont in 156 place while Lithuanian Darius Labanauskas won himself a tour Card in Qualifying School 2019. He by now sits in 84. Place. Already in 2018 he took part in a few European Tour events. Labanauskas won in his career several tournaments in Eastern Europe und had some good results in his years in the BDO as well - he especially impressed with his usually quite high averages. In the PDC he already reached a first Pro Tour final and in the last PDC World Championship - for which he qualified by the Nordic and Baltic Tour - he reached the third round. On his way there he defeated Raymond van Barneveld. - to be sure his till now biggest success. To be sure it is Labanauskas credit the PDC invited Lithuania to the PDC World Cup. Not much is known about his World Cup partner Mindaugas Barauskas. Barauskas took part in the qualifying School as well but didn't get a Tour Card. It is not known whether he ever won a tournament. He reached the semi-finals of the Baltic Cup Open and stood often under the last 16 of events. Barauskas plays the tournaments of the Nordic and Baltic Tour and is at the moment ranked 28 in the Nordic and Baltic Tour Order of Merit.
What the team will be able to achieve is difficult to predict. In the first round it will play against the probably similar strong team from New Zealand. In it beside the World Cup experienced Cody Harris a debutant will play as well - Haupai Puha. Puha already played in the PDC World Series of Darts and this year won several tournaments of the DPA Pro Tour in which ranking he is the highest ranked player from New Zealand. But Harris has no Tour Card and probably is not as strong as Labanauskas - so much in this first round match will depend on the "team spirit".