Antalya, Turkey will be the kickoff for the new World Cup cycle of 2019. From 11 – 17 February, the Turkish Riviera hosts the world’s best players in the 178th World Cup played since 1986. The Turkish federation has given wildcards to Lütfi Cenet and Birol Uymaz, the UMB wildcard was awarded to Pedro Piedrabuena.
Seeded players in Antalya are Jaspers, Caudron, Merckx, Sayginer, Zanetti, J.H. Cho, Tran, Bury, N.Q. Nguyen, J.H. Heo, Sidhom, Tasdemir, Coklu and S.W. Choi. First, second and third prize are again 16.000, 10.000 and 6.000, as they were last season. There’s still 1.500 euro for those who finish 17th – 32nd.
Expectations, if they are based on the World Cup season of 2018, should be high. Last year gave us an impressive level of play, both at the top and in the width of the field. The overall 2018 World Cup was won by Frédéric Caudron, who not only captured two of the seven tournaments (Antalya and Porto) but also played the highest general season average of all time: 2.176.
Dutchman Dick Jaspers, the 2018 world champion, also won two World Cups in 2018: Blankenberge and Somabay. The remaining three events were won by Quyet Chien Tran (Ho Chi Minh City), Horn (La Baule) and Merckx (Seoul). No fewer than four of the seven events averaged over 1.700 for the main draw, the last 32 players. It was the best year ever, in terms of averages.
What can we expect in 2019? Will Jaspers and Caudron still be a notch above the field? Can Sánchez and Blomdahl return to the very summit? Will Sayginer complete his great comeback by winning a major prize? Can a South-American player get in the mix? Or will the year be dominated by the Koreans and the Vietnamese, who keep getting stronger? Whichever way it goes, it will certainly be another highly interesting year for the 3-cushion fans.