THE 2018 Betway World Cup of Darts begins on Thursday, with the Netherlands bidding to retain their title in the 32-nation Pairs tournament which is being held across four days at the Eissporthalle in Frankfurt.
The £300,000 tournament will see a combination of Doubles and Singles matches played as nations do battle for the title, which was won by the Netherlands’ Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld last June.
That win was the Netherlands’ third in seven stagings of the event, with four-time winners England the only other champions so far.
Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld will team up again in Germany as they bid to retain the title, with sponsors Betway making the number three seeds Evens favourites to lift the trophy ahead of their first round clash with Gibraltar’s Dyson Parody and Justin Broton on Friday.
"It would be very nice to win this title again and give the Dutch fans something to cheer about," said Van Gerwen.
"It's different for us and I always enjoy playing with Raymond, and we're aiming to win again. I live for winning trophies and that's my goal this week.
“We have had some great performances and done quite well over the years but we really want to improve our record by defending our title.”
England will be represented by a new-look line-up of World Champion Rob Cross and Dave Chisnall, and enter the tournament as 5/1 third favourites with Betway ahead of their round one tie with Czech Republic on Friday.
"It's a massive honour and I can't wait to represent my country - it's not something you get to do very often so it means a lot," said Cross.
"It's a completely different tournament for me too with it being a pairs format, but I'm excited about teaming up with Dave.
"England have done well in the past so there's something to live up to, but we'll do our best this weekend. I'm buzzing."
Scotland, who were finalists in 2015, will be represented by Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, and come into the tournament as 11/4 second favourites with Betway.
However, having been knocked out by Singapore in the first round 12 months ago, the Scots are wary ahead of their first round match against the United States of America in Thursday’s opening night.
“It means the world to me to represent my country,” said Wright.
“It’s a totally different kind of pressure, it’s intense because you’re not just playing for yourself.
“We need to make sure we’ve got our heads switched on for the first round against the USA, then hopefully we can win that and go a long way in the tournament.”
Thursday’s opening night also sees 2012 finalists Australia, represented by Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson, face Hong Kong.
Last year’s runners-up Wales will be represented by Gerwyn Price and World Cup debutant Jonny Clayton, and they will take on Thailand on the opening night.
Momo Zhou will become the first woman to represent China on a PDC stage as she partners Xiaochen Zong in their opening round game with Switzerland.
The tournament’s opening match will see Canada’s World Cup ever-present John Part team up with debutant Dawson Murschell as they take on Italy.
Three-time World Champion Part is hoping to continue his renaissance having reached the quarter-finals of the UK Open earlier in the year.
“Every time I represent my country I want to give it my very best shot,” said Part.
“Dawson and myself are at opposite ends of our careers but we have similar styles and if we’re both firing we’re capable of upsetting anybody.
“I would like to play as well as I did a couple of years ago when we reached the quarter-finals, I’m 100% now and feel like I can rise to the occasion again.”
Host nation Germany will once again be made up of exciting young duo Max Hopp and Martin Schindler, and they will meet Sweden as the first round concludes on Friday night.
German Darts Masters finalist and World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh will also be making his World Cup debut for Belgium alongside Kim Huybrechts, who will be represent his country for the sixth time at the event in their opening game against the Republic of Ireland.
The Betway World Cup of Darts continues with the second round split across two sessions on Saturday June 2, with the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon and the semi-finals and final on Sunday evening.
Coverage is live on Sky Sports and through the PDC's series of international broadcast partners, as well as via PDCTV-HD for International Pass subscribers. For ticket information, please visit www.pdc-europe.tv.
For tickets, visit www.pdc-europe.tv/tickets.
2018 Betway World Cup of Darts
Schedule of Play
Thursday May 31 (7pm local time, 6pm BST)
Italy v Canada
Russia v Spain
Switzerland v China
Denmark v Brazil
Wales v Thailand
Australia v Hong Kong
Scotland v United States of America
Austria v Japan
Friday June 1 (7pm local time, 6pm BST)
New Zealand v Singapore
Greece v Finland
Northern Ireland v Poland
Hungary v South Africa
Belgium v Republic of Ireland
England v Czech Republic
Sweden v Germany
Netherlands v Gibraltar
Saturday June 2
Afternoon Session (1.30pm local time, 12.30pm BST)
Wales/Thailand v Switzerland/China
Australia/Hong Kong v Russia/Spain
Austria/Japan v Italy/Canada
Scotland/USA v Denmark/Brazil
Evening Session (7pm local time, 6pm BST)
Belgium/Republic of Ireland v Greece/Finland
England/Czech Republic v New Zealand/Singapore
Northern Ireland/Poland v Sweden/Germany
Netherlands/Gibraltar v Hungary/South Africa
Sunday June 3
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)
Evening Session (7pm local time, 6pm BST)
1 Scotland - Peter Wright & Gary Anderson
2 England - Rob Cross & Dave Chisnall
3 Netherlands - Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld
4 Australia - Simon Whitlock & Kyle Anderson
5 Wales - Gerwyn Price & Jonny Clayton
6 Northern Ireland - Daryl Gurney & Brendan Dolan
7 Belgium - Kim Huybrechts & Dimitri Van den Bergh
8 Austria - Mensur Suljovic & Zoran Lerchbacher
Brazil - Diogo Portela & Bruno Rangel
Canada - John Part & Dawson Murschell
China - Momo Zhou & Xiaochen Zong
Czech Republic - Roman Benecky & Karel Sedlacek
Denmark - Per Laursen & Henrik Primdal
Finland - Kim Viljanen & Marko Kantele
Germany - Max Hopp & Martin Schindler
Gibraltar - Dyson Parody & Justin Broton
Greece - John Michael & Veniamin Symeonidis
Hong Kong - Royden Lam & Ho Yin Shek
Hungary - Tamas Alexits & Nandor Bezzeg
Italy - Michel Furlani & Alessio Medaina
Japan - Seigo Asada & Haruki Muramatsu
New Zealand - Cody Harris & Warren Parry
Poland - Krzysztof Ratajski & Tytus Kanik
Republic of Ireland - Steve Lennon & William O'Connor
Russia - Boris Koltsov & Aleksandr Oreshkin
Singapore - Paul Lim & Harith Lim
South Africa - Devon Petersen & Liam O'Brien
Spain - Cristo Reyes & Toni Alcinas
Sweden - Daniel Larsson & Dennis Nilsson
Switzerland – Alexander Fehlmann & Andreas Bless
Thailand - Thanawat Gaweenuntavong & Attapol Eupakaree
United States of America - Larry Butler & Darin Young
Winners (Per Player) £30,000
Runner-Up (Per Player) £16,000
Semi-Finalists (Per Player) £10,000
Quarter-Finalists (Per Player) £7,000
Second Round Losers (Per Player) £4,000
First Round Losers (Per Player) £1,500
Best of nine legs Doubles
Second Round, Quarter-Finals & Semi-Finals
The Second Round, Quarter-Finals & Semi-Finals will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play. In the event of both nations winning one Singles match apiece, a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
The Final will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play the first two matches, followed by a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match and then Reverse Singles matches. The first team to win three games is declared the winner.