Japan’s Seigo Asada celebrates (credit:Stefan Strassenberg/PDC Europe)
The ninth edition of the World Cup of Darts draws to a close in Hamburg on Sunday as the eight remaining nations battle it out to be crowned champions.
Two nations have dominated the sport’s unique pairs competition since its inception, but a host of in-form challengers are out to stop the rot and get their hands on the trophy for the first time.
Four seeded sides are left standing in the £350,000 event, while two teams enter uncharted territory after pulling off seismic upsets along the way.
Netherlands are on the hunt for a third consecutive title and a record fifth in total, and they aim to clinch a Semi-Final spot at the expense of Canada.
Michael van Gerwen is no stranger to picking up this trophy, but his first-time team-mate Jermaine Wattimena has stepped up to the plate in style to extend their nation’s impressive unbeaten run.
The deadly Dutch duo swept aside Spain 5-0 in the First Round before powering past Poland in the singles format on Saturday to remain firm favourites to come through the top half of the draw.
The world number one and 23 now come up against Tour Card holder Dawson Murschell and World Championship qualifier Jim Long – who came through a high quality opener against Italy before putting Australia to the sword in Round Two with successive singles victories.
Scotland, meanwhile, step up their latest pursuit of a maiden World Cup title with a show-down against fellow former runners-up – Belgium.
Two-time finalists Gary Anderson and Peter Wright have now been installed as the new tournament favourites after sweeping aside Denmark 5-0 and Sweden for the combined loss of just two legs.
The reigning World Matchplay champion and World Grand Prix finalist, however, face a tough test against a Belgium side who boast one of the most consistent records in this competition.
Kim Huybrechts, who reached the final in 2013, partnered Dimitri van den Bergh to the Semi-Finals 12 months ago and the formidable duo are out to repeat the feat.
A 5-1 rout of Hong Kong was followed by an efficient display to deny hosts Germany in successive singles matches, and the pair will be confident of catching the Scots cold over the short format.
Austria, the number eight seeds, aim to break new ground by reaching the Last Four at the expense of giant-killers Ireland.
Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher came from 3-1 down to defeat Russia in Round One before coasting past USA for the combined loss of just one leg.
Ireland find themselves at this stage of the PDC World Cup for the first time and will be desperate for the run not to end prematurely with the winning line in sight.
European Tour event finalists William O’Connor and Steve Lennon produced one of the biggest stories in World Cup history by knocking out rivals England in the Last 16, with O’Connor notably averaging 115 in his rout of Rob Cross after Lennon had edged out Michael Smith in a deciding leg.
The opening match of the afternoon session sees two unseeded sides collide as New Zealand take on Japan.
Cody Harris and Haupai Puha have led the Kiwis to their first ever World Cup Quarter-Final on the back of wins over Lithuania and South Africa, kicking on from their valuable World Series experience in recent years.
Japan are into the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 2013 after wins over Gibraltar and Singapore, now Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu look to set a new marker by ending the run of the equally laid-back Kiwis.
The action gets underway from 12pm BST, with Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals played as two best of seven legs singles matches.
In the event of both nations winning one singles match apiece, a best of seven-leg Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
The final will be played as two best of seven leg singles matches, followed by a best of seven-leg doubles match and then reverse singles matches. The first team to win three games is declared the winner.
World Cup of Darts 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time one hour ahead)
Sunday June 9
12.15pm New Zealand v Japan
1.00pm Scotland v Belgium
1.45pm Austria v Republic of Ireland
2.30pm Netherlands v Canada
Evening Session (6pm-10pm)
Semi-Finals (order of play TBC)
Scotland/Belgium v New Zealand/Japan
Austria/Republic of Ireland v Netherlands/Canada