Jermaine Wattimena aims to impress on his debut (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
The First Round action continues at the 2019 World Cup of Darts in Hamburg on Friday as four-time champions Netherlands and England commence their campaigns.
The opening day of the annual pairs tournament produced a series of seismic shocks, with third seeds Wales and sixth seeds Northern Ireland crashing out at the hands of Singapore and South Africa respectively.
A further four seeded nations will be out to avoid suffering a similar fate as they begin their quests for glory at the Barclaycard Arena, including defending champions Netherlands.
World number one Michael van Gerwen is partnered for the first time by Jermaine Wattimena as the deadly Dutch duo vie for a fifth title to become the outright most successful nation in the history of the competition.
Van Gerwen, who has claimed glory alongside Raymond van Barneveld on three occasions between 2014 and 2018, is out to follow up last month’s Premier League success by securing further silverware as he pairs up with a quick-fire debutant.
World number 23 Wattimena will be keen to step up to the mark in his first taste of a televised pairs format, but the number four seeds will be wary of the threat posed by Spain.
Toni Alcinas was part of the Spain side which stunned England in the inaugural PDC World Cup back in 2010, and he is joined by the vastly experienced Cristo Reyes as they look to catch the Netherlands cold over the unconventional format.
England, who were guided to four World Cup titles by Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, are represented by 2018 World Champion Rob Cross and 2019 world finalist Michael Smith – making his debut in the competition.
Seeded number one, the Premier League pair are faced with a tricky opener against the Philippines, with Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem having both impressed in December’s World Championship.
Fifth seeds Australia, runners-up in 2012, start out against Finland as World Cup ever-present Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson come up against Euro Tour regulars Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen.
Two former Euro Tour finalists join forces for Republic of Ireland as Steve Lennon and William O’Connor step up to face minnows Greece – represented by John Michael and Veniamin Symeonidis.
Eighth seeds Austria look to improve on a below-par record in the World Cup as Premier League star Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher open up against the highly-rated Boris Koltsov and debutant Aleksei Kadochnikov.
Poland, who have been widely touted as potential dark horses in this year’s World Cup, look to hit the ground running by dispatching an improving darting nation in Czech Republic.
Tour Card holders Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik will be out to utilise their experience in a bid to deny Karel Sedláček and Pavel Jirkal – who have both featured on the European Tour this season.
Team Canada, represented by Tour Card holder Dawson Murschell and World Championship qualifier Jim Long, face Andrea Micheletti and Stefano Tomassetti of Italy – who are yet to register a win in a PDC World Cup.
The opening tie of the evening sees USA, led by stalwart Darin Young and in-form debutant Chuck Puleo, take on China’s Xiaochen Zong and Yuanjun Liu – bidding to avert a third straight First Round exit.
The action gets underway from 6pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of nine legs (pairs).
World Cup of Darts 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time one hour ahead)
Friday June 7
6.15pm China v USA
6.45pm Italy v Canada
7.15pm Poland v Czech Republic
7.45pm Republic of Ireland v Greece
8.15pm England v Philippines
8.45pm Austria v Russia
9.15pm Australia v Finland
9.45pm Netherlands v Spain