Thursday at the World Cup of Darts

The World Cup of Darts kicks off live on Sky Sports at the Eissporthalle in Frankfurt on Thursday night, as 32 nations compete in the pairs tournament from May 31- June 3.

There are eight first-round matches in store on the opening night and the action gets underway live on Sky Sports Action from 6pm.

Top seeds Scotland headline the opening night, as Peter Wright and Gary Anderson begin their bid for a maiden World Cup triumph by kicking off their campaign against the veteran American pairing of Larry Butler and Darin Young.

Wright and Anderson, ranked second and fourth in the world respectively, reached the final in Frankfurt back in 2015, but they’ll be hoping to avoid a repeat of last year.

The Scottish duo suffered a first-round humbling at the hands of rank underdogs Singapore, in arguably the biggest shock in World Cup of Darts history.

However, Wright is keen to make amends for last year’s disappointment, admitting: “It means the world to me to represent my country. 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.”

2017 finalists Wales also feature on the opening night, as Gerwyn Price returns to partner debutant Jonny Clayton.

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Price and Mark Webster lost out to Netherlands 12 months ago, but the fifth seeds, who were also finalists back in 2010, will be hoping to go one step better this time around.

Clayton has enjoyed an impressive rise over recent months, securing his maiden European Tour title at last month’s Austrian Darts Open, where he defeated Price in the final.

The former Rugby stars face Thailand on the opening night, as Thanawat Gaweenuntavong and Attapol Eupakaree aim to secure their country’s first victory on the World Cup stage.

Momo Zhou will become only the second woman to compete at the World Cup of Darts when she represents China alongside Xiaochen Zong, and they will lock horns with Switzerland’s Alexander Fehlmann & Andreas Bless, both of whom are making their debuts in the competition.

2012 runners-up Australia open up their campaign against former quarter-finalists Hong Kong.

World Cup ever-present Simon Whitlock will be partnered alongside Kyle Anderson for the third successive year, while Royden Lam makes his fifth consecutive appearance for Hong Kong with Ho Yin Shek.

Mensur Suljovic, who was crowned German Darts Masters champion last week, leads the charge for eighth seeds Austria, who will also be represented by debutant Zoran Lerchbacher.

However, Suljovic and Lerchbacher face a potential first-round banana skin, as they take on the experienced Japanese pairing of Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu – who has competed in every single World Cup since its inception.

Diogo Portela will lead Brazil’s charge once again as he teams up alongside debutant Bruno Rangel to take on Denmark, with ever-present Per Laursen featuring alongside Henrik Primdal, who is also making his first appearance.

Elsewhere, former semi-finalists Spain, led by Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas, face the Russian duo of Boris Koltsov and Aleksandr Oreshkin, who reached the quarter-finals in Frankfurt 12 months ago.

The tournament’s curtain-raiser sees Italy play Canada, with three-time world champion John Part maintaining his record of having competed in every World Cup when he partners talented youngster Dawson Murschell.

Italy have lost all six of their previous World Cup contests, but Michel Furlani and Alessio Medaina will be hoping to rectify that statistic on Thursday night.

Nevertheless, Part is relishing the prospect of captaining Canada for the eighth successive year.

“Every time I represent my country I want to give it my very best shot. 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,” said Part.

“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,” he added.

Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens at the end of this month with the World Cup of Darts, live from Frankfurt – four days of live coverage get underway from 6pm on Sky Sports Action on Thursday, May 31

Keep up to date with the latest darts news, previews, reports, reaction and expert analysis. Get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts- don’t forget to use #LoveTheDarts

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