Betfair World Cup of Darts Groups
THE groups for the Betfair World Cup of Darts have been drawn - with reigning champions England to play Austria and Japan in the first phase of the event next month.
The £150,000 tournament, the third World Cup of Darts, will be held at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg from February 1-3, featuring 24 nations.
The first round will be a group stage held across two sessions on Friday and Saturday's afternoon session, with eight three-team groups being drawn.
England's Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, the reigning champions, will play Austrian pair Mensur Suljovic and Maik Langendorf and Japan's Haruki Muramatsu and Sho Katsumi in Group A.
The Netherlands' Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen, the number two seeds, were drawn with Gibraltar's Dyson Parody and Dylan Duo and Poland's Krzysztof Kciuk and Krzysztof Ratajski.
Australia's Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson, the number three seeds and last year's runners-up, will face old rivals New Zealand - represented by Phil Hazel and Craig Caldwell - as well as Croatia's Robert Marijanovic and Tonci Restovic in Group G.
Number four seeds Scotland, represented by Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton, face a tough task in Group C against Canada's John Part and Jeff Smith and the Swedish pair of Magnus Caris and Par Riihonen.
2010 finalists Wales, the number five seeds who will be represented by Mark Webster and Richie Burnett, will meet Spanish pair Antonio Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez - the semi-finalists in the inaugural event - and Italian debutants Daniele Petri and Matteo Dal Monte.
Northern Ireland's Brendan Dolan and Michael Mansell, the number six seeds, were drawn with Belgian siblings Kim and Ronny Huybrechts and Hungary's Nandor Bezzeg and Meszaros Zsolt.
Host nation Germany, the number seven seeds who will be represented by Jyhan Artut and Andree Welge, were drawn with Finland's Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula and the American pairing of Darin Young and Larry Butler.
The Republic of Ireland's William O'Connor and Connie Finnan, the number eight seeds, were drawn against Denmark's Per Laursen and Jann Hoffmann and South Africa's Charl Pietersen and Shawn Hogan.
The lower-ranked nations will compete in the opening group games in the afternoon session on Friday February 1, with the losers of the opening games playing the seeded nation in the second games on Friday evening.
The seeded nation will then play the winners of the opening game in the final group match on Saturday afternoon, before the top two nations progress to the knockout last 16.
The Group Stage draw was made ahead of the start of the PDC Qualifying School in Wigan on Thursday.
BETFAIR WORLD CUP OF DARTS
GROUP STAGE DRAW
Republic of Ireland (8)
Northern Ireland (6)
ORDER OF PLAY
Friday Afternoon Session
First Group Games
Belgium v Hungary
Denmark v South Africa
Spain v Italy
Croatia v New Zealand
Canada v Sweden
Austria v Japan
Gibraltar v Poland
Finland v USA
Friday Evening Session
Seeded Nations v Afternoon Losers
Northern Ireland v Belgium/Hungary
Republic of Ireland v Denmark/South Africa
Wales v Spain/Italy
Australia v Croatia/New Zealand
Scotland v Canada/Sweden
England v Austria/Japan
Netherlands v Gibraltar/Poland
Germany v Finland/USA
* Please note that Italy replaced the Philippines on January 22, with details above amended to reflect that.
Click here to see full details of the Betfair World Cup of Darts competing nations and format