Reigning champions Peter Wright and John Henderson began their Cazoo World Cup of Darts title defence for Scotland with a comfortable victory over Hong Kong on Friday, while top seeds England produced the performance of the evening in Frankfurt.
On a night where all four seeded nations safely progressed, Scottish duo Wright and Henderson produced a professional performance to overcome debutants Lok Yin Lee & Ho Tung Ching.
Hong Kong’s Lee impressed on his big stage debut, but the 2015 quarter-finalists were unable to maintain their promising start, and a brace of 14-dart legs helped Scotland reel off the final four legs without reply.
“They were very dangerous opponents,” said Henderson. "We didn’t know what to expect, but I believe Peter’s experience got us through there.
“I don’t see why we cannot win it again. I’m playing with one of the best players in the world, if not the best!
“We play with pride, we’re representing our country and we are here to win it.”
Michael Smith and James Wade impressed at the Eissporthalle, averaging almost 99 to dispatch the capable Czech pairing of Adam Gawlas and Karel Sedlacek.
Smith and Wade, featuring as a partnership for the first time, showed no sign of early nerves by drawing first blood with a 12-darter, courtesy of an 86 finish on the bull by Wade.
The left-hander provided an effective foil for Smith, who fired in three of England’s four 180s, and the Premier League duo reeled off the final three legs to advance in emphatic style.
“I am playing with the best player in the world at the moment. I was buzzing up there,” admitted Wade, who is making his third World Cup appearance.
“All I have to do is back him up, and when Michael was producing, I was also scoring, so that was reassuring for me.
“I’ve not clicked with a player as much as I’ve clicked with Michael. We have connected and I believe we’re one of the teams to beat.”
Smith and Wade will play Latvia in the last 16, after Madars Razma and Nauris Gleglu posted an impressive 91 average in easing past Hungary.
Former ProTour finalist Razma converted a clinical 104 finish in leg two, catapulting the Latvians to a comprehensive 5-1 win in just their second World Cup appearance.
Australian stars Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta came agonisingly close to landing the first Doubles nine-darter in World Cup history during their first round win over Lithuania.
The opening two legs were shared, before the Australian arrowsmiths opened up leg three with back-to-back 180s, only for Whitlock to wire double 18 for a spectacular 141 checkout.
Heta returned to clean up a ten-darter, and a 117 finish from Whitlock in leg four inspired the fifth seeds to a routine 5-2 success.
"It would mean the world to me to win this," admitted Whitlock, one of four World Cup ever-presents. "If we could finally lift this trophy for Australia it would be amazing.
"I've got a great partner in Damon, he's overtaken me in the rankings and I'm so proud of him. He's brilliant, a great guy and a great dart player.
"It would have been lovely to hit the nine-darter but we can try in our next match."
Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts maintained Belgium’s impeccable first round record at the World Cup of Darts, breezing past Japan’s Tomoya Goto and Toru Suzuki 5-2 in Friday’s finale.
The fourth seeds were always in control, recovering from a late slump to triumph with a 91 average, as they look ahead to an intriguing second round showdown against Poland.
"It was a good solid game - job done," said Huybrechts, a finalist in the 2013 event. "We're always confident because we believe in each other.
"I believe in his ability and he believes in my ability - we always believe in our chances and if we do our job then people have to consider us for the title. We can beat anyone on our day."
Earlier in the night, Krzysztof Ratajski and Sebastian Bialecki survived a match dart in a dramatic final leg to edge out American debutants Danny Baggish and Jules van Dongen.
UK Open quarter-finalist Bialecki fired in a perfectly timed 180 in the decider to leave Ratajski on tops, and after Baggish had missed the same target for a stunning 160 clincher it was the Polish number one who pounced.
Former Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa produced a brilliant barrage of power scoring to steer Portugal to a 5-3 win over Italian newcomers Guiseppe Di Rocco & Gabriel Rollo.
De Sousa fired in four maximums and boasted an individual average of over 105 as he and debutant Vítor Jerónimo overcame a late scare to book a meeting with holders Scotland on Saturday night.
Elsewhere, Swedish stars Daniel Larsson and Johan Engstrom punished a profligate display of doubling from South Africa to secure only their second World Cup win since 2014.
Despite firing in four maximums as a pair, Devon Petersen and Stefan Vermaak squandered 14 darts at double and paid the price, as Sweden capitalised to set up a meeting with Australia for a place in Sunday's quarter-finals.
Saturday's second round sees the format move to a combination of Singles and Doubles matches as play continues across two sessions at the Eissporthalle.
The afternoon session features former champions Netherlands and Wales facing the Republic of Ireland and Austria respectively, while host nation Germany face Denmark and Northern Ireland meet New Zealand.
2022 Cazoo World Cup of Darts
Friday June 17
First Round x8
Latvia 5-1 Hungary
Poland 5-4 USA
Sweden 5-2 South Africa
Portugal 5-3 Italy
Australia 5-2 Lithuania
England 5-1 Czech Republic
Scotland 5-1 Hong Kong
Belgium 5-2 Japan
Saturday June 18
Afternoon Session (1300 local time)
Second Round x4
Northern Ireland v New Zealand
Netherlands v Republic of Ireland
Wales v Austria
Germany v Denmark
Evening Session (1900 local time)
Australia v Sweden
Belgium v Poland
England v Latvia
Scotland v Portugal