Belgium stole the headlines in the My Diesel Claim World Cup of Darts second round with a sensational sudden-death leg win over Netherlands on a super Saturday in Frankfurt.
The third day of action in the Pairs event at the Eissporthalle saw 16 nations competing across two sessions as the knockout phase of the tournament began.
Reigning champions Australia and four-time winners England were joined by double winners Scotland and 2020 champions Wales in moving through to the quarter-finals.
The line-up for Sunday afternoon's last eight was completed by host nation Germany, two countries who will appear at that stage for the first time, France and Sweden, and Belgium - who ended Dutch hopes in a World Cup classic.
Netherlands were the only former champions to exit on Saturday as they suffered their first second round exit for a decade following a thrilling clash with neighbouring Belgium.
The opening eight legs of a captivating tie went with throw, with the Dutch duo of Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode hitting six perfect darts in one leg only for Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts to deny their rivals a break.
The Belgians took the ninth to claim that key first break of throw, and the next two also went against the darts as the tension increased before Huybrechts' classy 108 checkout moving his nation clear for the first time at 7-5.
Van Duijvenbode kept Dutch hopes alive by hitting successive doubles to force a deciding leg, but he was unable to finish 109 for glory to allow Van den Bergh in on double 16 to joyfully continue Belgium's progress.
The Belgian duo had dominated the headlines during the group stage as they put aside personal differences to put on a united front, and Huybrechts admitted: "We're representing Belgium, now I'm his best friend."
Van den Bergh added: "Kim was fantastic in scoring during this game and we never gave up. I'm feeling good, I learned so much from the Premier League and I can see the difference."
Reigning champions Australia survived a scare in their last 16 tie against Croatia, as Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock battled their way to an 8-6 success against Boris Krcmar and Romeo Grbavac which sets up a tie with Belgium.
The unheralded Croatian duo led 4-3 at the break, but a brilliant four-leg burst from Australia turned the tide, as the 2022 winners rattled off legs of 14, 16, 17 and 12 darts to move to the cusp of victory.
Krcmar and Grbavac responded with back-to-back legs to threaten a famous comeback, although after Whitlock fired in back-to-back 140s, Heta sank a two-dart 77 checkout to confirm their progress.
Top seeds England began their bid to win a fifth World Cup in comfortable style by seeing off Latvia 8-4, ending the hopes of Madars Razma and Dmitriy Zhukov.
After breaking throw with a 13-darter in leg two to establish an early cushion, England's Michael Smith and Rob Cross were never troubled as they progressed to the last eight.
Cross' 102 checkout for a 12-darter helped secure a 5-2 cushion, and World Champion Smith took out 111 as he sealed the win.
"We were trying too hard but every time I hit a bad shot, Rob stepped in and we worked as a team there," said world number one Smith.
"It wasn't our greatest performance, but we needed a test and we know that if we play at our best we'll win."
England's quarter-final opponents will be home favourites Germany, as the traditional rivals in football's World Cup clash on the oche.
Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler booked their place in the last eight with a narrow 8-6 win over Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski and Krzysztof Kciuk - who had produced a world record Pairs average in Friday's group stage decider but were out-lasted by the German duo.
Checkouts of 144 and 102 from Ratajski sandwiched a 104 finish from Schindler, but neither side were able to break throw in a tense opening ten legs.
Poland had twice missed a single dart at a double to break earlier in the tie before Kciuk wired the bull in leg 11, while Clemens held his nerve with a 116 checkout in leg 13 to edge the hosts 7-6 up.
Clemens then showed the class which helped him to reach the World Championship semi-finals with a 180 in the next leg, before returning to atone for three missed match darts from Schindler by landing double one, to the delight of a packed Eissporthalle crowd.
Gary Anderson inspired two-time champions Scotland to victory on his World Cup return, as the fourth seeds recovered from 5-4 down to defeat Philippines’ Lourence Ilagan and Christian Perez.
Ilagan kicked off the contest with a 105 checkout, and the Filipino duo could have been further ahead in the early stages, as Scotland capitalised on their opponent’s profligacy to stay in contention.
However, Anderson – making his first World Cup appearance since 2019 – produced a monstrous 141 checkout in leg 12 to send Scotland to the cusp of victory, which Peter Wright wrapped up on tops in the following leg.
"They were brilliant, they hit the scores at the right moments and we got away with it," said Anderson. "It's our first game up there and we've got to up it now."
The Scots now meet France, after Jacques Labre and Thibault Tricole continued their impressive form to reach a maiden World Cup of Darts quarter-final with a convincing 8-4 success against South Africa.
Labre and Tricole capitalised on early nerves from Devon Petersen and Vernon Bouwers to claim an immediate break of throw, and a two-dart 100 combination from Tricole in leg six saw the French retain their two-leg cushion.
However, South African talisman Petersen spurned two darts to level at four apiece, and that proved decisive, with Labre delivering the goods in the latter stages on another landmark day for French darts.
Second seeds Wales impressed with an average of almost 100 as Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton ended the hopes of Danish duo Vladimir Andersen and Benjamin Drue Reus.
Although the Danes took the opening leg, Price landed two 180s as the Welsh levelled with an 11-darter to spark a run of five straight legs as they took command, before combinations of 121 and 70 from the world number four helped seal victory.
"I thought we played pretty consistently but it was our first game in this tournament and we blew a few cobwebs away," said Price, a winner alongside Clayton in 2020.
"I think we've got a bit more in the tank so it was a good benchmark for us."
Wales now meet another Nordic nation in the last eight, after Dennis Nilsson and Oskar Lukasiak produced a superb display to dump out Canada's highly-fancied pairing of Matt Campbell and Jeff Smith, as they steered Sweden into the quarter-finals for the first time in World Cup history.
There was little to separate the sides in the opening exchanges, but Nilsson and Lukasiak were relentless after the interval, racing to victory with a very creditable 91 average.
The Swedish duo reeled off three consecutive legs in 15, 14 and 15 darts to break new ground for Scandinavian darts, with Nilsson converting 82, 87 and 62 combinations to seal the deal.
Sunday sees the £450,000 tournament conclude across two sessions in Frankfurt, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session.
The My Diesel Claim World Cup of Darts will be broadcast on Sky Sports for viewers in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC's international broadcast partners, including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland).
2023 My Diesel Claim World Cup of Darts
Saturday June 17
Second Round x4
France 8-4 South Africa
Sweden 8-5 Canada
Australia 8-6 Croatia
Scotland 8-5 Philippines
Second Round x4
Wales 8-2 Denmark
England 8-4 Latvia
Belgium 8-7 Netherlands
Germany 8-6 Poland
Sunday June 18
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Wales v Sweden
Belgium v Australia
Scotland v France
England v Germany
Best of 15 legs
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Wales/Sweden v Belgium/Australia
England/Germany v Scotland/France
Best of 15 legs
England/Germany/Scotland/France v Wales/Sweden/Belgium/Australia
Best of 19 legs