2017 Betway World Cup of Darts – Nation Profiles

2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles.
Find out everything you need to know about each team in Darts World’s 2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles

Darts World’s Sam Barnard provides 2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles, which include in-depth facts, stats and everything you need to know about all 32 participating countries at this year’s tournament in Frankfurt, Germany.

The seventh edition of this now-annual event is the most global to date, with six continents being represented – only Antarctica misses out for obvious reasons.

England are the defending champions, though miss a notable key figure for the first time, while there are two countries making their debuts.

So, without further ado, read on for our 2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles.

All odds below are with tournament sponsors betway.com, and are subject to change.

Australia (5th seeds)

2017 team: Simon Whitlock (7th appearance) and Kyle Anderson (2nd)

Past players: Paul Nicholson (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Runners-up (2012)

First 2017 opponents: Denmark (June 1, 21:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Denmark, Russia/Hong Kong, Wales, Scotland/Belgium, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 25/1 (4th favourites)

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As with 18 other nations, Australia have now taken part in every World Cup to date, and Whitlock has played in them all.

The Wizard helped lead the Aussies to the 2012 final, with then-teammate Nicholson, but is with the higher ranked Anderson for the second year running.

Australia got to the quarters in 2016, narrowly losing only to the Netherlands, and face Denmark first up this time around – a nation they defeated 2-1 in the second round last year.

Whitlock has been in great form in 2017 so far, and his team will be expected to at least reach the last eight again.

Austria (7th seeds)

2017 team: Mensur Suljovic (7th appearance) and Rowby-John Rodriguez (4th)

Past players: Maik Langendorf (2010, 2013), Dietmar Burger (2012)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Group stage/Quarter-finals (2010, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: China (June 2, 20:00 BST)

Potential run to final: China, Canada, England, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 40/1 (joint-7th favourites)

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Austria have arguably underperformed in the World Cup, having boasted current PDC top 10 star Suljovic in all six previous editions and young talent Rodriguez for the last three.

However, The Gentle has only recently come to prominence in the last year or so, and the nation did get to the quarters again in 2016 – after previously reaching the final eight (group stage) in 2010 too.

They should get to that stage again, if they beat China (who they defeated 5-2 in 2014) and then likely Canada, as expected.

Austria will then have to again contend with England, who they lost to last year in the quarters but are now without four-time World Cup winner Phil Taylor.

Belgium (8th seeds)

2017 team: Kim Huybrechts (6th appearance) and Ronny Huybrechts (5th)

Past players: Patrick Bulen (2010), Rocco Maes (2010), Kurt van de Rijck (2012)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Runners-up (2013)

First 2017 opponents: New Zealand (June 1, 19:00 BST)

Potential run to final: New Zealand, Greece, Scotland, Wales/Australia, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 33/1 (joint-5th favourites)

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Ever since half-brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts were shock 2013 finalists in their first World Cup together, Belgium have stuck with this pairing.

They’ve reached the quarters once and semis twice since, which is why their joint-5th favourites tag belies their eighth seeding.

Belgium kick off against potentially tricky opponents New Zealand this year, but should get through safely if 2017 Premier League player Kim is anywhere near to his best.

They are in line to set up a rematch of their quarter-final with Scotland last year, after they beat the British team 2-1 to reach the semis.

Brazil

2017 team: Diogo Portela (debut) and Alexandre Sattin (debut)

Past players: N/A

Past appearances: Debut

Best performance: N/A

First 2017 opponents: Switzerland (June 2, 21:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Brazil are the first South American nation to take part in the World Cup of Darts, thanks to Portela, who is also the only arrowsmith from his continent to play on the PDC circuit and qualify for a European Tour event.

The 28-year-old has showed so much dedication to get where he is, ever since first appearing on UK TV screens a couple years ago on the gameshow One Hundred and Eighty – which of course he won, along with designated pro and former World Cup player James Wade.

This will no doubt be Portela’s best moment in darts to date, as he has the chance to show off his skills to an even bigger audience and help the sport in Brazil further develop.

He partners Alexandre Sattin, who is a steady and experienced doubles player and gained his place via qualifiers in Brazil.

Canada

2017 team: John Part (7th appearance) and John Norman Jr (debut)

Past players: Ken MacNeil (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), Jeff Smith (2013), Shaun Narain (2014)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Group stage/Quarter-finals (2010, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Hungary (June 2, 19:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Hungary, Austria, England, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 300/1

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Legendary three-time world champion Part is back on our TV screens for another World Cup, despite having effectively been in semi-retirement from the game the past couple of years.

Darth Maple partners dubutant Norman Jr this year, with the duo both gaining PDC Tour Cards via Q-School earlier in 2017.

Canada will be hoping to repeat their best effort of getting to the last eight in 2010 and 2016.

They are expected to get past Hungary, who they beat 5-3 at this stage in 2013, but will then likely tackle Austria.

China

2017 team: Weihong Li (debut) and Yuanjun Liu (2nd appearance)

Past players: Yin Deng (2014), Jun Cai (2014), Jun Chen (2015), Xuejie Huang (2015), Wenge Xie (2016)

Past appearances: 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Second round (2016)

First 2017 opponents: Austria (June 2, 20:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Austria, Canada, England, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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China have shown steady progression in darts since first appearing in the World Cup in 2014, reaching the second round for the first time last year, and PDC chairman Barry Hearn has recognised that by adding Shanghai to the World Series of Darts in 2016 and 2017.

Liu was apart of that 2016 World Cup first round triumph over the Czech Republic, and he is now partnered with debutant Li.

It’ll be a tough ask for China to replicate their success last year, though, with Austria being their opening opponents.

Hearn and the PDC will be hoping that one day darts can be as big a hit in China as another of his projects snooker has, with the potential to boast hundreds of millions of viewers from the East Asian nation.

Czech Republic

2017 team: Karel Sedlacek (debut) and Frantisek Humpula (debut)

Past players: Martin Kapucian (2010*), Pavel Drtil (2010*, 2016), Michal Kocik (2015, 2016), Pavel Jirkal (2015)

Past appearances: 3 (2010, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: First round (2010, 2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Netherlands (June 2, 22:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Netherlands, USA, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Czech Republic are technically taking part in their third World Cup, as they had to withdraw from the first 2010 edition after travel issues (*but as they weren’t replaced the records say they were entered that year).

However, the Central European nation are yet to gain a win in this competition, losing in the first round the last two years to Austria and China.

Their best result was against the latter (5-3), but only a miracle will see them past two-time champions the Netherlands.

Czech Republic have gone for two debutants this time around, so perhaps they are hoping for beginner’s luck?

Denmark

2017 team: Per Laursen (7th appearance) and Alex Jensen (debut)

Past players: Vladimir Andersen (2010), Jann Hoffmann (2012, 2013), Dennis Lindskjold (2014), Per Skau (2015), Daniel Jensen (2016)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Second round (2012, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Australia (June 1, 21:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Australia, Russia/Hong Kong, Wales, Scotland/Belgium, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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Laursen is in an exclusive club of being only one of 13 players to have now taken part in all seven World Cups.

However, in that time, he and Denmark have only won twice – though could end that run if they manage to upset Australia in round 1 after losing to them 2-1 in the last 16 last year.

One of Russia or Hong Kong would be next, but it’s easier said than done, and it remains to be seen how Jansen will cope on his debut.

England (2nd seeds)

2017 team: Adrian Lewis (6th appearance) and Dave Chisnall (debut)

Past players: Phil Taylor (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), James Wade (2010)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Champions (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Gibraltar (June 2, 22:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Gibraltar, South Africa/Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 11/2 (3rd favourites)

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England have won the last two titles, and four of the six in total. However, they’ll be without 16-time world champion Taylor for the first time.

Chisnall is now higher in the PDC world rankings than the all-time great, so merits his place alongside Lewis, but how will he hope on his debut?

Chizzy has certainly been in good form this year, making a courageous run towards the end of the Premier League campaign and throwing a nine-darter in May.

England should have no troubles against against fellow British nation Gibraltar, but potential second round opponents South Africa have caused a few shocks over the years, and from then on it won’t be easy for them.

Finland

2017 team: Kim Viljanen (3rd appearance) and Marko Kantele (5th)

Past players: Jarkko Komula (2010, 2013, 2014), Petri Korte (2012), Jani Haavisto (2013, 2014)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Semi-finals (2013)

First 2017 opponents: Wales (June 1, 22:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Wales, Ireland/Poland, Australia, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 200/1

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Finland have been ever-presents at the World Cup, and certainly showed their worth in 2013 by reaching the semis.

Their pair of Komula and Haavisto, who shocked the likes of the Netherlands, Belgium and hosts Germany that year won’t be in Frankfurt this time around, but in Viljanen and Kantele the nation certainly have experience.

They haven’t won together, however, and face a very difficult opening tie against title contenders Wales.

Kantele will be hoping to rely on his form, that has seen him qualify for two European Tour events this year so far.

Germany

2017 team: Max Hopp (3rd appearance) and Martin Schindler (debut)

Past players: Jyhan Artut (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), Andree Welge (2010, 2013, 2014), Bernd Roith (2012)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Quarter-finals (2013, 2015)

First 2017 opponents: Northern Ireland (June 2, 21:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Northern Ireland, Brazil/Switzerland, Netherlands, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 100/1

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Artut misses out this year for the first time since in World Cup of Darts history, as Germany have gone with 20-year-old Schindler to partner Hopp (of the same age).

Being the youngest pairing by far this year, they’ll have to show experience beyond their years if they are to defeat sixth seeds Northern Ireland.

But backed by a passionate home crowd, this is perhaps the tie of the opening round, so expect it to be a cracker.

If the Germans can cause a first round shock, it’ll certainly be good for the tournament and fans, and they have the potential to face rivals the Netherlands and England in the quarters and semis, which could produce fireworks.

Gibraltar

2017 team: Dyson Parody (7th appearance) and Dylan Duo (5th appearance)

Past players: Manuel Vilerio (2015, 2016)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Second round (2015)

First 2017 opponents: England (June 2, 22:00)

Potential run to final: England, South Africa/Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Parody has flown the flag for Gibraltar since the tournament’s inception in 2010, but is now back with partner Duo after the latter’s two years absence.

The oversees British territory, by far the smallest 2017 World Cup nation in terms of population (with around 30k), managed to claim their first win during that time over Italy in 2015.

Passionate Parody certainly lit up the stage that year, but will have to unearth the quality that saw him reach the 2016 Gibraltar Trophy quarters and nearly knock out Michael van Gerwen along the way, if his team are to have any chance of beating England.

Gibraltar will certainly have to try and ruffle a few feathers to unsettle the new partnership of Lewis and Chisnall.

Greece

2017 team: John Michael (2nd appearance) and Ioannis Selachoglou (2nd)

Past players: N/A

Past appearances: 1 (2016)

Best performance: First round (2016)

First 2017 opponents: Thailand (June 1, 19:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Thailand, Belgium, Scotland, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 300/1

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Greece are taking part in only their second World Cup of Darts, but have PDC world number 67 (at the time of writing) Michael to help them to their first victory.

The Cypriot-born 43-year-old has been a fan favourite at the PDC World Championship the last three years, thanks to his enjoyable walk-on (dance) to Zorba the Greek, and is partnered again with Selachoglou.

Greece have a slightly more favourable first round fixture this year, after losing to Canada in 2016, as they take on Thailand.

They are slight favourites to beat them in the opening match of the 2017 World Cup.

Hong Kong

2017 team: Royden Lam (4th appearance) and Kai Fan Leung (debut)

Past players: Scott MacKenzie (2014, 2015, 2016)

Past appearances: 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Quarter-finals (2015)

First 2017 opponents: Russia (June 1, 19:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Russia, Australia, Wales, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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Hong Kong are another Asian nation that have shown much promise in recent years, and they even reached the quarters in 2015 after brilliantly shocking seeded British Isles duo Wales and Republic of Ireland.

They were edged out by the latter 5-4 in a rematch last year, but will back themselves to topple Russia this time around.

The bespectacled Lam takes part in his fourth straight World Cup, but will be without usual partner MacKenzie, who is replaced by debutant Leung.

Hungary

2017 team: Zoltan Mester (debut) and Janos Vegso (debut)

Past players: Nandor Bezzeg (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), Kristian Kaufmann (2012), Zsolt Meszaros (2013, 2014), Gabor Takacs (2015), Patrik Kovacs (2016)

Past appearances: 5 (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Second round (2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Canada (June 2, 19:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Canada, Austria, England, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Despite having no established names, Bezzeg and Kovacs led Hungary to first round victories the last two years – over Sweden and then Thailand.

However, debutants Mester and Vegso will represent them in 2017, with the duo having impressed in European Tour Eastern European qualifiers this year.

They are tasked with reaching the second round for the third year in succession, and have an outside chance against Canada, who they lost to 5-3 in 2012.

Hungary’s prize for beating the North Americans would likely be a meeting with neighbouring nation Austria.

Republic of Ireland

2017 team: Mick McGowan (4th appearance) and William O’Connor (7th)

Past players: Connie Finnan (2013, 2014, 2015)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Second round (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Poland (June 1, 20:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Poland, Wales, Australia, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 150/1

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A number of arrowsmiths have hailed from Ireland over the years, but it might be a surprise to know that they’ve never got past the second round at the PDC World Cup of Darts.

They’ve reached that stage five times, however – only being winless in 2014.

Their first round meeting with Poland is a repeat of when they thrashed them 5-0 in 2015, but the Polish have improved a lot since and were without key man Krzysztof Ratajski that year.

McGowan and O’Connor have played together in this tournament three times, but this clash could go right down to the wire.

Italy

2017 team: Daniele Petri (5th appearance) and Gabriel Rollo (debut)

Past players: Matteo Dal Monte (2013), Marco Brentegani (2014, 2015), Michel Furlani (2016)

Past appearances: 4 (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: First round/Group stage (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: USA (June 2, 19:00 BST)

Potential run to final: USA, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Italy are still winless in this tournament after four attempts, and Petri has played in them all.

He is partnered with debutant Rollo this time around, after three others before him have failed to inspire their nation to a maiden win.

Even if they manage to beat the USA, they would most likely have to take on darting giants the Netherlands in the second round.

The Italians gave a decent try of it in 2014, though, when they managed to take two legs off Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld.

Japan

2017 team: Haruki Muramatsu (7th appearance) and Yuki Yamada (debut)

Past players: Taro Yachi (2010), Morihiro Hashimoto (2012, 2014, 2015), Sho Katsumi (2013), Keita Ono (2016)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Quarter-finals (2013)

First 2017 opponents: Spain (June 1, 20:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Spain, Scotland, Belgium, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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This will certainly be an emotional World Cup for Japan, as Hashimoto – a three-time participant – sadly passed away earlier this year aged just 40.

The former Japan Masters star, who twice played in the PDC Worlds main draw, will always be remembered for his charismatic displays.

Japan face a tough opening first task this year against a rapidly rising Spain, who they lost to 6-3 at this stage in 2010.

Muramatsu was present that day, and has ever since for the Asian nation. He’s back to partner debutant Yamada.

Netherlands (3rd seeds)

2017 team: Michael van Gerwen (5th appearance) and Raymond van Barneveld (7th)

Past players: Co Stompe (2010), Vincent van der Voort (2012)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Champions (2010, 2014)

First 2017 opponents: Czech Republic (June 2, 22:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Czech Republic, USA, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 5/4 (favourites)

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Onto the nation hoping to win back the World Cup trophy, after losing 2016’s final and going out in the semis the year before.

World number one Van Gerwen and two-time champion of this event Barney team up for the fifth straight year, despite Jelle Klaasen being ranked above the latter.

Van Barneveld’s lower ranking makes the Dutch third seeds, but it does not stop the bookies making them slight tournament favourites.

It was Mighty Mike that ultimately let them down last year, losing out to Lewis in a decider for the title, which will make him all the more determined.

The Netherlands open up against Czech Republic, which should be no trouble for them and a nice start to the tournament to help settle any nerves.

New Zealand

2017 team: Cody Harris (2nd appearance) and Rob Szabo (3rd)

Past players: Phillip Hazel (2010, 2013), Warren Parry (2010, 2015, 2016), Warren French (2012), Preston Ridd (2012), Craig Caldwell (2013, 2014)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Second round (2010, 2015)

First 2017 opponents: Belgium (June 1, 21:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Belgium, Greece, Scotland, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 250/1

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New Zealand will be hoping to rely on emerging talent Harris, who makes his second World Cup appearance, and he’ll be partnered by the experienced Szabo this time.

Harris has been winning tournaments left, right and centre Down Under, and will hope to convert that form onto the oche in Frankfurt.

Szabo missed out on a place last year, but has played twice before, helping the Kiwis to a tight first round victory over Canada in 2015.

It’ll be a big shock if New Zealand beat Belgium, who always do well in this event, though. A winnable second round tie is on the cards if they somehow do.

Northern Ireland (6th seeds)

2017 team: Daryl Gurney (2nd appearance) and Brendan Dolan (7th)

Past players: John MaGowan (2010), Michael Mansell (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Semi-finals (2016)

First 2017 opponents: Germany (June 2, 21:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Germany, Brazil/Switzerland, Netherlands, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 40/1 (joint-7th favourites)

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Northern Ireland are genuine dark horses for the title, as in-form Gurney and the first ever player to throw a double-start 9-darter Dolan are both capable of conjuring up magic.

They can certainly aim to match their feat of reaching the semis last year, though first have to see off Germany in front of a partisan home crowd.

The sixth seeds also have a potentially tricky run from the quarter-finals, with the Netherlands, England and then Scotland all possible opponents in a row.

Poland

2017 team: Krzysztof Ratajski (4th appearance) and Tytus Kanik (2nd appearance)

Past players: Krzysztof Kciuk (2010, 2013), Krzysztof Chmielewski (2014), Krzysztof Strozyk (2014), Mariusz Paul (2015, 2016)

Past appearances: 5 (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Second round (2013, 2014)

First 2017 opponents: Ireland (June 1, 20:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Ireland, Wales, Australia, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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What is it about Polish darts players with the forename Krzysztof? A total of four have represented them at the World Cup of Darts.

Ratajski is the most famous of them all and was part of the team that reached the second round in 2013.

The 40-year-old has gained a lot of experience this year, after dominating his regional qualifiers to take part in all 2017 European Tour events to date.

Ratajski partners Kanik, one of only two Polish players in World Cup history not called Krzysztof, this year for the first time.

Poland will hope to do a lot better than when they lost 5-0 to upcoming opponents Republic of Ireland in 2015.

Russia

2017 team: Boris Koltsov (3rd appearance) and Aleksandr Oreshkin (2nd)

Past players: Anastasia Dobromyslova (2010), Roman Konchikov (2010), Evgenii Zhukov (2014), Evgenii Izotov (2014), Aleksei Kadochnikov (2015)

Past appearances: 4 (2010, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Second round (2010)

First 2017 opponents: Hong Kong (June 1, 19:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Hong Kong, Australia, Wales, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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Female player Dobromyslova has been the face of Russian darts for many years, and even took part in the 2010 World Cup when they beat Gibraltar.

Russia haven’t won a match since Dobromyslova’s only appearance, despite having now used seven players throughout the years.

Current pairing Koltsov and the eccentric Oreshkin are the only duo to have taken part in this event multiple times, and play together for the second year in succession.

It’s fair to say Russia have been very unlucky, however, as they were drawn against the Netherlands, Australia and Australia the last three years.

They finally have a winnable tie this time around, but still shouldn’t underestimate Hong Kong.

Scotland (1st seeds)

2017 team: Gary Anderson (6th appearance) and Peter Wright (4th)

Past players: Robert Thornton (2010, 2013, 2014, 2016)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Runners-up (2015)

First 2017 opponents: Singapore (June 1, 22:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Singapore, Spain, Belgium, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 6/4 (2nd favourites)

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Scotland are top seeds for a very good reason, that Anderson and Wright are numbers two and three respectively in the PDC rankings.

Between them, they’ll be making their 10th World Cup appearance in total, but this will only be the third time they’ve been paired together.

They are known not to be the best of friends, but they’re both highly professional and driven so will be sure to put disagreements to one side as they chase a maiden triumph in this tournament.

Anderson and Wright teamed up when Scotland were runners-up in 2015, and have both arguably gone up a level or two since – particularly Snakebite, who is perhaps the form player of 2017.

Singapore are their first opponents, as they were when they beat them 5-1 in 2015 on the way to reaching the final.

Singapore

2017 team: Paul Lim (4th appearance) and Harith Lim (4th)

Past players: N/A

Past appearances: 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Second round (2014, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Scotland (June 1, 22:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Scotland, Spain, Belgium, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Singapore are taking part in their fourth World Cup, and have always been represented by Paul and Harith Lim (not related).

The former will always have a place in darting folklore, having thrown the first-ever World Championship nine-darter way back in 1990.

He may now be 63 years old, but still has the ability to trouble the best in the world – as he did when he rattled Van Gerwen in last year’s Shanghai Masters.

Singapore have reached the second round twice from their three appearances, when they upset the Republic of Ireland (in 2014) and South Africa (2016).

Their only opening round defeat was to Scotland, 5-1, but they face them first again.

South Africa

2017 team: Devon Petersen (6th appearance) and Deon Oliver (debut)

Past players: Shawn Hogan (2012, 2013), Charl Pietersen (2013), Graham Filby (2014, 2015, 2016)

Past appearances: 5 (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: Quarter-finals (2012, 2014)

First 2017 opponents: Sweden (June 2, 20:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Sweden, England, Austria, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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South Africa nearly always make an impression at the World Cup, and have even twice reached the quarters against the odds.

That is mainly down to their star player Petersen, though he did also miscount in 2012 against Wales which ultimately cost them a place in the semis.

The only African nation to have taken part in this event lost in the opening round for the first time last year, losing 5-1 to Singapore, but Petersen and dubutant Oliver will hope to get back to winning ways when they take on Sweden.

Will they regret picking talented youngster Warrick Scheffer, who was unable to take part in South Africa’s qualifiers to partner Petersen, though?

Spain

2017 team: Cristo Reyes (3rd appearance) and Antonio Alcinas (7th)

Past players: Carlos Rodriguez (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Semi-finals (2010)

First 2017 opponents: Japan (June 1, 20:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Japan, Scotland, Belgium, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 100/1

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While Alcinas has taken part in all six of Spain’s previous World Cup campaigns and helped them to the semis in 2010, Reyes is well and truly the star of the team.

The Canary Islands native is only playing in his third tournament, but has established himself as a top player on the PDC circuit.

Spain put in decent showings the last two years with this current pair, and should have enough quality to knock out Japan.

They likely face a second round battle with top seeds Scotland, who they’ve surprisingly beaten both times they’ve met in the World Cup (in 2010 and 2013). Gary Anderson was present on those occasions too.

Sweden

2017 team: Magnus Caris (7th appearance) and Daniel Larsson (3rd)

Past players: Par Riihonen (2010, 2013), Dennis Nilsson (2012), Peter Sajwani (2014)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Second round (2010, 2012, 2014)

First 2017 opponents: South Africa (June 2, 20:30 BST)

Potential run to final: South Africa, England, Austria, Netherlands, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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Veteran Caris has been in the game longer than most, and is still going strong, having recently reached the 2017 Gibraltar Trophy quarters.

The 48-year-old has played in every World Cup to date, and partners Larsson for the third straight year.

They are still without a win together, though, having suffered disappointing defeats to Hungary and fellow Scandinavians Denmark.

Caris will hope his recent resurgence in the game can inspire to his fourth World Cup first round win.

Switzerland

2017 team: Patrick Rey (debut) and Philipp Ruckstuhl (debut)

Past players: N/A

Past appearances: Debut

Best performance: N/A

First 2017 opponents: Brazil (June 2, 21:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Brazil, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Switzerland were only handed their World Cup debut this year after Latvia pulled out at the last minute, and they’ll hope to seize their opportunity with both hands.

They face fellow first timers Brazil, but go into the clash as slight outsiders.

Their best-known player Thomas Junghans was originally named in their two-man team, but the 2015 BDO World Masters semi-finalist was later replaced by Rey.

It could be a low-scoring, but tense first round affair with Brazil.

Thailand

2017 team: Thanawat Gaweenuntawong (4th appearance) and Attapol Eupakaree (3rd)

Past players: Watanyu Charoonroj (2014)

Past appearances: 3 (2014, 2015, 2016)

Best performance: First round (2014, 2015, 2016)

First 2017 opponents: Greece (June 1, 19:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Greece, Belgium, Scotland, Australia/Wales, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 1000/1

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Thailand and Gaweenuntawong are playing in their fourth World Cup, with Eupakaree his partner for the third successive year.

The nation are still winless, but have faced England and Northern Ireland in tough first round battles.

They have a decent chance against Greece this year, but are still rated the outsiders.

USA

2017 team: Darin Young (7th appearance) and Larry Butler (5th)

Past players: Bill Davis (2010), Gary Mawson (2012)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Group stage/quarter-finals (2010, 2012)

First 2017 opponents: Italy (June 2, 19:00 BST)

Potential run to final: Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland

Betway tournament odds: 500/1

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Butler is another blast from the past to take part in this year’s World Cup, as he’ll be forever known as the first person to win the World Matchplay (back in 1994).

The Eagle knows his teammate Young very well, having played in this competition together a total of four times – as well as in many other events back in their homeland.

However, Young was partnered with others for the USA’s best runs to date in this tournament (in 2010 and 2012) in reaching the last eight.

They should certainly have no troubles against Italy, but won’t be looking forward to a probable second round duel with the Netherlands, who they lost to 5-2 in 2015.

Wales (4th seeds)

2017 team: Gerwyn Price (2nd appearance) and Mark Webster (7th)

Past players: Barrie Bates (2010), Richie Burnett (2012, 2013, 2014), Jamie Lewis (2015)

Past appearances: 6 (all)

Best performance: Runners-up (2010)

First 2017 opponents: Finland (June 1, 22:30 BST)

Potential run to final: Finland, Ireland/Poland, Australia, Scotland, England/Netherlands

Betway tournament odds: 33/1 (joint-5th favourites)
The final team of our 2017 World Cup of Darts nation profiles is Wales, who like Northern Ireland have a side capable of causing an upset.

Also like their fellow British country, they have a good blend of hungry and in-form talent (Price) and someone with great big stage experience (2008 BDO world champion and 2010 World Cup finalist Webster).

The duo didn’t quite hit it off as well as Gurney and Dolan last year, as they lost out to Canada in the second round, but 2017 UK Open runner-up Price in particular has improved a great amount.

Wales have a favourable-looking first couple of rounds this year compared to others, and certainly have a great chance of beating Australia and reaching the semis, if either get that far.