PRICE, HENDERSON & CHISNALL PRIMED FOR CAZOO WORLD CUP OF DARTS CHALLENGE
The 2021 Cazoo World Cup of Darts begins on Thursday as 32 nations compete for the title in Germany, with reigning champions Wales to begin their title defence against Finland.
Taking place from September 9-12 at the Sparkassen Arena in Jena, the 11th staging of the popular annual pairs event will see countries represented by two-player teams.
Taking place across Thursday and Friday, round one will see teams face off in first to five legs Doubles contests.
Reigning World Champion Gerwyn Price and 2021 Premier League winner Jonny Clayton will team up for a fourth successive year, having brought the trophy back to Wales for the first time in 2020.
Ahead of their opener against Finland's Marko Kantele and Veijo Viinikka on Thursday, Price explained why he feels Wales are the team to beat.
'We are definitely the in-form team," said Price. "Jonny did fantastically to win the Masters and Premier League and is doing well on the ProTours. Then obviously I've won the World Grand Prix and World Championship.
"It's different to last year with crowds there as well, I'm looking forward to it.
"We are both individual players even though it's a team game. We just have to concentrate on our own game. There's ways of setting up shots, he knows what doubles I like to go for and I know what he wants.
"We don't fear anyone. I used to worry about taking on certain other players in the past but the only thing I worry about now is which one of me is going to turn up."
Peter Wright and John Henderson will team for 2019 champions Scotland this year, with the latter stepping in for a second successive year following the withdrawal of Gary Anderson.
Last year's event saw Henderson partner Robert Thornton, but ahead of their first round meeting with China, the 48-year-old explained why he is happy to be guided by world number two Wright.
"I know Peter very well and over the last few years he has given me quite a few pointers," Henderson revealed.
"He gives me a lot of advice about my throw and stuff like that, he thinks about the mechanics of the game a lot.
"There is a bit of pressure on me given the last time Peter played in the World Cup with Gary they won it.
"I'll listen to all the advice he's going to give me, I think he will certainly captain me for sure. I'll take everything in and hopefully we'll do well.
"He's just won the World Matchplay and he's world number two, but I've got the game to keep up with him."
Top seeds England will be represented by the new-look pairing of James Wade and Dave Chisnall as they take on Brazil's Diogo Portela and Artur Valle in round one.
While both players have previous World Cup experience, it will be the first time they have played alongside one another, with UK Open champion Wade making his first appearance since the inaugural World Cup in 2010.
Chisnall previously competed in 2017 and 2018 alongside Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross respectively, and the 40-year-old believes the pair have a mixture of qualities that can be fused together.
"With my scoring power and James' clinical finishing I think we've got a good partnership," explained Chisnall.
"I think we can go deep in the tournament. The first round is tough because of the short format, but hopefully we can get through that.
"It would be amazing to win a first TV title for my country and it could spur on my own game like it did for Jonny last year.
"I know the game is there, it's just a case of producing it every match and keeping focus at all times."
Third seeds Netherlands, represented this year by Michael van Gerwen and debutant Dirk van Duijvenbode, begin their bid to win a fifth World Cup title against Denmark's Andreas Toft Jørgensen and Niels Heinsøe.
Fourth seeds Belgium, for whom Dimitri Van den Bergh partners Kim Huybrechts, will start their campaign for a maiden World Cup title against Greece, a late replacement for Croatia.
Thursday night will see Hungary play Lithuania in the opening game of the tournament, while former finalists Australia, represented by Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta, meet Italy.
Singapore - including veteran star Paul Lim - meet Gibraltar, the Czech Republic play Poland and Sweden clash with America, for whom Chuck Puleo partners Danny Lauby.
The first round will conclude on Friday, with 2019 runners-up Republic of Ireland taking on Portugal as Grand Slam of Darts champion Jose de Sousa makes his second World Cup appearance, while Northern Ireland face Hong Kong.
Host nation Germany, for whom Gabriel Clemens and Max Hopp reached the 2020 semi-finals, drew Canada in a tasty tie as Jeff Smith and Matt Campbell renew a partnership which reached the quarter-finals last year.
Austria will play the Philippines, South Africa will face the new Spanish pairing of Jesus Noguera and Jose Justicia and Russia's Boris Koltsov and Evgenii Izotov take on Japan's Matsuda Jun and Yoshihisa Baba.
The second round will be split across two sessions on Saturday September 11, as the first singles matches take place.
Sunday's afternoon session will feature the quarter-finals, ahead of the semi-finals and final in the decisive evening session.