Holland amongst five seeds to exit as England survive... Just!
2010 champions Netherlands were amongst five seeded teams to be knocked out of the Betfair World Cup of Darts in a night of shocks in Hamburg on Saturday, but reigning champions England narrowly made it through to the quarter-finals with a narrow 5-4 win against South Africa.
An amazing night of Last 16 action at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg saw unseeded nations Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Japan and Finland all take victory over more experienced opposition with some thrilling displays.
Finland's Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula produced the performances of their careers as they knocked out the Netherlands' Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld 5-3.
The Finns won four of their legs in 14 darts or less, and hit seven perfect darts in one leg as they searched for the first Doubles nine-darter.
While that achievement went begging, the pair held their nerve as the Netherlands threatened a fightback from 4-2 down, with Komula landing double ten to put the Finns into the last eight.
Finland will now take on host nation Germany, as Jyhan Artut and Andree Welge delighted the Hamburg crowd with a 5-2 win over Poland's Krzysztof Kciuk and Krzysztof Ratajski.
"Anything's possible for us now," said Artut. "In this format, any team can beat anyone else but we're finding a good rhythm together as a team at the moment."
Belgian brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts, meanwhile, knocked out Australia, last year's beaten finalists and the number three seeds, with a sensational 5-1 victory, in which the pair averaged 101 against Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson.
The pair dedicated the win to the memory of their late father Ludo, who passed away in December and had dreamed of seeing the pair team up to represent their country in the PDC World Cup of Darts.
"I think at the moment we're the two happiest people in the world," said Kim, the younger of the brothers. "Our father was our greatest fan, he taught us everything in the game and although losing him has been a big thing to deal with, this is for him.
"We're supporting each other and so far this weekend it's going well."
Spain's Antonio Alcinas and Carlos Rodriguez evoked memories of their famous run to the 2010 semi-finals with a brilliant 5-4 win over Scotland's Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton, the number four seeds, in another huge upset.
Japan and Croatia also caused shocks with their wins over the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as they won through to the Quarter-Finals for the first time.
Croatia's Robert Marijanovic, alongside Tonci Restovic, held his nerve to give them a 5-4 win over Northern Ireland's Brendan Dolan and Michael Mansell.
"It's unbelievable for us to have won tonight and be into the Quarter-Finals," said Marijanovic, who competed in the World Championship recently.
"Yesterday Tonci hit the doubles in our group games and I wanted to pay him back today, which I've done. We're very, very proud to play for Croatia and have got this far."
Japan's Haruki Muramatsu and Sho Katsumi, meanwhile, stunned the Republic of Ireland's William O'Connor and Connie Finnan with a 5-3 victory as they progressed to the last eight.
They will now face England's Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, the reigning champions who defeated Japan 5-0 in the group stage on Friday night but narrowly escaped elimination in the Last 16 to South Africa's Charl Pietersen and Shawn Hogan.
After falling behind three times in the early stages, England moved 4-3 up but initially failed to close out victory as Pietersen forced a deciding leg - only for the youngster from Cape Town to miss two match darts and allow Lewis in to hit tops and edge them through.
"I thought we were going out when Charl had that shot to win the match," admitted Lewis. "It felt like his destiny and he showed how much quality is coming through now.
"Thankfully I got the shot and managed to hit tops, and we can look forward to Sunday now. Japan had another good performance today and it shows how good the players are from all the nations coming through around the world."
Taylor admitted: "It was a tough, tough games and we're so pleased to be through because Charl was absolutely superb and Shawn kept battling all the way through.
"All the seeds had been going out so we were worried, but I knew that when Charl got to the winning double he'd not been in that position before, and we could only hope that he missed.
"It will be a different game tomorrow because Singles matches come into it and that will suit us better because Adrian will be able to get into his own rhythm."
Wales's Mark Webster and Richie Burnett were the night's other winners as they defeated Canada's John Part and Jeff Smith 5-2 - hitting five doubles from as many attempts as they came from 2-1 down to win in a clinical performance and set up a clash with Spain.
"That was a great game to be involved in because we knew Canada would play well and we lifted too," said Webster. "I'm pleased with how we played - we were hanging in there for the first three legs but when we got our chances we took them."
The Quarter-Finals will see the nations play two best of seven leg Singles matches, and should each nation win one Singles game apiece, then a best of seven leg Doubles game will be played to decide the tie.
Sunday evening's Semi-Finals will follow the same format, while the Final adds Reverse Singles games to give a further two matches per tie as the destiny of the £20,000 per player first prize and the Betfair World Cup of Darts title is decided.
Betfair World Cup of Darts
Saturday February 2
Northern Ireland 4-5 Croatia
Republic of Ireland 3-5 Japan
Wales 5-2 Canada
Australia 1-5 Belgium
Scotland 4-5 Spain
England 5-4 South Africa
Netherlands 3-5 Finland
Germany 5-2 Poland
Sunday February 3
2pm-6pm Local Time (1pm-5pm UK Time)
Belgium v Croatia
Spain v Wales
England v Japan
Finland v Germany
The Quarter-Finals will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play. In the event of both nations winning one Singles match apiece, a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
8pm-11pm Local Time (7pm-10pm UK Time)
Semi-Finals (Draw Bracket Order)
England/Japan v Spain/Wales
Finland/Germany v Belgium/Croatia
The Semi-Finals will be played as two best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play. In the event of both nations winning one Singles match apiece, a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
The Final will be played as four best of seven leg 501 Singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play the first two matches, and then Reverse Singles following, In the event of both nations winning two Singles matches apiece, a best of seven leg 501 Doubles match will be played to decide the tie.
Last 16 Match Information
Northern Ireland v Croatia
Brendan Dolan & Michael Mansell v Robert Marijanovic & Tonci Restovic
0-0 - Northern Ireland win the bull and will throw first
1-0 - Northern Ireland made a confident start, with Brendan Dolan missing double ten for a 140 finish but Michael Mansell tidying up on double five.
1-1 - Mansell misses three darts to double Northern Ireland's lead, and Robert Marijanovic takes out a superb 124 on the bullseye.
1-2 - Despite opening with a 180, Northern Ireland are unable to close out the third leg, and Marijanovic steals in to finish 82 on tops.
2-2 - Dolan settles Northern Ireland's nerves by landing double 16.
3-2 - Mansell finishes 121 to push Northern Ireland back ahead.
3-3 - Croatia initially miss seven doubles to level, but Northern Ireland miss five darts of their own and Marijanovic posts double one to square the game.
3-4 - Marijanovic takes out 120 to put Croatia ahead once again.
4-4 - Dolan misses the bull, but Restovic is unable to land one dart at tops for the match and Mansell hits double 11 to force a decider.
4-5 - The match reaches a hugely dramatic conclusion, with Restovic missing double top only for Dolan to miss double ten and five for the win, allowing Marijanovic to hit double 13 for the victory.
Robert Marijanovic: "I was really nervous coming into the match because Brendan Dolan is an idol of mine, but yesterday Tonci hit the doubles and I wanted to pay him back today, which I've done. We're very, very proud to play for Croatia and it's unbelievable for us to have won tonight and be into the Quarter-Finals."
Tonci Restovic: "We're enjoying this so much but at the end I couldn't watch when Robert was throwing for the winning double. I'd missed and I could hardly throw so there was no way I could look! Tomorrow is a very exciting day for us and there are so many possibilities."
Republic of Ireland v Japan
William O'Connor & Connie Finnan v Haruki Muramatsu & Sho Katsumi
0-0 - Japan win the bullseye and will throw first.
0-1 - Sho Katsumi gives Japan the opening leg with double two.
0-2 - Haruki Muramatsu opens the leg with a 180 and hits double 14 to break throw for Japan.
1-2 - Katsumi misses a dart at double 12 and two at double six, and Connie Finnan lands tops to get Ireland off the mark.
1-3 - Katsumi misses a dart at double 18, but when William O'Connor is unable to hit the bull for a 122 finish, Muramatsu steps in to land double nine with his third dart.
2-3 - Muramatsu hits a 180, but Katsumi misses a dart at tops to punish a miss from O'Connor, and Finnan lands tops to hit back for Ireland.
3-3 - Finnan lands double top again to level.
3-4 - Finnan misses the bull to take out 94, and Muramatsu lands a pressure double top to finish 80.
3-5 - Finnan misses two darts at tops to force a deciding leg, and Katsumi lands tops at the first time of asking to seal a famous victory.
Wales v Canada
Mark Webster & Richie Burnett v John Part & Jeff Smith
0-0 - Canada won the bull and will throw first.
0-1 - Canada win the opening leg to make a strong start, with Part hitting double 18 for a 13-darter.
1-1 - Part hits two 180s in the second leg, but Mark Webster hits a 120 finish to level for Wales.
1-2 - Jeff Smith hits a 180, and Part takes out 95 on double eight to move Canada back ahead.
2-2 - Richie Burnett levels for Wales on double four.
3-2 - Webster finishes 48 on double 16 to edge Wales ahead for the first time.
4-2 - Burnett copies Webster's finish by landing double 16 to continue Wales' flawless finishing.
5-2 - Webster seals a brilliant win for Wales by landing double 18 to put them into the Quarter-Finals without missing a dart at a double.
Mark Webster: "That was a great game to be involved in because we knew Canada would play well and we lifted too. I'm pleased with how we played - we were hanging in there for the first three legs but when we got our chances we took them. The 120 was massive to get us a foothold in the game because they made an exceptional start, and it's a great bonus that we hit five out of five on the doubles, and we can kick on in the tournament now."
Australia v Belgium
Simon Whitlock & Paul Nicholson v Kim & Ronny Huybrechts
0-0 - Belgium win the bullseye and will throw first.
0-1 - Kim Huybrechts hits a 180 and posts tops for a 13-darter to open the game for Belgium.
1-1 - Simon Whitlock lands a 180 and Paul Nicholson chips in with double two to level for Australia.
1-2 - Kim Huybrechts posts tops again to edge Belgium ahead.
1-3 - Ronny Huybrechts pins a 180, and when Kim Huybrechts and Whitlock both miss doubles he steps in to land double two to break for Belgium.
1-4 - Belgium are first to a double, and Kim Huybrechts lands double 16 to put the brothers a leg away from the Quarter-Finals.
1-5 - Nicholson misses darts at double 18 and nine, and Kim Huybrechts lands double 18 to secure a brilliant win for the Belgian brothers, who average 101.08!
Scotland v Spain
Gary Anderson & Robert Thornton v Antonio Alcinas & Carlos Rodriguez
0-0 - Scotland win the bullseye and will throw first.
1-0 - Gary Anderson takes out 90 on double 18 to win the opening leg for Scotland.
1-1 - Carlos Rodriguez hits double 16 to level the game for Spain.
2-1 - Antonio Alcinas hits a 180, with Robert Thornton missing tops for a 111 finish only for Rodriguez to miss double eight and four, allowing Anderson in to hit double ten.
3-1 - Anderson initially misses two darts to win the leg, but Rodriguez misses tops for a 102 finish and Thornton steps in on double seven.
3-2 - Rodriguez misses the bull to take out 164, but Alcinas returns to finish double 16 to hit back for Spain.
3-3 - Rodriguez levels by finishing tops.
4-3 - Anderson opens with a 180 but the Scots miss five doubles between the pair - only for Rodriguez to miss tops to put Spain ahead as Anderson lands double one to edge Scotland ahead.
4-4 - Rodriguez misses double top and ten, but Thornton is unable to land tops to finish 100 with one dart for the match, and Alcinas lands double five to force a decider.
4-5 - Alcinas hits a 180 to leave 81, with Rodriguez setting up tops to allow his partner to hit the winning double, repeating their 2010 success against Scotland.
Carlos Rodriguez: "It's great for us. We'll look forward to tomorrow and anything can happen now. It's very important for us both when we're playing for Spain, we are very proud and every time we get results like this it gets more people in Spain playing darts."
England v South Africa
Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis v Charl Pietersen & Shawn Hogan
0-0 - England win the bullseye and will throw first.
0-1 - Phil Taylor misses double 14 for a 121 finish, and Charl Pietersen puts South Africa ahead on double ten.
1-1 - Adrian Lewis lands double eight, with his third dart, to level for England.
1-2 - Pietersen takes out 121 on the bull to put the South Africans back ahead.
2-2 - Lewis fires in a 177 to leave 70, and Taylor takes out the combination on tops to level.
2-3 - South Africa secure a third break of throw, with Pietersen hitting two 180s in the leg, which Shawn Hogan finishes by taking out 81 on double 13 for a 12-darter.
3-3 - England break for a third time, with Taylor hitting a 180 to leave 47 and Lewis taking out tops with his first dart as they level.
4-3 - England hit the front for the first time, with Taylor opening with a 171 score, Lewis adding a 140 and the World Champion hitting tops for a 76 finish.
4-4 - Lewis hits 171 to leave 40 for England for the match - only for Pietersen to finish 66 with a bullseye, double eight combination to force a decider.
5-4 - An amazing final leg sees Pietersen miss two match darts, at double ten and five, and Lewis holds his nerve to hit the key double top and seal victory for the reigning champions.
Netherlands v Finland
Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld v Jani Haavisto & Jarkko Komula
0-0 - Netherlands win the bullseye and will throw first.
1-0 - Raymond van Barneveld lands double eight to give the Netherlands the opening leg.
2-0 - Michael van Gerwen lands a 180 and punishes missed doubles from Finland to land double 16.
2-1 - Finnish pair Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula open with 180s to set up a possible nine-darter, with Haavisto landing a treble 20 but missing the treble 19 on the 141 finish, although Komula returns to post double ten.
2-2 - van Gerwen opens with a 171, but Haavisto is first to the double as he posts double 18 to level.
2-3 - Komula posts a 180, and when van Barneveld misses the bull and van Gerwen misses double 12, Haavisto steps in on tops to put the Finns ahead.
2-4 - Haavisto posts tops again to put Finland to the brink of victory.
3-4 - van Barneveld hits a 180 and van Gerwen lands double two to keep the 2010 champions in the hunt.
3-5 - van Gerwen misses double 18 and two darts at double nine, and Komula hits double ten for a stunning win.
Germany v Poland
Jyhan Artut & Andree Welge v Krzysztof Kciuk & Krzysztof Ratajski
0-0 - Germany win the bullseye and will throw first.
1-0 - Jyhan Artut hits double 16 to give Germany the opening leg.
2-0 - Artut hits a 180, with Krzysztof Kciuk replying in kind only for Welge to hit double nine and increase Germany's cushion.
2-1 - The tension shows as all four players miss doubles before Kciuk lands double eight to get Poland off the mark.
3-1 - The Germans move two legs clear by taking out 122.
4-1 - Welge punishes missed doubles from Poland by taking out double eight.
4-2 - Artut hits a 180 but the Germans miss nine match darts to allow Kciuk in to keep the game alive on double 16.
5-2 - Germany wrap up the victory in style, with both players hitting 180s to open the leg, and although Artut is unable to finish a nine-darter, Welge finishes double 16 for a 12-darter to seal their Quarter-Final place.