SINGAPORE and South Africa caused upsets on the opening night of the 2019 BetVictor World Cup of Darts with wins over Wales and Northern Ireland, as Scotland made a strong start to their Hamburg challenge.
Legendary star Paul Lim and partner Harith Lim secured another big-name scalp as they followed up their 2017 first round win over Scotland with a 5-3 defeat of third seeds Wales.
Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price and Welsh partner Jonny Clayton led 2-1 early on before Singapore edged 3-2 and 4-3 up.
Paul Lim missed the bull for victory in leg eight, but Clayton was unable to send the tie into a deciding leg as Harith Lim stepped in to land tops for a famous victory.
"It was a great game and we're so happy to win," said Paul Lim, who at 65 is the oldest player in the tournament. "Both sides missed some doubles but we managed to hit five good legs."
Singapore will face Japan in round two on Saturday, and Lim added: "We will take one game at a time and can't underestimate any team. We know the Japanese guys well from the Asian Tour and we'll do our best."
South Africa, meanwhile, knocked out number six seeds Northern Ireland with a memorable 5-4 victory, as Devon Petersen showed his class by landing a 180 and taking out 74 in the deciding leg of their tie.
There was little between the nations throughout as the opening eight legs went with throw, before Daryl Gurney saw a match dart go begging in leg eight and Brendan Dolan missed two further chances to claim the win.
Petersen then stepped up in the decider, landing a 180 before taking out 74 in two darts to send himself and big-stage debutant Vernon Bouwers into the last 16.
"It's a brilliant win but I think in the end we deserved it too," said Petersen. "We knew what we were up against but the pairs match is different because they don't have the same rhythm.
"Vernon showed his class early on and kept us in the game and in the last leg I knew that I needed to step forward.
"It's phenomenal for us, not just for us as individuals but for darts in Africa. It shows that we can progress the sport in Africa now."
Newcomer Bouwers, who won the Last Man Standing event earlier this year and also hails from Mitchell's Plain, admitted: "I've been watching these guys on TV so it's amazing to beat them - but it was nerve-wracking!"
South Africa now play New Zealand after Cody Harris and Haupai Puha defeated debutants Lithuania 5-1.
Harris showed the experience he has gained competing on the PDC circuit for the past 18 months with an early 110 finish as New Zealand moved into a 4-0 lead.
Darius Labanauskas took out 100 to get Lithuania off the mark in leg five, but Harris sealed victory for his country with as a 124 checkout as New Zealand reached the last 16 for the first time since 2015.
"We're so happy to win," said Auckland's Harris. "I'm glad we got through and it was a great night for us.
"Playing over here with all these top players has helped my consistency. We can't wait to play South Africa now - all the teams are really good and on the day it's anyone's game."
Gary Anderson made his return to action, competing on TV for only the second time since the World Championship, as Scotland raced past Denmark in just ten minutes.
A 100 finish from Peter Wright was the match-high finish as the two-time finalists posted an impressive 101.55 average as they restricted the Danish pair of Per Laursen and Niels Heinsøe to just one dart at a double.
"It's good to be back and I'm enjoying it," said Anderson. "We don't play pairs very often so it's hard to get into a rhythm but we got through.
"The darts are going well in practice so we'll see what happens this weekend."
Scotland will now meet Sweden, who came from a leg down to power past Brazil with a 5-1 win, with Dennis Nilsson helping to ensure that Magnus Caris' final tournament would not end in the first round in Hamburg.
Brazil's Diogo Portela and Artur Valle started confidently with a 14-darter, but a 141 checkout from Nilsson in leg three moved Sweden ahead before Caris fittingly sealed the win on double eight.
"Playing with Dennis is a pleasure and when he hit the 141 I felt that we would win," said Caris. "He hit some good doubles and I'm thrilled that I can play again on Saturday."
Host nation Germany reeled off five straight legs as they came from a leg down against Hungary to win 5-1, with Martin Schindler taking out a key 137 checkout in leg four to give his side breathing space.
The Germans have reached the quarter-finals for the past two years, and Schindler admitted: "It was not easy for us and it was difficult in the beginning but we got through it so we're happy."
2013 finalists Belgium raced past Hong Kong with a 5-1 victory to book their spot in round two against the Germans.
Royden Lam took out a 141 finish in leg two to level for Hong Kong, but the Belgian pair of Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh pulled clear with four successive legs before the World Youth Champion sealed victory with a 136 checkout.
"We're very happy with that because the first round is never easy and I think we did well," said Huybrechts. "This is a special tournament and it's a tournament that brings the best out of you.
"Other teams might be favourites, but as a pair we can match anyone. If we play like we can then we have a great chance."
2018 quarter-finalists Japan progressed to the second round in dramatic fashion with a 5-4 win over Gibraltar.
The Japanese pair of Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu opened up a 4-2 lead before Dyson Parody and Antony Lopez hit back to level, but with Gibraltar waiting on 42 in the decider, Asada took out 104 for victory.
The first round of the 32-nation tournament concludes on Friday at Hamburg's Barclaycard Arena with the remaining eight first round ties.
Reigning champions Netherlands begin their title defence as World Champion Michael van Gerwen and debutant Jermaine Wattimena play Spain's Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas.
Four-time champions England play the Philippines, while former finalists Australia play Finland and Austria take on Russia amongst the other ties.
For tickets, visit www.pdc-europe.tv/tickets.
BetVictor World Cup of Darts
Thursday June 6
Japan 5-4 Gibraltar
South Africa 5-4 Northern Ireland
New Zealand 5-1 Lithuania
Belgium 5-1 Hong Kong
Sweden 5-1 Brazil
Singapore 5-3 Wales
Germany 5-1 Hungary
Scotland 5-0 Denmark
Friday June 7 (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
China v USA
Italy v Canada
Poland v Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland v Greece
England v Philippines
Austria v Russia
Australia v Finland
Netherlands v Spain
First Round - Best of nine legs, Doubles