MICHAEL Smith will look to carry on his good form when he competes for England in the 2022 Cazoo World Cup of Darts which begins in Germany on Thursday.

The St Helens arrows ace pairs up with James Wade in the annual 32-nation festival of darts, which returns to Frankfurt's Eissporthalle.

This year’s World Cup of Darts marks the 12th edition of the popular pairs event, which will see 32 countries represented by two-player teams from June 16-19.

The new pairing lead the charge for top seeds England, who are eyeing a fifth World Cup crown, but a first since 2016.

Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis led England to their previous four victories, but having scooped five titles within the last month, Smith is in confident mood ahead of their clash against Czech duo Adam Gawlas and Karel Sedlacek on Friday.

“If I can score and Wadey can hit his doubles, we’ll take some stopping, but I’m hitting my doubles and Wadey is scoring now as well," said the US Darts Masters champion.

“It looks like it’s becoming a match made in heaven. He is a ten-time TV winner so he’s got a good head on his shoulders.

“I am finally getting there and he can keep me going hopefully, so we can push on and win that title.”

Scotland's Peter Wright and John Henderson are bidding to defend their crown across the four-day event at the Eissporthalle, with Wright eyeing a third World Cup triumph in four years.

The eighth seeds defeated Austria to secure a second World Cup success 12 months ago, and they will open their campaign against Hong Kong duo Lok Yin Lee & Ho Tung Ching on Friday night.

World Champion Wright retains last year's successful pairing with Henderson, who is aiming to emulate the greatest day of his career in Frankfurt this weekend after being given the blessing of Gary Anderson to remain in the Scotland team.

“I’m buzzing," said Henderson. "I wasn’t expecting it. Fair play to Gary for giving me the opportunity to go and retain it.

“The reception I got in Huntly [on my return] last year was phenomenal, and it gives you the taste for more, so hopefully I can enjoy it and play well. I’m really looking forward to it.

“Peter was brilliant last year. He was the captain of the team and he really did help me. I think we’ll go in with the same mentality this year, and I believe we will do well.”

Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton will represent Wales for a fifth consecutive year, and the 2020 champions are highly-fancied to double their tally this weekend.

The second seeds headline Thursday’s opening night of first round action against the Philippines, and the World Cup harbours special memories for Clayton, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise since their 2020 triumph.

“That gave me so much confidence, it gave me belief that I can actually perform on the biggest stage,” said Clayton, a winner of four televised titles in 2021.

“We were the first Welsh players to win the World Cup and I will always remember that.

“The Welsh are very proud people, and to win something to bring back to Wales, it’s an amazing feeling. It would be a dream to do it again.”

Four-time winners Netherlands boast a new-look pairing in the absence of Michael van Gerwen, with UK Open champion Danny Noppert teaming up alongside Dirk van Duijvenbode ahead of their first round clash against Brazil on Thursday.

Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts renew their partnership for 2013 runners-up Belgium, and the fourth seeds will face 2019 semi-finalists Japan in a tricky opener.

“We have so many singles events, but playing for your country, that is only once a year, so you don’t have many opportunities for that,” admitted Van den Bergh, last week's Nordic Darts Masters winner. "It 100 per cent means more to us.

“Obviously when you are playing as a Belgian professional, you are representing your country, but playing in the actual national shirt, you want to make the most of it.

“You see other teams going deep, you see other teams winning it. We want to be a part of that elite group and lift that title up in the air.”

The first round will take place across Thursday and Friday evening, with Saturday’s double session featuring the second round.

The quarter-finals then take place on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the semi-finals and final in the evening session.

The Cazoo World Cup of Darts will be televised on Sky Sports for UK viewers, through the PDC’s international broadcast partners, including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.