Two out of the five round-robin fixtures have been played as the World Cup continues this week in Wuxi.
Defending champions China B have got off to a strong start, winning seven out of their opening ten frames against Finland and Norway to sit just behind the top two in Group A.
With a point on the league table awarded for each frame won, it’s imperative not to suffer any sizable defeats, and the Chinese teenage pair of Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao have positioned themselves well ahead of tougher ties against table-toppers Brazil and Wales.
Brazil have given themselves a great opportunity to progress after a 5-0 thumping of Malaysia while Wales match them on eight points as well.
The Welsh outfit of Mark Williams and the in-form Ryan Day will be one of the favourites for the title but, with only two teams advancing to the quarter-finals from each group, nothing is guaranteed.
In Group B, Ireland got off to a dreadful start as the Dublin duo of Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien lost 5-0 to China A.
Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo, World Cup champions in 2011, lead the group on eight points alongside Belgium after a 3-2 triumph over Germany.
Ireland got on the board with a 3-2 win against Egpyt on Tuesday but they will require a few heavy victories to have chance of moving forward.
A quick look at the odds for next year’s World Championship will prove that the English team represent one of the favourites for this year’s World Cup too.
Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins are the highest ranked pairing in this week’s competition and have supported that status with 5-0 and 4-1 victories over Switzerland and Malta respectively.
Neil Robertson’s Australia and Hossein Vafaei Ayouri’s Iran are England’s nearest challengers on six points in Group C.
Robertson was involved in a controversial moment in Monday’s defeat to Malta when he played a shot on the re-spotted black out of turn, thus forfeiting the frame.
Whether the outcome of that frame will prove costly after the five league matches are completed remains to be seen, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Finally, Group D appears a tight affair with only four points separating the six nations competing.
Northern Ireland narrowly boast the advantage on seven points but Thailand, Israel, and Scotland are all within two points after every game in the group except one so far has ended 3-2.
One thing seems certain, though, which is it seems unlikely that the eight seeded teams will all have it their own way in this event.
Indeed, it has been very competitive so far with only a few whitewashes to speak of in the opening bouts.
The round-robin phase continues with three more encounters to be played until Friday, before the knock outs take place at the weekend.
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