Draw made for World Matchplay darts in Blackpool
Michael van Gerwen will begin his bid to win a third successive BetVictor World Matchplay title against Stephen Bunting, while Phil Taylor has drawn Gerwyn Price to open his final challenge in Blackpool.
The prestigious tournament, televised live on Sky Sports, will see a 32-player field competing from July 22-30 at the Winter Gardens.
World champion and top seed van Gerwen has won in Blackpool for the past two years and will open his defence against St Helens-based former Lakeside Champion Bunting.
Legendary 15-time winner Taylor, who is making his final Winter Gardens appearance ahead of retirement, has drawn Welsh star Price.
James Wade, the number six seed and the only other former winner in the field, has drawn Norfolk’s Darren Webster, who secured his qualification by winning last Saturday’s Players Championship in Barnsley.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, the number nine seed and 2010 finalist, drew Sunday’s Players Championship winner Joe Cullen.
Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and UK Open champion Peter Wright drew debutants Christian Kist and James Wilson respectively, while 2013 World Matchplay runner-up Adrian Lewis meets Steve Beaton.
Australian stars Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson will meet for the first time in a televised ranking event, with the winner to take on van Gerwen or Bunting.
Number five seed Dave Chisnall drew former semi-finalist Mervyn King, while Kim Huybrechts meets Alan Norris and Ian White takes on shooting star Rob Cross.
Number seven seed Mensur Suljovic, last year’s European Championship finalist, will meet Scottish ace John Henderson, with Dutchmen Jelle Klaasen and Benito van de Pas meet Justin Pipe and Daryl Gurney respectively.
Former World Youth Champion Michael Smith and Robert Thornton will meet debutants Steve West and Cristo Reyes in their first round ties.
The schedule of play will be confirmed shortly and tickets are still available from the Winter Gardens box-office on 0844 856 1111 or online at www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
World Matchplay first round draw (seedings in brackets): Michael van Gerwen (1) v Stephen Bunting, Simon Whitlock (16) v Kyle Anderso, Phil Taylor (8) v Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld (9) v Joe Cullen. Dave Chisnall (5) v Mervyn King, Kim Huybrechts (12) v Alan Norris, Adrian Lewis (4) v Steve Beaton. Ian White (13) v Rob Cross, Gary Anderson (2) v Christian Kist, Benito van de Pas (15) v Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic (7) v John Henderson, Jelle Klaasen (10) v Justin Pipe, James Wade (6) v Darren Webster, Michael Smith (11) v Steve West, Peter Wright (3) v James Wilson, Robert Thornton (14) v Cristo Reyes