World Darts Championship 2018/19 Draw: Rob Cross faces potential Jeffrey De Zwaan shown

Rob Cross claimed the 2018 world title with victory over Phil Taylor in the final (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Rob Cross will begin the defence of his PDC World Championship title against either Jeffrey de Zwaan or Nitin Kumar at Alexandra Palace in December.

The biggest William Hill World Championship in PDC history will feature a newly-expanded field of 96 players competing for a record £2.5 million in prize money and the Sid Waddell Trophy from December 13 to January 1.

The First Round draw sees the 32 ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers drawn against the 32 International Qualifiers, with the winners set to take on the top 32 seeded players from the PDC Order of Merit in Round Two.

Cross pulled off a fairy-tale triumph on his debut in the sport's show-piece event 12 months ago, defeating the legendary 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor 7-2 in the final to become only the eighth different winner of a PDC world title.

Cross, who climbed to world number two following the recent Players Championship Finals, will kick off his title defence at Ally Pally with a clash against either World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan or Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar.

Michael van Gerwen, the number one seed, begins his quest for a third World Championship crown with a tie against either St Helens left-hander Alan Tabern or Australia's Raymond Smith.

Gary Anderson, back-to-back World Champion in 2015 and 2016, will face either 2010 Players Champion Paul Nicholson or Irish qualifier Kevin Burness in Round One.

Adrian Lewis, the 2011 and 2012 World Champion, awaits the winner of the tie between Plymouth's Simon Stevenson and young gun Ted Evetts.

Lewis could potentially face Raymond van Barneveld in the Last 32, with the retiring five-time World Champion having drawn either Matthew Edgar or Lithuania's Darius Labanauskas in what will be RVB's penultimate Ally Pally campaign.

Another change to the criteria this year sees two female qualifiers feature in the main draw, having won through the Rest of the World and UK & Ireland qualifying events staged in Dusseldorf and Milton Keynes.

Reigning and four-time Women's World Champion Lisa Ashton will face former Lakeside semi-finalist Jan Dekker for the right to face Mervyn King, while three-time Women's World Champion Anastasia Dobromyslova plays debutant Ryan Joyce for the right to take on 2010 world finalist Simon Whitlock.

Peter Wright, the number three seed and 2014 runner-up, has been handed a clash against either Spain's Antonio Alcinas or New Zealand's Craig Ross.

Newly-crowned Players Champion Daryl Gurney, the number five seed, opens up against the winner of the First Round fixture between Ross Smith and Asia's darting icon - Paul Lim.

Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price faces either Nathan Aspinall or Geert Nentjes, while European Champion James Wade faces a tricky opener against either Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski or Japan's Seigo Asada.

The tournament schedule of play will be confirmed in due course.

Watch the World Championship live on PDCTV HD

World Darts Championship 2018/19 Draw

First Round
Alan Tabern v Raymond Smith
Danny Noppert v Royden Lam
Simon Stevenson v Ted Evetts
Matthew Edgar v Darius Labanauskas
Ryan Joyce v Anastasia Dobromyslova
Steve Lennon v James Bailey
Krzysztof Ratajski v Seigo Asada
Keegan Brown v Karel Sedlacek
Ross Smith v Paul Lim
Martin Schindler v Cody Harris
Josh Payne v Jeff Smith
Robert Thornton v Daniel Larsson
Paul Nicholson v Kevin Burness
Michael Barnard v Jose De Sousa
Vincent van der Voort v Lourence Ilagan
Chris Dobey v Boris Koltsov
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Nitin Kumar
Ricky Evans v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Chuck Puleo
Luke Humphries v Adam Hunt
Ryan Searle v Stephen Burton
William O'Connor v Yordi Meeuwise
Ron Meulenkamp v Diogo Portela
Gabriel Clemens v Aden Kirk
Nathan Aspinall v Geert Nentjes
Jeffrey de Graaf v Noel Malicdem
Wayne Jones v Devon Petersen
Richard North v Robert Marijanovic
Toni Alcinas v Craig Ross
Mickey Mansell v Jim Long
Brendan Dolan v Yuanjun Liu
Jan Dekker v Lisa Ashton

Second Round
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Alan Tabern/Raymond Smith
Rob Cross (2) v Jeffrey de Zwaan/Nitin Kumar
Peter Wright (3) v Toni Alcinas/Craig Ross
Gary Anderson (4) v Paul Nicholson/Kevin Burness
Daryl Gurney (5) v Ross Smith/Paul Lim
Gerwyn Price (6) v Nathan Aspinall/Geert Nentjes
Mensur Suljovic (7) v Ryan Searle/Stephen Burton
Simon Whitlock (8) v Ryan Joyce/Anastasia Dobromyslova
James Wade (9) v Krzysztof Ratajski/Seigo Asada
Michael Smith (10) v Ron Meulenkamp/Diogo Portela
Ian White (11) v Wayne Jones/Devon Petersen
Dave Chisnall (12) v Josh Payne/Jeff Smith
Darren Webster (13) v Vincent van der Voort/Lourence Ilagan
Joe Cullen (14) v Brendan Dolan/Yuanjun Liu
Jonny Clayton (15) v Dimitri van den Bergh/Chuck Puleo
Adrian Lewis (16) v Simon Stevenson/Ted Evetts
Raymond van Barneveld (17) v Matthew Edgar/Darius Labanauskas
Stephen Bunting (18) v Luke Humphries/Adam Hunt
Mervyn King (19) v Jan Dekker/Lisa Ashton
Steve Beaton (20) v Chris Dobey/Boris Koltsov
Kim Huybrechts (21) v Robert Thornton/Daniel Larsson
Steve West (22) v Richard North/Robert Marijanovic
John Henderson (23) v Gabriel Clemens/Aden Kirk
Jelle Klaasen (24) v Keegan Brown/Karel Sedlacek
Alan Norris (25) v Steve Lennon/James Bailey
James Wilson (26) v William O'Connor/Yordi Meeuwisse
Kyle Anderson (27) v Jeffrey de Graaf/Noel Malicdem
Jamie Lewis (28) v Martin Schindler/Cody Harris
Jermaine Wattimena (29) v Michael Barnard/Jose De Sousa
Benito van de Pas (30) v Mickey Mansell/Jim Long
Cristo Reyes (31) v Ricky Evans/Rowby-John Rodriguez
Max Hopp (32) v Danny Noppert/Royden Lam

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World Darts Championship 2018/19 Draw: Rob Cross faces potential Jeffrey De Zwaan shown

Rob Cross will begin the defence of his PDC World Championship title against either Jeffrey de Zwaan or Nitin Kumar at Alexandra Palace in December.

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