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World Matchplay Darts 2017 Draw: Van Gerwen handed Bunting battle

Van Gerwen defeated Taylor to claim the trophy in 2016 (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his World Matchplay title with a clash against former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting in Blackpool later this month.

The summer's darting show-piece takes place from July 22-30 at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool and will feature a record prize fund of £500,000.

The top 16 players from the PDC Order of Merit qualify by right for the World Matchplay and are joined by 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit.

Van Gerwen, who initially claimed the title in 2015, retained his crown courtesy of an 18-10 victory over Phil Taylor in last year's final.

The world number one has been drawn to face former Premier League star Bunting in the opening round as the Dutchman bids to extend his unbeaten run in Blackpool to eleven matches.

Taylor, the 15-time World Matchplay king, kicks off his final Winter Gardens campaign with a tie against emerging Welsh star Gerwyn Price - who reached the UK Open final in March.

Stoke legend Taylor has enjoyed some of the finest moments of his illustrious career at this venue and will be determined to bow out on a high note as he prepares to hang up his arrows at the end of the year.

James Wade, the only other previous winner in the field, will take on recent ProTour event winner Darren Webster, while Rob Cross, one of five debutants this year, meets Ian White.

Another mouth-watering show-down sees five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld up against Joe Cullen - a two-time Players Championship winner this season.

An all-Australian tie sees Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson lock horns, while fourth seed Adrian Lewis meets veteran Steve Beaton - who enjoyed a resurgent run to the Quarter-Finals 12 months ago.

Third seed Peter Wright takes on dangerous debutant James Wilson, while two-time World Champion Gary Anderson meets 2012 Lakeside Champion - Christian Kist.

Dave Chisnall, the recent Shanghai Masters runner-up, opens up against in-form Mervyn King, as Belgian star Kim Huybrechts faces a tricky test in the shape of Alan Norris.

World number 15 and 17 collide as Benito van de Pas takes on Daryl Gurney, while European Championship finalist Mensur Suljovic faces Scotland's John Henderson and Robert Thornton takes on Spain's Cristo Reyes.

A distinct clash of styles sees Premier League star Jelle Klaasen up against Justin Pipe - who snatched the final available qualifying spot last weekend.

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


BetVictor World Matchplay 2017 Draw


First Round

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Stephen Bunting
Simon Whitlock (16) v Kyle Anderson
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 Cristian 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


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World Matchplay Darts 2017 Draw: Van Gerwen handed Bunting battle

Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his World Matchplay title with a clash against former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting in Blackpool later this month.

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