By Alex Moss
8 JUNE 2017 • 7:44PM
James Wade will start the defence of his HappyBet European Darts Matchplay title against either Kyle Anderson or Christian Kist in Hamburg on Saturday.
The world number six, who is seeded 10th for the three-day tournament, which starts tomorrow afternoon, beat Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall on his way to lifting the European Tour title last year.
Wade will join the 15 other seeds in entering the tournament on Saturday, with tomorrow’s play seeing the 32 qualifiers battling it out in the first round.
Among the highlights on the opening day on Friday is the battle between two-time world champion Adrian Lewis and former major finalist Vincent van der Voort, with the winner to be rewarded with a clash against fifth seed Benito van de Pas in the last 32.
World number one van Gerwen makes his return to the European Tour this weekend, after skipping the Gibraltar Darts Trophy last month, and he will face either John Henderson or a host nation qualifier in his second round tie on Saturday.
Second seed Peter Wright, a winner of three of the five European Tour events held so far in 2017, has been drawn against the winner of the first round game between John Michael and another host nation qualifier.
Last year’s beaten European Darts Matchplay finalist Chisnall will play either Lee Bryant or James Wilson, while recent Gibraltar winner Michael Smith starts against either Mike de Decker or a host nation qualifier.
Former BDO world champion Jelle Klaasen is in the draw and is set to make his first competitive appearance since undergoing wrist surgery, with the Dutchman scheduled to play either Kenny Neyens or Stephen Bunting in his first game on Saturday.
Gibraltar runner-up Mensur Suljovic will play the winner of Darren Webster and Dirk van Duijvenbode, Simon Whitlock goes up against either Andy Hamilton or a host nation qualifier, and Kim Huybrechts, fresh from hitting the second highest ever televised average last weekend, starts his campaign against Peter Hudson or Brendan Dolan.
2017 HappyBet European Darts Matchplay
June 9-11, 2017 edel-optics.de Arena, Hamburg
First Round Draw
John Henderson v Host Nation Qualifier 4
Richard North v Mickey Mansell
Peter Hudson v Brendan Dolan
Marko Kantele v Antonio Alcinas
Vincent van der Voort v Adrian Lewis
Krzysztof Ratajski v Justin Pipe
Andy Hamilton v Host Nation Qualifier 2
Mike de Decker v Host Nation Qualifier 3
Host Nation Qualifier 1 v John Michael
Chris Quantock v Nathan Aspinall
Kenny Neyens v Stephen Bunting
Kyle Anderson v Christian Kist
Lee Bryant v James Wilson
Peter Jacques v Chris Dobey
Darren Webster v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Andy Jenkins v Jimmy Hendriks
Second Round Draw
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Henderson/HNQ4
(16) Mervyn King v North/Mansell
(8) Kim Huybrechts v Hudson/Dolan
(9) Alan Norris v Kantele/Alcinas
(5) Benito van de Pas v van der Voort/Lewis
(12) Joe Cullen v Ratajski/Pipe
(4) Simon Whitlock v Hamilton/HNQ2
(13) Michael Smith v de Decker/HNQ3
(2) Peter Wright v HNQ1/Michael
(15) Cristo Reyes v Quantock/Aspinall
(7) Jelle Klaasen v Neyens/Bunting
(10) James Wade v Anderson/Kist
(6) Dave Chisnall v Bryant/Wilson
(11) Ian White v Jacques/Dobey
(3) Mensur Suljovic v Webster/van Duijvenbode
(14) Daryl Gurney v Jenkins/Hendriks
Picture: PDC Europe