Michael van Gerwen will start his bid to win a third consecutive BetVictor World Matchplay title against Stephen Bunting in a battle of former world champions later this month.

The world number one has reigned supreme at the Winter Gardens for the last two years, and will begin his challenge for a hat-trick of titles in Blackpool against the 2014 BDO world champion in the first round.

Elsewhere in the draw, 15-time World Matchplay champion Phil Taylor, who is making his final appearance in the tournament ahead of his impending retirement at the end of the current season, has drawn recent UK Open and World Cup of Darts finalist Gerwyn Price.

Sixth seed James Wade, the only other former World Matchplay winner in the 32-player field this year, will face Norfolk’s Darren Webster, who won his first PDC title in 12 years with victory in Players Championship 15 on Saturday.

World number two Gary Anderson and UK Open champion Peter Wright drew debutants Christian Kist and James Wilson respectively, while 2013 World Matchplay runner-up Adrian Lewis takes on Steve Beaton in another battle of former world champions.

Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, the ninth seed and 2010 finalist at Blackpool, drew Sunday’s Players Champonship winner Joe Cullen, while Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson will face off in the first all-Australian match to be held in the history of the tournament.

Fifth seed Dave Chisnall drew former Blackpool semi-finalist Mervyn King, while Kim Huybrechts meets Alan Norris and Ian White takes on debutant Rob Cross in a tough second quarter of the draw alongside Lewis and Beaton.

Number seven seed Mensur Suljovic will meet Scotland’s John Henderson, while Dutchmen Jelle Klaasen and Benito van de Pas go up against Justin Pipe and Daryl Gurney respectively.

Former world youth champion Michael Smith and Robert Thornton are seeded in the bottom quarter of the draw, and will meet debutants Steve West and Cristo Reyes in their first round ties.

2017 BetVictor World Matchplay
July 22-30 Winter Gardens, Blackpool
First Round Draw Bracket
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting
(16) Simon Whitlock v Kyle Anderson
(8) Phil Taylor v Gerwyn Price
(9) Raymond van Barneveld v Joe Cullen
(4) Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton
(13) Ian White v Rob Cross
(5) Dave Chisnall v Mervyn King
(12) Kim Huybrechts v Alan Norris
(2) Gary Anderson v Christian Kist
(15) Benito van de Pas v Daryl Gurney
(7) Mensur Suljovic v John Henderson
(10) Jelle Klaasen v Justin Pipe
(3) Peter Wright v James Wilson
(14) Robert Thornton v Cristo Reyes
(6) James Wade v Darren Webster
(11) Michael Smith v Steve West

Listen to this week’s Weekly Dartscast podcast via the player below to hear what co-hosts Alex Moss and Burton DeWitt thought of the draw

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