The field for next month’s Unibet World Grand Prix has been confirmed this afternoon, with Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete in the double-start event opening the door for 2015 winner Robert Thornton.
The PDC’s third longest-running televised tournament will be staged at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel from October 1-7, with 32 players competing for £400,000 in prize money.
The event features the unique double-start format, meaning that players have to both begin and end every leg with a double throughout the tournament, which is also played in a sets format.
11-time winner Taylor, currently ranked fourth in the world, qualified as one of the top 16 players on the PDC Order of Merit, however he has decided against playing in Dublin as he continues to wind down his career ahead of retiring from the professional circuit at the end of the season.
Taylor’s withdrawal means a reprieve for 2015 champion Thornton, who was set to miss the event after dropping to 17th on the main Order of Merit, a winner in Ireland two years ago when he beat this year’s defending champion Michael van Gerwen in the final.
Van Gerwen won his third World Grand Prix in the double-start event when he reclaimed the title 12 months ago, and he will head the eight seeded players in the tournament.
Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall, Mensur Suljovic, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld will also be seeded in Sunday’s first round draw.
Jelle Klaasen, two-time World Grand Prix winner James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock and Thornton complete the 16 qualifiers from the PDC Order of Merit.
Rob Cross, a runner-up in the HappyBet German Darts Grand Prix this past weekend, heads the 16 Pro Tour Order of Merit qualifiers as he prepares for his World Grand Prix debut.
Christian Kist, Richard North and Ronny Huybrechts have also secured their debuts in the double-start tournament, with the other Pro Tour qualifiers including Mervyn King, Steve Beaton, Stephen Bunting, Justin Pipe, Steve West, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Gerwyn Price, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster and John Henderson.
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers (Seeding in brackets)
Michael van Gerwen (1), Gary Anderson (2), Peter Wright (3), Adrian Lewis (4), Dave Chisnall (5), Mensur Suljovic (6), Michael Smith (7), Raymond van Barneveld (8), Jelle Klaasen, James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock, Robert Thornton.
ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Rob Cross, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Mervyn King, Gerwyn Price, Steve Beaton, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster, Stephen Bunting, Christian Kist, John Henderson, Justin Pipe, Steve West, Richard North, Ronny Huybrechts.