Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his Unibet World Grand Prix title against Scotland’s John Henderson in the first round in Dublin next month.
The world number one claimed his third title in the double-start tournament by beating Gary Anderson 5-2 in last year’s final, and the Dutchman has been handed an opening round clash with Henderson, ranked 32nd on the PDC Order of Merit, to start his bid for a fourth triumph in Ireland.
The 20th staging of the World Grand Prix gets underway at the Citywest Hotel, in Dublin, two weeks today, with the first round draw having taken place this morning.
Second seed Gary Anderson, who lost out to van Gerwen in the final 12 months ago, takes on debutant Richard North, third seed Peter Wright faces former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting, and fourth seed Adrian Lewis, a runner-up in Dublin back in 2010, has been drawn against Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney in a mouth-watering last 32 tie.
Fifth seed Dave Chisnall, a finalist in 2013, goes up against former world champion Jelle Klaasen, sixth seed Mensur Suljovic plays Ian White, seventh seed Michael Smith takes on Gerwyn Price, and eighth seed Raymond van Barneveld, twice a runner-up in the World Grand Prix, meets recent Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson.
Elsewhere in the draw, 2015 champion Robert Thornton, who only got in the field for this year’s event following the withdrawal of Phil Taylor, takes on Kim Huybrechts, while 2008 and 2010 winner James Wade will play Steve West, who memorably knocked out Taylor in his World Grand Prix debut 12 months ago.
Mervyn King, the 2012 runner-up, has drawn Ronny Huybrechts, Benito van de Pas takes on Cristo Reyes, and Simon Whitlock faces Christian Kist.
Rob Cross, the highest-placed qualifier on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, goes up against Steve Beaton, Joe Cullen faces off with Daren Webster, and Alan Norris battles Justin Pipe in the other first round ties.
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix first round draw
(1) Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson
Alan Norris v Justin Pipe
(8) Raymond van Barneveld v Kyle Anderson
Steve Beaton v Rob Cross
(5) Dave Chisnall v Jelle Klaasen
Robert Thornton v Kim Huybrechts
(4) Adrian Lewis v Daryl Gurney
Joe Cullen v Darren Webster
(2) Gary Anderson v Richard North
Simon Whitlock v Christian Kist
(7) Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Benito van de Pas v Cristo Reyes
(6) Mensur Suljovic v Ian White
Steve West v James Wade
(3) Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Mervyn King v Ronny Huybrechts