Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his World Matchplay title against Jamie Caven, whilst world champion Gary Anderson takes on former Lakeside world finalist Alan Norris, after the draw was made live on Sky Sports News on Thursday morning.
The prestigious 32-player event, televised by Sky Sports, will be held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens from July 16-24. Van Gerwen, who defeated James Wade in last year’s final, is faced with a tough assignment against Caven, a winner of seven Pro Tour titles.
Arguably the tie of the round sees world champion Gary Anderson take on Alan Norris. Norris has been in tremendous form over the last twelve months, which saw him reach the quarter-finals of the PDC World Championship on debut. Anderson has never gone beyond the last four in Blackpool, and this promises to be a quick-fire contest.
Phil Taylor will begin his bid for an unprecedented 16th World Matchplay title against Robbie Green, who just managed to secure his spot on the final day of qualifying.’Kong’ is making his first Matchplay appearance since 2004, but Taylor will be hoping to win his eighth Blackpool title in just nine years.
Adrian Lewis will meet Mark Webster as world champions collide in round-one. Lewis, who reached the final here back in 2013, will be hoping for a repeat performance this time around, but he faces a difficult task against the dogged Welshman, who is the 27th seed for this year’s tournament.
Elsewhere, Peter Wright will start his campaign against the in-form Joe Cullen, a losing finalist in Players Championship 11 last weekend. Cullen, making his first appearance at the Winter Gardens since 2012, also reached the semi-finals of the German Darts Masters earlier this year, so Snakebite will have to produce the goods.
Former winner James Wade will face veteran Mervyn King in one of the ties of the first-round. Wade was a losing finalist in Blackpool twelve months ago and he’s always had a real affinity with the Winter Gardens. However, he faces one of the most clinical operators on tour in King.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld will lock horns with former World Grand-Prix finalist Brendan Dolan in the opening round. Van Barneveld, a finalist here in 2010, is seeded 11th for this year’s tournament, and the winner of this contest will face Wade or King in the last 16.
Another thrilling tie sees Dave Chisnall take on the emerging Dutchman Benito van de Pas. Chisnall will go into this event with real confidence after his recent Players Championship win, but so will his opponent. Van de Pas has enjoyed a fantastic 2016 thus far, winning two Pro Tour titles; he represents a real danger to the ninth seed.
Robert Thornton will aim to end his Matchplay hoodoo when he takes on exciting youngster Josh Payne, who’s making his Winter Gardens debut. Thornton has lost all six of his matches on the Blackpool stage, and he’ll be in for a tough test against Payne, who qualified for this tournament by winning his maiden Pro Tour title earlier this year.
Eighth seed Michael Smith takes on former World Matchplay semi-finalist Simon Whitlock in the first-round. Whitlock reached the last four in Blackpool two years ago, but since then ‘The Wizard’ has endured a miserable slump in form, which saw him drop outside the world’s top 16.
However over recent months, Whitlock has enjoyed a welcome return to form, aided by his change in set-up and by wearing glasses on the big stage. Smith was dumped out by Gerwyn Price in round-one last year, and ‘Bully-Boy’ will be desperate to avoid the same fate this time around.
Gerwyn Price enjoyed his breakthrough at the Matchplay last year, defeating both Smith and Adrian Lewis to reach the quarter-finals. Since then, the Welshman has gone from strength-to-strength, winning two Pro Tour titles this year. He faces 13th seed Kim Huybrechts, in a very evenly-poised tussle.
Jelle Klaasen faces the legendary Steve Beaton in round-one. Klaasen has been in wonderful form over the last year, and his run to the World Championship semi-finals saw him break into the world’s top 10. However, Beaton has reached two Pro Tour finals this year, and won’t be fazed by the prospect of facing ‘The Cobra’.
Last year’s quarter-finalist Ian White will begin his campaign against debutant Daryl Gurney. The Northern Irishman’s qualification is a reward for his consistency on the Pro Tour, but he runs into an in-form White, who has tasted victory twice on the floor already this year.
Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting takes on Austria’s Mensur Suljovic, who is on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 16. Suljovic defeated world champion Gary Anderson in last year’s event, and the winner of this contest could potentially face Phil Taylor in round-two.
Former Matchplay finalist and fifteenth seed Terry Jenkins takes on Justin Pipe, whilst sixteenth seed Vincent van der Voort takes on the ever-improving Australian Kyle Anderson. Van der Voort has the incentive of a second-round showdown with his good friend Michael van Gerwen if he overcomes Anderson, but he’ll be in for a scrap.
The tournament gets underway on Saturday July 16th, and the schedule of play will be released over the coming days.
BetVictor World Matchplay
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Jamie Caven
(16) Vincent van der Voort v Kyle Anderson
(8) Robert Thornton v Josh Payne
(9) Dave Chisnall v Benito van de Pas
(5) Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
(12) Ian White v Daryl Gurney
(4) Adrian Lewis v Mark Webster
(13) Kim Huybrechts v Gerwyn Price
(2) Gary Anderson v Alan Norris
(15) Terry Jenkins v Justin Pipe
(7) Michael Smith v Simon Whitlock
(10) Jelle Klaasen v Steve Beaton
(6) James Wade v Mervyn King
(11) Raymond van Barneveld v Brendan Dolan
(3) Phil Taylor v Robbie Green
(14) Stephen Bunting v Mensur Suljovic
1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Gary Anderson
3 Phil Taylor
4 Adrian Lewis
5 Peter Wright
6 James Wade
7 Michael Smith
8 Robert Thornton
9 Dave Chisnall
10 Jelle Klaasen
11 Raymond van Barneveld
12 Ian White
13 Kim Huybrechts
14 Stephen Bunting
15 Terry Jenkins
16 Vincent van der Voort
17 Benito van de Pas
18 Mensur Suljovic
19 Gerwyn Price
20 Alan Norris
21 Simon Whitlock
22 Joe Cullen
23 Daryl Gurney
24 Mervyn King
25 Steve Beaton
26 Justin Pipe
27 Mark Webster
28 Jamie Caven
29 Kyle Anderson
30 Brendan Dolan
31 Josh Payne
32 Robbie Green