Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his William Hill World Championship title against his fellow countryman and former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist, whilst Phil Taylor’s final World Championship appearance kicks off with a tricky tie against Chris Dobey.
Taylor will be hoping to bring the curtain down on his illustrious career by winning his 17th world title on New Years Day, but he has been handed a difficult opening assignment against 2016 Grand Slam quarter-finalist Chris Dobey, who has claimed the scalps of Mensur Suljovic, Kim Huybrechts and Robert Thornton in recent TV events.
However, top seed and defending champion Van Gerwen kicks off his bid for a third World Championship crown against 2012 Lakeside world champion Christian Kist. However, ‘The Lipstick’ has never gone beyond the second round at the Alexandra Palace and has struggled in recent months due to arthritic problems with his throwing hand.
UK Open champion Peter Wright is second seed this year, and he will take on debutant Diogo Portela in round-one. Portela sealed his qualification by virtue of winning the Central & South American Qualifier back in September, to become the first Brazilian to ever compete at a PDC World Championship.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson could potentially face former Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith in the opening-round. ‘The Silencer’ plays Development Tour winner Luke Humphries in a tasty-looking preliminary round clash, for the right to take on ‘The Flying Scotsman’.
World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney will lock horns with Belgian veteran Ronny Huybrechts in his opener, whilst fifth seed and Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic takes on 2004 world finalist Kevin Painter in another eye-catching tussle.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis will play the winner of the preliminary round match between Russia’s Aleksandr Oreshkin and Germany’s Kevin Munch. Lewis, seeded seventh this year, must reach the quarter-finals of this year’s event to retain his top 16 status, having reached the final here two years ago.
Eighth seed Dave Chisnall faces a showdown with Vincent van der Voort in arguably the tie of the round. Van der Voort was set to be 32nd seed for the tournament, but Jonny Clayton’s sublime run to the final of the Players Championship Finals saw him leapfrog the former UK Open finalist on the Order of Merit.
Raymond van Barneveld begins his bid for a sixth World Championship title with a tough opener against Richard North. North topped the list of non-seeds in the draw, but the five-time world champion will be hoping to continue his impressive Ally Pally record; having reached the semi-finals in each of the last three years.
Two-time world finalist Simon Whitlock takes on emerging German star Martin Schindler in another attractive tie, whilst seven-time major winner James Wade plays former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown for a place in round-two.
Former Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen meets his compatriot Jan Dekker, who is fresh from reaching his maiden PDC major quarter-final in Minehead. Elsewhere, 13th seed Michael Smith faces debutant Steve Lennon, who has enjoyed a fine year on the Pro Tour circuit since clinching a tour-card in January.
Benito van de Pas plays Steve West, whilst 15th seed and 2016 quarter-finalist Alan Norris faces Finland’s Kim Viljanen, and his fellow countryman Marko Kantele drew recent World Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson.
UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price will begin his bid for a first ever win on the Ally Pally stage against debutant Ted Evetts, after the Warwickshire youngster won the PDPA Qualifier in Milton Keynes on Monday to secure his first World Championship appearance.
Ian White will meet the winner of the preliminary match between New Zealand’s Cody Harris American ace Willard Bruguier. Meanwhile, Kim Huybrechts will be aiming to avoid a seventh first-round exit in TV events this year against James Richardson, who stunned Raymond van Barneveld at the Ally Pally back in 2011.
Joe Cullen has been pitted against quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena, whilst one of the stand-out opening round tussles sees former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting take on Dimitri van den Bergh, who clinched World-Youth Championship glory in Minehead last weekend.
European Championship finalist Rob Cross has drawn either Japan’s Seigo Asada or Australia’s Gordon Mathers, as he aims to cap off a remarkable debut year by clinching World Championship glory on debut. ‘Voltage’ is joint third favourite with title sponsors William Hill, but he begins the tournament as 20th seed.
Mervyn King will lock horns with Austrian qualifier Zoran Lerchbacher, whilst Darren Webster plays South African star Devon Petersen. Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson faces debutant Peter Jacques, whilst 1996 Lakeside world champion Steve Beaton prepares to take on Irish Matchplay winner William O’Connor.
Cristo Reyes and Antonio Alcinas will collide in an all-Spanish affair, whilst Players Championship Finals semi-finalist Justin Pipe takes on either Chinese youngster Xiao Chen Zong or New Zealand’s Bernie Smith, with ‘The Force’ expected to play Phil Taylor in round-two.
Two-time PDC major winner Robert Thornton kicks off his campaign against either former Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan or Croatian qualifier Alan Ljubic, whilst former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster will face the winner of the preliminary duel between Singapore legend Paul Lim or Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leun.
Players Championship Finals runner-up Jonny Clayton meets either Belgium’s Kenny Neyens or fellow countryman Jamie Lewis, as former BDO number one James Wilson plays Polish debutant Krzystof Ratajski, who claimed BDO World Masters glory earlier in the year.
The William Hill World Darts Championship will be held from December 14th to January 1st, broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts Channel, and the schedule of play will be released in due course. The full draw and tournament bracket can be viewed below!
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Christian Kist
(32) James Wilson v Krzystof Ratajski
(16) Gerwyn Price v Ted Evetts
(17) Ian White v Willard Bruguier/Cody Harris
(8) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
(25) Steve Beaton v William O’Connor
(9) Raymond van Barneveld v Richard North
(24) Kyle Anderson v Peter Jacques
(5) Mensur Suljovic v Kevin Painter
(28) Robert Thornton v Alan Ljubic/Brendan Dolan
(12) Jelle Klaasen v Jan Dekker
(21) Stephen Bunting v Dimitri Van den Bergh
(4) Daryl Gurney v Ronny Huybrechts
(29) John Henderson v Marko Kantele
(13) Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
(20) Rob Cross v Seigo Asada/Gordon Mathers
(2) Peter Wright v Diogo Portela
(31) Jonny Clayton v Kenny Neyens/Jamie Lewis
(15) Alan Norris v Kim Viljanen
(18) Kim Huybrechts v James Richardson
(7) Adrian Lewis v Aleksandr Oreshkin/Kevin Munch
(26) Cristo Reyes v Antonio Alcinas
(10) Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
(23) Darren Webster v Devon Petersen
(6) Phil Taylor v Chris Dobey
(27) Justin Pipe v Xiao Chen Zong/Bernie Smith
(11) James Wade v Keegan Brown
(22) Mervyn King v Zoran Lerchbacher
(3) Gary Anderson v Jeff Smith/Luke Humphries
(30) Mark Webster v Kai Fan Leung/Paul Lim
(14) Benito van de Pas v Steve West
(19) Joe Cullen v Jermaine Wattimena