Taylor wants his title back!
Adrian Lewis will begin the defence of his World Darts Championship title against Nigel Heydon when the £1 million tournament kicks off on December 15 at Alexandra Palace in London. Reigning champion Lewis drew Leamington Spa's Heydon, who qualified by virtue of his performances in Players Championship events held this year, in the first round of the event. Lewis' tie with Heydon will be played on the tournament's opening night on Thursday December 15, as the 26-year-old from Stoke begins his title defence.
"It's a tough game but I'm going to be really looking forward to it," said Lewis, who hit an historic nine-dart finish in his victory over Gary Anderson in January's final.
"Nigel's had a great year and he did really well in the Grand Slam recently, so I've got to make sure I'm ready to go. It's going to be a great honour going back to Alexandra Palace as reigning champion but I don't want to let the trophy go either."
Phil Taylor, the 15-time World Champion, will meet either Japan's Haruki Muramatsu or Sweden's Dennis Nilsson in his opening clash at Alexandra Palace as he bids to erase the memory of his quarter-final defeat to Mark Webster on New Year's Day.
"It's an exciting draw but it also poses a challenge because you don't know which of the players you will play," said Taylor, who will be in action on Friday December 16.
"Both of them are pretty unknown quantities but they have done really well to qualify and it will be the biggest night of their lives. I've got to make sure I'm ready and get through the first round. It's a huge goal to win back this title and I'll be ready!"
Scotland's Gary Anderson, the number four seed, drew Germany's Jyhan Artut, while world number three James Wade plays either Denmark's Per Laursen or Finland's Petri Korte.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld drew Northampton's James Richardson in the first round, while 2010 finalist Simon Whitlock will play Swindon's Dennis Smith.
World number six Webster, a semi-finalist in the last two years at Alexandra Palace, plays resurgent Richie Burnett in an exciting all-Welsh clash, while number seven seed Wes Newton plays Belgian debutant Kurt van de Rijck.
Number nine seed Paul Nicholson drew Austrian Mensur Suljovic, and Terry Jenkins - a semi-finalist last year - plays either Bradford's Joe Cullen or Serbian Oliver Ferenc.
Kevin Painter, the 2004 finalist in one of the sport's greatest games as he took Taylor to a sudden-death leg, meets Under-21 World Champion Arron Monk, who won Monday's PDPA Qualifier to earn a debut in the World Championship.
Brendan Dolan, who hit the first double-start nine-dart finish during the recent World Grand Prix, plays Belgium's emerging Kim Huybrechts in an eye-catching tie, while Andy Hamilton meets Spanish ace Antonio Alcinas.
Colin Osborne plays Michael van Gerwen, Colin Lloyd meets American number on Darin Young and Steve Beaton plays Swedish star Magnus Caris.
Australian qualifiers Sean Reed and Geoff Kime were handed tough tasks respectively against in-form Justin Pipe - who has risen into the world's top 32 recently by winning three Players Championships - and former semi-finalist Mervyn King.
The 72 players competing in the tournament come from 24 countries, including Portugal, Serbia and Malaysia for the first time.
The tournament's first round will be played across seven days, with the second round split either side of the Christmas break.
The third round and quarter-finals will be played ahead of a break with no play on New Year's Eve, with the semi-finals on January 1 and the final held on Monday January 2.
Connie Finnan (Republic of Ireland) v Warren French (New Zealand)
Haruki Muramatsu (Japan) v Dennis Nilsson (Sweden)
Devon Petersen (South Africa) v Jose De Souza (Portugal)
Joe Cullen (England) v Oliver Ferenc (Serbia)
Kevin Munch (Germany) v Lee Choon Peng (Malaysia)
Paul Barham (England) v Scott MacKenzie (Hong Kong)
Per Laursen (Denmark) v Petri Korte (Finland)
Dietmar Burger (Austria) v Christian Perez (Philippines)
First Round Draw Bracket
Phil Taylor (1, England) v Muramatsu/Nilsson
Mark Dudbridge (32, England) v Dave Chisnall (England)
Vincent van der Voort (16, Netherlands) v Mark Hylton (England)
Andy Hamilton (17, England) v Antonio Alcinas (Spain)
Raymond van Barneveld (8, Netherlands) v James Richardson (England)
Brendan Dolan (25, Northern Ireland) v Kim Huybrechts (Belgium)
Paul Nicholson (9, Australia) v Mensur Suljovic (Austria)
Alan Tabern (24, England) v Burger/Perez
Simon Whitlock (5, Australia) v Dennis Smith (England)
Steve Beaton (28, England) v Magnus Caris (Sweden)
Mervyn King (12, England) v Geoff Kime (Australia)
Colin Osborne (21, England) v Michael van Gerwen (Netherlands)
Gary Anderson (4, Scotland) v Jyhan Artut (Germany)
Steve Brown (29, England) v Petersen/de Sousa
Colin Lloyd (13, England) v Darin Young (USA)
Andy Smith (20, England) v Scott Rand (England)
Adrian Lewis (2, England) v Nigel Heydon (England)
Robert Thornton (31, Scotland) v Ian White (England)
Wayne Jones (15, England) v Barham/MacKenzie
Jamie Caven (18, England) v Roland Scholten (Netherlands)
Wes Newton (7, England) v Kurt van de Rijck (Belgium)
Justin Pipe (26, England) v Sean Reed (Australia)
Terry Jenkins (10, England) v Cullen/Ferenc
Co Stompe (23, Netherlands) v Michael Smith (England)
Mark Webster (6, Wales) v Richie Burnett (Wales)
John Part (27, Canada) v John Henderson (Scotland)
Mark Walsh (11, England) v Finnan/French
Kevin Painter (22, England) v Arron Monk (England)
James Wade (3, England) v Laursen/Korte
Peter Wright (30, England) v Jelle Klaasen (Netherlands)
Ronnie Baxter (14, England) v Steve Farmer (England)
Denis Ovens (19, England) v Munch/Choon Peng