William Hill World Darts Championship - First Round Draw
VAN GERWEN FACES CULLEN OPENER IN WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the William Hill World Darts Championship title against Joe Cullen at Alexandra Palace later in December, with Phil Taylor drawn against Jyhan Artut in the £1.25 million tournament.
Dutch star van Gerwen claimed his maiden World Championship title in January when he defeated Peter Wright to claim darts' biggest prize as he raised the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Van Gerwen has been drawn against Bradford's Cullen as he opens his challenge to retain the title when the tournament - held from December 18-January 4 - kicks off with the first round before Christmas.
"Joe's a talented player and he will be tough to beat, so I know it's a hard test for me," said van Gerwen, the 5/2 second favourite with sponsors William Hill.
"He's been on the circuit for a few years now and he's been in a few World Championships, and I like playing against him because he's a quick player like myself.
"I'll have to make sure I'm ready and I'll be practising hard because it will take a lot of hard work to win the tournament and you can't afford any mistakes, because all the players are so good now."
Phil Taylor, the 16-time World Champion and William Hill's 15/8 pre-tournament favourite, has drawn Germany's Jyhan Artut as he begins his bid to win back the Sid Waddell Trophy.
"Jyhan's a really good player and he's had some good results this year so I know it's going to be a tough match," said Taylor. "I've got a couple of weeks to get ready for the tournament now and I'm really looking forward to it."
Number three seed Adrian Lewis, the 2011 and 2012 champion, has drawn Shropshire-based David Pallett as the emerging youngster makes his World Championship debut.
Gary Anderson, a former finalist and last weekend's Cash Converters Players Championship Finals winner, will meet either New Zealand's Mark McGrath or American debutant Scott Kirchner in his Alexandra Palace opener.
Last year's beaten finalist Peter Wright, the number five seed, will open his challenge to go one better against Welsh debutant Gerwyn Price, the former rugby union player who has enjoyed a successful first year on the PDC circuit.
Last month's Masters champion James Wade drew Wales' Jamie Lewis, with 2010 finalist Simon Whitlock up against Darren Webster and number eight seed Dave Chisnall taking on Dutch debutant Ryan De Vreede.
Two other debutants from Holland, Christian Kist and Ron Meulenkamp, drew Jelle Klaasen and Mark Webster respectively, while emerging star Benito van de Pas takes on Paul Nicholson in his Alexandra Palace debut.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld has drawn Austrian debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez, while three-time World Champion John Part takes on the current World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
Former finalist Andy Hamilton will take on Canadian newcomer Dave Richardson, with 2004 runner-up Kevin Painter up against the winner of the preliminary round tie between Boris Koltsov and Haruki Muramatsu.
Reigning Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting makes his PDC World Championship debut against either Holland's Jermaine Wattimena or Croatia's Robert Marijanovic.
Terry Jenkins - the runner-up in the UK Open and European Championship this year who landed a nine-dart leg at Ally Pally 12 months ago - plays Oceanic Masters winner John Weber, while Dean Winstanley takes on former semi-finalist Wayne Jones and Robert Thornton meets debutant Andrew Gilding.
Belgian brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts take on Mickey Mansell and Andy Smith respectively, while Holland's Vincent van der Voort drew Scotland's John Henderson.
Another Scot, the PDPA Qualifier winner Jason Hogg, drew Jamie Caven for his World Championship debut, with Monday's PDPA Qualifier runner-up Scott Mackenzie meeting Daryl Gurney in the preliminary round with a first round tie against Ronnie Baxter awaiting their winner.
In-form Mervyn King will play German teenager Max Hopp, Justin Pipe takes on the DPA Australian Grand Prix champion Lawrence Ryder and Steve Beaton faces Kyle Anderson in a repeat of their meeting at the same stage two years ago, with the Australian also having hit a nine-darter in last year's event.
Former World Youth Champion Michael Smith, who knocked out Taylor 12 months ago, plays Austria's Mensur Suljovic, with Wes Newton up against either Christian Perez or Cristo Reyes.
Ian White awaits the winner of the preliminary round tie between Jani Haavisto and John Michael, while Brendan Dolan plays either Nolan Arendse or Alex Hon and Stuart Kellett, the number 32 seed, takes on either Kim Viljanen or Sascha Stein.
The William Hill World Darts Championship will be shown live on the Sky Sports Darts channel from December 18-January 4, and televised worldwide through the PDC's broadcast partners and on www.LIVEPDC.TV.
Ticket information for the William Hill World Darts Championship is available at www.pdc.tv/tickets.
Preliminary Round Draw
Christian Perez (Philippines) v Cristo Reyes (Spain)
Jani Haavisto (Finland) v John Michael (Greece)
Nolan Arendse (South Africa) v Alex Hon (Hong Kong)
Boris Koltsov (Russia) v Haruki Muramatsu (Japan)
Kim Viljanen (Finland) v Sascha Stein (Germany)
Mark McGrath (New Zealand) v Scott Kirchner (USA)
Jermaine Wattimena (Netherlands) v Robert Marijanovic (Croatia)
Scott Mackenzie (Hong Kong) v Daryl Gurney (Northern Ireland)
First Round Draw
Michael van Gerwen (1, Netherlands) v Joe Cullen (England)
Stuart Kellett (32, England) v Viljanen/Stein
Terry Jenkins (16, England) v John Weber (Australia)
Justin Pipe (17, England) v Lawrence Ryder (Australia)
Dave Chisnall (8, England) v Ryan De Vreede (Netherlands)
Paul Nicholson (25, Australia) v Benito van de Pas (Netherlands)
Robert Thornton (9, Scotland) v Andrew Gilding (England)
Ronnie Baxter (24, England) v Mackenzie/Gurney
Peter Wright (5, Scotland) v Gerwen Price (Wales)
Andy Smith (28, England) v Ronny Huybrechts (Belgium)
Andy Hamilton (12, England) v Dave Richardson (Canada)
Steve Beaton (21, England) v Kyle Anderson (Australia)
Gary Anderson (4, Scotland) v McGrath/Kirchner
Jelle Klaasen (29, Netherlands) v Christian Kist (Netherlands)
Wes Newton (13, England) v Perez/Reyes
Kevin Painter (20, England) v Koltsov/Muramatsu
Phil Taylor (2, England) v Jyhan Artut (Germany)
Mark Webster (31, Wales) v Ron Meulenkamp (Netherlands)
Ian White (15, England) v Haavisto/Michael
Kim Huybrechts (18, Belgium) v Mickey Mansell (Northern Ireland
Simon Whitlock (7, Australia) v Darren Webster (England)
Dean Winstanley (26, England) v Wayne Jones (England)
Mervyn King (10, England) v Max Hopp (Germany)
Vincent van der Voort (23, Netherlands) v John Henderson (Scotland)
James Wade (6, England) v Jamie Lewis (Wales)
Stephen Bunting (27, England) v Wattimena/Marijanovic
Brendan Dolan (11, Northern Ireland) v Arendse/Hon
Michael Smith (22, England) v Mensur Suljovic (Austria)
Adrian Lewis (3, England) v David Pallett (England)
John Part (30, Canada) v Keegan Brown (England)
Raymond van Barneveld (14, Netherlands) v Rowby-John Rodriguez (Austria)
Jamie Caven (19, England) v Jason Hogg (Scotland)
William Hill Tournament Odds
15/8 Phil Taylor
5/2 Michael van Gerwen
7/1 Gary Anderson
11/1 Adrian Lewis
12/1 James Wade
16/1 Stephen Bunting
40/1 Dave Chisnall
40/1 Peter Wright
40/1 Raymond van Barneveld
40/1 Simon Whitlock
50/1 Kim Huybrechts
50/1 Mervyn King
50/1 Michael Smith
66/1 Robert Thornton
80/1 Keegan Brown
80/1 Terry Jenkins
125/1 Wes Newton
150/1 Andy Hamilton
150/1 Benito van de Pas
150/1 Brendan Dolan
150/1 Christian Kist
150/1 Ian White
150/1 Jamie Caven
150/1 Justin Pipe
150/1 Mark Webster
150/1 Paul Nicholson
150/1 Ronnie Baxter
200/1 Dean Winstanley
200/1 Jamie Lewis
200/1 Jelle Klaasen
200/1 John Part
200/1 Kevin Painter
200/1 Ronny Huybrechts
200/1 Steve Beaton
200/1 Stuart Kellett
200/1 Vincent van der Voort
250/1 Gerwyn Price
250/1 Kyle Anderson
250/1 Mensur Suljovic
300/1 Andrew Gilding
300/1 Darren Webster
300/1 Daryl Gurney
300/1 John Henderson
300/1 Max Hopp
400/1 Kim Viljanen
500/1 Dave Richardson
500/1 Jani Haavisto
500/1 Mickey Mansell
500/1 Rowby-John Rodriguez
500/1 Wayne Jones
500/1 Jermaine Wattimena
750/1 Alex Hon
750/1 David Pallett
1000/1 Boris Koltsov
1000/1 Christian Perez
1000/1 Haruki Muramatsu
1000/1 Jason Hogg
1000/1 Joe Cullen
1000/1 John Michael
1000/1 Lawrence Ryder
1000/1 Robert Marijanovic
1000/1 Ron Meulenkamp
1000/1 Ryan De Vreede
1000/1 Sascha Stein
1500/1 Jyhan Artut
1500/1 Scott Kirchner
2000/1 Cristo Reyes
2000/1 John Weber
2000/1 Mark McGrath
2000/1 Nolan Arendse
2000/1 Scott Mackenzie
Prices subject to fluctuation, see www.williamhill.com for latest odds.
William Hill Specials
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor Final - 7/2
Big Two Versus The Field
4/5 Michael van Gerwen or Phil Taylor to win
10/11 The Field to win