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MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the World Matchplay title against former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting as the world number one bids for a third consecutive triumph at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

The draw was made in Las Vegas on Tuesday, as Simon Whitlock, Robert Thornton, John Henderson and Steve West also learnt their first round opponents.

Whitlock will take on fellow Australian Kyle Anderson, while 14th seed Thornton faces Spain’s Cristo Reyes.

Scotland’s Henderson was drawn against Austria’s Mensur Suljovic, the number seven seed.

West makes his debut against former World Youth Champion Michael Smith.

The full draw in draw bracket order is as follows:-

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Stephen Bunting
Simon Whitlock (16) v Kyle Anderson
Phil Taylor (8) v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld (9) v Joe Cullen
Dave Chisnall (5) v Mervyn King
Kim Huybrechts (12) v Alan Norris
Adrian Lewis (4) v Steve Beaton
Ian White (13) v Rob Cross
Gary Anderson (2) v Christian Kist
Benito van de Pas (15) v Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic (7) v John Henderson
Jelle Klaasen (10) v Justin Pipe
James Wade (6) v Darren Webster
Michael Smith (11) v Steve West
Peter Wright (3) v James Wilson
Robert Thornton (14) v Cristo Reyes

The 2017 Bet Victor World Matchplay, televised live on Sky Sports, will see a 32-player field competing from July 22-30 at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.