MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the BetVictor World Matchplay title against Jamie Caven at Blackpool's Winter Gardens later in July, as 15-time champion prepares to face last-gasp qualifier Robbie Green.
Dutch star van Gerwen lifted the prestigious World Matchplay trophy for the first time in 2015 when he defeated James Wade in the final in Blackpool, bouncing back from his defeat in the 2014 decider to claim the £100,000 first prize.
The world number one enters this year's tournament having claimed The Masters, UK Open and Shanghai Darts Masters titles amongst 11 victories so far in 2016, and opens his challenge as the 11/10 favourite with sponsors BetVictor against Derby's Caven, who is appearing in his seventh World Matchplay.
Stoke superstar Taylor, the undisputed King of the Winter Gardens with 15 triumphs since the World Matchplay was introduced in 1994, will take on Merseyside's Green in the first round.
Wallasey-based Green made his only previous World Matchplay appearance in 2004, but snatched a place in this year's event by reaching the quarter-finals of Sunday's Players Championship in Barnsley to jump above Rowby-John Rodriguez into the final qualification spot
World Champion Gary Anderson - the 6/1 joint second favourite alongside Taylor - comes up against Alan Norris, who is one of three Blackpool debutants this year alongside Josh Payne - who meets Robert Thornton - and Daryl Gurney, who drew Ian White.
2007 World Matchplay winner Wade, also a five-time runner-up in Blackpool, plays former semi-finalist Mervyn King, with the winner of their tie set to meet either Raymond van Barneveld or Brendan Dolan.
Another Dutchman, Vincent van der Voort, plays Australia's Kyle Anderson, while number nine seed Dave Chisnall drew emerging youngster Benito van de Pas.
2013 runner-up Adrian Lewis meets Wales' Mark Webster, number four seed Peter Wright - a semi-finalist last year - drew Joe Cullen, who is making his first Blackpool appearance for four years, while Belgium's Kim Huybrechts has draw Gerwyn Price, who was a quarter-finalist on his debut 12 months ago.
Two-time Blackool finalist Terry Jenkins drew Justin Pipe, Michael Smith plays Simon Whitlock and Jelle Klaasen takes on Steve Beaton in a tough quarter of the draw alongside Anderson and Norris.
Stephen Bunting will take on Austria's Mensur Suljovic, with the winner going on to face either Taylor or Green in the second round.
The BetVictor World Matchplay will take place from July 16-24 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, live on Sky Sports.
For tickets, call 0844 856 1111, visit the Winter Gardens' Church Street Box Office or buy online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
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
BetVictor First Round Match Odds
1/20 Michael van Gerwen v 9/1 Jamie Caven
11/10 Vincent van der Voort v 8/11 Kyle Anderson
2/5 Robert Thornton v 2/1 Josh Payne
4/9 Dave Chisnall v 7/4 Benito van de Pas
3/10 Peter Wright v 5/2 Joe Cullen
8/13 Ian White v 5/4 Daryl Gurney
2/9 Adrian Lewis v 10/3 Mark Wbester
4/7 Kim Huybrechts v 11/8 Gerwyn Price
1/5 Gary Anderson v 7/2 Alan Norris
8/15 Terry Jenkins v 6/4 Justin Pipe
8/13 Michael Smith v 5/4 Simon Whitlock
4/11 Jelle Klaasen v 11/5 Steve Beaton
1/4 James Wade v 3/1 Mervyn King
1/6 Raymond van Barneveld v 4/1 Brendan Dolan
1/14 Phil Taylor v 7/1 Robbie Green
10/11 Stephen Bunting v 10/11 Mensur Suljovic
Outright Tournament Winner</strong>
11/10 Michael van Gerwen
6/1 Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson
12/1 Adrian Lewis
18/1 Peter Wright
22/1 James Wade
25/1 Dave Chisnall
28/1 Raymond van Barneveld
50/1 Michael Smith
66/1 Jelle Klaasen, Ian White, Kim Huybrechts
80/1 Robert Thornton, Benito van de Pas
100/1 Daryl Gurney, Kyle Anderson, Alan Norris, Mensur Suljovic
125/1 Simon Whitlock, Stephen Bunting
150/1 Jamie Caven, Terry Jenkins
200/1 Vincent van der Voort, Mark Webster, Gerwyn Price
300/1 Mervyn King, Joe Cullen
500/1 Steve Beaton, Justin Pipe
750/1 Brendan Dolan, Josh Payne, Robbie Green
Each Way 1/2 Odds for reaching final.