REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the William Hill World Darts Championship on the opening night against fellow Dutchman Christian Kist.

Van Gerwen kicks off his quest for a third World Championship triumph against former Lakeside Champion Kist on Thursday 14 December.

Fellow ZWA star Jonny Clayton, who lost out to Van Gerwen in the final of the Players Championship recently, will take on either Kenny Neyens or Jamie Lewis on Sunday 17 December following their preliminary round match.

Later that evening, Vincent van der Voort will take on Dave Chisnall in his opener, while Spanish World Cup team-mates Antonio Alcinas and Cristo Reyes will play against each other on Thursday 21 December.