Rob Cross and Michael van Gerwen lead Players Championship field
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 22/11/17 7:03pm
Rob Cross heads to Minehead as the top seed but all eyes will be on Grand Slam champion Michael van Gerwen as he chases another hat-trick.
The brilliant Dutchman claimed a third successive Grand Slam crown at the Wolverhampton Civic with a 16-12 victory over Peter Wright on Sunday and he will head to the South West chasing another treble.
MvG saw off Dave Chisnall in the final last year and Adrian Lewis in 2015 to go with his first title at the event when he beat Phil Taylor in 2013.
The tournament in Minehead, which will be without Taylor, is seeded based on the standings from 22 Players Championship events this season with Van Gerwen - seeded sixth - up against Paul Nicholson in the opening round
New sensation Cross tops the seedings having picked up four tournament victories, while Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson complete the top four with the draw pitching the top seed against the 64th ranked player, the second seed against the 63rd and so on.
It makes for an intriguing three days with plenty of players fighting for their places in the top 16 and beyond with the World Championship less than a month away.
The draw for Alexandra Palace takes place on Monday on Sky Sports News and several players are defending big prize money while players like Cross are moving towards the top 16, where he would be a dangerous opponent for the big hitters.
Cross faces Robert Owen and could face Adrian Lewis in the third round, and Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter-finals while Mensur Suljovic or Gary Anderson are likely to await in the last four.
Van Gerwen he is in the bottom half of the draw where Peter Wright is likely to await in the last eight and Gurney the seeded semi-final opponent.
First Round Draw
Rob Cross (1) v Robert Owen (64)
Steve Lennon (32) v Zoran Lerchbacher (33)
Richard North (16) v Peter Hudson (49)
Adrian Lewis (17) v Mike De Decker (48)
Joe Cullen (8) v Jamie Caven (57)
James Wade (25) v Kevin Painter (40)
Ian White (9) v Raymond van Barneveld (56)
John Henderson (24) v Darren Johnson (41)
Mensur Suljovic (5) v Andy Boulton (60)
Stephen Bunting (28) v Benito van de Pas (37)
Jonny Clayton (12) v Jeffrey de Graaf (53)
Gerwyn Price (21) v Jimmy Hendriks (44)
Gary Anderson (4) v Mickey Mansell (61)
Jermaine Wattimena (29) v Keegan Brown (36)
Alan Norris (13) v Jelle Klaasen (52)
Steve Beaton (20) v Ronny Huybrechts (45)
Daryl Gurney (2) v Jeffrey de Zwaan (63)
Vincent van der Voort (31) v Robbie Green (34)
Kim Huybrechts (15) v Chris Dobey (50)
Robert Thornton (18) v James Richardson (47)
Dave Chisnall (7) v Joe Murnan (58)
James Wilson (26) v William O'Connor (39)
Kyle Anderson (10) v Ron Meulenkamp (55)
Justin Pipe (23) v Mark Webster (42)
Michael van Gerwen (6) v Paul Nicholson (59)
Steve West (27) v Ryan Searle (38)
Darren Webster (11) v Antonio Alcinas (54)
Mervyn King (22) v Brendan Dolan (43)
Peter Wright (3) v Steve Hine (62)
Peter Jacques (30) v Cristo Reyes (35)
Michael Smith (14) v Jan Dekker (51)
Simon Whitlock (19) v Christian Kist (46)
After the Players Championship this weekend the attention turns to the World Championship and the you can follow the race for the last place on Monday with our live stream of the qualifying competition here at www.skysports.com/darts and across our mobile devices as well as our Sky Sports Facebook page
The draw also takes place on Sky Sports News on Monday November 27 while the action gets underway from Alexandra Palace on December 14. You can stay up to date with all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts #LoveTheDarts