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Luke Littler to face Michael Van Gerwen in World Matchplay first round

Luke Littler will play three-time champion Michael Van Gerwen in the first round of the World Matchplay later this month.

The clash between the 17-year-old and the world number two was the standout tie from Thursday’s draw for the prestigious 32-player tournament in Blackpool.

Littler, the world number 25, was the player the top seeds would have wanted to avoid following his dramatic rise this year.

He followed up his stunning run to the World Championship final in January by winning the Premier League in May.

Other notable match-ups in the first round include world champion Luke Humphries taking on Ricardo Pietreczko and 2020 winner Dimitri Van den Bergh facing Martin Schindler.

Third seed Michael Smith will play Gary Anderson with Gerwyn Price up against Daryl Gurney.

Meanwhile defending champion Nathan Aspinall takes on Luke Woodhouse, who is one of five debutants in this year's field

"Luke is a great player. He's played some fantastic darts this year - that's why he's in this tournament," reflected Aspinall, speaking moments after the draw was conducted on Thursday.

"I've played Luke quite a few times and I've got a good record against him, so while it's going to be a tough game, it's one I am confident that I can come through."

With this year's £800,000 event taking place from July 13-21 at Blackpool's iconic Winter Gardens, the first round will see the world's top 16 players seeded and pitted against the 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit.

The schedule of play will be confirmed in due course, with the first round being played across the first three days from July 13-15.


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