MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the Unibet European Championship title against Simon Whitlock when the £400,000 event begins on October 28, while World Champion Gary Anderson has drawn James Wade in the first round in Belgium.

Van Gerwen has won back-to-back European Championship titles with his successes over the past two years, overcoming Anderson in a thrilling final at the Ethias Arena in Hasselt 12 months ago.

The world number one enters this year's remodelled event as the number one seed, with the qualifiers based on performances across the ten PDC European Tour events held in 2016 - of which the Dutchman won six.

Van Gerwen will begin his bid to complete a hat-trick of European Championship wins against 2012 champion Simon Whitlock, who has enjoyed a resurgence in form recently.

Four-time European Champion Phil Taylor - who won this year's Austrian Darts Open in Vienna - has drawn Alan Norris, who claimed the seventh seeding position by virtue of Sunday's triumph in the German Darts Championship.

James Wade, who won the European Darts Matchplay in May and claimed the fourth seeding spot, drew World Champion Anderson in a tasty first round fixture.

Mensur Suljovic, the year's other European Tour winner, will play Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena, while number three seed Peter Wright drew Justin Pipe.

Belgium's Kim Huybrechts, seeded fifth, will play James Wilson, with number six seed Dave Chisnall up against Australia's Kyle Anderson and Jelle Klaasen - Sunday's runner-up to Norris who is now seeded eighth in Hasselt - up against Steve West.

2014 European Championship finalist Terry Jenkins meets Ian White, former World Youth Champion Max Hopp drew emerging Dutchman Benito van de Pas and Spain's Cristo Reyes takes on former World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton.

St Helens pair Michael Smith and Stephen Bunting will face off, Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney drew Welshman Gerwyn Price and Mervyn King meets South Africa's Devon Petersen.

Jamie Caven, who held on to the last qualifying place for the tournament, will play European Championship debutant James Richardson, while exciting youngsters Chris Dobey and Joe Cullen also meet.

The tournament begins on Friday October 28, with the first round begin split across two sessions in Hasselt, live on ITV4.

The second round will take place on Saturday October 29 before the event concludes with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Sunday October 30.

Tickets for the Unibet European Championship can be purchased from www.pdc-europe.tv .

The Unibet European Championship draw was made by Paul Nicholson following the conclusion of the German Darts Championship in Hildesheim on Sunday evening.

2016 Unibet European Championship
First Round Draw & Tournament Bracket

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price
Jelle Klaasen (8) v Steve West
Michael Smith v Stephen Bunting
Kim Huybrechts (5) v James Wilson
Mervyn King v Devon Petersen
James Wade (4) v Gary Anderson
Max Hopp v Benito van de Pas
Mensur Suljovic (2) v Jermaine Wattimena
Ian White v Terry Jenkins
Alan Norris (7) v Phil Taylor
Chris Dobey v Joe Cullen
Dave Chisnall (6) v Kyle Anderson
Jamie Caven v James Richardson
Peter Wright (3) v Justin Pipe
Cristo Reyes v Robert Thornton

The schedule of play will be announced in due course.

Session Schedule
Friday October 28
Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

First Round x8

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
First Round x8

Saturday October 29
Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

Second Round x4

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
Second Round x4

Sunday October 30
Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

Quarter-Finals

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
Semi-Finals
Final

Prize Fund
Winner £100,000
Runner-Up £40,000
Semi-Finalists £20,000
Quarter-Finalists £15,000
Second Round Losers £10,000
First Round Losers £5,000
Total £400,000

Final 2016 European Tour Order of Merit

1

Gerwen, Michael van

£160,500

2

Suljovic, Mensur

£60,500

3

Wright, Peter

£51,500

4

Wade, James

£41,000

5

Huybrechts, Kim

£38,500

6

Chisnall, Dave

£38,000

7

Norris, Alan

£37,500

8

Klaasen, Jelle

£31,500

8

Smith, Michael

£31,500

10

Pas, Benito van de

£26,500

11

Taylor, Phil

£25,000

12

Jenkins, Terry

£23,000

12

White, Ian

£23,000

14

Bunting, Stephen

£21,000

15

Gurney, Daryl

£20,500

16

Whitlock, Simon

£18,500

17

Price, Gerwyn

£16,500

17

Cullen, Joe

£16,500

19

Anderson, Gary

£14,000

20

Anderson, Kyle

£12,000

20

Thornton, Robert

£12,000

22

King, Mervyn

£11,500

23

West, Steve

£10,500

24

Wilson, James

£10,000

24

Wattimena, Jermaine

£10,000

24

Petersen, Devon

£10,000

24

Hopp, Max

£10,000

28

Reyes, Cristo

£9,500

28

Pipe, Justin

£9,500

30

Dobey, Chris

£9,000

30

Richardson, James

£9,000

32

Caven, Jamie

£8,500

33

Green, Robbie

£8,000

33

Painter, Kevin

£8,000

35

Dolan, Brendan

£7,500

35

Lewis, Adrian

£7,500

37

Boulton, Andy

£7,000

37

Rodriguez, Rowby-John

£7,000

39

Clayton, Jonny

£6,500

39

Bergh, Dimitri Van Den

£6,500

41

Webster, Mark

£6,000

41

Murnan, Joe

£6,000

41

Beaton, Steve

£6,000

41

Henderson, John

£6,000

45

Webster, Darren

£5,500

45

Voort, Vincent van der

£5,500

45

Kist, Christian

£5,500

45

Graaf, Jeffrey de

£5,500

49

Barneveld, Raymond van

£5,000

49

Huybrechts, Ronny

£5,000

49

Schindler, Martin

£5,000

49

Frost, Mark

£5,000

49

Meulenkamp, Ron

£5,000

54

Horvat, Dragutin

£4,500

54

Meeuwisse, Yordi

£4,500

54

Edhouse, Ritchie

£4,500

57

Pallett, David

£4,000

57

Payne, Josh

£4,000

57

Lerchbacher, Zoran

£4,000

57

Eidams, Rene

£4,000

61

Evans, Ricky

£3,500

61

Johnson, Darren

£3,500

61

Walsh, Mark

£3,500

61

Lewis, Jamie

£3,500

61

Michael, John

£3,500

61

Heydon, Nigel

£3,500

61

Parody, Dyson

£3,500

68

Smith, Andy

£3,000

68

Jenkins, Andy

£3,000

68

Hamilton, Andy

£3,000

68

Herz, Fabian

£3,000

68

Artut, Jyhan

£3,000

68

Newton, Wes

£3,000

68

Dekker, Jan

£3,000

68

Eijden, Remco van

£3,000

76

Allenstein, Robert

£2,500

76

Holz, Mike

£2,500

76

Kamphuis, Vincent

£2,500

76

Taylor, Scott

£2,500

76

West, Tony

£2,500

76

Aspinall, Nathan

£2,500

76

Hudson, Peter

£2,500

76

Stoyke, Stefan

£2,500

76

Stevenson, Simon

£2,500

76

Langendorf, Maik

£2,500

76

Rasztovits, Michael

£2,500

76

Decker, Mike De

£2,500

88

Meikle, Ryan

£2,000

88

Vegso, Janos

£2,000

88

Zwaan, Jeffrey de

£2,000

88

Puls, Marko

£2,000

88

Jones, Wayne

£2,000

88

Smith, Ross

£2,000

88

Zuydwijk, Mike

£2,000

88

Gilding, Andrew

£2,000

88

Welge, Andree

£2,000

88

Kellett, Stuart

£2,000

88

Duijvenbode, Dirk van

£2,000

88

O'Connor, William

£2,000

100

Brown, Keegan

£1,500

100

Dootson, Eddie

£1,500

100

Evetts, Ted

£1,500

100

McGowan, Mick

£1,500

100

Tabern, Alan

£1,500

100

Walker, Jim

£1,500

100

Viljanen, Kim

£1,500

100

Caris, Magnus

£1,500

100

Alcinas, Antonio

£1,500

100

Fullwell, Nick

£1,500

100

Bowles, John

£1,500

100

Harrington, Ryan

£1,500

100

Thomas, Kevin

£1,500

113

Barnard, Michael

£1,000

113

Clemens, Gabriel

£1,000

113

Dale, Scott

£1,000

113

Dennant, Matthew

£1,000

113

Foreman, Jay

£1,000

113

Hine, Steve

£1,000

113

Hubbard, James

£1,000

113

Mansell, Mickey

£1,000

113

Marijanovic, Robert

£1,000

113

Munch, Kevin

£1,000

113

Owen, Robert

£1,000

113

Ratajski, Krzysztof

£1,000

113

Webers, Justin

£1,000

113

Griffiths, Shaun

£1,000

113

Newell, Tony

£1,000

113

Petri, Daniele

£1,000

113

Rettig, Holger

£1,000

113

Ward, Harry

£1,000

113

Brown, Darron

£1,000

113

Mandl, Nico

£1,000

113

McNally, Steve

£1,000

113

Rodriguez, Roxy-James

£1,000

113

Corner, Richie

£1,000

113

Horst, Michel van der

£1,000

113

Robinson, Jamie

£1,000

113

Williams, Ricky

£1,000

113

Worsley, Jonathan

£1,000

113

Federico, George

£1,000

113

Francis, David

£1,000

113

Lopez, Antony

£1,000

113

Barilli, Mark

£1,000

113

Davies, Ben

£1,000

113

Junghans, Thomas

£1,000

113

Seyler, Tomas

£1,000

113

Baxter, Ronnie

£1,000

113

Milford, Paul

£1,000