MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the Shanghai Darts Masters title against Chinese qualifier Hai Long Chen when the PDC World Series of Darts event begins on Thursday.

World number one Van Gerwen took victory when the World Series first visited Shanghai 12 months ago, defeating James Wade in the final at the Pullman Hotel Shanghai South.

He opens this year's tournament in Thursday's first round against Hai Long Chen, who was one of four players to win through Wednesday's qualifier in Shanghai.

"It's great to be back here," said Van Gerwen. "It's a lovely country and I was lucky enough to win in China last year. I want to win again."

Former World Championship qualifier Cheng An Liu - who took on John Part in the 2006 event - will play Raymond van Barneveld, World Youth Championship qualifier Xiao Chen Zong drew Wade and Wei Hong Li meets Gary Anderson, who is the top seed following May's Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters win.

Korean qualifier Hyun Chul Park will take on the legendary Phil Taylor in their first round tie, while Hong Kong's Royden Lam meets Gerwyn Price and Singapore's veteran star Paul Lim meets Dave Chisnall.

Following the first round on Thursday, the tournament will then conclude with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Friday in Shanghai, including a potential last eight meeting between great rivals Van Gerwen and Taylor.

Ahead of the tournament, PDC stars Gary Anderson, James Wade and Dave Chisnall visited a local Darts Academy to further encourage the ongoing growth of the sport in China.

Play in the Shanghai Darts Masters commences at 6.30pm local time on Thursday and Friday, and will be broadcast worldwide by the PDC's series of international broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD outside of the UK, Ireland and Netherlands.

Coverage on ITV4 in the UK will be shown from 9pm BST on Thursday and Friday.

2017 Shanghai Darts Masters
Draw Bracket

Gary Anderson (1) v Wei Hong Li
Raymond van Barneveld v Cheng An Liu
Gerwyn Price (4) v Royden Lam
Dave Chisnall v Paul Lim
Michael van Gerwen (2) v Hai Long Chen
Phil Taylor v Hyun Chul Park
Peter Wright (3) v Haruki Muramatsu
James Wade v Xiao Chen Zong

Schedule of Play
Thursday July 6 (6.30pm local time)

First Round
Gerwyn Price v Royden Lam
Raymond van Barneveld v Cheng An Liu
James Wade v Xiao Chen Zong
Phil Taylor v Hyun Chul Park
Dave Chisnall v Paul Lim
Peter Wright v Haruki Muramatsu
Michael van Gerwen v Hai Long Chen
Gary Anderson v Wei Hong Li
All games are the best of 11 legs

Friday July 7 (6.30pm local time)
Quarter-Finals
Semi-Finals
Final
All games are the best of 15 legs

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