THE 32-player field for the 2017 Unibet World Grand Prix has been confirmed, with Michael van Gerwen set to defend his title at the Citywest Hotel next month and Phil Taylor opting not to compete in the double-start event.
The PDC's third longest-running televised event will be staged at Dublin's Citywest Hotel from October 1-7, as 32 players compete for £400,000 in prize money live on Sky Sports.
The World Grand Prix features the unique double-start format, meaning that players have to both begin and end every leg with a double throughout the event, which is also played in a Sets format.
The world's top 16 players qualify by right alongside 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit to compete in Dublin.
However, with Phil Taylor - the 11-time World Grand Prix champion and world number four - deciding against playing in Dublin as he continues to wind down his career ahead of retirement, the door has been opened for Robert Thornton.
Thornton, the 2015 World Grand Prix champion following his memorable success against Van Gerwen, dropped to 17th on the main Order of Merit last weekend but will take his place in the field in Dublin next month.
Van Gerwen, who won his third title in the double-start event as he reclaimed the title 12 months ago, will head the eight seeded players in the tournament.
Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall, Mensur Suljovic, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld will also be seeded in Sunday's first round draw.
Jelle Klaasen, two-time World Grand Prix winner James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock and Thornton complete the 16 qualifiers from the PDC Order of Merit.
Rob Cross, whose spectacular debut season on the professional circuit continued at the weekend as he reached a European Tour final in Germany, heads the 16 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers as he prepares for his World Grand Prix debut,
Christian Kist, Richard North and Ronny Huybrechts have also secured their World Grand Prix debuts next month with their form on the ProTour in the past 12 months.
The ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers also include former World Grand Prix finalist Mervyn King and former Dublin semi-finalists Steve Beaton, Stephen Bunting and Justin Pipe.
Steve West overcame Taylor with a memorable win on his World Grand Prix debut 12 months ago, while Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Gerwyn Price, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster and John Henderson complete the 32-player field.
The draw for the Unibet World Grand Prix will be made on Sunday September 17 at approximately 11am, and broadcast through Facebook live at the OfficialPDC page - www.facebook.com/OfficialPDC.
The Unibet World Grand Prix will be held from October 1-7 at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin and broadcast live on Sky Sports. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.ie, call 00353 (0)1 401 0505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers (Seeding in brackets)
Michael van Gerwen (1), Gary Anderson (2), Peter Wright (3), Adrian Lewis (4), Dave Chisnall (5), Mensur Suljovic (6), Michael Smith (7), Raymond van Barneveld (8), Jelle Klaasen, James Wade, Daryl Gurney, Kim Huybrechts, Ian White, Benito van de Pas, Simon Whitlock, Robert Thornton.
ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Rob Cross, Alan Norris, Joe Cullen, Mervyn King, Gerwyn Price, Steve Beaton, Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes, Darren Webster, Stephen Bunting, Christian Kist, John Henderson, Justin Pipe, Steve West, Richard North, Ronny Huybrechts.