Gary Anderson aims to retain his PDC World Championship title at Alexandra Palace

Gary Anderson is eagerly anticipating his return to Alexandra Palace to begin the defence of his PDC World Championship title tonight (Thursday).

Anderson is among the favourites for the crown, along with former champions Michael van Gerwen and Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, with all three launching their campaigns against preliminary round winners.

In all, 72 players will do battle on the oche across a marathon 15-day period to pick up a whopping £250,000 winner’s prize, along with the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy.

Anderson, who beat Taylor in a final-set decider to claim his first world title last year, opens up against either Stoke’s Andy Boulton or the experienced Per Laursen.

“I’ve got wonderful memories of last year’s World Championship and I can’t wait to get back there,” said the 44-year-old, who also secured the Premier League title this year.

“It’s a hard game to prepare for because you don’t know until the night who you’re going to play, but Per Laursen’s been around for years and Andy Boulton did really well to come through the qualifier, so I know it’s going to be tough.”

Van Gerwen, who will be aiming to regain the title he won in 2014, is drawn to meet the winner of Friday’s preliminary round clash between Thailand’s Thanawat Gaweenuntawong and German Rene Eidams.

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The 26-year-old world number one has dominated the world PDC circuit this year by picking up six Premier titles and is regarded as the red-hot favourite to be celebrating after the final on January 3.

However, Van Gerwen will be taking nothing for granted, whoever he plays in the first round.

He said: “It’s going to be a tricky game because I’ve not seen much of either player to be honest. They’ve done well to qualify so I know I can’t take them lightly.

“I’ll be focused. I know people will be expecting a lot of me in the World Championship, but I’ve just got to prepare for one game at a time and that’s what I’ll do.”

Taylor will begin his quest for a record-breaking 17th world title against either Japan’s Keita Ono or Philippines qualifier Alex Tagarao on Saturday.

The pick of the other first-round ties sees Scotland’s flamboyant Peter Wright, the 2014 runner-up, playing former world youth champion Keegan Brown, while Adrian Lewis opens up against Dutch debutant Jan Dekker.

A limited number of tickets are still available by calling 0844 871 8807. Alternatively you can buy online at