Darts legend Phil "The Power" Taylor is on the way, but world number one Michael van Gerwen may be among top players in doubt for this year's Auckland tournament.

Taylor and the surging Peter "Snakebite" Wright were named over the weekend as starters for the third staging of the Auckland Darts Masters, at Trusts Stadium in August.

The PDC has indicated further confirmations are likely this week, and major attention will focus on whether Dutch superstar van Gerwen - whose situation is clouded because wife Daphne is pregnant with their first child - will make the trip.

Van Gerwen has swept just about all before him over the past couple of years and reclaimed the world title in January.


Former double world champions Adrian Lewis - whose wife is pregnant - and Gary Anderson have yet to be confirmed. England's Lewis and Scotland's Anderson won the first two Auckland titles. Taylor, Wright and Dutch veteran Raymond van Barneveld make up the initial group set in stone for Auckland.

After last year's Auckland tournament, there were immediate suggestions the PDC might introduced new players on the world tour.

This year, Lewis missed the Dubai tournament, replaced by the 32-year-old Welshman Gerwyn Price who is ranked at 17. World No. 19 Daryl Gurney (Northern Ireland) and No. 42 Max Hopp (Germany) won invites to July's new tournament in Las Vegas.

Promoter Barry Hearn said: "It was our intention to inject fresh blood into the World Series of Darts this year, and this is a fantastic opportunity for Gerwyn, Daryl and Max to showcase their talents on a global stage.

"We're trying to grow professional darts worldwide through the World Series, but we also want to increase the opportunities available for top PDC players."

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-retired Taylor will play exhibition matches in Australia and New Zealand - the venues have yet to be named - in January.

The 56-year-old, 16-time world champion, the man who put professional darts on the map, was persuaded to extend his career by Hearn but has decided enough is enough.

The December/January world championships in London will be his official swan song, before Taylor heads to a stream of exhibition tournaments and celebrity/after-dinner engagements.

Taylor told NZME he was looking forward to returning downunder in the New Year to enjoy fishing, watching the Ashes cricket series, and attending the Australian Open tennis tournament.

"Physically it has become hard (to keep playing) and my eyesight is not the same anymore," said Taylor, now ranked at seven.

"The amount of tournaments and qualifying has become too much. My form is still good and I'm beating some of the top players, but if I lose it's not the end of the world anymore.

"It's a young man's game, and I've enjoyed everything about it for 30 years. It's time for me to move on."

Van Gerwen has taken over as the undisputed No. 1 although the flamboyant showman Wright is belatedly delivering on his great promise.

Taylor predicted it would be hard for van Gerwen to match his longevity at the top, and said even fatherhood would test his durability.

"He's done fabulous, but it will be a struggle for him to stay at number one," Taylor said.

"It will be hard for him to replicate what I did, to win everything for so long. There is all the travel, the pressure, and he'll have nappies to change soon.

"Michael will be okay for a couple of years but there are too many good players coming through now."