Michael van Gerwen begins title defence with victory over Christian Kist

Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands celebrates a set during his first round match against Christian Kist. Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen moved into the second round of the World Championship with a 3-1 victory over fellow Dutchman Christian Kist.

Van Gerwen is looking to deny long-time rival Phil Taylor a fairytale farewell to the competition and survived the most minor of scares as he dropped the third set to Kist before securing progress.

Underdog Kist was broken in the very first leg as Van Gerwen found double-16 and mere minutes had passed when a stunning 141 checkout earned the tournament favourite the first set.

Kist was finally on the board in the fifth leg of proceedings but despite some sloppy darts from both men in the sixth, Van Gerwen hit back and cruised into a 2-0 lead by knocking off 74.

There was hope for Kist in the third when he strung together back-to-back legs and although Van Gerwen reasserted with a ruthless 138 checkout, Kist held his nerve on double-9 to force a fourth set.

That was as good as it got for the man from Vroomshoop, though, as Van Gerwen swiftly broke throw and completed victory with a double-8.

Earlier in the day, 1996 winner Steve Beaton beat Ireland's William O'Connor and James 'Lethal Biscuit' Wilson sent Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski packing.

Gerwyn Price brought the evening's proceedings to a close by completing an effortless 3-0 victory over Ted Evetts.