Chris Dobey hit 10 180s but still lost 6-5 to Limerick's Willie O'Connor in the first round of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals in Minehead.

O'Connor averaged 96.7 compared to Dobey’s 103, but it’s the Magpie that advances to the next round where he will face Krzysztof Ratajski.

Michael Van Gerwen began his title defence with a 6-3 win over fellow Dutchman Kevin Doets.

The world number three, who won the title for a sixth time in 2020, was made to work for his opening win and will next play another compatriot, Raymond Van Barneveld, who was a more comfortable 6-1 winner over fellow Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven.

Also in the hunt for the £100,000 top prize are Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Jonny Clayton, who all survived first-round scares.

World number one Price, fresh from winning his third Grand Slam title last weekend, trailed 3-1 to Jason Lowe, who missed a dart for a 4-1 lead before the Welshman reeled off five legs in a row for a 6-3 win.

Wright was also pushed by youngster Keane Barry before prevailing 6-4, while an out-of-sorts Clayton laboured to a 6-4 win over Alan Tabern.

Another former world champion, Rob Cross, was a 6-2 winner over Jermaine Wattimena, but Gary Anderson was forced to come from 4-0 down to beat Stephen Bunting 6-5 and top seed Jose De Sousa needed a 118 check-out to clinch a 6-4 win over Devon Petersen, who fought back from 5-1 down.

Adrian Lewis was an impressive winner earlier in the day as he landed check-outs of 127 and 119 in a 6-3 defeat of Kim Huybrechts, while Andy Boulton pulled off a surprise 6-5 win over Joe Cullen.

There were also afternoon wins for Nathan Aspinall, who tasted UK Open glory in Minehead in 2019, James Wade, Michael Smith and Dimitri Van Den Bergh.

On the second stage, Chris Dobey hit 10 180s but still lost 6-5 to Willie O'Connor, who set up a second-round clash with Krzysztof Ratajski.

Friday’s 16 first-round winners will take part in two further rounds on Saturday before the tournament concludes on Sunday with the afternoon’s quarter-finals followed by the semi-finals and final in the evening session.