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Teenage Sensation Shines on World Championship Debut

Sixteen-year-old Luke Littler shocks the world of darts with incredible debut tournament

By: James Kinnaird


The 31st edition of the World Darts Championship was set to be one for the history books, and it certainly delivered. An unexpected early exit for the reigning champion Michael Smith, a first time tournament winner, and a farewell to Russ Bray, the infamous announcer who’s voice has become a staple of the competition. But despite all this, it was the 16-year-old debutant, Luke ‘The Nuke’ Littler, who stole the show.


Littler qualified for the tournament through his placings in the PDC Development Tour and was ranked at 164th in the world upon his entry to the tournament. Yet, he immediately impressed on the big stage, in a dominant 3-0 victory over former world champion Christian Kist. In doing so Littler broke the record for youngest match winner and highest average in a match by a debutant. Littler carried this form into the following rounds, defeating 2023 UK Open champion Andrew Gilding, and then Matt Campbell, before beating 5-time world champion Raymond Van Barneveld in the quarter finals.


The semi-final took place in a sold-out Alexandria Palace, with the crowd making sure to remind Littler of his age with chants of “You’ve got school in the morning” ringing round the arena. But Littler kept his composure, sweeping aside another former world champion in Rob Cross to secure his place in the world championship final.


By this stage in the tournament the eyes of the world were on the teenage sensation. As a result his popularity skyrocketed as many famous sportspeople, such as Tottenham Hotspur and England football James Maddison, expressed their support. The base of Littler’s newfound support is largely thanks to his down to earth attitude. In an interview with Sky Sports littler claimed that his pre match routine had remained unchanged despite reaching the latter stages of the tournament, describing it as “In the morning I have my ham and cheese omelette, and then come in here have a pizza and I’m on the board” Littler’s composed nature was to be made abundantly clear in immediate the build-up to the final. With a world title and half a million pounds on the line, he casually posted a photo to social media just ten minutes before taking to the stage, captioned ‘to many messages out there, see you in 10 mins’.


However, Luke Littler’s fairytale story did not have its happy ending. A phenomenal final saw Luke Humphries take an early 2-1 advantage, with Littler fighting back to 3-2 roared on by the capacity crowd. But it would not be enough as Humphries showed his class and ran out deserved winner. While speaking to the Telegraph an understandably devasted Littler acknowledged his achievements in the tournament stating “I can’t be angry at myself tomorrow”. And despite not being able to take home the biggest prize, the teenager went home 200,000 pounds richer, and with his name firmly amongst the very best in the sport. He may have lost the final but Luke Littler certainly won the hearts of sports fans up and down the country, and there is palpable feeling of anticipation for his return next year.


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