How 16-year-old Luke Littler completely changed the darts world.

Luke Littler, sixteen, has accomplished something in the last two weeks that is beyond the expectations of most seasoned darts players. Littler will play Luke Humphries in the World Darts Championship final on Wednesday night, which is the most renowned tournament in the world. He has startled previous champions and broken records on his incredible path to become one match away from darts glory. Since his debut and first-round match on December 20, he has changed the face of the sport, emerged as a national hero, and managed the limelight the entire time.

Even before he faced 2018 winner Rob Cross in the semifinals, his effectiveness, board control, and accuracy had made him the tournament favorite. He defeated Cross 6-2, though, to earn a seat on the biggest stage in darts and a cheque for at least £200,000 ($252,000) in the process, despite nagging doubts that perhaps his unwavering conviction might eventually give way.

Darts is just one little part of the narrative. Newspapers have him on the cover. During Premier League matches, he has received goodwill notes from Manchester United and visits from his beloved Warrington Wolves. He has also been approached by football luminaries who ask him for photographs and invite him to their box. However, as soon as he takes the Alexandra Palace stage, he takes ownership of the board, even with the intense lights and noise surrounding him.

This, however, is no coincidence. There is no miracle here. It all comes down to a certain blend of skill, attitude, and self-assured innocence that have allowed him to swerve and duck through everything has been thrown at him both on and off stage. After winning the round of 16, he declared, “I just wake up, play on my Xbox, have some food, have a chuck on the board, and go to bed— that’s it.” “I don’t engage with anything outside the house; I’m just level-headed.

Beginning on Dec. 20, the run broke all records. Two records were broken by him after his first-round victory over Christian Kist. First, he became the youngest player to win a World Darts Championship first-round match, and second, his debutant average of 106.2 was the highest. In order to become the youngest player to reach the final, he had to break all previous darts records with each step he took. His beard, which he has been growing for the past two years, is arguably the greatest one I’ve ever seen on a 16-year-old. However, as he gets ready for the championship match, those pictures of him enjoying his typical kebab after winning the first round look like a lifetime ago. Notably, he ordered a doner wrap with mayonnaise instead of garlic or chilli sauce.

Littler has long been known to those in the darts community, and in recent weeks, his tale has gained more widespread attention. Nevertheless, a quick recap of Littler’s past reveals that he was raised in Runcorn, moved to Warrington to pursue his passion for rugby league and football, and finally turned his attention to being the best player on the oche. Littler began playing darts on a magnetic dartboard at the age of eighteen months.

He put a lot of work into his lockdown, and when the nation emerged from COVID-19 confines, he made a name for himself in the darts world by winning his first seniors championship at the Irish Open in 2021 and making it to the third round of the WDF World Darts Championship in 2022. Though he watched Michael Smith win the World Championships last year from home in between Xbox sessions, he did win the 2022 JDC World Darts Championship while still competing at the junior level.

With just four PDC victories under his belt, he entered this event as the defending World Youth Champion and the reigning JDC World Champion.

His intention, as he stepped onto the oche for his opening round match, was to win the first two rounds in order to guarantee his return following the holiday break. Defeating Andrew Gilding in the second round guaranteed his comeback. With the crowd chanting “You’ve got school in the morning!” as he prepared for his third-round match against Matt Campbell, he turned off the Xbox on Christmas Day of last year and turned to darts practice instead.

However, he defeated Campbell 4-1 in the third round and was a guest at Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to West Ham a few days after he unwrapped his gifts beneath the family tree—a picture that went viral in and of itself. Before the match, I ran across Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale, two darts enthusiasts who had a dartboard in their training facility’s changing room and were eager to take a picture with their new darts hero. Jonny Evans and Gary Neville, two players for Manchester United, sent well wishes.

On December 30, he defeated five-time world darting champion Raymond van Barneveld 4-1 in the round of 16, and on New Year’s Eve, he was James Maddison’s guest in his box as Tottenham defeated Bournemouth 3-1. He defeated Brendan Dolan, a player 34 years his senior, 5-1 in the afternoon on January 1 despite waking up earlier than he had intended to, to advance to the semifinals.

During his last performance of the first set, he displayed an incredible display of showmanship. Locked at two legs each, Littler had to strike both of the necessary treble 20s to get out of a 170 checkout, known as the Big Fish. He then turned to face the audience and asked what they wanted. They clamored for the bull’s-eye, all inside the palm of his hand. After missing, he came back to finish the set.

After a hectic few days, he is quickly realizing how bright the limelight that comes with it is. On the day of the final, he had 456k Instagram followers, up from about 4,000 before the event. Following the first two rounds of the competition, he sold 900 sets of his own Luke “The Nuke” Littler darts sets; he has since sold several more. However, the negative aspects of social media have also made him feel angry. He came under fire after he was seen clutching a copy of The Sun, a publication that is boycotted by a large portion of Liverpool, which is the city that borders his hometown of Runcorn. On his social media accounts, he expressed regret.

A captivating story of a young prodigy who upends the status quo in their sport and becomes a household name is told. After defeating Van Barneveld, he was questioned by the media at Alexandra Palace in London about being the most recent superstar kid to completely change an entire sport. He was mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Pelé, who at the age of 17 helped Brazil win the 1958 World Cup, Mike Tyson, who at the age of 20 won the heavyweight title, and Boris Becker, who at the age of 17 years and 228 days, who defeated Wimbledon.

“I known Mike, I only know Pele from FIFA, and I don’t know the others,” Littler said at the darts palace to the press. “I have undoubtedly shattered regulations and statistics lately, but I’m sure if the talent is there I may break even more records.”

Though resemblances to Wayne Rooney are difficult to ignore, there are others, like Martina Hingis, who achieved her maiden Grand Slam at the age of 16. Then there are the parallels with Emma Raducanu, who qualified for the US Open in 2021 and completely astonished the tennis world by winning the competition. But there are also the sobering anecdotes of gifted young people who burned out too soon, for every Becker or Pele.

Early on in the competition, two-time world champion Gary Anderson warned of the dangers of rising to celebrity.

“When I was sitting downstairs, he had meetings, calls using Zoom video cameras, and extra. Anderson remarked, “Let the boy play darts,” prior to Littler’s game against Van Barneveld.

At sixteen, he is a skilled player. A thousand times over, you’ve seen it. There is a boy who enters every year. There’s so much pressure on it and it all goes Pete Tong that you have no idea how many young darts players are coming through the system who are going to be the next great thing. It has previously been seen.

Following the Dolan victory, Littler acknowledged that the media’s focus ” can gets slightly too much.”

“Already, my life has evolved. People were taking pictures with me during the Arsenal game the other day, even as I was pulling up my hood. In front of me, people were moving around and requesting photos. I thought, “What? I’m attempting to conceal, so I have my hood up. However, I’m happy that people are interested in taking photographs, Littler remarked before to the Dolan victory. “All of my friends are unable to comprehend what is happening.”

It led to our matchup with Cross in the semifinal. Littler had a nervous appearance in the first set and lost it, but he quickly recovered, shaking his head in disgust before regaining his rhythm and joyful head bob to open up a 3-1 lead that included a 142 checkout in the third set and a 149 in the fourth. Littler took the following two sets to give himself a comfortable 5-2 advantage, and even though Cross pinned him back to 3-2, he was one set away from the championship.

jitters? Act appropriate.

Finishing the match with his favorite double 10, he started the eighth with a 132 checkout of back-to-back bull’s-eyes and a double 16. Only three pitchers in a semifinal had ever thrown a better average than him: Anderson, Van Barneveld, and Michael Van Gerwen. With a small shake of his head in shock, Littler was informed how much he is respected by Cross as he hugged him and instructed him to “go ahead and do it” as the fireworks went off all around him.

“No words,” Littler said following his victory in the semifinals to Sky Sports. “To even consider that I’m in the world championship final on my debut is absurd. Winning one game made me pleased, but I might be able to continue. Words cannot express how I feel. It’s absurd.”

It is unknown what comes next for Littler after this fortnight of fairy tales. Since he left school six months ago, he does not attend in the morning. He wants to buy a coat, some new Under Armour tracksuits, Xbox points, and maybe a trip to a theme park with his friends with the remaining portion of his prize money. No matter where he performs, both on and off stage, the darts Premier League will be a hot topic, and high hopes will be raised for his career and the number of trophies he can take home. There will be comparisons to notable darts players from the past and present, like as Phil “The Power” Taylor, who was who took home 16 titles. Littler will have a bullseye on his back for those who are after him. His success and form will have caused some people to lose their minds everywhere, and those well-known figures will try to reassert their dominance in the game.

But he’s now the big name in UK sport, and before to his Wednesday night final match against world No. 1 Humphries, he was the overwhelming favorite to win the 2024 Sports Personality of the Year title. This award is given out in December of the following year, and his name is already on the ballot three days into the New Year.

However, that can all wait. Returning to the usual.

He plans to take a lie-in on Wednesday. After eating his typical breakfast of ham and cheese omelets, he will head to the site, practice a little, get a pizza, and then step into the bright lights of the World Darts Championship final. The famous Sid Waddell quotation read, “At the age of 33, Alexander of Macedon wept bitter tears, realizing that there were no more worlds to conquer.” Not too old at 27, Eric Bristow.”

Just 18 days shy of turning 17, Littler is one step away from immortality in the game of darts. Perhaps part of the £500,000 prize money (£500,000 for the winner) will be used for driving instruction.


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