Luke Littler, the 16-year-old sensation in the world of darts, has had an incredible journey filled with ups and downs. His meteoric rise to fame recently captivated audiences as he climbed the ladder to join the elite league of top players globally.
His astonishing performance shattered age-related records, surpassing opponents twice his age and securing a spot as the youngest contender in the World Darts Championship finals.
Littler displayed unmatched skill throughout these past weeks, defeating even the most seasoned veterans and former world champions.
His next challenge is scheduled for Wednesday in the finals against the current world No. 1, Luke Humphries.
As Luke Littler rises to stardom, the once niche professional sport, often enjoyed as a favorite pastime in bars, is experiencing a remarkable resurgence in popularity.
Here’s a glimpse into the world of Luke Littler and the electrifying World Darts Championship.
Who is Luke Littler?
Dubbed “The Nuke,” Littler has rewritten the history books yet again, surpassing his record by becoming the youngest player ever to reach the finals of the World Darts Championship.
Before Littler’s astounding achievement, Kirk Shepherd held the title as the youngest finalist, securing it at 21 in 2008.
Littler’s remarkable journey left spectators in awe, notably when he triumphed over former world champion Rob Cross with a resounding 6-2 victory during the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Commentating on Littler’s win, Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle remarked, “He’s captivating the darting world,” emphasizing that the teenager is “perhaps the most naturally talented player I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.”
“I’m speechless, it’s surreal to be in the World Championship final on my debut,” Littler shared with Sky Sports. “Winning one game felt amazing, but I truly believe I can go the distance.”
“Rob’s words were encouraging; he said, ‘You’re just a step away, go for it,'” he recounted. Cross had claimed victory in the World Championship on his debut six years prior.”
During Saturday’s match, Littler won over the seasoned five-time world champion, Raymond Van Barneveld, propelling himself into the quarter-finals. Van Barneveld, aged 56 and active in competitive play since 1984, held a special place as one of Littler’s idols.
Residing in Warrington, England, Littler began tossing darts on a magnetic board when he was just 18 months old.
Since then, he’s maintained an unyielding dedication to the sport, describing his journey to the BBC as a continuous and unwavering commitment.
Who is Luke Humphries?
Dubbed “Cool Hand Luke” at 28, this player has been unstoppable since October, clinching significant titles at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts, and Players Championship Finals.
Following a commanding 6-0 win over Scott Williams in Tuesday’s semi-finals, he ascended to the top spot in the world rankings for the first time in his career.
While acknowledging Littler’s relative lack of experience, Humphries remains vigilant and needs to be more accurate in his youthful adversary ahead of the finals.
“He’s unfazed by anything. If his performance tonight is any indication, he won’t be fazed tomorrow at all. So, I’ll likely need to bring my absolute best game,” Humphries remarked to Sky Sports.
What is the World Darts Championship
The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Darts Championship, a significant event in the darting world established in 1994, typically kicks off in December and spans into the new year.
At Alexandra Palace, the renowned venue hosting the championship since 2008, the ambiance is more about celebration than nail-biting tension as crowds gather.
Embracing the event’s festive tradition, attendees arrive in extravagant costumes, ranging from elves and dinosaurs to King Charles, often clutching pints throughout the lively night.
“It’s less about picking sides and more about celebrating great moments,” a fan shared with CNN. “The sport takes a backseat.”
However, for elite players, darts is a precise and severe sport. Each player starts with 501 points and aims to reach zero by strategically deducting points.
This involves throwing three darts per turn, deducting the combined score from their total points based on where the darts land on the board. To win, players must finish by hitting a double—achieving the same score twice in a row.
The PDC World Darts Championship champion claims a prize of £500,000 ($631,000), with the runner-up receiving £200,000 ($253,000).
Semi-finalists walk away with £100,000 ($126,000).
Victors of the PDC World Darts Championship also earn the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy, named in honor of the late, beloved commentator recognized as the “Voice of Darts.”
Adding a unique twist to the stakes, Littler’s journey to the finals includes a promise of a lifetime supply of free kebabs from London’s Kebhouze, a nod to the teen’s love for kebabs, which has garnered nearly as much attention as his astounding rise in the championship.