A star is born – Luke Littler’s impressive achievements at World Championship

By Sports Desk January 04, 2024

Luke Littler’s World Darts Championship run ended with defeat in the final to Luke Humphries but the 16-year-old produced a stunning performance along the way.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the youngster’s achievements.

Century average

Littler’s displays at Alexandra Palace were hugely impressive even without considering his age.

He compiled a three-dart average of 101.64 on his run through the tournament, with his 106.12 against Christian Kist a record for a player’s debut PDC World Championship match and 0.07 higher than his hammering of Rob Cross in the semi-final. He also topped 100 against Raymond van Barneveld, Brendan Dolan and in the final against Humphries.

His 42.63 per cent record on checkouts helped him breeze almost unchallenged into the final, where he dipped to 36.51 per cent, but did hit successive finishes of 142 and 120 to win the second set before later taking out the ‘big fish’ 170.

He hit 63 180s, including 16 against Cross, and 398 centuries in all, and it took a performance from new world number one Humphries featuring 23 maximums and a 103.67 average to get the better of him.

Eighth seed Cross was the highest-ranked scalp on a run which saw Littler also take out three players ranked in the 20s in Gilding, Dolan and Van Barneveld.

Littler’s own ranking is up to 31 and he is in this year’s Premier League as a result of his exploits, which also brought Sky Sports’ highest non-football audience since records began as the final peaked at 3.71million viewers.

A star is born

The famously raucous Ally Pally crowd chanted “you’ve got school in the morning” during Littler’s opening win over Christian Kist as he became the youngest player to win a match at the event.

His youth was highlighted most of all in beating Van Barneveld, the man he describes as “one of my idols” and fully 40 years Littler’s senior, to reach the quarter-finals.

The Dutchman won the 2007 World Championship 20 days before Littler was born and has been playing competitively for more than twice Littler’s lifetime, since 1984 when he himself was just 17.

Michael van Gerwen is the youngest ever PDC world champion, winning in 2014 at the age of 24 – and indeed the youngest major winner, aged 23 at the 2012 World Grand Prix – so time is still on Littler’s side to rewrite the record books.

Jelle Klaasen won a BDO world title aged 21, while Eric Bristow won his first at 22 – Littler is still 11 years younger than Bristow when he was immortalised in Sid Waddell’s famous commentary line: “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … Bristow’s only 27.”

Cross, in 2018, remains the most recent debutant winner of the trophy bearing Waddell’s name, but Littler had the significant consolation of seeing his bank balance swell by £200,000 at such a young age for his efforts at Ally Pally.

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