Nathan Aspinall earned his second Premier League darts victory this season with a 6-4 victory against Michael Smith in the Night 12 final in Rotterdam.

Smith beat Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals to reach Thursday’s showpiece against the Asp, who pulled off an amazing comeback to beat Luke Humphries 6-4.

Aspinall took the first two legs in the final and although Smith started to grow into the match the Asp remained in control to take a two-leg lead.

Bully Boy capitalised on outer ring misses to pull a leg back before Aspinall responded to lead 5-3.

Smith continued to fight back and hit a stunning 170 checkout the following leg, but after missing three match darts the Asp eventually wrapped up victory with double eight.

The result means that Aspinall climbs into third in the table and believes his 140s helped him throughout the final.

He told Sky Sports: “Everyone knows me and Smithy are really good mates, we’re actually going on holiday next week together- so it might be a bit awkward!

“I came from behind against Luke and I’m thinking ‘don’t ruin this opportunity, you’ve been given a good chance here’ and I thought I played well.

“I thought I controlled the final, I didn’t play amazing, but my 140s were fantastic in that final and I know if I’m scoring well there’s not many people can beat me.”

Arguably Aspinall’s highlight of night 12 came against Humphries in their semi-final meeting.

Humphries spoiled Michael van Gerwen’s Rotterdam homecoming with a 6-5 victory, fending off a late comeback from the Dutchman to meet Aspinall in the final four.

“Cool Hand Luke” got off to a quick start with a two-leg lead, but the Asp began to creep back into contention, taking advantage of Humphries’ misfortune on the outer ring to come from 4-1 down to draw 4-4.

Finishing with a 97.18 average, Aspinall hit double 20 to secure his spot in the final.

Reflecting on that victory, the Asp added: “I’ve got a reputation of being behind, digging deep and winning games.

“What I always say is my opponent might be 4-0 up, but I know I’m better than you in my head.

“So if you can win four legs, I can win four legs and that is always what I try and tell people.

“Luke’s 4-1 up there, he wasn’t playing great, I saw him go and I’m thinking ‘yeah you’re the world champion, but if I play my game I’m as good as you’.

“That’s what I keep telling myself throughout the game and that was a big win against Luke tonight.”

After reaching the last three successive Premier League finals, Luke Littler was knocked out in the first quarter-final of the evening following a 6-3 defeat to Smith.

Smith met Price in the semi-finals after the Iceman claimed a 6-3 win over Rob Cross and he subsequently took Smith all the way in their final four meeting to force a deciding leg.

Bully Boy then hit a 74 checkout to squeeze into his fourth final of the campaign and he sits fifth in the standings.

Michael Van Gerwen ended Luke Littler’s Premier League winning run to claim victory on night 11 in Birmingham.

Littler had been targeting a third consecutive nightly victory following back-to-back successes in Belfast and Manchester, which put him top of the table.

The 17-year-old had looked to be building up another head of steam after earlier edging out Rob Cross in a last-leg decider and then holding off a stirring fightback from world champion Luke Humphries to win their latest epic tussle 6-5 – landing five maximums with a match-average of just over 107.

Dutchman Van Gerwen, though, capitalised on a low-key start to the final, before eventually breaking twice to close out a 6-3 win and rekindle his own play-off ambitions.

Van Gerwen, the defending Premier League champion, had avoided another early exit after coming from behind to beat Nathan Aspinall in his first match and then eased past Michael Smith 6-4.

Littler remains top of the table with 26 points, two clear of Humphries, while Van Gerwen sits third on 22 and Aspinall fourth.

Van Gerwen hopes he can now head into night 12 in Rotterdam with renewed confidence.

“I have made it hard for myself to be fair,” the Dutchman said on Sky Sports, “But more importantly it is about how you bounce back.

“I know the last few weeks have not been great for me, but to come back with a win tonight feels good for me.”

Van Gerwen added: “I had to go really deep tonight and at the end, Luke and I neither really played our A-game, but when you win nights like this, it is not always about who is playing well – sometimes it is who can handle it.

“I had a struggling few weeks, but to bounce back with a win like this gives me confidence of course.

“People will write you off when you off when you lose, that is how things go, but I believed in my own opportunities and you need to make sure you keep your mind focused.

“I know there is more to come – the fighting spirit in my body is still there. I need to make sure I am good for next week.”

In the night’s opening quarter-final at the Utilita Arena, Humphries – who enjoyed European Tour success at the recent German Darts Grand Prix in Munich – came from 4-1 down to claim five straight legs and beat Peter Wright, who remains cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

Littler had been trailing 3-1 and then survived a match dart as he eventually battled past Cross, before former world champion Smith put last week’s defeat by Gerwyn Price behind him with a 6-3 win over the Welshman.

Van Gerwen landed an impressive 152 checkout as he came from 4-2 behind to take control of his quarter-final against Aspinall, going on to close out a much-needed 6-4 win.

Luke Littler saw off stablemate Nathan Aspinall to secure his first Premier League night win in Belfast.

Littler never looked back after edging out Luke Humphries in a last-leg decider of the opening quarter-final at the SSE Arena, which ended the world champion’s three-night winning Premier League run.

The 17-year-old – who has won titles at the Bahrain Masters, PDC Players Championship and Belgian Open in a breakout year – followed up with an impressive 6-3 win over Michael Van Gerwen, who had beaten him on night two in the Berlin final.

‘The Nuke’ landed a 136 checkout in first leg of the final, then just missed finishing off 170 in second before Aspinall broke throw as he built a 3-1 lead.

Littler, though, fought back to level with a showpiece bullseye-25-bullseye finish – which got a high-five from close-friend Aspinall – and then pushed on to within one leg of victory at 5-3.

Aspinall dug deep to break back in the next, but Littler eventually got the job done on double 10.

Overall victory on night nine moves Littler up to second in the table, four points behind Humphries, while Aspinall now sits in fourth, the last of the play-off places.

“I am just happy to win my first one,” Littler said on Sky Sports.

“People may have seen I have changed my throw to take that little bit of extra time then releasing the next two. I have put more practice in and it has paid off.

“I can’t wait for next week (in Manchester). I know I have got Michael (Van Gerwen) in the first round, but Nathan will obviously enjoy it also in his home town.”

Aspinall had reached his fourth final of this year’s Premier League campaign with a 6-2 win over Peter Wright, in which he produced 14 scores over 100.

Earlier in the other quarter-finals, Premier League title holder Van Gerwen came from 4-2 down against former world champion Michael Smith to win the last four legs, securing victory on a 150 checkout.

Aspinall had seen off Gerwyn Price, last year’s Belfast winner, in a last-leg decider to leave the Welshman further adrift of the play-offs, while Wright beat 2018 world champion Rob Cross 6-3.

World champion Luke Humphries was at his clinical best to seal a hat-trick of Premier League wins on Thursday.

The world number one saw off Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall before impressively defeating Michael Smith 6-2 in the final in Dublin.

It gave Humphries control at the top of the table, following victories in Brighton and Nottingham.

The 29-year-old won the first four legs to take control of the showdown against Smith and wrapped up victory with double 16.

“The last three weeks have been fantastic,” Humphries told Sky Sports afterwards.

“The standard has been high. I’m not unbeatable but I’m putting in that stage of performance where it takes something big to beat me and nobody has done that so far.

“I’m just happy with the way I’m playing and if I keep playing like this then it will take a tough performance to beat me – that’s all I ask of myself.

“If someone beats me and I play well then I’m not too disappointed but the last three weeks have been a dream.

“I’m really pleased with the fashion I’ve won the last three nights.”

Humphries extended his lead to seven points as Michael van Gerwen was beaten 6-5 by Gerwyn Price, who ended a run of four successive quarter-final losses.

Luke Littler had a night to forget when he lost to Smith – for the third time – in the first round of night eight.

The 17-year-old succumbed 6-4, having led 3-1, his second quarter-final exit of the season.

It leaves him fifth in the standings after Aspinall gained two points for edging Rob Cross 6-5.

“It’s my first year in the Prem. Some weeks have gone to plan and some weeks have not,” Littler said.

“But it’s all about getting the points on the board. Obviously this is the halfway point, whatever happens from now until the end is the crucial part.”

World champion Luke Humphries delivered back-to-back nightly wins to move top of the Premier League with a 6-3 victory over Nathan Aspinall at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

Humphries, who also triumphed in Brighton, beat Michael Smith in his opening match and then comfortably saw off Peter Wright to reach a second successive final.

Aspinall had ended the hopes of Luke Littler with a 6-3 win in the semi-final, but soon found himself trailing against the world number one.

Humphries had secured an early break to lead 2-0 which he soon extended to 4-1 on the back of another maximum.

Aspinall clawed a couple of legs back to trail by just one with a break of his own by checking out on double top.

The world champion, though, made the most of some wayward finishing to take the next leg and move one away, which he set up for a 78 finish, landing treble 18 and double 12.

Humphries now moves two points clear at the top of the table, with Aspinall sitting fourth.

“I had two great performances in the first two games, and Nathan was fantastic against Luke, who is such an amazing player – it gets to the point where you are thinking ‘play with two darts’ so Nathan did well to beat him,” Humphries said on Sky Sports.

“It was not the best final, maybe as we had both played really well we felt the pressure was off us and relaxed a little bit, tried too hard.

“But back-to-back weeks in the Premier League is really tough, so I am really proud to have done that and to be top of the league.”

Humphries added: “What me and Luke have done since the worlds has been amazing for the sport. I think the sport is in the best place possible now, with all these players, and is in the best place it has ever been.

“Hopefully now the crowds can keep getting behind us and enjoying it, because it is going to be an exciting sport for the next nine months.”

Littler was looking to build on his Belgian Darts Open final victory over Rob Cross, which had included a nine-dart finish, and earlier recorded an impressive 6-2 win against previous league leader Michael Van Gerwen.

Aspinall, though, produced his own top form in their semi-final clash, landing five maximums with an average of just over 104 to see off the 17-year-old sensation.

Humphries, meanwhile, hit four maximums as he had little trouble in coasting to a 6-1 win over Wright, who had earlier secured his first points of the competition.

In the night’s opening quarter-final at the Motorpoint Arena, Wright ended his barren run with his first points on the board when he edged out Gerwyn Price in a last-leg decider after the 2023 runner-up had missed three match darts.

Luke Humphries registered his first Premier League night win as the world champion defeated Michael Smith 6-3 in Brighton.

The final of the tournament’s sixth night saw world number one Humphries, a competition debutant this year, surge into a 5-1 lead.

Smith, the 2023 world champion and winner of night one in Cardiff, hit back but ‘Cool Hand Luke’ was not to be denied.

Humphries said on Sky Sports: “I felt like I haven’t played my best, since the Worlds maybe for the first six weeks, and I’ve come back playing a lot better. Sometimes it takes a bit of time.

“I think after the Worlds, the way I played, everyone expected me to win everything, and that’s not going to happen. There is so much great talent out there, so many great players, and winning nights like these is fantastic because they are really hard. I’m really proud the way I played tonight.

“My dad said ‘you look a million dollars, you look like you’re throwing like you were in the Worlds’.

“I did feel really good after the Worlds – unfortunately some things happened. My Nan passed away and that did have an affect on me. But that’s no excuse. You build again, you go again, and I think in the last couple of weeks my mind has been straight again and I feel really good.

“I felt really good at the UK Open (last weekend, when he was a beaten finalist), I just didn’t win, but tonight that’s the best I’ve played since the Worlds, and the best I’ve felt.”

Humphries, who averaged 101.04 against Smith, had advanced to it by defeating Rob Cross 6-3 with an average of 113.71. It was the same score as Smith won his semi against 17-year-old World Championship runner-up Luke Littler.

In the quarter-finals, Humphries got past Gerwyn Price 6-2 and Smith ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-5 victory over Peter Wright, who remains without a win in this year’s competition.

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen, winner of three of the first five nights, suffered a second successive quarter-final loss as he was beaten 6-2 by Cross, and night five winner Nathan Aspinall lost 6-3 to Littler.

Humphries moves up to second in the table on 12 points, three behind Van Gerwen, with Littler and Cross a further point back and Smith just outside the play-off spots on 10 points.

World number one Luke Humphries has vowed to ignore the haters after just missing out on winning more silverware.

Humphries missed match darts against Dimitri Van den Bergh in the deciding leg of the UK Open final in Minehead on Sunday to claim what would have been a fifth major ranking title out of the last six.

One of those includes winning the World Championship at the start of 2024, but despite such dominance which has seen him outperform Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith and Luke Littler, Humphries still has to prove people wrong.

Humphries says he is still navigating the spotlight and the attention it brings.

 “It is silly from me because I am the one that is allowing it to happen,” the 29-year-old told the PA news agency.

“You’ll always have it, if I go three months without winning I will have people on my back.

“I feel like a couple of weeks ago everyone was saying I was the worst ever world champion, I was falling off, I am rubbish and I always come back out and prove people wrong.

“I know I didn’t win. I proved again that I might not be the best player in the world, but I am one of the best.

“For me it is all about learning, I am new to having this stardom of being the world champion and world number one, but I did prove everyone wrong.

“I had a great tournament, these are really tough weeks. I will keep working hard and keep going, there’s plenty more majors to win.

“It gets to the point where you just have to accept that everyone is not going to like you or believe in you.

“If you and your family believes in you then I don’t think anyone else matters, they all do and I believe in myself.

“I don’t want to throw it all away by putting too much pressure on myself, I know there is plenty out there for me in the future.”

Dimitri Van den Bergh finally derailed the Luke Humphries juggernaut after beating him in a gripping final of the UK Open.

World number one Humphries came into the tournament at Minehead having won four of the last five major ranking tournaments, which included sealing glory at the World Championship at the start of 2024.

He was a heavy favourite to add the UK Open to his collection after a trouble-free run to the final at Butlin’s, but the Belgian won a deciding leg to claim an 11-10 victory and seal a second major title of his own.

It looked like he had blown his chance as he squandered a 7-2 lead and then missed six match darts, only to finally land his seventh after Humphries had missed chances of his own.

While Luke Littler – who was a beaten quarter-finalist at Butlin’s – has stolen the limelight since his emergence, Humphries was proving himself to be the best player around so this defeat will be a tonic to the rest of the pack.

And Van den Bergh, who excelled as youth player, will be hoping this can help kickstart his career, which showed early promise when he won the 2020 World Matchplay.

He said: “First of all, he showed again why is he the world champion. There was a moment when it was 10-8 and I was like ‘I’m one leg away, I can win this’, and I lost it. I lost my gut but all of a sudden, it turned around.

“My grandad died two years ago and this is my first major win since. This is gold and it’s for him.

“You win some, you lose some, you have got to dig deep and keep trying.”

Humphries said: “I have had a long five days on the road, I am absolutely shattered. I was very lucky to get two darts, I will obviously be gutted because I missed two darts.

“But I did my best with the way I was feeling. I give everything, I really didn’t play well. I am proud of the way I played.”

With Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price all crashing out in the early rounds, it seemed prime for another battle of the Lukes in the final, but teenager Littler was ousted in the last eight by Damon Heta.


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The 17-year-old has made waves in the first few months on the PDC Tour, having claimed the Bahrain Masters in his debut tournament in January and competed well in the Premier League, but leaves his first major empty handed.

He will have regrets about his defeat as, despite Heta’s incredible level, Littler rallied from 8-4 down and missed two darts at his favoured double 10 to send it to a decider.

Littler said on Instagram: “Disappointed to not make it past the quarters but was a great game. Enjoying my darts and just grateful for everything.”

Nathan Aspinall earned his first Premier League darts victory of the season after beating Rob Cross 6-2 on night five in Exeter.

The Asp reached back-to-back finals with wins against Peter Wright and Luke Humphries before beating Voltage to move into fourth in the table.

His victory ended Michael van Gerwen’s run of three successive Premier League darts victories, with Humphries knocking the Dutchman out in their quarter-final clash.

Aspinall was beaten 6-4 in last week’s final in Newcastle and admits he has had a slow start to this year’s campaign.

He told Sky Sports: “It was a slow start to the season, last week was massive for myself and I made the decision tonight to forget about double 16 because I’ve missed it so many times and I went for tops.

“I’m very happy, the last two weeks I’ve really dug deep. Everyone knows I’m a fighter and I’ve been down the first three weeks, but a final and then a win the last two weeks, I’m over the moon.”

Aspinall took the early advantage in the final, winning the first three legs and after a series of missed attempts on the outer ring, he eventually hit double four to take the fourth leg.

Cross struggled on the doubles and missed a double eight, allowing Aspinall to snatch the fifth leg with a 160 checkout.

Voltage pulled two legs back to give his opponent a scare, but missed double 10 in the eighth leg before the Asp swooped in, hitting double 20 to secure the win.

“I like proving people wrong, that was my plan, didn’t start off like that. I’ve been down in the dumps but I think I’ve shown my fighting spirit the last two weeks,” Aspinall added.

“Granted, I’ve not performed at the level that I know I’m capable of but by God do I dig and I’ve dug deep tonight, last week was the same. That win against Michael Smith last week first game, scrappy game but that’s kickstarted my season.”

It was a disappointing evening for Cross, who stormed into the semi-finals with a dominant 6-1 victory over Gerwyn Price, throwing a 109.69 average during that game.

Voltage then met Luke Littler in the final four following Littler’s victory over Michael Smith in the quarter-finals.

He took a 2-0 lead before Littler found momentum and the game was tied at 3-3, but after missing six match darts Cross eventually reached the final hitting double two.

Michael van Gerwenadmitted he was not at his best despite winning night three at the 2024 BetMGM Premier League at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro with a 6-5 final win over Luke Humphries.

The Dutchman won in Berlin last week and on a night when teenager Luke Littler disappointed a supportive crowd by checking out in the quarter-finals, he again showed his mettle in a last-leg decider against the world champion

Van Gerwen, who is three points clear of Michael Smith at the top of the table, said: “Even without my best performance I think I  did a great job and sometimes that is really important.

“Double six let me down tonight but outside that my finishing and the way I played the game was a good standard.

“Of course my score could have been a lot better but sometimes that is darts. Another win, it is good.

“I always believe in my ability and I think I did the right things at the right moments.

“I have put so much pressure on myself. No targets. I’d say I’m at 90 per cent of my game.”

Humphries led 1-0 and 4-2 and perhaps should have made it 5-2 but the Dutchman came back to 4-4 and a 180 in the ninth leg helped him forge ahead 5-4 only to see Humphries respond to level and take it into the final leg when another 180 gave Van Gerwen the advantage and he clinched victory with double top.

In his first season in the competition Humphries said: “It was important to play well.

“I was proud of the way I played and I am where I want to be, in the top four.

“It is my first year in it and I am going to enjoy it.”

Littler made an early exit after a thrilling battle with Gerwyn Price.

The 17-year-old was given a great reception by the crowd but the Welshman stood strong.

The 2021 world champion  just missed double 12 for a nine darter at 3-2 down – Nathan Aspinall also came agonisingly close to a perfect nine-dart leg during his defeat by Humphries –  but came back to level at 3-3.

Littler went 4-3 up but again Price came back to win the next two legs before the young Englishman levelled at 5-5 but Price triumphed 6-5 in a tense last-leg decider.

Peter Wright was left frustrated after coming up well short against Van Gerwen.

Wright was cheered to the rafters when he returned to home soil with a highly-anticipated quarter-final clash but was sent packing with a 6-2 defeat.

The Scotsman said: “I was just thinking Michael is not even on it and I couldn’t even punish him. It is one of those games. Annoying.

“You see them on TV and you see the players and think, ‘oh he’s playing rubbish’ and you step up but it couldn’t find anything. It wouldn’t go in.

“I don’t know, maybe I have too much respect for Michael, I don’t know.

“But the crowd was fantastic. It was nice to see a full house and I really appreciate that and I hope they enjoy the rest of the night.

“I was gutted I let them down.

“Even at 5-1 down I was thinking, Michael is not on it, still I could win this game.

“I know what my game is and I was ready but Michael probably would have stepped up if I started hitting something.”

Luke Littler’s bid for back-to-back World Series titles got under way with a straightforward 6-2 win over a tetchy Dirk van Duijvenbode at the Dutch Masters.

Having followed up a remarkable run to the PDC World Championship final with victory at last week’s Bahrain Masters, Littler, who turned 17 on Sunday, was relatively untested by his Dutch opponent.

The teenager was far from his best, averaging 90.85, although a stunning 150 checkout saw him set up a mouthwatering quarter-final against Luke Humphries on Saturday in a repeat of their World Championship final.

There was a minor flash point when Van Duijvenbode seemed to gesture towards Littler, who composed himself by briefly stepping away from the oche to take a sip of water at the Maaspoort Den Bosch.

Whether Van Duijvenbode was irritated at his performance, his rival or the crowd was unclear but the incident did not disrupt Littler and the pair shared a friendly handshake at the end of the contest.

Littler is growing accustomed to the cheers of the crowd but was greeted by a smattering of boos during his walk-on, making light of the situation by cupping his hands to his ears.

He settled immediately with a 180 and seven days after his nine-dart first leg in Bahrain, hopes were fleetingly raised of a repeat performance in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which were soon extinguished.

Littler won the opening leg, accidentally finding double 20 then double 10 to take out 60 before thudding into tops more conventionally to go 2-0 ahead.

Van Duijvenbode pulled one back but seemed to be distracted and, on more than one occasion aimlessly threw a third dart, at one point motioning at Littler, who looked on bemused at what was happening.

An unflustered Littler moved 4-1 ahead and while the pair then traded legs, the youngster sealed a quarter-final spot with a fantastic checkout, taking out two treble 19s and finishing with double 18.

Littler was beaten 7-4 in the World Championship final earlier this month but can gain a measure of revenge over Humphries, who booked his spot in the last eight with a 6-0 win over Jermaine Wattimena.

Luke Littler will make his Premier League debut against Luke Humphries in a rematch of their World Championship final in Cardiff next week.

The 17-year-old headlines the opening night of the weekly competition against the man who beat him in the showpiece at Alexandra Palace at the start of the month.

While Humphries became world champion and world number one in a brilliant tournament of his own, lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy after a 7-4 win, it was Littler who stole the headlines on his historic run where he transcended the sport, becoming front and back page news.

That earned him a coveted slot in the Premier League and he doubled down on his stardom by beating Michael van Gerwen and hitting a nine-dart finish on his way to winning the Bahrain Masters last week.

He opens his campaign against fellow debutant Humphries in the Welsh capital a week on Thursday, plays Rob Cross in a repeat of the World Championship semi-final a week later, meets Michael Smith in Exeter on week five and then faces Van Gerwen in Nottingham a fortnight later.

Each weekly mini-event, where a night consists of quarter-finals, a semi-final and a final over the best of 11 legs, contributes to a league table where the top four players advance to the play-offs at the O2 in London in May.

The opening night also sees Van Gerwen and Smith go head-to-head in a blockbusting clash, while Welshman Gerwyn Price takes on Nathan Aspinall and Peter Wright battles Cross.

Luke Littler recovered from a shaky start to power into the quarter-finals of the Bahrain Masters with some brilliant finishing.

Littler took the World Championships by storm over Christmas, the 16-year-old becoming front and back page news as he reached the final at Alexandra Palace.

Despite losing to Luke Humphries, Littler’s performances saw him fast-tracked to the top table of the sport and that included a place in the World Series event in Bahrain, where he faced Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung.

Littler looked certain to take the opening leg after his first 180 left him needing 84, but he amazingly missed seven darts at a double before Leung took out 107 to snatch the leg.

Leung also finished 83 on the bullseye to lead 2-0 before Littler kicked into top gear, the teenager taking out 151 and 136 in successive legs as he reeled off five in a row, despite missing eight darts at a double in leg seven.

Littler also hit treble 20, double 20 and double 10 for a somewhat unorthodox 120 checkout to seal a 6-3 win and set up a quarter-final with Nathan Aspinall.

Aspinall had earlier edged past Lourence Ilagan of the Philippines 6-5, Ilagan missing two match darts at 5-4, while Gerwyn Price beat Reynaldo Rivera 6-4 and Rob Cross saw off Tomoya Goto 6-3.

Japan’s Haruki Muramatsu hit a 170 checkout in the fourth leg but eventually lost 6-5 to former world champion Peter Wright.

Luke Littler is ready to get “back to business” as he begins life after his sensational World Championship campaign.

The 16-year-old took Alexandra Palace by storm over Christmas, bulldozing his way to the final on debut before losing to Luke Humphries.

His life changed forever during that run as he became front-page news, enjoyed celebrity status and has been given a seat at the top table of the sport.

That begins with an appearance in the Bahrain Masters, starting on Thursday, where he takes on Man Lok Leung in the first round.

Littler, who could play Nathan Aspinall in the quarter-finals, is refreshed after a holiday and raring to go.

“It’s back to business for me now,” he said. “I’ve chilled out and not really thrown many darts since the World Championship final, but I’m sure that once I’m in the practice room I’ll be alright.

“I like playing all the time but after the World Championship I wanted to get away, which me and the family did. Hopefully I can have a good event here to get back playing.

“I’m in this event in Bahrain, in the Dutch Darts Masters next week and then the Premier League. I don’t really have any goals, I’m just going to have to see what the darts do.”

Littler has continued living the high life during his break as he spent time with his beloved rugby league club Warrington while also getting the chance to meet Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson.

“It’s been crazy. Warrington Wolves invited me down and I went to the Manchester United game and met Sir Alex Ferguson,” he added.

“To meet him was amazing and he said some lovely things to me about staying dedicated and believing in myself.


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“The holiday was great to get away from everything and we did that. My life’s changed and my family’s life has changed and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’m getting.”

Michael Smith begins the defence of his title against Paolo Nebrida while world champion and world number one Humphries begins his reign against Abdulla Saeed.

Michael van Gerwen plays Hasan Haji, Gerwyn Price takes on Reynaldo Rivera, Aspinall is paired with Lourence Ilagan, Rob Cross has drawn Tomoya Goto and Peter Wright kicks off against Haruki Muramatsu.

New world champion Luke Humphries was “privileged” to be invited to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street.

Humphries is still basking in the glory of his World Championship victory over teenager Luke Littler at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night and continued an almost 48-hour media tour.

Sunak watched the thrilling match and met the 28-year-old at his residence on Friday afternoon.

Humphries told the PA news agency: “It is a privilege of course, these are not things you get to do every day, it was a privilege to be invited, this is massive for our sport.

“I have got a duty as the flagbearer of darts at the moment.

“We just talked about sport, nothing else really. He wanted to congratulate me on the success, he enjoyed the game and it really is important for figures to be coming in and enjoying our sport.”

Although Humphries lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy to celebrate his rise to world number one in style, it was Littler’s achievements that really made the world sit up and take notice.

The 16-year-old defied his tender years to steamroller his way to the final on debut, gaining an army of support along the way.

He gained celebrity status and transcended the world of darts, while also bringing in record viewing figures for broadcaster Sky Sports.

Humphries wants the new fans to stick around for the whole year, not just the Ally Pally bonanza.

“A lot of people see darts and the World Championship at Christmas and they don’t support afterwards, whereas darts isn’t just for Christmas, it’s forever,” he said.

“Hopefully they stay on board, darts isn’t just exciting in the worlds, it is exciting all year, there is great drama all year. The sport has grown to incredible heights and I hope everyone can stay tuned.”

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