Nine-dart Luke Littler lands dream debut Premier League Darts title

Luke Littler landed an incredible nine-darter in the final as he claimed the 2024 Premier League Darts title at The O2 in London on Thursday.

An historic night in the capital saw 17-year-old Littler become the youngest major champion in PDC history as he defeated Luke Humphries 11-7 in a pulsating final.

Littler capped off an unforgettable campaign by becoming the latest new name on the Premier League trophy, following on from finishing top of the league table after 16 weeks of competition.

In front of 14,000 fans – the biggest UK crowd in PDC history – Littler avenged his defeat to Humphries in January’s World Championship final with an astonishing performance which featured yet another perfect leg.

“I’m a major winner! It feels incredible,” said Littler, who averaged 105.6 and fired in ten 180s to secure the biggest title of his fledgling career.

“It’s so good to win in front of my family. I was saying to Luke, I didn’t know what to do after I won!

“There were people doubting me when I was selected, but now I’ve picked up the trophy. They’re not doubting me anymore!

“I have been practising really hard today. I was so focused, and I’m just so happy to add my name to the list of major winners.”

Littler punished a slow start from Humphries to open up a 2-0 lead, but the world number one opened his account with an 11-dart break in leg three, before restoring parity at two apiece.

The Warrington wonderkid hit back with legs of 12, 13 and 11 darts on throw to retain the upper-hand, though a tenacious Humphries – aided by a crucial 116 finish in leg eight – levelled at 5-5.

However, Littler then conjured up a staggering spell to pull clear, returning from the break with a nine-darter, to become only the second player alongside Phil Taylor to achieve perfection in a Premier League final.

Littler then backed up his nine-dart heroics with legs of 14 and 12 darts to move 8-5 ahead, and another 12-dart hold in leg 15 moved him to within two legs of history.

Humphries refused to relent and delivered an outrageous tops-tops 134 finish to reduce the arrears to 7-9, but an inspired Littler wasn’t to be denied, wrapping up proceedings with back-to-back 13-darters.

“I was trying to stick in there, but credit to Luke, he was fantastic there,” admitted Humphries – who averaged 102.5 in defeat.

“Tonight Luke was much stronger than I was, and if you look at the season as a whole, he deserved to be Premier League champion.

“I think we’re the best two players in the world at the moment, and it was another great battle. I just love playing him, and we’re going to have plenty more battles in the future.

“I’m really proud to make the final. Of course I’m gutted not to win, but I’ve made six out of seven major finals now, and I can only build on this.”

Earlier in the night, Humphries dethroned reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in convincing fashion, averaging 101 to close out a 10-5 success.

The World Champion – buoyed by a brilliant 132 finish in leg four – reeled off six consecutive legs to seize control and establish an emphatic 8-3 advantage.

Van Gerwen responded with 105 and 86 checkouts to reduce the arrears, only for Humphries to hit back with a magnificent 125 combination on tops to ally any fears of a late fightback.

In the opening semi-final, Littler stormed through after overcoming Michael Smith by the same 10-5 scoreline.

Smith had won five of the pair’s seven meetings in this year’s league phase, but the teenage superstar made amends in some style, firing in a ton-plus average to progress.

Littler made an electrifying start to the contest, following up a 144 checkout with back-to-back 12-darters to race into a 4-1 lead, and he maintained that buffer throughout.

Smith began to falter on the outer ring midway through the contest, as Littler followed up a clinical 107 kill in leg 12 with an 11-dart hold on his way to victory.

Littler – who now sets his sights on US Masters glory in New York next week – pockets £315,000 in total from this year’s Premier League, with four nightly wins earning him a £40,000 bonus in addition to the £275,000 top prize.

BetMGM Premier League Darts 2024 – Play-Offs Results

Thursday May 23

Semi-Finals
Luke Littler 10-5 Michael Smith
Luke Humphries 10-5 Michael van Gerwen

Final
Luke Littler 11-7 Luke Humphries – *Littler hits a nine-darter*

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Luke Littler v Michael Smith live stream | Premier League Darts semi-final preview

Teenage sensation Luke Littler and former World Champion Michael Smith collide in the opening semi-final of 2024 Premier League Darts at The O2 on Thursday.

The box office duo are vying to become the eighth different BetMGM Premier League champion since the event began in 2005 and will kick off Finals Night in front of a PDC UK record crowd of 14,000.

At 17, Littler is bidding to become the youngest major champion in PDC history and cap off a remarkable debut campaign which has seen him finish top of the table with four weekly titles to his name.

The World Championship runner-up had to wait until Night Nine to secure his first weekly title but went on to dominate the latter stages of the campaign to end with a record-equalling 40 points.

In the midst of the Premier League season, Littler has also stormed to two European Tour titles and a Players Championship, climbing to 25th in the Order of Merit after less than five months as a Tour Card holder.

The Warrington wonderkid, however, faces a semi-final opponent who has proven to be his nemesis in this tournament so far, with Smith having won five of their seven fixtures.

A dress rehearsal for this showdown saw Smith narrowly prevail 6-5 in last week’s semi-finals in Sheffield on his way to securing a second weekly title of the season.

Smith left it late to book his place in the play-offs for the third time, defeating Nathan Aspinall 6-3 in their decisive shootout for fourth spot.

Smith’s first major final appearance came here six years ago when he was thrashed 11-4 by Van Gerwen, and he had to wait a further four years and endure seven more final defeats before eventually picking up a first major title at the 2022 Grand Slam.

While the tournament stats point in favour of Littler, ‘Bully Boy’ will be encouraged by his dominant head-to-head record and will be determined to maintain that over the extended format.

The match gets under way from 7.15pm BST and will be contested over the best of 19 legs, with either Luke Humphries or Michael van Gerwen awaiting the winner in the final later in the evening.

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Luke Littler triumphs in Aberdeen to clinch Premier League play-off qualification

Luke Littler confirmed his place in the Premier League Darts Play-Offs by claiming his fourth weekly title of the campaign in Aberdeen on Thursday.

The teenage sensation continued his remarkable winning run as he made it back-to-back weekly titles to storm further clear at the top of the table on a night which also saw Luke Humphries seal his place in the top four.

Having triumphed in Liverpool last week before going on to secure the Austrian Darts Open title over the weekend, Littler extended his unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions with victory at the P&J Live.

The 17-year-old recorded a second deciding-leg win over Nathan Aspinall in the space of seven days before thrashing Michael Smith 6-1 in the quarter-finals and overcoming Rob Cross in the final for the second successive week.

“I’m just delighted to get over the line again and book my place at The O2,” said Littler.

“That was my aim coming into the Premier League, so to have achieved that with two weeks to spare is a great achievement.

“I think I’ve definitely settled myself into the Premier League; the first few weeks were ‘okay’ and since then I’ve learned the routine and won four nights.

“I’ll still be aiming to win the next two nights coming up, and now I can play with freedom. After those nights my focus will be on London.”

Littler survived a match dart from Aspinall in the quarter-finals before averaging 110 with six from seven on the doubles in his semi-final rout of Smith.

The first six legs of the final were shared as Cross landed a 117 checkout and Littler a 107 in a high quality contest.

Cross took out 87 to edge 4-3 in front, but Littler finished 80 and kicked off the ninth leg with seven perfect darts before eventually converting double ten to move 5-4 ahead.

He then registered a sixth maximum before closing out the win on his favourite double 10 for a 14-darter.

Cross’ victories over Michael van Gerwen and Humphries earned him a second successive runner-up finish to keep him in outside contention for a play-off place.

Humphries’ place at The O2 was guaranteed thanks to a walkover against Gerwyn Price – who withdrew due to back injury and saw his own feint Play-Off hopes ended.

Humphries was left to rue one missed match dart as he went down to Cross in a deciding leg in the semi-finals, missing 14 darts at doubles in total during the contest.

Van Gerwen also missed a match dart in his 6-5 defeat to Cross in the quarter-finals despite averaging 108.3, leaving him clinging on to the final play-off place.

Smith’s quarter-final win over home favourite Peter Wright saw him close the gap on Van Gerwen to two points heading into the penultimate night of league action in Leeds next Thursday.

Premier League Darts 2024 Night 14 Results

Thursday May 2

Quarter-Finals
Peter Wright 4-6 Michael Smith
Luke Littler 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Rob Cross
Luke Humphries w/o v Gerwyn Price

Semi-Finals
Michael Smith 1-6 Luke Littler
Rob Cross 6-5 Luke Humphries

Final
Luke Littler 6-4 Rob Cross

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Luke Littler doubles European Tour title tally at the Austrian Darts Open

Luke Littler clinched his second European Tour title of 2024 at the Austrian Darts Open with an 8-4 victory over Joe Cullen in the final in Graz on Sunday.

The 17-year-old won the Belgian Darts Open on his European Tour debut in March and stormed to another £30,000 title in imperious fashion.

The Premier League leader, who secured his third weekly title of the campaign in Liverpool on Thursday, continued his blistering dominance with a series of superb displays at the Steiermarkhalle.

Having opened up with wins over Zoran Lerchbacher and Damon Heta on Friday and Saturday respectively, Littler began the final day by battling past Krzysztof Ratajski and Danny Noppert to reach the semi-finals – where he averaged over 105 for a second time in the event as he demolished Ross Smith 7-2.

Littler then produced a merciless showing in a quick-fire final against Cullen – who had shone throughout the event in his bid to claim a fourth European Tour title.

The opening six legs of the final were shared in 15 darts or less, before Littler posted a third straight 14-darter and broke throw with a 65 finish to lead 5-3.

Cullen responded to punish seven missed darts at doubles from the World Championship finalist in leg nine, but Littler added another 14-darter against the throw to regain his cushion.

He then took out 66 to lead 7-4 before wrapping up the title final style with a 12-darter which ended on the bullseye.

“I’m just happy to get over the line again,” said Littler, who was awarded the traditional green jacket alongside the winner’s trophy after averaging 102.7 in the final.

“It didn’t happen in Sindelfingen but I’ve come here and I’ve put myself right and won another one.

“We started off really well but I think I stuck at it and Joe started to fall off, and I got over the line.

“This weekend has been good, my darts have been good and these guys [the crowd] have helped me so much.”

Cullen had averaged in excess of 102 in his 6-3 wins over Darius Labanauskas, Dave Chisnall and Gian van Veen, before edging out Stephen Bunting 7-5 in the semi-finals.

Despite hitting four doubles from as many attempts in the final, the Bradford ace found himself 17 points behind Littler in the averages in defeat, and he admitted: “I’m disappointed but congratulations to Luke.

“I was not very good – I’m disappointed with the way I played in the final but if you’d have offered me a final before the week started I’d have taken it.

“He played better than me and did what he had to do at the right times. He’s a fantastic talent, I think he’s a generational talent.

“He’s been fantastic all weekend and he’s great for the game.”

Smith had been the runner-up in last weekend’s International Open, and he enjoyed a second successive win over Michael van Gerwen on his way to the semi-finals in Graz.

Bunting’s wins over Daryl Gurney and Martin Schindler on Sunday saw him reach the Last Four for the second time in three events.

International Open winner Schindler was unable to repeat his success in Riesa as he lost out in a deciding leg to Bunting in the quarter-finals, where the Dutch trio of Van Gerwen, Noppert and Gian van Veen also bowed out.

Austrian Darts Open 2024 Day Three Results

Sunday April 28

Afternoon Session

Last 16
Dave Chisnall 3-6 Joe Cullen
Ritchie Edhouse 4-6 Gian van Veen
Daryl Gurney 3-6 Stephen Bunting
Jonny Clayton 3-6 Martin Schindler
Luke Littler 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Josh Rock 3-6 Danny Noppert
Daniel Klose 2-6 Ross Smith
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Peter Wright

Evening Session

Quarter-Finals
Joe Cullen 6-3 Gian van Veen
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Martin Schindler
Luke Littler 6-5 Danny Noppert
Ross Smith 6-1 Michael van Gerwen

Semi-Finals
Joe Cullen 7-5 Stephen Bunting
Luke Littler 7-2 Ross Smith

Final
Luke Littler 8-4 Joe Cullen

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Luke Littler lands third Premier League Darts weekly title in Liverpool

Luke Littler claimed his third weekly title in the 2024 Premier League courtesy of a 6-2 win over Rob Cross in the final of Night 13 in Liverpool.

Littler, who also triumphed in Belfast and Manchester on Nights Nine and Ten – returned to the top of the league table after claiming another five-point haul at the M&S Bank Arena.

The 17-year-old sensation overcame Gerwyn Price, Nathan Aspinall and Cross to scoop the £10,000 bonus in Merseyside, which sees him establish a five-point lead over his closest rival Luke Humphries.

Littler began Thursday’s action with a 6-3 victory over Price, producing a ton-plus average to end the Welshman’s hopes of reaching the play-offs.

The Nuke then fought back from 5-2 down and survived five match darts from Aspinall to snatch a dramatic deciding-leg victory in the semi-finals.

This set up a showdown against 2018 World Champion Cross in the final, and Littler made an emphatic start, converting 111 and 86 checkouts.

The World Youth Champion extended his lead to 5-0 to threaten the first whitewash win of this year’s competition, before fending off a late rally from Cross to prevail with a 105 average.

“I’m just happy with the way I played,” reflected Littler. “I wanted to come here, pick up some more points, and hopefully I’m in the Play-Offs now.

“I knew what to expect, but I always like to engage with the crowd, and I was just playing with complete freedom up there.

“I’m really happy to pull away from the chasing pack. There’s only three more league nights left now, so maybe I could top the table. That would be amazing.”

Cross had ended his seven-match losing run with victory over Smith in the quarter-finals, averaging 102 and converting 66 per cent of his attempts at doubles.

The 33-year-old later ran out a convincing 6-2 winner against a wasteful Michael van Gerwen to advance to a second weekly final of the season, punishing a staggering 16 missed darts at double from the Dutchman.

Van Gerwen had reeled off five consecutive legs from 3-1 down to deny Peter Wright in the last eight, which mathematically ended the Scot’s hopes of a top-four finish.

Meanwhile, Aspinall boosted his top-four credentials with a commanding quarter-final win against Humphries, averaging 102 and pinning six of his eight attempts at double to close out a 6-2 victory.

Premier League Darts 2024 Night 13 Results

Thursday April 25

Quarter-Finals
Luke Littler 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Luke Humphries 2-6 Nathan Aspinall
Peter Wright 3-6 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 4-6 Rob Cross

Semi-Finals
Luke Littler 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen 2-6 Rob Cross

Final
Luke Littler 6-2 Rob Cross

Luke Littler denies nine-dart Gerwyn Price in Manchester to seal successive Premier League Darts weekly titles

Luke Littler made it back-to-back Premier League Darts weekly titles as he denied nine-dart hero Gerwyn Price glory in Manchester.

Littler claimed his first nightly win of the competition in Belfast a week ago, and the teenage prodigy followed that up with Night Ten success at the AO Arena to move top of the table.

The World Championship finalist defeated Price 6-3 to clinch the £10,000 bonus, after the Welshman had raised the roof with a sensational nine-darter in his semi-final victory over Michael Smith.

Earlier in the night, Littler booked his place in the semi-finals with a 6-3 win over a struggling Michael van Gerwen, defying a mid-game fightback to secure a third straight win over the Dutchman.

The 17-year-old then overcame Stockport star Nathan Aspinall, producing clinical checkouts of 131 and 136 en route to a hard-fought 6-4 victory.

This set up a fascinating showdown against nine-dart star Price, and Littler threatened to replicate the Welshman’s heroics in the opening leg of the final, kicking off proceedings with six perfect darts.

Back-to-back 13-darters powered Littler into an early lead, and although Price recovered from a sluggish start, the teenager wrapped up victory with a 100.5 average to extend his winning run to six matches.

“The atmosphere was amazing, and I’m just really glad I won,” reflected Littler, who takes his tally to 23 points.

“I think I’ve definitely settled into the Premier League now.

“In the first five to six weeks I won my first game but I kept losing in the semi-finals, although winning last week gave me so much confidence coming into tonight.

“I was watching Gezzy in the semi-finals and he was 4-0 up averaging 123, but I just made sure I focused and I saved my best performance until last.

“There’s still six weeks to go, so I’ve got to still keep plugging away, and hopefully I will make the Play-Offs.”

Price performed magnificently to leave Manchester with three points to his name, producing ton-topping averages in wins over Peter Wright and Smith.

The 2023 runner-up defied a 109.5 average from Wright to prevail in an epic quarter-final contest, averaging 107.8 and pinning six of his eight attempts at double to advance to the semis.

Price then powered his way through to the final with victory over Smith, producing the first nine-darter in the Premier League since his brace of perfect legs in Belfast in February 2022.

Smith moved to within two points of the Play-Off places with an impressive 6-3 win over Luke Humphries in the quarter-finals, defying a late rally from the world number one – who has now suffered successive quarter-final exits between his European Tour triumph over the Easter weekend.

Meanwhile, local favourite Aspinall leapfrogged Van Gerwen into third spot with victory over Rob Cross in the evening’s opener, producing a ton-plus average to secure his fifth straight win over the 2018 World Champion.

Premier League Darts 2024 Night Ten Results

Thursday April 4

Quarter-Finals
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Rob Cross
Luke Littler 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 6-3 Luke Humphries
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Peter Wright

Semi-Finals
Nathan Aspinall 4-6 Luke Littler
Michael Smith 3-6 Gerwyn Price – *Price hits a nine-darter*

Final
Luke Littler 6-3 Gerwyn Price

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Luke Littler lands first Premier League Darts weekly title in Belfast

Luke Littler ended his wait for a maiden Premier League Darts weekly title with victory on Night Nine in Belfast.

Littler had finished runner-up on Night Two in Berlin and lost in a further five semi-finals but opened his account in style at the SSE Arena.

The teenage sensation saw off rivals Luke Humphries and Michael van Gerwen en route to the final – where he defeated his stablemate Nathan Aspinall 6-4 to clinch the £10,000 bonus.

The landmark triumph moves Littler up to second spot in the league table, closing the gap on Humphries to just four points.

“I’m so happy to win my first night,” said Littler. “I changed my throw tonight, just taking that little bit of extra time.

“I practiced a lot more tonight and it has paid off.

“We’re halfway [through the season] and there is still a lot of work to do, but to win one night going into the second half of the season has really got my hopes up and gives me confidence.

“The crowd were unbelievable tonight, just like they have been in the previous eight weeks.

“Now I’m just really looking forward to the big one [in Manchester] next week.”

Littler began the night with a thrilling deciding leg win over Humphries, maintaining his unbeaten record against the world number one since his defeat in the World Championship final.

The Nuke averaged 102 and landed seven 180s as he ended Humphries’ nine-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

He then overcame defending champion Michael van Gerwen 6-3 in the semi-finals with a 99 average and a high checkout of 110 to reach his second final of the competition.

Aspinall opened up the final with a 180, but it was Littler who snatched the opening leg courtesy of a clinical 136 checkout.

Aspinall, though, hit back with three consecutive legs to take command, but a sensational 125 finish on bull, 25, bull saw Littler restore parity at three apiece.

Littler added a 70 finish en route to a fourth straight leg, and after Aspinall saved his skin with a 70 finish in leg nine, the 17-year-old converted double five with his last dart in-hand to complete victory.

Aspinall was appearing in his fourth final in the space of six weeks but fell short of a second title as he cemented his place in the top four.

The World Matchplay champion edged out Gerwyn Price 6-5 in his opener, before storming past Peter Wright 6-2 in the semi-finals.

Wright recorded only his second win of the campaign as he saw off a below-par Rob Cross 6-3 to close the gap on Price to three points.

Van Gerwen ended a run of four consecutive quarter-final defeats as he averaged 105.8 in recovering from 4-2 down to defeat Michael Smith.

Premier League Darts 2024 Night Nine Results

Thursday March 28

Quarter-Finals
Luke Humphries 5-6 Luke Littler
Michael Smith 4-6 Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross 3-6 Peter Wright

Semi-Finals
Luke Littler 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Peter Wright

Final
Luke Littler 6-4 Nathan Aspinall

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Raymond van Barneveld hits out at Luke Littler over text message snub

Raymond van Barneveld has blasted Luke Littler after the teenager failed to respond to his idol’s congratulatory text message.

Littler revealed during his historic World Championship run that Van Barneveld was his darting hero growing up, and the pair struck up a bond after ‘The Nuke’ thrashed Barney by four sets to one in the Last 16 at Ally Pally.

Littler has gone on to take the sport by storm this year, landing three nine-darters in as many tournament wins, and has enjoyed celebrity status in the UK, appearing on the Jonathan Ross Show and Comic Relief.

However, Van Barneveld is less than impressed after seemingly being given the cold shoulder by Littler in recent weeks.

Speaking to Sportnieuws.nl, the five-time World Champion said: “So that’s the weird thing about it. I understood then that I am his example. That at the World Championship you don’t chat I can understand, but other tournaments?”

“The other day I walked up to him to shake his hand. Then he took out his earplug for a moment and only said the most necessary thing.”

Van Barneveld then revealed he sent a text message to Littler to congratulate him on his debut European Tour triumph at the Belgian Darts Open.

He added: “To that he responded: ‘Yes, I only respond to text messages. WhatsApp I’m actually not on.’ Well fine, I sent a text message: ‘Congratulations with Wieze.’ And then nothing.

“Fine. Then I’m also a bit done with it. The next time I get asked if I want to do something for him, I’ll pass.”

“I understand that you get thousands text messages but of course I’m not just anyone.

“If I’ve been your inspiration for years, I also expect a text message back. Dude’s on his phone all day, fuck off.”

Barney, was, however, complimentary of Littler’s ability, adding: “This guy is so brilliantly good. He doesn’t worry about anything. He’s playing at seventeen like he’s been doing this for years.”

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Luke Littler reacts to Ricardo Pietreczko incident at the Belgian Darts Open

Luke Littler insists he is puzzled by Ricardo Pietreczko’s reaction following their clash at the Belgian Darts Open on Sunday.

Littler stormed to a 7-3 victory over Pietreczko in the semi-finals of the season’s first European Tour event in Wieze, before going on to clinch the title with the aid of a sensational nine-darter in the final.

An irate Pietreczko confronted Littler at the end of their contest after being seemingly unimpressed by the 17-year-old’s flamboyant checkout routes.

The German posted on his Instagram story shortly after the match: ‘So I appreciate him a lot that you can play such a game at such an age but I hope the arrogance punishes him.’

Littler, however, denies any wrongdoing and believes he has become every player’s “cup final” after taking the sport by storm over the past three months.

“In that game, I didn’t know what I did wrong,” Littler told Sky Sports News.

“A lot of people were saying it was when I was on the 147 finish and I went for treble 19 and tried going tops, bull because I love tops and if I hit the tops then I would have fancied myself for bull.

“But I missed it and he let that get to him throughout the game and I had the job to do.

“I think, ever since I’ve burst onto the scene, every player wants to beat me.

“Even my family and my manager have said you’ve always got to be on my A-game because anyone who plays me now, it’s a cup final for them.”

Littler went on to defeat Rob Cross 8-7 in a remarkable final which saw him land a nine-darter and average 103.7 in securing a debut Euro Tour triumph.

The £30,000 title, the teenager’s third of the season, sees him climb to 28th in the Order of Merit and all but assure himself of a place in July’s World Matchplay.

The World Championship runner-up has now landed a perfect leg in each of the three tournaments he has won this year and sits third in the BetMGM Premier League table going into Night Seven in Nottingham on Thursday.

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Luke Littler lands nine-darter en route to debut Euro Tour title at the Belgian Open

Luke Littler landed an incredible nine-dart finish on his way to securing a debut European Tour title at the Belgian Darts Open in Wieze on Sunday.

The 17-year-old sensation continued his remarkable start to life as a PDC Tour Card holder by adding a third title of 2024, defying a 108 average from Rob Cross in a thrilling deciding-leg final.

Littler, who hit a nine-darter en route to Bahrain Masters and Players Championship 1 glory, struck perfection again to raise the roof at a sold-out Oktoberhallen.

With the score at 5-5, the Premier League star kicked off the 11th leg of the final with a 177 and followed up with a 180, before taking out 144 to register the 16th nine-darter in Euro Tour history.

Cross, however, went on to claim the next two legs to go 7-6 up, but only for Littler to force a decider before powering in his sixth maximum of the match and converting double five to clinch the title.

“I’m just glad to get over the line,” said Littler. “I lost the two legs after I hit the nine so I’m relieved to get the win.

“It’s always good to be involved in a good game; me and Rob have battles and we bring the best out of each other.

“I’m really happy to hit a nine-darter, I prefer 144 to 141 to finish a nine because when the first treble 20 goes in I’m confident of following it with another.

“I know the spotlight is on me because I’ve done so well but I just play my darts and get on with it. I just do what I do.”

Littler began the day by defeating Damon Heta 6-3 with a 101.2 average to avenge his defeat in the UK Open quarter-finals a week ago.

He then overcame Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 in the Last Eight with a blistering 110 average, before racing past an irate Ricardo Pietreczko 7-3 in the semi-finals with a 104.2 average.

A high-quality final saw Cross break throw to open up an early 2-1 lead, before Littler broke back and hit the front at 4-3.

Cross replied with successive legs as he took out 80 to regain the upper-hand at 5-4, but three missed darts at doubles in leg ten allowed Littler to restore parity.

Littler then produced a moment of magic with his first Euro Tour nine-darter to move 6-5 ahead, but only for Cross to respond with an 81 finish for an 11-darter and a 121 checkout on the bull for a 12-darter to lead 7-6.

With Cross waiting on double ten for the match, Littler picked out double five with his last dart to force a decider – in which he found a timely maximum and pinned double five again for a 14-darter to seal the deal.

The £30,000 top prize all but assures Littler of a debut appearance in July’s Betfred World Matchplay, as well as the World Grand Prix and European Championship later in the year.

Cross was left stunned after averaging 108 in the final, admitting: “I wanted a big display and I got a big display.

“I missed a few chances but I can’t be bitter about them.

“Luke is special, he has such a bright future in front of him; the nine was amazing.

“I’ve loved playing in front of this crowd, I’ve really enjoyed my weekend here.”

Cross began the day with a 6-1 rout of Danny Noppert, before thrashing Ryan Searle 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

The 2018 World Champion recorded a third straight 97 average as he denied Gerwyn Price 7-3 in the semi-finals but was agonisingly denied his second European Tour title inside 12 months.

Belgian Darts Open 2024 Day Three Results

Sunday March 10

Afternoon Session

Third Round
Ryan Joyce 4-6 Ricardo Pietreczko
Peter Wright 4-6 Jonny Clayton
Damon Heta 3-6 Luke Littler
Joe Cullen 3-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Luke Humphries 3-6 Ryan Searle
Rob Cross 6-1 Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Gary Anderson
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Mike De Decker

Evening Session

Quarter-Finals
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Luke Littler 6-2 Jermaine Wattimena
Ryan Searle 2-6 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Stephen Bunting

Semi-Finals
Ricardo Pietreczko 3-7 Luke Littler
Rob Cross 7-3 Gerwyn Price

Final
Luke Littler 8-7 Rob Cross – *Littler hits a nine-darter*

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Nine-dart Luke Littler claims glory on Players Championship debut

Luke Littler enjoyed a dream start to life on the PDC ProTour by claiming the title on his Players Championship debut with a nine-darter along the way.

Teenage sensation Littler created more history as he triumphed in the opening Players Championship event of the season, defying a staggering 111.7 average from Ryan Searle in a thrilling final.

The 17-year-old produced four ton-plus averages on his way to victory in Wigan, as he became only the third player to win a title on his Players Championship debut.

Littler began the day with a crushing 6-1 win over Jim Williams, averaging 105.5 and posting seven maximums to send out a statement to the 128-player field.

The World Youth champion then followed up victory over Luke Woodhouse in Round Two with a 6-1 rout of Italy’s Michele Turetta, wrapping up proceedings with a magical nine-darter.

It was the second nine-darter in as many months for Littler – who also achieved perfection in his title winning campaign at the Bahrain Masters.

He came agonisingly close to another nine-darter in his Last 16 clash against Cameron Menzies, wiring double 12 for perfection in leg five, before closing out victory with a blistering 109 average.

Littler registered another ton-plus average to defeat fellow newcomer James Hurrell in the Quarter-Finals, though he survived a scare in his Semi-Final win over Alan Soutar, eventually prevailing 7-6 thanks to a 78 finish in the decider.

This set up a tantalising showdown against Searle, and the pair combined to produce one of the greatest finals in Players Championship history.

Littler stole an early march with back-to-back 13-darters, only for Searle to reduce the deficit with an unconventional 103 finish in leg three.

Both players continued to trade holds of throw in a contest littered with quality, as a spectacular 136 checkout in leg eight powered Littler into a 5-3 lead.

Searle responded with consecutive 11 and 12-dart holds to peg back, but Littler was undeterred, conjuring up an effortless 85 finish on the bull to move a leg away from victory at 7-5.

The drama continued as Searle rattled in his second 11-darter of the contest to force a decider, but Littler was not to be denied, replying with a 13-dart break on tops to scoop the £15,000 top prize.

“I know my game is there, I know I can beat anyone, and I’m really happy to have won,” reflected Littler, who already has his sights set on World Matchplay qualification.

“Me and my manager know what I have to do to qualify for the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix.

“I’ve got about 13 or 14 ProTours before the World Matchplay, but it’s always good to get off to a good start.

“I want to try and qualify for everything and I’ve just got to play my game. I’m taking it in my stride.

“It takes huge pressure off me, and now hopefully I can settle and enjoy it.”

Searle was bidding to win the year’s opening Players Championship event for a second successive season, and the Somerset star performed magnificently in Wigan, dropping just seven legs across his first six matches.

The 36-year-old swept aside Simon Whitlock in his opener, before registering back-to-back 104 averages to dispatch Jeffrey Sparidaans and Dom Taylor.

Searle then whitewashed Mike De Decker to book his place in the Last Eight, and he continued the procession with convincing wins over Jose de Sousa and Gian van Veen.

World Youth Championship runner-up Van Veen won four deciding-leg ties in his run to the semis, overcoming Benjamin Reus, Ross Smith, Kim Huybrechts and Brendan Dolan.

Scottish star Soutar also enjoyed a strong start to the new season, dumping out the likes of Damon Heta and Chris Dobey, while also landing eight 180s and surviving a match dart in a dramatic win over Nick Kenny in the Quarter-Finals.

Littler was one of three players to achieve perfection on an astonishing afternoon in Wigan, with 18-year-old Leighton Bennett crashing in a nine-darter in his first event as a Tour Card Holder.

Bennett produced the perfect leg in his Second Round win over Germany’s Lukas Wenig, before Mickey Mansell repeated the feat moments later to see off Krzysztof Ratajski.

Meanwhile, Gerwyn Price dramatically withdrew from the event midway through his Last 16 clash with Brendan Dolan.

The Premier League star trailed Dolan 4-2 before forfeiting the match due to what he described as “amateur conditions”.

Italy’s Turetta enjoyed a remarkable 6-1 rout of Dave Chisnall in Round One, while the likes of Peter Wright, Jonny Clayton, Joe Cullen, Josh Rock and Masters champion Stephen Bunting also suffered First Round exits.

WATCH PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE

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Players Championship One Results

Monday February 12

Round One
Michele Turetta 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Paul Krohne 6-3 William O’Connor
Luke Woodhouse 6-3 Steve Lennon
Luke Littler 6-1 Jim Williams
Lukas Wenig 6-3 Joe Cullen
Leighton Bennett 6-4 Brett Claydon
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-5 Peter Wright
Cameron Menzies 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Thibault Tricole 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Danny Jansen
James Wade 6-1 Oskar Lukasiak
Jamie Hughes 6-2 Chris Landman
Michael Smith 6-3 Darryl Pilgrim
James Hurrell 6-5 Danny van Trijp
Ryan Joyce 6-2 Jacques Labre
Mervyn King 6-5 Callum Goffin
Alan Soutar 6-4 Damon Heta
Robbie Knops 6-3 Robert Grundy
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Darren Beveridge
Chris Dobey 6-2 Keane Barry
Gary Anderson 6-1 Geert Nentjes
Lee Evans 6-5 Daniel Klose
Andrew Gilding 6-4 Callan Rydz
Stephen Burton 6-1 William Borland
Nick Kenny 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Niels Zonneveld 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Graham Usher 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Kevin Doets 6-2 Keegan Brown
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Ritchie Edhouse
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Josh Payne
Daryl Gurney 6-0 Ryan Meikle
Mario Vandenbogaerde 6-4 Owen Roelofs
Luke Humphries 6-2 Robert Owen
Ian White 6-0 Martin Lukeman
Mike De Decker 6-4 Florian Hempel
Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Jurjen van der Velde
Dom Taylor 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Ricky Evans 6-4 Scott Williams
Ryan Searle 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Jeffrey Sparidaans 6-5 Stefan Bellmont
Rob Cross 6-4 Adam Gawlas
Andy Baetens 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Jose De Sousa 6-2 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Jules van Dongen 6-5 Arron Monk
Danny Noppert 6-2 Owen Bates
Nathan Rafferty 6-5 George Killington
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Aden Kirk
Patrick Geeraets 6-1 Haupai Puha
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Karel Sedlacek
Matthew Dennant 6-5 Boris Krcmar
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Martijn Dragt
Wessel Nijman 6-2 Jitse Van der Wal
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-5 Radek Szaganski
Steve Beaton 6-5 Madars Razma
Martin Schindler 6-1 Matt Campbell
Adam Smith-Neale 6-5 Graham Hall
Richard Veenstra 6-2 Josh Rock
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Danny Lauby
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Joshua Richardson
Berry van Peer 6-5 Adam Warner
Ross Smith 6-2 Rhys Griffin
Pascal Rupprecht 6-5 Christian Perez
Gian van Veen 6-1 Jeffrey De Graaf
Benjamin Drue Reus 6-3 Adam Hunt

Second Round
Michele Turetta 6-5 Paul Krohne
Luke Littler 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
Leighton Bennett 6-5 Lukas Wenig – *Bennett hits a nine-darter*
Cameron Menzies 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Thibault Tricole
Jamie Hughes 6-2 James Wade
James Hurrell 6-4 Michael Smith
Mervyn King 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Alan Soutar 6-2 Robbie Knops
Chris Dobey 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Lee Evans 6-4 Gary Anderson
Andrew Gilding 6-1 Stephen Burton
Nick Kenny 6-5 Niels Zonneveld
Graham Usher 6-4 Kevin Doets
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski – *Mansell hits a nine-darter*
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Ian White 6-0 Luke Humphries
Mike De Decker 6-2 Vincent van der Voort
Dom Taylor 6-3 Ricky Evans
Ryan Searle 6-0 Jeffrey Sparidaans
Andy Baetens 6-5 Rob Cross
Jose De Sousa 6-4 Jules van Dongen
Nathan Rafferty 6-5 Danny Noppert
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Patrick Geeraets
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Matthew Dennant
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Wessel Nijman
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-2 Steve Beaton
Adam Smith-Neale 6-1 Martin Schindler
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Richard Veenstra
Berry van Peer 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Ross Smith 6-2 Pascal Rupprecht
Gian van Veen 6-5 Benjamin Drue Reus

Last 32
Luke Littler 6-1 Michele Turetta – *Littler hits a nine-darter*
Cameron Menzies 6-5 Leighton Bennett
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Mensur Suljovic
James Hurrell 6-2 Mervyn King
Alan Soutar 6-2 Chris Dobey
Lee Evans 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Nick Kenny 6-2 Graham Usher
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Mike De Decker 6-2 Ian White
Ryan Searle 6-1 Dom Taylor
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Andy Baetens
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Nathan Rafferty
Brendan Dolan w/o Gerwyn Price
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-5 Adam Smith-Neale
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Berry van Peer
Gian van Veen 6-5 Ross Smith

Last 16
Luke Littler 6-2 Cameron Menzies
James Hurrell 6-3 Jamie Hughes
Alan Soutar 6-1 Lee Evans
Nick Kenny 6-5 Mickey Mansell
Ryan Searle 6-0 Mike De Decker
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Ricardo Pietreczko
Gian van Veen 6-5 Kim Huybrechts

Quarter-Finals
Luke Littler 6-3 James Hurrell
Alan Soutar 6-5 Nick Kenny
Ryan Searle 6-2 Jose De Sousa
Gian van Veen 6-5 Brendan Dolan

Semi-Finals
Luke Littler 7-6 Alan Soutar
Ryan Searle 7-3 Gian van Veen

Final
Luke Littler 8-7 Ryan Searle

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