Luke Littler reaches World Darts Championship final: A look back on 16-year-old's remarkable run at the Ally Pally
Sixteen-year-old Luke Littler is one win away from Alexandra Palace glory after crushing Rob Cross 6-2 in the semi-finals; Littler will face Luke Humphries in final; We're back at 7.30pm on Wednesday for the World Darts Championship final - live on Sky Sports Darts
Last Updated: 03/01/24 9:57am
Sixteen-year-old Luke Littler is making history at the World Darts Championship - and is now one win away from becoming the youngest-ever champion.
Nicknamed 'The Nuke', the teenager's sensational performances have seen him become the youngest player to reach the final and have won plaudits from his fellow players.
Here, we take a look back at Littler's remarkable road to Wednesday's final at the Alexandra Palace, where he'll face pre-tournament favourite and newly-crowned world No 1 Luke Humphries...
Luke Littler vs Luke Humphries - Tournament stats
|100+ match averages
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- Luke Littler: It's beyond believable I'm in final and still standing
- As it happened on semi-finals night at the Worlds
Littler sweeps Kist on Ally Pally debut
First round: (106.12) Luke Littler 3-0 Christian Kist (90.55)
"It started with a Kist, never thought it would come to this," as Sky Sports commentator Rod Studd so poetically put it, echoing the lyrics of Hot Chocolate ahead of Littler's semi-final against Rob Cross.
That is indeed where it all started, way back when on December 20, as darts' newest superstar took out 2012 Lakeside champion Kist in straight sets on his Ally Pally debut.
Littler dropped his best average of the tournament - 106.12, a nudge above his sensational semi-final mark of 106.05 - as he truly announced himself on the world stage, dropping only two legs on his way to an emphatic opening victory.
Gilding a goner as Littler-Mania runs wild
Second round: (92.65) Luke Littler 3-1 Andrew Gilding (92.09)
Arguably Littler's nerviest display, with the first two sets both going to final-leg deciders, before UK Open champion Andrew Gilding took the third set 3-0 to actually lead 7-6 on legs won despite trailing 2-1 in sets.
There was very little to separate the two players, other than the 37-year age gap, with Littler only averaging a nudge above Gilding's 92.09 in the match.
But Littler wasn't rattled by Gilding's mid-match charge, ultimately prevailing 3-1 in the fourth set to knock out the 20th seed and move on to the third round.
Composed Littler cruises past Campbell
Third round: (97.19) Luke Littler 4-1 Matt Campbell (91.29)
History was made on the Ally Pally stage - and not for the last time - as Littler became the youngest player to ever reach the last 16 of the Worlds.
'The Nuke' got there with a relatively straightforward win over Canadian Matt Campbell, who had impressed when knocking out 13th seed - and four-time semi-finalist - James Wade in the previous round.
Again, it wasn't Littler's best all-round showing of the tournament, but it was certainly a sizzling start to the contest from the 16-year-old as he raced out to a 3-0 lead in sets on his way to a comfortable victory, not dropping a single game in the first two.
Barney beaten in devastating display
Fourth round: (105.01) Luke Littler 4-1 Raymond van Barneveld (99.61)
Littler's very best was saved for his box-office fourth-round clash with darting legend, and five-time world champion, Raymond van Barneveld.
Far from being star-struck when facing the very player he used to imitate as a child, or be overawed by the occasion, Littler blew away Barney, who was himself averaging around a ton.
He took each of the first three sets and, despite being forced into a final leg in the third of those and losing the fourth, he calmly clinched a most memorable of victories in the fifth.
Littler tops ton average again to crush Dolan
Quarter-final: (101.93) Luke Littler 5-1 Brendan Dolan (86.45)
A badly off-colour Brendan Dolan was cruelly and comfortably dispatched in the quarter-finals, the Northern Irishman showing nowhere near the sort of form that saw him shock former champions Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson in the prior rounds.
With Dolan in the doldrums, averaging barely 80 plus for much of the match, Littler took full advantage, racing out into a 4-0 lead before wrapping up the match a couple of sets later.
"There's not enough words to express what he's doing," Sky Sports' Wayne Mardle said afterwards. "16-year-old's don't perform like this... he's an absolute darting freak - and that's a term of endearment. The world should be standing up and taking notice."
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Former winner Cross convincingly beaten in semi-finals
Semi-final: (106.05) Luke Littler 6-2 Rob Cross (102.77)
Only Michael van Gerwen, Barneveld and Anderson have produced better averages in semi-finals than Littler's 106.05 against Cross (until Humphries later bettered it with his 108.74 to whitewash Scott Williams).
It was a performance you'd expect of a multiple world champion like those names before him, let alone a 16-year-old debutant, with Littler taking out stunning checkouts of 132, 142 and 147 on the way to his 6-2 victory over the 2018 winner.
"It's crazy to even think I'm in a World Championship final on my debut," he said afterwards. "I was happy winning one game." He now needs precisely that, one more win - the biggest of them all - to make yet more history.
Watch the World Darts Championship final on January 3, 2024 - live on Sky Sports Darts. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW