Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 27, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home SportGlobal 2024 PDC World Darts Championship: Luke Littler Paves the Way for a New Era of Darts

2024 PDC World Darts Championship: Luke Littler Paves the Way for a New Era of Darts

Emily Elliott assesses the impact of Luke Littler's monumental rise to fame during the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship.
3 mins read
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Luke Littler overcame Rob Cross in the semi-finals
Luke Littler beat Rob Cross (pictured) in the semi-finals of the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship
Image: Sven Mandel, via Wikimedia Commons

Alexandra Palace, London, was the venue for the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship Final, in which Luke Littler fell to a devastating defeat. Ultimately, the experience of world number one ranked player, Luke Humphries, was enough to end Littler’s fairy tale, claiming the title with a 7-4 win. In spite of his loss, 16-year-old Littler won the attention of the nation and demonstrated that age poses no threat when skill and tenacity are at play.

The story of this teenage sensation’s rise to darts elite status is one that has grasped huge media attention. On paper, he’s your average 16 year old: a kebab-loving boy from Warrington, Cheshire, fresh out the GCSE exam hall. This placed him in prime position to shock the nation as the world’s youngest darts player prodigy. He stepped up to the stage and defied all the odds. Affectionately known as ‘The Nuke’, he won an astounding £200,000 despite falling at the final hurdle – just a little more than the pocket money of his year-11 peers! His path to the World Championships is one of huge success too: he won the World Youth Title in 2022 and has accumulated £2,500 in prize money from previous ranking tournaments. His heroics at Ally Pally see him rise from 164th to 31st in the global rankings.

On paper, he’s your average 16 year old: a kebab-loving boy from Warrington, Cheshire, fresh out the GCSE exam hall. He just happens to be very, very good at darts!

The match was an engaging one that ebbed and flowed. At points it seemed almost certain he would beat Humphries. The wind was in his sails at 4-2 up and he had the full backing of the raucous crowd. But ‘Cool Hand Luke’ pegged him back, showing every ounce of his experience and class. Despite an extraordinary campaign, finishing runner-up did not fully satisfy the teenager. Littler expressed his annoyance at missing a double to win his fifth set that ultimately sparked a momentum swing that helped Humphries home. As he mentioned in an interview with The Guardian, the story of his meteoric rise could make him even “bigger than the winner”, regardless of the final result. He has been named as a wildcard pick for this year’s Premier League Darts – reassuring news for the lively crowd that followed him throughout December 2023.

Without a doubt, Littler’s loss is overshadowed by the momentous gains in darts engagement worldwide. Turning into a nationwide idol overnight, almost 5 million people tuned in to watch his efforts in the final. The peak audience of 3.71 million viewers is the highest ever non-football peak on Sky Sports. Ripples from his legacy have been felt at a community level, with a huge increase in the number of children signing up. For example, Sidac social club in St Helens, Littler’s old stomping ground, has experienced an overwhelming increase in prospective players since he made his Championship debut. More engagement at grassroots level and an upturn in TV popularity set the building blocks for darts, previously considered niche, to join the sporting mainstream. Luke Littler can certainly take the credit.

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