Luke Littler - World Champ before 21?

Published on 10 August 2023 at 20:00

Luke 'The Nuke' Littler can't drink or drive yet but in darts terms, plays well above his years. The Cheshire-born prodigy is the latest darting wonder-kid to grab the headlines, but will he be able to turn potential into glory?


A Star is Born

Born in Runcorn in 2007, as you can probably imagine, Littler started playing darts from a very young age. At just 12 years old, he won several youth titles including the English Grand Prix and the Isle of Man Masters.

Littler's scintillating form on the youth circuit meant he started qualifying for senior events. In November 2021, he won his first senior title in the form of the Irish Open, where he defeated Barry Copeland in the final. Just weeks later, 'The Nuke' hit a nine-darter during the JDC Masters Tournament in Gibraltar against Tinus Van Tiel, all before his 15th birthday!

From that day to this, Littler has gone from strength-to-strength, winning mulitple JDC titles, including the World Championship and Welsh Open in 2022. He also had his first experience of a PDC event earlier this year, where he reached the fourth round of the UK Open, producing a ton-plus average in the third round.


The Big Leagues

Due to his performances on the Development tour, Littler has virtually already guaranteed his spot at the Ally Pally this year and looks likely to earn a PDC tour card next year. This begs the question, is the youngster ready for the step up?

With Littler's undoubted natural ability, the obvious answer is yes. However, getting a tour card as soon as possible could be a risky strategy for him, with all the pressure and media hype he'd have to deal with.

With two tournament nine darters under his belt as well as his scoring power, it is clear that Littler has the ability, so it will be his mental toughness that will determine how far he goes.

Despite this, Littler doesn't only look physically beyond his years, but also talks in interviews like he is too. Currently, he looks like a very well-grounded, respectful, competitive young man, qualities that will stand him in good stead for a successful career.




Expectation v Reality

As Littler prepares to make the step up, the expectation on his young shoulders is only going to increase.

In the past we have seen many an arrow-smith 'destined for greatness' who haven't lived up to their potential. Kirk Shepherd narrowly lost out to John Part in the 2008 World Championship Final at the age of 22. Everyone thought Shepherd would be a future a World Champ at the time however his form dipped dramatically in the following years and he has recently handed in his tour card.

On the Contrary, when a young Michael Smith knocked Phil Taylor out of the World Championships in 2014, everyone thought they could be witnessing a future World Champion. He took his time, but nine years later Smith fulfilled his potential.

The moral of the story is it may take time for Littler to really stamp his authority in the PDC and that he musn't panic if things don't go to plan early on.

With the current plethora of tungsten talent, Littler would have to complete a miracle of Leicester City proportions to win the World Championships next year. However, don't be surprised in the next few years to see him have a good run at the World's.

Who knows what the future holds for the young man, but only time will tell if he's a Smith or a Shepherd...

By Alistair Gordon

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