Teenage sensation Luke Littler’s World Darts Championship fairytale ends in defeat as Luke Humphries wins final

Luke Littler in action against Luke Humphries (not pictured) during the final of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 3, 2024. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Luke Littler was beaten by Luke Humphries in Wednesday’s final.Zac Goodwin/PA Images/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Teenage darts sensation Luke Littler fell just short in his bid to become the youngest winner of the World Darts Championship, after being beaten 7-4 in the final by Luke Humphries on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old has become a global star since making his tournament debut this year, with the teenage sensation defying the odds by beating opponents with decades’ more experience.

However, current world No. 1 Humphries proved one step too far as Littler’s fairytale journey came to an end.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Littler told Sky Sports in his post-match interview, before analysing his own performance in the final.

“The one negative was I lost too many legs on my throw, so Luke [Humphries] could break me.”

“Every game’s been good, just that one really annoyed me.”

Luke Littler of England, celebrates after winning the quarterfinal match against Brendan Dolan of Northern Ireland at the World Darts Championship, in London, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A 16-year-old is shaking up the heady, often bizarre, orbit of the World Darts Championship

Littler’s performances at this year’s competition have catapulted the youngster into a different stratosphere, where he’s had to quickly learn to deal with the pressure that comes with being the man of the moment.

In the build-up to the final, social media was awash with well wishes for Littler, who has infatuated the general public with his laid back style and wonderfully normal approach to life.

Talk of the youngster celebrating his wins with kebabs endeared himself to the masses as he took all the attention in his stride.

He continued to produce moments of magic in a pulsating final which saw momentum swing between the two world class players.

The crowd inside Alexandra Palace was very much in Littler’s corner and the teenager had led the match 4-2 at one point.

However, Littler wasted a golden opportunity to make it 5-2, allowing Humphries to roar back into the match.

The relentless Humphries went on to win the last five sets in the match, punishing Littler every time his standards slipped. The 28-year-old fell to his knees when his final dart hit its target.

“I could not put into words how great this feels,” an emotional Humphries told Sky Sports.

“In the back of my mind throughout the whole of the day I’m just thinking ‘get this one now because he’s going to dominate world darts soon.’”

“[Littler] is an incredible talent but I had to win this one tonight and he’s going to win plenty I’m sure.”

Luke Humphries celebrates with the trophy after beating Luke Littler in the final of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 3, 2024. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Humphries celebrates with the trophy after an impressive performance in the final.Zac Goodwin/PA Images/Getty Images

Littler’s route to the final

Speak to those in the darts world and they knew Littler had potential to compete at this level, but very few, including Littler himself, could ever have imagined him finishing the tournament as the beaten finalist.

It all started with a first round victory against Christian Kist, where Littler produced a memorable display to brush aside his Dutch opponent in straight sets.

It was impressive, yes, but few thought the world junior champion could keep up that high level of darts as the tournament progressed.

But the Littler steam train kept on chugging away and Andrew Gilding was the next player to be defeated.

The win ensured Littler would return to the tournament after the brief Christmas break, where the youngster reverted back to being a normal 16-year-old

“To be honest, it was just Xbox and more Xbox,” he told reporters when asked how he spent his Christmas.


After the break, attention had started to ratchet up around the youngster. A straight sets victory against Matt Campbell in the third round raised eyebrows and secured an encounter with darts legend Raymond van Barneveld.

The Dutch veteran is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and was Littler’s hero growing up. But the teenager had no time for sentiment, dispatching the 56-year-old with relative ease to cement himself as a real contender for the title.

The quarterfinals then brought a matchup with Brendan Dolan, but Littler wasted little energy in bulldozing his way past the Northern Irishman. The match was the most watched quarterfinal in the tournament’s history on Sky Sports, with a peak audience of 1.4 million.

Luke Littler reacts after victory over Rob Cross (not pictured) on day fifteen of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Tuesday January 2, 2024. 74983913 (Press Association via AP Images)

Littler became a firm fan favorite during this year’s tournament.Zac Goodwin/AP

Undeterred by the noise and excitement building, Littler then kept his cool to produce arguably his best performance, beating 2018 champion Cross in a match of world class quality.

According to Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) chairman Eddie Hearn, the semifinal was watched by a record 2.32 million people.

“It would be unbelievable to win this title. I set myself the target to win one game and be back after Christmas, and I’m still here,” Littler said at the time.

Speak to Littler away from the stage and he’s just like any other teenager. He was softly-spoken when interviewed by CNN Sport ahead of his third round match, just giddy at all the attention he was receiving on social media.

But when in front of a board with darts in his hand, Littler transforms into a machine, mature beyond his years and fearless in front of the boisterous Alexandra Palace crowd.

“I love it,” he said. “People are chanting, necking https://saladbiji.com beers, it’s crazy. It’s hard to focus, they are chanting your name, but you have to keep it out of your head and somehow have to focus.”

The crowd continued to chant his name after defeat in the final, a sign of just how much Littler has done for the sport of darts over the past few weeks.

One thing is for sure, Littler will have many more opportunities to win a world title in the future and his hordes of adoring fans will be back to watch him.

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