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Luke Littler exclusive: 'The World Championship changed my life - I just get on with whatever's coming up'

Luke Littler exclusive: 'The World Championship changed my life - I just get on with whatever's coming up'

In an exclusive interview with SPORTbible, darts star Luke Littler reflects on his incredible start to life on the professional tour.

It is nearly two months to the day that Luke Littler won his first round match at the World Darts Championship - setting in motion a series of events that would change his life.

The 16-year-old, who was born in Runcorn and grew up in Warrington, was always adamant that his only goal on his Alexandra Palace debut was to win his first match against former Lakeside champion Christian Kist.

But by the time 2024 rolled around, Littler was playing a World Championship final against Luke Humphries, having beaten four seeded players including Raymond van Barneveld and Rob Cross. It felt like the entire nation was watching.

It was, in fact, over 4.8 million people that watched the match - making it the most-viewed non-football event ever broadcast by Sky.

He walked out to the song 'Greenlight' by Pitbull - type the song title into YouTube and Luke Littler's name appears underneath.

Although Littler would lose the final 7-4, there had to be an element of perspective afterwards. The best part of becoming the youngest world finalist at just 16? You know you can earn another chance at it.

In an exclusive interview with SPORTbible, Littler opened up on how everything changed in the first 24 hours after the final.

He explained: “I still just can’t believe it now.

“After watching the amount of World Championship finals that I’ve watched, obviously the runner-up stands there and lifts the trophy, then you watch the winner lift theirs. Honestly, I still can’t believe it.

“I just get on with whatever’s coming up, like Bahrain, Netherlands and the Premier League.

“But the next 24 hours did change my life. Loads of media, I went to Sky Sports’ headquarters, and it’s all been busy ever since.”

Perhaps the most remarkable part of Littler’s story throughout the World Championship was how simple he kept his approach. Xbox, time with family and friends, darts practice.

There was even a post on his Snapchat story shortly before the final.

In a world where emphasis is often placed on meticulous preparation, it is a refreshing approach.

And Littler says that, despite the huge media attention, not much has changed in his daily routine since then.

“When I’m at home, it’s the same - when I’ve got a day off, I just play my Xbox, as everyone knows by now,” he begins.

“Then I just speak to my friends and just get on with the day.

“No-one [other players] has really given me any advice - we all just get on with it.”

When Littler speaks to us, early on a Thursday afternoon, he’s about to begin preparing for the third week of his debut Premier League season. Another first.

It’s two days since his debut Players Championship tournament - which he won, defeating Ryan Searle 8-7 in a thrilling final.

Earlier in that tournament, he hit his second nine-darter of the season - after hitting one during the Bahrain Darts Masters last month - in his last 32 win over fellow new tour card holder Michele Turetta.

“It was crazy,” he said. “I’d already seen that Mickey Mansell and Leighton Bennett hit one [nine-darter in the same day].

“Leighton actually hit one next to me in the early rounds, and then we both won our early games and went out again.

“Then I hit one [against Turetta]. But yeah, just a great feeling to hit one on the tour.”

Littler’s resume for this season is already extremely impressive. Bahrain Darts Masters - won. Dutch Darts Masters - final. Premier League week two - final. He prevailed in another tournament last week to qualify for the Belgian Darts Open.

His main goals for the season, he has admitted, are to qualify for the World Matchplay and the Masters - two of the sport’s biggest ranking events.

Then will come a second go at the World Championship next year - an event that he will almost certainly qualify automatically for.

Even without his run to the final at Alexandra Palace, his ranking in last year’s Development Tour standings means we would still have seen the 17-year-old play Pro Tour events this season with a two-year tour card.


Who does ‘The Nuke’ believe is the next developmental star that could skyrocket up the rankings?

He says: “I played Gian van Veen [on the Development Tour], he got a tour card. Wessel Nijman, he came back after a few years out and got a tour card straight away.

“When I won my fourth round game at the World Championship, Nathan Rafferty got his tour card back [Littler’s victory entered him into the top 64, meaning his Development Tour tour card was vacated].

“I’d probably have to say Sebastian Bialecki from Poland, he’s doing well on the Modus Super Series so it wouldn’t surprise me if he got his tour card.”

In another incredible aspect of Littler’s rise, the 17-year-old is currently shortlisted as the favourite to win the 2024 Sports Personality of the Year award, ahead of Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

There is the caveat, of course, that the 2024 Olympics and Euro 2024 have yet to take place.

But Littler admits that even being in contention as a nominee for the award would be ‘crazy’.

“I didn’t even know what [the award] was, I asked my manager and he mentioned it to me!

“But that would just be crazy, after obviously a good year in the World Championship, and changing as much as I've changed for the game.”

With that, Littler is off to prepare for his latest Premier League quarter-final clash - where he was edged out in a deciding leg by 2021 world champion Gerwyn Price. In a tournament that lasts 16 weeks plus a final night, there’s plenty of time to bounce back.

On Monday and Tuesday, Littler is back in Players Championship action again. If he can match his tournament average of over 100 from day one last week, he will surely be in with a chance.

Luke Littler was speaking after the announcement of his new partnership with boohooMAN.

He said of the new partnership: "Hopefully I can bring some success to boohooMAN, obviously it's a big clothing brand. From my side, it's all about winning and not just winning them for them, winning for myself and my other sponsors and manager."

Featured Image Credit: Getty / SPORTbible

Topics: Luke Littler, Darts, Premier League, Spotlight