Teenage star Littler relishing senior Ally Pally debut

Luke Littler (PDC)

Teenage sensation Luke Littler will make his highly-anticipated Paddy Power World Darts Championship debut tonight, as he takes on former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist for a place in round two.

The youngster has dominated darts’ youth circuits over recent years, winning five Winmau Development Tour titles during a breakthrough 2023 season to underline his status as one of the sport's most exciting talents.

The feats have attracted considerable media attention, although Littler insists he isn't feeling the pressure ahead of his Alexandra Palace debut.

"I don't really feel pressure. I just let my darts do the talking. I do fancy my chances, but we will just have to see what happens against Christian first," insisted Littler.

"I’m going into Alexandra Palace full of confidence with no pressure on me. You’ve got the big guys defending prize money and it’s just a free shot for me, so I’m just going to let my darts go.” 

The 16-year-old enters the showpiece event in scintillating form, having picked up two World Youth Championship titles in the space of three weeks. 

Littler averaged 102 in Minehead last month to defeat Gian van Veen and lift the Winmau World Youth Championship, before retaining the JDC World Championship on the Ally Pally stage on Sunday, courtesy of another ton-topping average.

"I'm really looking forward to playing Christian. I have played on the Ally Pally stage twice now with the JDC, and I cannot wait to do it in front of a big crowd on Wednesday," Littler added.

“Like people say, I could do a Rob Cross on debut. If my A-game is there then I believe I possibly could [win the World Championship].” 

The Cheshire-born star finished runner-up to Van Veen on the Development Tour this year - earning him a Tour Card for the next two years - and the youngster has a message for the rest of the ProTour.

“This is a massive achievement in my career," claimed the teenager, who reached round four in March's UK Open.

“I hope people do believe that I am good enough, because obviously I’ve earned it off the Development Tour to get my Tour Card.

“I believe it will raise my game, because I will be playing against the best players in the world, week in, week out on the ProTour and in qualifying for the European Tour. 

“At the moment I don’t practice much. I usually do 30 minutes to an hour a day. Some people probably won’t believe it, but if I’m playing against the best, then I’ve got to up my standard."

Littler takes on Kist in the penultimate game of the evening, with the 2012 Lakeside Champion making his return to the Alexandra Palace stage following a six-year absence.

The Dutchman does not currently hold a PDC Tour Card, although he's been a regular on the Players Championship circuit in 2023 courtesy of his Challenge Tour ranking, reaching a ProTour final back in September.

Kist was edged out by his compatriot Danny Noppert in a last-leg decider in Players Championship 22, although there is uncertainty surrounding his form heading into darts' biggest tournament, after his Players Championship Finals campaign last month was blighted by injury.

2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Ryan Joyce v Alex Spellman (R1)
Richard Veenstra v Ben Robb (R1)
Christian Kist v Luke Littler (R1)
Peter Wright v Jim Williams (R2)