Fearless Littler eyeing more Ally Pally history

Luke Littler (Simon O'Connor/PDC)

Teenage sensation Luke Littler will take on UK Open champion Andrew Gilding for a place in the third round of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship tonight, after enjoying a dream debut on Wednesday.

Littler lit up the Alexandra Palace stage with a straight-sets demolition of former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist last night, sealing his progress in double-quick time.

The 16-year-old smashed the record-average for a debutant on the Alexandra Palace stage, averaging an astonishing 106.12 to dispatch his Dutch opponent.

The back-to-back JDC World Champion ranked the achievement as his greatest feat in the sport, having also won last month's Winmau World Youth Championship in Minehead.

“[This achievement] ranks at the top. To hit the highest average on my debut is unbelievable," reflected history-maker Littler.

“I can’t put it into words. I’ve watched the World Championship for many years, seeing loads of different people lift the title, and now I've actually won a game on this big stage.

“I knew my practice was going well but I didn’t think I’d take it onto the stage, but I did.

“Walking on, everyone wanted me to sign everything. I couldn’t sign everything, but it was just crazy to see little kids with my own top on. It was just good to see.”

Littler enjoyed the unwavering support of the packed-out Ally Pally crowd, and he also received post-match praise from 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor.

The Stoke-on-Trent legend previously claimed Littler is a better player at 16-years-old than he ever was, and Taylor sent the teenager a congratulatory message on social media following his landmark victory

Many people have likened the Cheshire-born superstar to darting greats such as Taylor and Michael van Gerwen, although the teenage superstar is unfazed by the bold comparisons.

“That’s what a lot of people have said [being the next Michael van Gerwen or Phil Taylor]. They said I’m better than Michael and I can't agree, but the more darts I play, the better I get.

“This year I’ve had the Development Tour and the JDC, which has just helped me build up to this occasion."

Littler is now remarkably the fourth favourite – alongside reigning World Champion Michael Smith - with title sponsor Paddy Power to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on January 3.

However, while the youngster believes his A-game is good enough to claim World Championship glory, he insists he's only focused on his next match.

“I just wanted to win tonight so anything else is an over-achievement for myself," continued the Warrington thrower.

“If I average 106 in every game then I’ve got a good chance [of winning the World Championship] but like I said, I’ve won tonight so leading into tomorrow I can just get all the nerves out of the way.”

Littler was relishing the party atmosphere on darts' biggest stage, and the debutant insists the nerves are now gone ahead of his second round clash against Gilding.

“I don’t need to be nervous. I’ve done what I needed to do, win my first game and I need to win about six or seven to get the title, but I’m just happy to win tonight.

“Walking on I was nervous but when I stepped onto the stage, I just said to myself ‘Wow!’ I didn’t want to go into my own shell, I just had to be myself and I was."

The teenage prodigy clashes with Gilding in the opening game of the evening, as he looks to create another slice of history at Alexandra Palace.

"My main goal now is to hopefully come back after Christmas," Littler admitted.

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was just so excited, and it was the same again last night knowing that I'm playing today."

2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Andrew Gilding v Luke Littler (R2)
Danny Noppert v Scott Williams (R2)
Gabriel Clemens v Man Lok Leung (R2)
Damon Heta v Martin Lukeman (R2)