Littler: 'I have proven I've got the ability to win'

Bahrain Darts Masters (BIC)

Luke Littler admitted that he surpassed his own expectations after storming to Bahrain Darts Masters glory in sensational style on Friday.

Littler marked his World Series of Darts debut with a historic triumph at the Bahrain International Circuit, defeating Michael van Gerwen to clinch his first senior PDC title.

The World Youth Champion and World Championship finalist has created global headlines over recent weeks, and he continued his meteoric rise with an 8-5 success against the Dutch supremo.

The 16-year-old also landed a magical nine-darter in his quarter-final win over Nathan Aspinall on Finals Day, before producing a 170 finish on his way to demolishing Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals.

“I had not picked a dart up since the World Championship final, so I wasn’t expecting anything,” revealed Littler, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on Sunday.

“I came over to Bahrain just thinking: ‘Win my first round game and then see who you play in the next round’, but it’s been unbelievable this week.

“The Asian qualifiers were great too, but I have proven that I’ve got the ability to win [titles], and I’m just really happy to be the winner.”

Littler, who claimed five Winmau Development Tour titles in 2023, converted 120, 136 and 151 finishes in an eye-catching 6-3 win over Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung in Thursday’s opening round.

The teenage phenom then made the perfect start to Friday’s final stages with a nine-darter in the opening leg of his quarter-final win over Aspinall, where he averaged 104 and crashed in six maximums.

The Warrington thrower later pinned 70 per cent of his attempts at double in a clinical 7-3 thrashing of Price in the last four, before toppling Van Gerwen in a fascinating tussle.

The opening six legs of Friday’s showpiece went with throw, but a superb 11-darter in leg seven sparked Littler into life, and he won five of the last seven legs to complete a landmark victory.

“I’m just very happy to get over the line against a very good Michael van Gerwen,” added Littler, the youngest player to win a PDC televised title.

“Michael is still one of the best if not the best, but I am just so happy to win on my [World Series] debut. 

“I can’t wait to play in every tournament. I know the Premier League will be gruelling and you have the ProTours in between, but let’s do it, why not?

“It may never happen again, that’s how I think of it.”

Littler has now defeated four World Champions within three weeks, having also beaten Dutch icon Raymond van Barneveld and 2018 winner Rob Cross during his heroic run at Alexandra Palace.

He also becomes just the second player to land a nine-darter on the World Series stage, after Phil Taylor achieved perfection at the Sydney Darts Masters in August 2015.

Littler could make it back-to-back World Series of Darts titles at next weekend’s TOTO Dutch Darts Masters, but despite his record-breaking exploits, he’s refusing to get carried away.

“I have not really set any goals and I don’t want to,” insisted Littler, who will also make his BetMGM Premier League Darts debut in Cardiff on February 1.

“I only set a goal at the World Championship to win a game because it would have been a big thing, and I got to the final!

“I take every competition as it comes, just look at it game by game, and see if I come out the winner.

“I have won here in Bahrain, and now I cannot wait for next weekend in Den Bosch.”