Luke Littler continued his meteoric rise by winning Monday’s Players Championship 1 event on his Pro Tour debut, beating Ryan Searle 8-7 in an incredible final in Wigan. The 17-year-old hit a sensational nine-darter earlier in the day and almost produced a second as he stormed his way to his latest piece of silverware.
Littler has rapidly become one of darts’ most popular stars since reaching the World Championship final in January with a memorable run at Alexandra Palace.
Despite falling short against Luke Humphries, Littler’s exploits saw him become world No. 31, guaranteeing him a Tour Card and a spot in every Pro Tour event this season.
The teenage prodigy has regularly won matches since his exploits on the Ally Pally stage, lifting the Bahrain Masters earlier this year and making a strong start to his maiden Premier League campaign.
But the Players Championship represented his first tournament that impacted the world rankings, and he made no mistake in blowing his opposition out of the water.
Littler started the day with a comfortable 6-3 win over Jim Williams, averaging 105. He then dispatched Luke Woodhouse by the same scoreline in the second round.
A 6-1 triumph over Michele Turetta in the round of 32 followed, during which he produced a brilliant nine-dart finish, replicating his same feat against Nathan Aspinall in Bahrain just weeks ago.
Littler averaged 109 as he cruised past Cameron Menzies 6-2 in the last 16 and agonisingly missed the double 12 for his second nine-darter of the day on his way to victory.
James Hurrell also was no match for the Warrington icon, falling 6-3, which set up an entertaining semi-final against Alan Soutar.
Littler had to battle to navigate his way past Souter, winning a deciding leg to take the match 7-6 after producing a 150 finish when the score was locked at 5-5.
That set up a final against Searle, in which The Nuke was against the throw against the world No. 20. But he lit up the oche again.
As a matter of fact, both players did. Littler recorded two ton-plus finishes, hit seven 180s and averaged 109.6.
Meanwhile, Searle averaged an incredible 111.7 but fell short in another deciding leg as Littler checked out with double 20.
The teenager has now won 15 of his 18 matches since suffering that heartbreaking defeat against Humphries in the world final.
That has included a positive start to his Premier League season after snatching the eighth spot, and he is next in action against Gerwyn Price on Night Three in Glasgow on Thursday.