There’s a lot to speak about in the short career of Luke Littler, so for the sake of time we’ll narrow it down to just what ‘The Nuke’ has been up to in 2023. You’ll still want to grab yourself a cuppa and have a seat though because the youngster from Cheshire has done a serious amount in the past 12 months!
In what is quite an unusual turn of events, to speak about Luke Littler’s journey to Ally Pally for the World Championship 2024, we have to go back to the stage where he played the JDC World Championship 2022 final – Alexandra Palace. It was the first time Luke had played in front of a crowd like that, and whilst it wasn’t televised, it was an experience that he will never forget as he defeated Harry Gregory 5-0.
The dream start to 2023 carried on as we skip forward to March where the WDF’s Isle of Man tournaments took place, including the Isle of Man Classic Youth tournament, who’s trophy already had Luke’s name etched into it from the previous 3 years. The trophy carver didn’t have to do much as Luke secured it for a 4th year on the spin, as well as adding the Isle of Man Classic Men’s title to his ever-growing collection.
Although Luke’s WDF attendance was handpicked by ‘The Nuke’, playing where he could, he still managed to do the double at the British Open and the British Classic, a title which has some of the biggest and best names in the sport including Team Target’s own Stephen Bunting and Glen Durrant. The British Classic final was named correctly with ‘The Nuke’ offering up a 105 average and a 5-0 demolishing of his opponent.
Looking over at the PDC, the UK Open was their first taste of what Luke was all about when he won his way into field of players via Riley’s qualifiers. In his first ever match in Minehead, he decimated a seasoned professional 6-0 before beating Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 6-2 in the following round, averaging 96. In Round 3, he faced off against yet another Tour Card holder in Ritchie Edhouse where he showed an awesome level of resolve to win 6-5. Round 4 sadly saw ‘The Nuke’ head out of the tournament, but it wasn’t easy for Adam Gawlas who had to dig deeper than he had before to defeat Luke’s 100 avg, the highest losing average in the entire tournament.
Following a performance like that is never easy, but Luke took the momentum from his maiden PDC Tournament and went on to have an incredible year on the Development Tour, topping the Order of Merit for a long period of time despite not playing his top game in every weekend. As it stands, following the final events of the year, he has finished in 2nd place on the Order of Merit with 5 Dev Tour titles, securing a Tour Card for 2024/2025 and qualifying for the PDC World Championships.
Most were looking forward to seeing St Helens best academy product at Alexandra Palace, but if you were watching the Players Championship Finals then you would have witnessed the statement victory Luke Littler made when he won the PDC World Youth Championships in front of a packed Minehead crowd. He defeated the Dev Tour Order of Merit topper Gian van Veen 6-4 averaging 102 and confirming himself as the youngest ever victor of the tournament. His appearance in this final means he will at least be playing in the PDC Grand Slam 2024.
And now we look ahead to Alexandra Palace.
This is the venue that every amateur and professional alike is aiming for when they first pick up a dart, even if it is just a whimsical thought of “I wonder what it would be like”. Luke is now no stranger to the big stage, in fact he seems to thrive when tasked with entertaining a crowd. His first opponent will be Christian Kist, a stalwart of darts having played in almost everything from the BDO to the WDF to the PDC. Should ‘The Nuke’ move into the next round, he will be facing off against the Champion of the tournament where he put his name on the map - UK Open winner, Andrew Gilding.
Luke’s quarter of the draw has some potentially mouthwatering ties, including 4 former World Champions. The prospect of seeing ‘The Nuke’ putting his blockbuster scoring to the test against a legend like Gary Anderson or Raymond van Barneveld is an exciting one and hopefully Luke plays as we know he can and makes it come true!
Although he is known for mixing up the set-up of flights, stems and points, Luke’s barrels never change! He is currently using ‘The Nuke’ Gen 1 darts, which are 23g and designed exclusively for his use. The rear of the barrel features a thumb-width sized section of traditional ring grip before transitioning down into pixel grip, separated by a band featuring the Target logo. Pixel is a high-tec, premium grip on the higher end of the grip scale which Luke uses to his advantage, often changing the trajectory of a dart so he can hit the scores he needs to, quite regularly pulling out a ‘flatty’ to allow darts to fly over the top into doubles.