World No 1 Luke Humphries claimed a 7-4 victory over Luke Littler in the final at the Alexandra Palace to claim a maiden world title; Littler could be named in the line-up for the Premier League when it is announced on Thursday
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 04/01/24 1:18am
New world darts champion Luke Humphries has backed teenage sensation Luke Littler for a Premier League debut after his sensational breakthrough appearance at the Alexandra Palace.
Littler ripped up the record books and captured the interest of the sporting world on his way to the final, brushing aside childhood hero Raymond van Barneveld, former world champion Rob Cross and UK Open winner Andrew Gilding during his run.
The 16-year-old was 4-2 up in an epic final before losing the next five sets to fall to a 7-4 loss against Humphries, who is now world No 1 and has called for Littler to be named in the Premier League announcement, live on Sky Sports News at 4pm on Thursday.
“I’m not just saying this because it will please everyone, but Luke [Littler] has been an unbelievable talent,” Humphries told Sky Sports.
“Not just about the dartboard, he has been fantastic with all the media that has come about with him and he took the defeat so well. You will never see another down-to-earth 16-year-old kid like him who is just something else.
“I really hope he’s in the Premier League because, if he don’t want to play in it fair enough, but I think he’d be a pleasure to play alongside this year. He’s one of the best players in the world, there is no doubt about that.
“In the back of my mind throughout today I was thinking ‘get this one now because he [Littler] is going to dominate world darts soon!’ I had to win this one tonight and he’s going to win plenty I’m sure.”
The PDC shut down questions about Littler potentially featuring in the Premier League during his post-match press conference, although their chief executive Matt Porter insisted there are plenty of factors when deciding on whether he should take part.
“There’s all sorts of things to consider for Luke going forward and it has to be at the right place for him and his development,” Porter told Sky Sports News.
“In the same vein, you have to be careful not to hold somebody back if they’re ready. We’re talking to his management, we’re talking to his parents, and we’ll make sure we do what’s right for Luke.”
Mardle: Littler in the Premier League a ‘no-brainer’
The Sky Sports Darts pundits all gave their verdict on whether Littler should be included in the line-up ahead of Wednesday’s final, with former Premier League players John Part, Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster all backing darts’ newest star to be involved.
“I don’t know how they can ignore him,” Webster said. “The score lines, the stats, the averages – he has just dispatched the players throughout every round.
“He’s a special talent and whilst he’s playing like this, he would be a great addition to the Premier League. The coverage he brings with him as well and he’s a young player, so he’s got a big appetite.
“The Premier League’s designed for Luke Littler and I’m pretty certain he’ll be in it.”
Mardle added: “I’ve been in the Premier League a couple of times and you get a gauge and a guide of who should be in and who shouldn’t. First off, are you good enough? The answer with Luke Littler is yes.
“What does he bring to the table? Does he bring viewers? Does he put bums on seats? Will there be any kind of media around him that can grow the game? Yeah, it’s an absolute no-brainer. For me? Yeah, he’ll take to it like a duck to water.”
Former world champion Part said: “People around him would perhaps like to be a little cautious. Because if it does go wrong, what kind of travesty does that become? All the second-guessing could be tremendous, but I think he can handle it.”
Who will feature in the Premier League?
Defending Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen and new world champion Humphries will be joined by last year’s Alexandra Palace winner Michael Smith and two-time world champion Peter Wright, with the four automatically qualifying via the PDC Order of Merit.
Former world No 1 Gerwyn Price and Nathan Aspinall are among the other likely contenders to feature, with former world champion Cross, 2021 Premier League winner Jonny Clayton and Alexandra Palace quarter-finalist Chris Dobey all potential considerations.
Littler would become the youngest player in Premier League history should he be selected, or choose to feature if invited, while World Championship semi-finalist Scott Williams and Dave Chisnall are also potential options.
When is the 2024 Premier League?
The 2024 Premier League Darts season will begin in Cardiff on the first day of February with the play-offs to take place at London’s O2 Arena at the end of May.
Berlin, Glasgow, Newcastle and Exeter host events in February, before the Premier League roadshow heads to Brighton, Nottingham, Dublin and Belfast in March.
Manchester, Birmingham, Rotterdam and Liverpool are the cities for April’s Premier League nights, before Aberdeen, Leeds, Sheffield are the venues ahead of the final in London on May 25.
Watch the best darts in 2024 live on Sky Sports or stream with NOW.
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