Teenager Luke Littler will continue his dream World Darts Championship debut when he faces Canada’s Matt Campbell in the third round of the tournament on the first day of action after Christmas.
Before the Christmas break, 16-year-old Littler was Alexandra Palace’s star after beating Christian Kist in the first round before taking the next step 24 hours later by beating Andrew Gilding to reach the last 32.
Gilding, the reigning UK Open champion, ranked 20th and 37 years Littler’s senior, lost 3-1 as the teenage prodigy showed greater composure in the first two sets, with Gilding twice missing a pair of darts Double missed in that second.
Littler suffered a slip-up in the third round but Gilding couldn’t capitalize on his chances and the teenager secured a place in the last 32 against Campbell.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Littler said: “When I went 2-0 up I lost all my energy. When Andrew got the setback, I just thought, “Just try to win it,” because I don’t want to be up 2-2 on that stage. I was already so nervous. I don’t know how I got across the border, but I did.”
Littler was born on January 21, 2007 in Runcorn, Cheshire and began playing darts at the age of nine. He won the England Youth Grand Prix in 2019 and began racking up tournament victories.
He became England Youth Open champion in 2021 and won his first senior title at the Irish Open later that year.
In 2022 he won the Welsh Open and this year took further senior titles at the Isle of Man Classic, the Gibraltar Open, the British Open and the British Classic.
After his impressive win on the biggest stage against Kist in the first round – Littler hit seven 180s and scored a monstrous average of 106.12 – the teenager spoke of his pride in achieving the highest average on his World Darts Championship debut.
He hit 50 percent of his doubles in a spectacular performance that saw his odds of winning the Sid Waddell Trophy drop to 14-1, making him the seventh favorite.
However, victory over Gilding boosted those chances even further and he is now 9-1 as joint fourth favorite ahead of his third round clash with Campbell.
“You have school tomorrow morning.”
During Littler’s stunning win over Kist, a packed house at Alexandra Palace heard the chorus of “You’ve got school in the morning” and the Warrington teenager responded by pumping his chest as he soaked up the atmosphere.
However, his appearance wasn’t a complete shock. His breakthrough year in 2023, which also saw him win the Gibraltar Open and the PDC World Youth Championship, made him a clear 3/10 favorite to beat Kist.
“Everyone takes a shot.”
Littler’s walk-in music at Alexandra Palace is “Greenlight” by American rapper Pitbull and includes the lyrics “Red light, green light, everyone take a try. Red light, green light, give me everything you’ve got.”
It was released in 2016 as the second single from Pitbull’s tenth studio album “Climate Change” and the video, shot in Miami, has over 99 million views on YouTube.
Favorite to progress
Next up for the darts prodigy is a third-round clash against Matt Campbell of Canada at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday evening.
Campbell had lost in the first round in each of his four World Championship appearances this year, but finally prevailed with a hard-fought 3-2 against Lourence Ilagan after seeing a two-set lead disappear before he was able to pull himself together again to take over the decision-maker.
Then things got even better for the Canadian as he impressed with an average of 96.28 and deservedly defeated 13th seed James Wade in the second round for arguably the biggest win of his career. However, bookmakers do not expect his run to continue in north London, with Littler the 3-1 favorite to progress to the fourth round.