Littler, 16, beats Cross to storm into darts World final

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Luke Littler threw scores of 100-plus on 42 occasions

By Callum Matthews
BBC Sport

Luke Littler’s sensational run at the PDC World Darts Championship continued as the 16-year-old beat Rob Cross to storm into the final.

Littler, playing in the tournament for the first time, lost the first set but recovered to win 6-2.

Littler, who has now earned £200,000, is the youngest person to reach the final, overtaking Kirk Shepherd who was 21 years and 88 days old in 2008.

“It is crazy to even think I am in the final on my debut,” he said.

Littler told Sky Sports: “I was happy to win one game and now I can go all the way. It’s not easy. You are playing Rob, he is a world champion who won on debut. I’ve got no words.”

Asked about his preparation for Wednesday’s final, Littler added: “I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing. In the morning I’ll go for my ham and cheese omelette and then come here, have a pizza and then prep on the board. That is what I’ve done every day.”

Luke Humphries faces Scott Williams in the second semi-final with both aiming to reach a first final.

Humphries will become world number one if he reaches the final.

Littler’s run to the final

Round 1: Beat Christian Kist 3-0

Round 2: Beat Andrew Gilding (ranked 20) 3-1

Round 3: Beat Matt Campbell 4-1

Round 4: Beat five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld (28) 4-1

Quarter-final: Beat Brendan Dolan (29) 5-1

Semi-final: Beat 2018 PDC world champion Rob Cross (8) 6-2

Littler’s record run continues

Watch: Luke Littler plays darts as a toddler in home video footage

Littler, who turns 17 on 21 January, was serenaded by the Alexandra Palace crowd as the pair warmed up, with “there’s only one Luke Littler” and “walking in a Littler wonderland” ringing round the famous amphitheatre.

Many pundits predicted that Littler would outscore 2018 champion Cross and that ended up being the case, despite some initial scrappy and nervous darts.

He finished with a three-dart average of 106.05 compared to Cross’ 102.77.

It is the fourth match of the tournament that Littler has averaged more than 100. No other player has done that with already eliminated Chris Dobey next on three occasions.

Littler started the tournament ranked 164th in the world and had a provisional ranking of 50 heading into the semi-finals. He could rise as high as ninth and win £500,000 if he is successful in Wednesday’s final.

He had only played four senior matches at PDC premier events before making his debut on 20 December and now has the opportunity to be the youngest winner of the tournament, surpassing Michael van Gerwen, who was 24 years and nine months old when he won his first title in 2014.

Littler lost the opening set for the first time in the tournament before he recovered to take a 3-1 lead, including taking out 142 in the third set.

Cross won the next set, breaking Littler’s throw with a 138, before he struggled to keep up with his opponent’s high-scoring game as the 16-year-old won three sets in a row to seal the victory.

Littler threw 16 maximums, compared to Cross’ 10, but it was the checkout accuracy that really cost the former champion.

At one stage Littler’s checkout percentage was 64.7 and Cross’ 34.8. That closed to 46.8 and 41.7 by the end but the Warrington teenager had opened up too much of a gap at that point.

“I just wanted to win my first-round game,” Littler told Sky Sports. “I heard he [Christian Kist] was struggling with an injury but I blocked it out. I knew I was spending more time in London so then my next target was to spend Christmas with the family and then come back and I did and here I am in the final.

“I’ve just settled on that stage. It takes me a few legs to settle but then I’m good to go.

“There’s no more development tour for me now! I’m happy to be in the top 32 and I can go even higher.”

Luke Littler: 16-year-old on celebratory meal after victory at World Championship

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