Luke Littler will have the chance to add another quarter of a million pounds to his World Darts Championship prize money after he was given a spot in Premier League Darts for 2024.
Littler, 16, has already bagged his first six-figure paycheck after reaching the world final, a run worth £200,000, although he missed out on the biggest payday in darts after he was beaten 7-4 by Luke Humphries.
The event was watched by 3.71 million people, Sky Sports’s biggest non-football event since at least 2015, and Littler will appear at least 16 more times on the network after being picked as one of the eight players to feature in the Premier League which starts next month. Michael Smith, Peter Wright and Rob Cross also received wildcards.
Littler had already broken viewing records in his semi-final win over former world champion Cross before Wednesday’s audience, which captured more than 4.5m viewers in total. Even Humphries himself joked that he was not the reason they were watching, and while he qualified automatically by virtue of his place atop the PDC Order of Merit, Littler needed a wildcard nod from organisers.
Darts’s newest star will have turned 17 by the time the Premier League gets underway in Cardiff next month, but the gruelling 17-week schedule, travelling all the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe before the climax in London on 23 May. That will be combined with playing the European Tour Monday through to Wednesday every week.
It is not a decision to enter into lightly given Littler’s tender years, but the teenager says he had little hesitation in saying yes to the offer.
“As soon as I came off stage [after the final], did the media, went upstairs, seen the family and my manager Martin [Foulds] pulled me aside and went ‘do you want to do it?’,” Littler said.
“So I just went to my Mum and Dad ‘let’s do it, it might never happen again’.
“They said ‘It’s gonna be tough, we’re never going to be home, but why not, let’s get on the road every week and let’s enjoy it’.”
Littler’s willingness to jump on his opportunity is admirable, although the £1m Premier League prize pool makes it an easier decision, but he did accept that he might have to take a break at some point.
And first of all Littler, after weeks in a London hotel he expected to occupy for a few days, wants to try and get back to normal. Hundreds turned out at the St Helens Darts Academy to watch the final while his name has dominated front and back pages over the festive period – but he hopes to leave darts behind for a few days at least.
“When I look on Facebook and there’s people tagged me saying there’s people around my house, it doesn’t look good does it?” Littler added.
“It should die down and I hope it has died down because I just want to go home.
“I’m just gonna go somewhere and just chill out when and I’ll get back to the board when I need to.”
2024 Premier League Darts
- February 1 – Cardiff
- February 8 – Berlin
- February 15 – Glasgow
- February 22 – Newcastle
- February 29 – Exeter
- March 7 – Brighton
- March 14 – Nottingham
- March 21 – Dublin
- March 28 – Belfast
- April 4 – Manchester
- April 11 – Birmingham
- April 18 – Rotterdam
- April 25 – Liverpool
- May 2 – Aberdeen
- May 9 – Leeds
- May 16 – Sheffield
- May 23 – London (play-offs)
World champion was ‘really depressed’ and ready to give up on darts
Luke Humphries has revealed he battled depression, anxiety and weight issues en route to winning his first world title.
Virtually unrecognisable in a photo from meeting Littler four years earlier, Humphries has since lost four stone in order to become “the best version of me”.
And the 28-year-old also revealed after winning he got to a point with his mental health that he did not believe he could make it as a professional darts player – even seeking medical treatment for the heart palpitations he was experiencing on stage.
“It makes it more incredible for myself mentally because there was a time in my life when I was really depressed and I didn’t think this was going to be it for me,” Humphries said.
“I couldn’t do it up on the big stage – I went through a lot of problems. To go on to be world number one and world champion has proved a lot in terms of my mental ability.”
He added: “I’ll draw a lot from this, this is a moment that will never be forgotten.
“I don’t want to say I’ve completed darts, but everything that I’ve wanted to do, I’ve done now. Now it’s about motivating yourself to do more and more. I want to be a double world champion and win loads of majors.”