Luke Littler had a dartboard from the age of four, his parents had him out in pubs five nights a week aged eight and now he’s a World Darts Championship sensation at 16… Inside ‘The Nuke’s’ incredible rise to a £50,000 pay-day

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From the video of him throwing darts in his nappies at just 18-months old and knocking back high scores, perhaps it was obvious that Luke Littler would always become a darts star.

However, no-one expected the Warrington sensation, born in 2007, to rise to fame this quickly and become the story of this year’s PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

The ‘Prince of the Palace’, as he has been dubbed, has shocked the darting world with his sensational displays which culminated in Saturday night’s 4-1 drubbing of his own idol Raymond van Barneveld to set up a quarter-final against Brendan Dolan on New Year’s Day.

Littler was born 20 days after five-time world champion Van Barneveld defeated Phil Taylor 7-6 in the greatest World Championship final of all time in 2007. It is testament to his rise that the Dutchman told Littler that he ‘can go all the way’ after their clash.

Now guaranteed at least £50,000 from his performances at Ally Pally, this has been an outrageous performance from the teenage phenomenon who some are saying is now the most famous 16-year-old on the planet. 

Luke Littler, 16, has taken the PDC World Championship by storm and is in the quarter-finals

A video of Littler playing darts at just 18-months-old went viral earlier in the tournament

A video of Littler playing darts at just 18-months-old went viral earlier in the tournament

Littler has gained cult hero status for his post-victory food celebrations which have included a kebab (above) and chicken burger

Littler has gained cult hero status for his post-victory food celebrations which have included a kebab (above) and chicken burger

Littler's mum, shared a photo of him after hitting his first ever bullseye at a young age

Littler’s mum, shared a photo of him after hitting his first ever bullseye at a young age

Littler’s talent was clear from the video of him throwing darts in his nappies when he was hitting the 20s with ease.

This was followed up by a video of him again demonstrating all his natural talent aged three – which he shared ahead of his clash with Van Barneveld – as Littler imitated his idol in the clip with his wide arms celebrations.

Littler’s insane talent for the game has followed him ever since as he began to cause a stir with his high averages and stunning performances, dominating the Junior Darts Corporation tour.

His high point came when he won the 2023 PDC World Darts Youth Championship and it was only a matter of time until he made his mark at senior level.

In fact, he started to play in senior tournaments during his early teen years, winning his first title at the Irish Open aged 14 in 2021.

Littler – who was given his first proper dartboard aged four – has since won several other tournaments such as the British Open, Modus Super Series (twice), Romanian Open and Gibraltar Open, where he also hit a prestigious nine-darter.

Yet there was no doubt his appearance at this year’s PDC World Championship was his biggest challenge yet.

While his talent was known beforehand after securing a PDC Tour Card for 2024-25 due to his performances, he still came in to the tournament as a 66-1 outsider.

Littler – who revealed in August that he only practices for between 30 minutes to an hour a day – has so far swept aside Christian Kist, Andrew Gilding, Matt Campbell and Van Barneveld, breaking records along the way.

His first round victory over Kist saw him become the youngest winner at the tournament, while he also posted the highest average for a debutant (106.12) and it was there where he really began to endear himself to the nation.

Littler’s celebrations saw him take a trip to the kebab shop to celebrate in what has become a tradition for Ally Pally’s boy wonder.

Serenaded by chants of ‘you’ve got school in the morning’ in the second round, Littler proved that his first-round win was no fluke as he demolished Gilding before celebrating with a late-night chicken burger. 

Between his victory over Gilding on December 21 and his third-round tie with Campbell on December 27, Littler – who ditched his Xbox for Christmas practice – still found time to celebrate the festivities. 

Littler also posted a throwback video of himself imitating Raymond van Barneveld aged three

Littler also posted a throwback video of himself imitating Raymond van Barneveld aged three

He then thrashed his idol, who told him after he could go all the way and win the tournament

He then thrashed his idol, who told him after he could go all the way and win the tournament

Littler (pictured in 2020) dominated the Junior Darts Corporation tour during his early teens

Littler (pictured in 2020) dominated the Junior Darts Corporation tour during his early teens

The Prince of the Palace received his first proper darts board at the tender age of just four

The Prince of the Palace received his first proper darts board at the tender age of just four

His parents had him out in pubs five nights a week practicing his craft from the age of eight

His parents had him out in pubs five nights a week practicing his craft from the age of eight

This included his mum posting a photo on social media of him opening his presents, with the image a reminder of his tender age and since going viral. Fans joked in the replies whether Littler even knew if Father Christmas wasn’t real yet.

His new-found fame has also seen Littler inundated with media requests yet the teen is seemingly relishing the attention.

This may be thanks to the Junior Darts Corporation, who prepared him for becoming mainstream by having him conduct media chats while he was trouncing everyone else his age, hence his relaxation in front of camera. 

However, the coverage has still received a word of warning from his fellow players, including veteran Scot Gary Anderson.

Speaking earlier in the tournament, he said: ‘If it goes t*** up with Luke give yourselves a pat on the back.

‘Let the boy play darts. I’ve been downstairs and he’s got cameras, zoom calls, meetings… Let the boy play darts.

‘He’s had a great tournament, he’s done well. What if it all goes Pete Tong now? You boys have ruined that. Let the boy play darts, He’s 16 years old.

‘Keep having that boy mic’ed up, doing interviews when he should be on the practice board. You’ve seen it a thousand times. Every year there’s a boy come through.’

Seeing as Littler is so good with numbers, perhaps that is the best way to sum up his newfound fame. 

He had 4,000 followers on Instagram at the start of this tournament but 134,000 as of Saturday night; 7.8million views of that picture of him opening his presents on Christmas morning; two starstruck England internationals in Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale who stopped him for a selfie in his hotel lobby; and one offer from a PR firm to give him ‘free kebabs for life’ if he can become world champion. 

Along with praise from darting legend Phil Taylor, commentator and former star Wayne Mardle described him as ‘extraordinary’, adding he ‘may be the most naturally talented player I’ve ever seen’.

The 16-year-old - who has already earned £50,000 in prize money - hails from Warrington

The 16-year-old – who has already earned £50,000 in prize money – hails from Warrington

Littler's new-found fame even saw Arsenal and England stars Aaron Ramsdale (left) and Declan Rice (right) stop him to ask for a photo

Littler’s new-found fame even saw Arsenal and England stars Aaron Ramsdale (left) and Declan Rice (right) stop him to ask for a photo 

His mum, Lisa, posted a photo of the darts sensation opening his Christmas presents

His mum, Lisa, posted a photo of the darts sensation opening his Christmas presents

Several fans passed on their well-wishes before one joked about how young Littler is

Several fans passed on their well-wishes before one joked about how young Littler is

Fellow star Gary Anderson said he is worried about the amount of attention Littler is receiving

Fellow star Gary Anderson said he is worried about the amount of attention Littler is receiving

Littler’s talent has been accompanied by an endearing reminder of his tender age and affable personality, with the 16-year-old recently revealing what he planned to do with his prize money from the tournament, which could rise as high as £500,000 if he goes all the way.

‘I always treat myself to some Under Armour tracksuits,’ he told the Daily Telegraph in a recent interview.

‘And just get myself a new coat and get myself some FIFA points for my Xbox. That’s pretty much it.’

Littler may also spend some of the money on driving lessons when he turns 17 on January 21, saying he’d ‘love to start driving’ so his dad Anthony – who is a taxi driver – doesn’t have to keep ferrying him to tournaments. 

Earlier this week, Littler also told talkSPORT he plans to take his friends on a trip to Blackpool or Alton Towers after the World Championship.

‘All my friends are watching at home, we’ve always said we need to go Blackpool or Alton Towers so I think they will be looking at me like “you’re paying, Luke” and I’ll be like “yeah, okay!”‘, he said.

His family – who had him in Cheshire pubs five nights a week at the age of eight honing his craft – have been a major part of his journey too, with Littler regularly turning towards them to celebrate during matches, while his walk-on to the stage has seen his entourage grow ever bigger. 

After his third round victory over Campbell – where he vowed to celebrate with a kebab and a shopping spree – he revealed seeing him mum Lisa, who works in a scented candles shop, made him emotional.

Meanwhile, his dad Anthony could barely contain his excitement after his victory over Van Barneveld.

‘I can’t believe it. He just beat a legend. I don’t know what to say,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘He used to watch Barney when he was three and he’s just beat him – it’s crazy! On his day he could do [go all the way]. He’s got a good a chance as anyone.’

Perhaps the best way to sum up Littler is via the pinned tweet on his X, formerly Twitter, profile.

Littler admitted he was emotional after seeing his mum in the crowd earlier in the tournament

Littler admitted he was emotional after seeing his mum in the crowd earlier in the tournament

His family (pictured - dad Anthony and mum Lisa) have been cheering him on in every round

His family (pictured – dad Anthony and mum Lisa) have been cheering him on in every round

The pinned tweet on Littler's X profile outlines how the 16-year-old is a 'generational talent'

The pinned tweet on Littler’s X profile outlines how the 16-year-old is a ‘generational talent’

Sharing a post from the JDC’s Steve Brown, the original post said: ‘Embrace the generational talent that is Luke Littler. What ever happens over the next few weeks he’s the best teenager I’ve witnessed & I’ve seen a few over the last 30 years.’

That generational talent has risen from a 66-1 outsider to a second favourite 7-2 to win the tournament.

He is only behind Michael van Gerwen, who he could meet in the final, with the Dutchman the previous youngest winner of the tournament at 24.

Even if he doesn’t do it this time, Littler still has plenty of years to beat that record and few would back against the boy wonder continuing his journey over the next week, especially given his belief in his own ability.

‘It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done it. I fancy myself. I do fancy myself,’ he said after averaging 105 in his win against Van Barneveld. ‘Let’s focus on Brendan.’ 

Plenty of others fancy Littler too, but for now, as that social media post says, ‘Embrace the generational talent that is Luke Littler’.

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