Luke Littler vs Michael van Gerwen: Darts’ new rivalry continues in Manchester in the Premier League | Darts News

Luke Littler vs Michael van Gerwen: Darts’ new rivalry continues in Manchester in the Premier League | Darts News
Luke Littler vs Michael van Gerwen: Darts’ new rivalry continues in Manchester in the Premier League | Darts News
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Six matches, three wins each. Luke Littler vs Michael van Gerwen has become a box-office match that no darts fan can miss and we get the latest contest on Thursday in the Premier League – live on Sky Sports Darts.

Littler’s meteoric rise at the 2024 World Darts Championship, where he finished runner-up to Luke Humphries, has been backed up with some incredible performances in the last few months.

Two weeks after Alexandra Palace, Littler made a nine-darter in his quarter-final win against Nathan Aspinall at the Bahrain Darts Masters and met Van Gerwen in the final on January 19.

It was the first of many meetings between two of darts’ most talented players and Littler came out on top 8-5 to lift his first senior PDC title on his World Series debut.

Van Gerwen vowed he would make sure he was better for the next time the pair met and would “get” Littler. He did exactly that just a week later on home soil at the Dutch Darts Masters.

Take a look back at the breathtaking debut from Littler as the teenager made history at the World Darts Championship

Immediate revenge for Van Gerwen

The three-time world champion was far from his best during the event. After a comeback win over Raymond van Barneveld, he didn’t show too much quality against Gian van Veen in the semi-finals.

However, like all great sportspeople do, when it mattered most, Van Gerwen delivered as he went head to head with Littler in the final.

The pair were going punch for punch and there was nothing to separate them until the very last leg when Van Gerwen punished a missed 170 from Littler to win 8-6.

Littler has some tough decisions to make about his favorite Manchester United players in ‘Winner Stays On’

“Luke put me under so much pressure,” said Van Gerwen, who won his 16th World Series of Darts crown.

“Luke has a very bright future ahead of him. We all know that, but you still want to stop him, and you have to do the right things against him, which is what I did tonight.

“His scoring power is immense so you have to keep on fighting, but I am glad that I was able to.

“I’ve had some really tough matches in finals over the last year. I underperformed a lot of times, but it’s important to keep your fighting spirit and never give up.”

Can Manchester United’s Harry Maguire or Christian Eriksen beat Littler in the darts challenge?!

Littler and Van Gerwen’s parallels

Before Littler was born, Van Gerwen was making his own darts breakthrough with incredible wins over Van Barneveld and Phil Taylor, who were the sport’s biggest names after their memorable 2007 World Championship final.

Van Gerwen was just 17 years old and also made a televised nine-darter in his first campaign on the PDC tour. Littler made his first two days before his 17th birthday.

At the end of 2007, in Van Gerwen’s first PDC World Championship match, he memorably missed a match dart to defeat Taylor in the opening round. Who knows what would have happened if that went in? Perhaps a path to the final like Littler?

Littler continues to rip up the record books with several junior triumphs and won his first senior darts title at the Irish Open in 2021 as a 14-year-old.

Will Littler be crowned world champion? The darting sensation put together this incredible nine-darter when he was 14 (Credit: JDC)

Remarkably, Littler is competing in the Premier League Darts as the reigning World Youth champion and Sky Sports Darts‘ Wayne Mardle was in awe of the teenager when he began to make headlines at the World Championship.

“I’m a darts fan first and foremost, I was watching it and I had goosebumps watching him. I love people achieving and that was a boy achieving something on the world stage,” said Mardle.

“We may never see the like again. We saw it with Phil Taylor and then we saw it with Michael van Gerwen. This may be the third coming of that. I don’t know, but I’m a little bit carried away. “

Images:
Littler and Van Gerwen both burst onto the darts scene as teenagers

Two wins apiece in Premier League Darts 2024

The format of the Premier League Darts means the world’s best eight players meet every Thursday over 17 weeks.

Littler and Van Gerwen have already played each other four times and are currently locked at 2-2 in their head to head.

On Night 2 in early February, Littler missed two match darts in the Berlin final and Van Gerwen punished him to win 6-5 and let out a huge roar when he won, underlining how much it meant for the Dutchman to beat the teenager.

Two weeks later in Newcastle, Van Gerwen snatched victory again from Littler in a deciding leg, this time in the semi-finals, and he went on to win the night.

However, the last two matches have gone Littler’s way. On Night 7 in Nottingham, Littler averaged a sensational 114 with a stunning 6-2 quarter-final victory over Van Gerwen. That was the match where Van Gerwen “finished off” Littler’s nine-darter attempt.

Littler just misses out on a nine-darter en route to an impressive Premier League win over Van Gerwen in Nottingham

A fortnight later and Littler took full advantage of a below-par Van Gerwen with a 6-3 win, so arguably enters their latest meeting this Thursday in Manchester as a slight favourite.

“He does what he likes. I think this might be the way forward for many players. Don’t worry about it and get on with it,” said Mardle.

“It’s just great to watch. He so reminds me of Michael [van Gerwen]. I don’t see a ceiling in his game, I just think that he can play as well as he likes sometimes.

Littler defeated Michael van Gerwen 6-3 last week in the Belfast semi-finals

“Look at the 114 average he had against MVG a few weeks ago, I just see that he can do these amazing things with a set of 22g tungsten. It’s just madness what he can do at such a ripe old age of 17.

“I’ve never seen anyone be like Michael van Gerwen. Probably the closest anyone came, or maybe even better, was Eric Bristow at 17. Not bad names to be connected with.”

A rivalry with plenty of respect

If we ignore Littler’s youth for a moment, he is simply one of the best players in darts right now along with Humphries and Van Gerwen.

Indeed, Humphries would say he is the third horse in this race when it comes to battling it out to be on top.

Luke Littler edges past Luke Humphries to put an end to the world champion’s Premier League winning streak.

After his German Darts Grand Prix victory over MVG on Monday, the world No 1 said: “I think the two best players in the world were fighting it out. I know 8-1 is a bit of a flattering score but me and Michael will have many finals in the future.

“The way I’ve played this weekend is the levels you have to be to win – that’s how crazy the game’s got and that’s how good you have to be to beat the likes of Michael.

“He’s been here for 10 years, consistently one of the best players in the world and I look up to him a lot, so to beat him in another final is fantastic.

“I just love playing him to be honest, he shows a lot of respect and it was a great final. That’s elite sport – sometimes it’s your day and today was my day.”

Wayne Mardle discusses just how talented Luke Littler is and compares the teenager to the likes of Michael Van Gerwen and Eric Bristow.

Even MVG added: “I think at this moment he is the best player and we all have to face it, we have to battle but he also knows this is not going to run forever. He’s playing some cracking darts, I have to admit that .”

While Humphries will have his say in the years to come about who is the player to beat, and we shouldn’t forget about him, Van Gerwen for the best part of a decade has been THAT player.

Van Gerwen beat Littler in the semi-final of the Premier League on Night 4 in Newcastle

He held the world No 1 spot for seven years between 2014 and 2021, but his punchy personality and those iconic adrenaline rushes he gets on stage just make him so watchable.

On the other hand, Littler is just so composed on and off the oche. He told Sky Sports during the World Championship that it’s something he’s always had since growing up in Warrington.

Littler really is just a normal teenager who has a very special talent to play darts.

Van Gerwen was left hanging by Littler ahead of their deciding leg during their semi-final match on Night 4 of the Premier League in Newcastle

“For Christmas I got stuff for my Xbox, a controller, gift cards and got two tickets for the Manchester United stadium tour so I will go to that after the Worlds,” he said back in December 2023.

You feel, at least for now, that Van Gerwen and the other top darts players are enjoying the challenge of Littler. It’s added another layer to the PDC Tour and Littler is doing his talking on the dart board.

It won’t be like Van Gerwen vs Taylor for example, where you could feel a bit of aggro between the players. Instead, Littler will only make everyone else even better and the quality is already at a very high level.

What a place darts is in right now.

Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday April 4 as Manchester is the next stop on the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, May 23. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW

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The article is in Czech

Tags: Luke Littler Michael van Gerwen Darts rivalry continues Manchester Premier League Darts News

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