Luke Humphries stopped Luke Littler's darts fairytale in London and became world champion for the first time. The future Primus defeated the 16-year-old challenger 7:4 in a thrilling final on Wednesday evening and, after the biggest success of his career to date, can look forward to prize money of 500,000 pounds (almost 600,000 euros).
Humphries (28 years old) prevented Littler from becoming the youngest champion in history and, in addition to the hefty check and the coronation, can also look forward to the 25 kilogram Sid Waddell Trophy. In recent days, Littler's story has been reminiscent of that of the young Boris Becker, who sensationally won the prestigious tennis tournament in Wimbledon at the age of 17. But Littler's crowning moment didn't materialize. Especially because Humphries kept his nerve and took significantly more shots with 180 points than his opponent.
Littler came to the Ally Pally as junior world champion, but such a series of successes, including reaching the finals, seemed completely unrealistic in advance. Littler fueled the hype with victories over former world champions Raymond van Barneveld (4:1) and Rob Cross (6:2). The defeat in the final is now a setback, but Humphries was clearly the best player of 2023 and went into the important tournament at Alexandra Palace as the favorite.
Littler had never been in danger at the previous World Cup. “Everywhere Luke Littler appears, he delivers,” said the super talent confidently about himself. “Nothing was difficult” for him until the final. Things were completely different against Humphries. The hype surrounding the youngster has become gigantic in the past few days and was reminiscent of the farewell to record world champion Phil Taylor in January 2018.
More and more media came to London and TV ratings in Great Britain skyrocketed. Experts compared him to the young Lionel Messi. The fans adapted the song “Wonderland,” which was otherwise sung by Taylor legend, to Littler. And football icon David Beckham personally congratulated him in a message, as the teenager proudly told Sport1 before the final.
At the last World Cup final by 66-year-old cult referee Russ Bray, "The Nuke", as Littler is called, actually showed nerves - right in the early stages. The first sentence was gone quickly. The display prominently showed how the man from near Liverpool took twelve shots without a triple.
Humphries, on the other hand, started flawlessly. But the youngster got stronger and drew attention with two strong finishes (142 and 120). In the dynamic game, in which the commercial breaks lasted as long as the sets, the score was 2:2.
The favorite had to smile again and again at the enormous rip-off of his young opponent. While Humphries came to London as a title contender after winning titles at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and the Players Championship Finals, Littler was initially considered an outsider at best.
That didn't stop him from putting in a strong performance in front of 3,000 spectators in the biggest game of his young career. Fired up by the euphoric audience, the game was tight and exciting, with a consistently high pace of play. Crisp-voiced Bray loudly exclaimed his trademark "Onehundredandeighty." And Humphries really turned up the heat after 2:4 and triumphed.