The world association PDC declared Luke Littler a “superstar” after his spectacular victory over his idol Raymond van Barneveld.
Even before his clear 4-1 defeat against the 16-year-old, Van Barneveld himself was reminiscent of the former tennis star Boris Becker and his triumph at Wimbledon when he was just 17 years old: The hype surrounding the youngster seems to know no bounds.
England's media are constantly reporting on Littler these days, who confidently won his first four World Cup games as a debutant. Before the quarter-finals, the question now arises: Can Littler really make it big at the World Cup in London?
When it comes to athletic performance, the answer is: yes, definitely. Of the players remaining in the tournament, Littler played with the highest and second-highest point averages in a single game.
"I don't feel any nerves at all. It was unbelievable again," said Littler when he clearly defeated his role model van Barneveld. He goes into his quarter-final against Northern Irishman Brendan Dolan as the clear favorite. Three wins on January 1st, 2nd and 3rd - and the sports sensation in London would be perfect. The bookmakers already see him as second favorite for the title.
Those Top Favorites
In the top spot is the Dutchman Michael van Gerwen, who is aiming for his fourth world title after 2014, 2017 and 2019. In contrast to his already failed long-term rivals Gerwyn Price (Wales) and Peter Wright (Scotland), Van Gerwen has not yet lost a set at the tournament at Alexandra Palace.
A possible semi-final between van Gerwen and Luke Humphries, who earned by far the most prize money in 2023, is eagerly awaited. The winner would not only advance to the World Cup final, but also take over number one status from dethroned world champion Michael Smith.
England's second row
Chris Dobey and former world champion Rob Cross are part of the strong English second row behind former champion Smith and Humphries. Dobey and Cross will meet directly in the first quarterfinal. Both impressed with clear victories in the round of 16, and the duel is considered completely open.
Dave Chisnall is also part of this second series. After victories over German leader Gabriel Clemens (4:1) and Northern Irishman Daryl Gurney (4:2), Chisnall hopes to reach the World Cup semi-finals like in 2021. At that time he defeated Primus van Gerwen 5-0 after a gala performance. It will probably take a similar performance to defeat Humphries.
The criticized one
Scott Williams is one of the guys at this World Cup - but not just in a positive sense. The Englishman drew a lot of criticism with his World War II comparison. Williams has since apologized publicly several times and deleted his profile on X (formerly Twitter). Williams has been doing well in terms of sport so far. In the duel with top favorite van Gerwen, he is still a clear outsider.