Luke Littler beat Luke Humphries and Gerwyn Price before losing 8-6 to Michael van Gerwen in the final of the Dutch Darts Masters; Watch the 2024 Premier League Darts every Thursday from February 1, starting in Cardiff, live on Sky Sports
Author Ali Stafford
22:50, UK, Saturday 27 January 2024
Michael van Gerwen denied teenager Luke Littler a second consecutive World Series title after winning 8-6 in a surprise Dutch Darts Masters match.
Littler made a last-gasp decision to send Luke Humphries to a repeat of the World Championship final this month, then edged out Gerwyn Price 7-4 to reach the World Series final in week two.
The 17-year-old also battled Van Gerwen, who survived shocks against Raymond van Barneveld and Gian van Veen to reach the final, as the Dutchman avenged last week’s Bahrain Darts Masters loss by taking home the title.
Results of the Dutch Darts Masters
Quarter-Finals: L Littler (Eng) bt L Humphries (Eng) 6-5, G Price (Wal) bt K Doets (Ned) 6-3, M van Gerwen (Ned) bt R van Barneveld (Ned) 6-5 , G van Veen (Ned) bt D Noppert (Ned) 6-3
Semi Finals: L Littler (Eng) bt G Price (Wal) 7-4, M van Gerwen (Ned) bt G van Veen (Ned) 7-4
Final: M van Gerwen (Ned) bt L Littler (Eng) 8-6
Littler beat his opponent with an average of 106.71 and made more 180s than Van Gerwen, although the three-time major champion overcame close competition to lift the trophy at De Maaspoort in Den Bosch.
Van Gerwen denies Littler glory
The first two legs went by a drop before Van Gerwen responded to the third defeat by going back with an 11-darter, before taking a 78 on D12 to go ahead 3-2.
Littler responded with a 104 checkout on top of a 12-dart catch as the pair continued to trade legs, while Van Gerwen fired in his 130th to make it 5-4 after being pressured by the youngster.
Littler missed a bullseye opportunity in the 11th leg but won the next in the 14-darter, only to be punished by Van Gerwen’s 13-dart leg in the 13th after missing two darts on D8 to break the Dutchman’s throw.
The event was close enough to get into the finals when Littler clipped the bullseye wire in pursuit of the “Big Fish” while Van Gerwen made a punishing 85 to claim victory with a 12-darter.
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Littler: MVG got me in the end!
Luke Littler, talking to ITV: “I put him under pressure or try – he couldn’t miss! The crowd has been amazing, they want Michael to win and I got it. But how many 140’s did I hit? They finally got me at the end.
“I hope I haven’t overheated in the Premier League next week! I can’t wait to go to Cardiff.”
Michael van Gerwen, speaking to ITV: “Luke Littler will have a bright future ahead of him, we all know it. His scoring ability is great. He doesn’t care about anything and does it alone. I think that’s good. It was a great race.
“I needed to improve. We all know that I had a tough game last year and I didn’t do well a lot of times. You have to make sure you keep fighting.”
A fun day in Den Bosch
Van Gerwen had come back from 5-2 down to take a quarter-final win against Van Barneveld, shooting a crushing 144 to finish with a 12-dart leg before taking 124 in the decider, with Littler also needing a final leg to see off. from Humphries.
Littler broke Humphries with a 105 checkout and responded by losing the next four legs by reeling off three straight 14s to take a 5-4 lead, then recovered from losing three shots in the 10th leg to hit the bullseye to go 88 in. next.
Price booked his final spot after shooting six maximums in a 6-3 victory over Kevin Doets, as he opened with eight good shots in the final round before missing D12, where Gian van Veen won the first five legs of his victory. same margin against Danny Noppert.
Littler never trailed in the match against Price, who converted just four of 16 double attempts, and the Englishman won three straight legs and averaged 98.21 to defeat the Ice Man in the semi-final for the second week in a row.
Van Gerwen also struggled to finish against Van Veen, missing 18 of his 25 attempts, although he answered to be broken by his partner in the eighth leg to win the next three and complete a 7-4 victory and defend his championship with Littler.
What’s next for Humphries and Littler?
Littler and Humphries will have to wait until Thursday to meet again, with the pair closing out the quarter-finals on the opening night of the BetMGM Premier League in Cardiff.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen begins his bid for an eighth Premier League crown against last year’s world champion Michael Smith, while Peter Wright opens for Rob Cross and Price takes on Nathan Aspinall.
The Premier League has 16 minor events in the regular season for players to earn points, and every night the league has quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final over the best of 11 legs.
The players receive two points for the semi-final, three points for the final and five points for the final win, and the top four in the long-term game then go to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 23. .
Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday, February 1 as Cardiff begin an extended 17-week run until the Play-Offs on Thursday, May 23. Watch darts and more on Sky Sports without a contract NOW.