The classic image of a darts game is a friendly contest in a smoky pub filled with middle-aged men holding pint glasses.
But at the top level, centered in Britain, darts is a fiercely competitive sport and a big business with multimillion-dollar purses, boisterous crowds and live television coverage.
Now the darts world has a new star: Luke Littler, who will be playing for nothing less than the world championship on Wednesday evening. His age? 16.
Littler defeated Rob Cross, 33, in a semifinal on Tuesday and will face Luke Humphries, 28, in the final in front of the usual rowdy crowd at the Alexandra Palace — also known as the Ally Pally — in North London.
Littler’s age is astonishing for a sport that often values experience. While many recent world champions have been in their late 20s and 30s, Peter Wright won the 2022 title at 51 and the greatest player ever, Phil Taylor, made it to the 2018 final at 57.
The youngest player to make the final before Littler was Kirk Shepherd, who lost it in 2008 at 21. The youngest winner was Michael van Gerwen, at 24 in 2014. Indeed, Littler is the youngest player to win any match at the world championships, and now he has won six in a row to make the final.
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