Luke The Nuke Littler is beaten in epic Ally Pally World Darts Final: Teen’s dreams are dashed as rival Cool Hand Luke Humphries takes five sets in a row to bag the title 7-4 in front of celeb-packed crowd – but 16-year-old takes home £200,000

Luke Humphries denied teenage darts prodigy Luke Littler a sensational victory in the World Darts Championship in a pulsating final tonight.

The world number one powered past the 16-year-old who has taken the world of darts by storm in a topsy-turvy match that left the crowd at London’s Alexandra Palace on their feet.

Much like in the semi-finals, Humphries got off to a quick start by pinching the first set while Littler struggled to find his range. 

However, the teenager roared back to take three of the next four sets, as a shell-shocked Humphries tried to compete with his opponent’s fine finishing. ‘Cool Hand’ Luke’s woes were summed up when he knocked one of his own darts off the board as Littler powered into a 4-2 lead. 

But Humphries lived up to his name and regained his composure to power 5-4 in front as the final ebbed and flowed. He then kept laser sharp focus to shut out Littler and win 7-4, sinking to his knees and weeping as he fulfilled his lifelong dream.

It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Littler, whose expectation-defying run has left the world of darts in awe. However, he will leave with a consolation prize of £200,000 and his stellar performances have launched him into the world’s top 32, giving him a place on this year’s circuit.

Luke Humphries sinks to his knees and weeps as he wins the World Darts Championship final

Luke Littler looks to the heavens as he falls to a 7-4 defeat against Luke Humphries

Luke Littler looks to the heavens as he falls to a 7-4 defeat against Luke Humphries

Littler rushed into a 4-2 lead against Humphries but was pegged back by the world number one

Littler rushed into a 4-2 lead against Humphries but was pegged back by the world number one

The teenager said reaching the final on his tournament debut had been 'unbelievable' but added he wanted to come back and win the whole thing

The teenager said reaching the final on his tournament debut had been ‘unbelievable’ but added he wanted to come back and win the whole thing

'Cool Hand' Luke Humphries smiles as he lifts the World Darts Championship trophy at Alexandra Palace

‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries smiles as he lifts the World Darts Championship trophy at Alexandra Palace

Humphries kisses his partner Kayley Jones after his victory on Wednesday night

Humphries kisses his partner Kayley Jones after his victory on Wednesday night

Luke Littler, who has taken the world of darts by storm, smiles as he holds aloft the runners-up trophy

Luke Littler, who has taken the world of darts by storm, smiles as he holds aloft the runners-up trophy

Humphries and Littler hug after the end of the hard fought match in front of a raucous crowd

Humphries and Littler hug after the end of the hard fought match in front of a raucous crowd

Prior to the match Humphries, who has played the youngster in the past, admitted he would have to ‘probably have to play the game of my life’ in order to see off the challenger, who has set the darts world ablaze with his skill and his humility in equal measure.

But if anyone could halt the seemingly unstoppable teenager it was a man who has had a similarly rapid rise to the top of the darting world.

Humphries leapfrogged both Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith to reach the world No 1 spot for the first time after a brilliant few months that saw him win his first major titles. 

The 28-year-old was on an 18-match unbeaten streak going into the final with his October 29 loss against James Wade in the European Championships being his last.

The world number one booked his place in the final with a 6-0 victory over Scott Williams, having previously powered through Dave Chisnall and edging past Ricardo Pietreczko and Joe Cullen in deciding-set tussles.

Humphries, who was born in Newbury, Berkshire, to a football-mad family, was reportedly named by his Leeds-supporting father in honour of his club, the letters of his name spelling out ‘Leeds Kings of Europe’.

And now the pre-tournament favourite is not just the King of Europe, but King of the World, after winning a pulsating final against the young upstart on front of a raucous crowd at Alexandra Palace and millions watching at home.

Speaking afterwards he said he needed to ‘get this title now’ because Littler is ‘going to dominate soon’.

Humphries told Sky Sports: ‘Honestly in the back of mind throughout the whole of today I was thinking ‘get this one now’ as he’s going to dominate world darts soon.

‘He’s an incredible player and when I was on the brink of winning there he was just relentless. I was really really proud of the performance today, I felt a little bit tired in between [sets].

‘He’s an incredible talent and I had to win this one tonight – he’s going to win plenty I’m sure’.

Victory means that Humphries, who has struggled with his mental health in recent years, rattled in an incredible 23 maximums and averaged 103 and sealed victory with a nerveless double eight which meant he will walk home with the title and a £500,000 prize.

Luke Humphries celebrates during his match against Luke Littler in the World Darts Championship final

Luke Humphries celebrates during his match against Luke Littler in the World Darts Championship final

Littler (left) previously met Humphries (right) in the Hayling Island quarter-final in November 2019

Littler (left) previously met Humphries (right) in the Hayling Island quarter-final in November 2019

Tottenham Hotspur star James Maddison was in the crowd to watch the World Darts Championship final

Tottenham Hotspur star James Maddison was in the crowd to watch the World Darts Championship final

Romeo Beckham and his girlfriend Mia Regan were also spotted among the crowd during the match

Romeo Beckham and his girlfriend Mia Regan were also spotted among the crowd during the match

Luke Littler's sister Caitlin posted on social media that she was 'unbelievably proud' of him

Luke Littler’s sister Caitlin posted on social media that she was ‘unbelievably proud’ of him

Professional darts player Stephen Bunting said Humphries and Littler 'put on a brilliant show' and praised the teenager's maturity in defeat

Professional darts player Stephen Bunting said Humphries and Littler ‘put on a brilliant show’ and praised the teenager’s maturity in defeat

Fans of Luke Littler at St Helen's Darts Academy hold their heads in their hands as he falls to defeat against Luke Humphries

Fans of Luke Littler at St Helen’s Darts Academy hold their heads in their hands as he falls to defeat against Luke Humphries

There were loud cheers for Littler after the match, with 16-year-old admitting the last few weeks had been ‘unbelievable’ and vowing to come back and win it in the future.

For Littler, ranked 164th in the world at the start of the tournament and the youngest ever finalist, he could not quite sustain the magic that had seen him storm into the final with a series of incredible victories, including a 4-1 defeat of five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld.

A rare miscalculation left him needing a double two in the seventh set for a 5-2 lead but he could not find the target and it was to prove his undoing as Humphries made a 121 checkout with a bull and then found another level.

‘It’s been incredible but I lost too many legs from my throw,’ Littler, who has celebrated his wins with kebabs, said.

He told Sky Sports: ”I’m happy. I’m in the top-32 [in the world ranking] and I finished runner-up in my debut [at the PDC World Championship]. It’s unbelievable.’

Asked what he wanted to achieve when he returns to the Ally Pally next year, he replied: ‘Win a game and see what happens after.

‘I may not get to another final for five or 10 years, we don’t know, but I can say I’m a runner-up. Now I wanna go and win it.’

Humphries admitted that being world champion would last 'forever' if he could see off Littler

Humphries admitted that being world champion would last ‘forever’ if he could see off Littler

A look at how the two darting superstars lined up ahead of tonight's World Championship final

A look at how the two darting superstars lined up ahead of tonight’s World Championship final

His sister Caitlin Littler posted on social media she was ‘unbelievably proud’ of her brother and he now deserved a chance to ‘chill and enjoy himself’.

She wrote: ‘So unbelievably proud of what you have achieved. Absolutely unreal. You went into this only wanting to win one game to then make it to the finals on your debut at 16 is the biggest achievement! We all love you so much, no time to chill and enjoy yourself.’

Fellow darts profession Stephen Bunting wrote: ‘Well. What can I say. What a final guys. Proud is an understatement but you guys put on a brilliant show. I’m sure Luke Littler will be involved in many finals and I’m sure he will lift that trophy one day. 

‘As for Luke Humphries, he’s been the best player in the world for a while now and thoroughly deserves this win. What a final and one that will be remembered for a long time. The maturity Luke Littler showed in defeat shows his class too.’

At St Helen’s Darts Academy, where Littler trained, jubilation turned to devastation among friends watching him on TV as they saw him get overtaken by his opponent. 

But those in attendance were still proud of the teenager, with his best friend and darts professional Eleanor Cairns telling MailOnline: ‘It is not the result that we wanted but we are still very proud.

‘It is incredible what he has achieved. I spoke to him before the final and he told me he was feeling good.

‘Luke is just a normal 16-year-old, who does normal things lads of that age do. Luke will probably celebrate with a kebab and hopefully he will buy me one too with his prize winnings!

‘There are good things to come.’

Dawn Callaghan, 51, a sales assistant, said: ‘Luke did so well, and we are so proud of him.

‘At one point we thought he might do it, but Humphries was brilliant. Luke lost tonight to an amazing player. It was a great match.

‘I’m sure it will be his turn soon. Maybe it will be his next year.’

Committee member Geoff Callahan, 47, said: ‘I am gutted for Luke.

‘He kept going and never gave in. If he hadn’t missed the double two, we never know what might have been.

‘But he will be back, I have no doubt. People forget he is only 16 and has a great year future ahead of him.’

A group of fans dressed in circus master outfits before the World Darts Championship final

A group of fans dressed in circus master outfits before the World Darts Championship final

Darts fans dressed as giant orange beer bottles pose for a photo at Alexandra Palace tonight

Darts fans dressed as giant orange beer bottles pose for a photo at Alexandra Palace tonight

This trio of watchers turned up in fancy dress as male and female sharks before the match

This trio of watchers turned up in fancy dress as male and female sharks before the match

A pair of fans dressed as Teletubbies drink beer ahead of the grand final on Wednesday night

A pair of fans dressed as Teletubbies drink beer ahead of the grand final on Wednesday night 

Supporters dressed as Irish leprechauns chat ahead of the World Darts Championship final

Supporters dressed as Irish leprechauns chat ahead of the World Darts Championship final

A pair of men wearing inflatable dart boards over their heads ahead of the battle between Littler and Humphries

A pair of men wearing inflatable dart boards over their heads ahead of the battle between Littler and Humphries

Despite the outcome, Littler left Alexandra Palace tonight six figures richer, claiming a £200,000 prize for making the final.

The young darts star has warmed the nations hearts by opening up about how he has celebrated his sensational wins with kebabs, pizzas and soft drinks.

The story of how an unknown working-class teenager from Warrington has taken the world of darts by storm has captivated the nation.

The teenage child prodigy has been honing his skills since he was a tot. Luke’s mother Lisa Buckley would upload adorable videos of him as an 18-month-old toddler, still in nappies, giggling as he threw darts at a magnetic board.

Describing his childhood, Luke – who said he had ‘no-one to fear’ in his world title run – told journalists: ‘I would just wake up, play on my Xbox, have some food, have a chuck on the board and go to bed. That’s it.

‘I don’t engage with anything outside the house. I’m not into anything outside the house, whatever my mates get up to. I just stay level-headed.’

Littler was born 20 days after five-time world champion Van Barneveld defeated Phil Taylor 7-6 in the greatest World Championship final of all time in 2007. It is testament to his rise that the Dutchman told Littler that he ‘can go all the way’ after their clash.

Despite coming into the tournament at Alexandra Palace a 150-1 outsider, a former tutor at the teen’s youth darts club declared: ‘What he’s got I couldn’t teach. He’s the Ronaldo of darts.’

Luke trained at St Helens Darts Academy, leaving club secretary Karl Holden blown away by his natural talent. ‘I’ve seen a lot of good ‘uns,’ he said. ‘I’ve watched them all when they were younger but I knew Luke was going to cause a lot of problems… He’s just a unique kid with crazy talent.’

Rising star Luke entered main competitions while still in primary, going against adults at least a decade his senior – some more than three times his age.

Karl added: ‘In darts you’ve got to have sheer bottle to keep your nerve. He’s got an abundance of confidence. Even before he was 13 we said ‘listen, we can’t help you any more, you’re too good’. Three months before he was 11 we had to throw him in the deep end with the under-21s. It took him six months before he won his first one.

‘He was playing a lot of county youth players. What he’s got I couldn’t teach. He’s the Ronaldo of darts.’

Littler’s talent was clear from the video of him throwing darts in his nappies when he was hitting the 20s with ease.

This was followed up by a video of him again demonstrating all his natural talent aged three – which he shared ahead of his clash with Van Barneveld – as Littler imitated his idol in the clip with his wide arms celebrations.

Littler’s insane skill saw him dominating the Junior Darts Corporation tour, with his high eyebrows catching the attention of the sporting world.

Luke Littler had a solid support network around him as he pursued record-breaking world championship glory

Luke Littler had a solid support network around him as he pursued record-breaking world championship glory

Prodigy Luke Littler, 16, has been throwing darts since he was a toddler and is now on course for a quarter-final clash at the world championships. He is pictured with his first bullseye

Prodigy Luke Littler, 16, has been throwing darts since he was a toddler and is now on course for a quarter-final clash at the world championships. He is pictured with his first bullseye 

As well as playing darts, Luke said he would often relax at home on his Xbox growing up

As well as playing darts, Luke said he would often relax at home on his Xbox growing up 

Littler (pictured in 2020) dominated the Junior Darts Corporation tour during his early teens

Littler (pictured in 2020) dominated the Junior Darts Corporation tour during his early teens

The Prince of the Palace received his first proper darts board at the tender age of just four

The Prince of the Palace received his first proper darts board at the tender age of just four

His parents had him out in pubs five nights a week practicing his craft from the age of eight

His parents had him out in pubs five nights a week practicing his craft from the age of eight

The 16-year-old - who has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money - hails from Warrington

The 16-year-old – who has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money – hails from Warrington

His high point came when he won the 2023 PDC World Darts Youth Championship and it was only a matter of time until he made his mark at senior level.

In fact, he started to play in senior tournaments during his early teen years, winning his first title at the Irish Open aged 14 in 2021.

Littler – who was given his first proper dartboard aged four – has since won several other tournaments such as the British Open, Modus Super Series (twice), Romanian Open and Gibraltar Open, where he also hit a prestigious nine-darter.

Yet there was no doubt his appearance at this year’s PDC World Championship was his biggest challenge yet.

While his talent was known beforehand after securing a PDC Tour Card for 2024-25 due to his performances, he still came in to the tournament as a pre-tournament outsider.

His new-found fame has also seen Littler inundated with media requests yet the teen is seemingly relishing the attention.

This may be thanks to the Junior Darts Corporation, who prepared him for becoming mainstream by having him conduct media chats while he was trouncing everyone else his age, hence his relaxation in front of camera.

However, the coverage has still received a word of warning from his fellow players, including veteran Scot Gary Anderson.

Speaking earlier in the tournament, he said: ‘If it goes t*** up with Luke give yourselves a pat on the back.

‘Let the boy play darts. I’ve been downstairs and he’s got cameras, zoom calls, meetings… Let the boy play darts.

‘He’s had a great tournament, he’s done well. What if it all goes Pete Tong now? You boys have ruined that. Let the boy play darts, He’s 16 years old.

‘Keep having that boy mic’ed up, doing interviews when he should be on the practice board. You’ve seen it a thousand times. Every year there’s a boy come through.’

Along with praise from darting legend Phil Taylor, commentator and former star Wayne Mardle described him as ‘extraordinary’, adding he ‘may be the most naturally talented player I’ve ever seen’.

When he entered the tournament, he had only a few thousand Instagram followers – he now has almost half a million followers on Instagram and videos of his exploits have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people on TikTok.

The youngster was even pictured at Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Eve having been invited by England midfielder James Maddison – as celebrities flock to praise him for his incredible run.

He’s also posed with Arsenal footballers Declan Rice and Aaron Ramsdale as well as Manchester United’s on-loan Dutch midfielder Donny Van de Beek and the popular Youtuber Behzinga.

More recently, he has interacted with The Apprentice star Thomas Skinner who posted on Instagram this morning: ‘Thank you for the follow @lukethenukelittler. Your a legend! And absolutely SMASHING IT!!.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk