Luke Humphries beats Luke Littler in World Darts Championship final to end teenager's historic run

Luke Humphries beats Luke Littler in World Darts Championship final to end teenager's historic run

Luke Littler's historic World Darts Championship dream ended after he lost in the final to Luke Humphries.

The 16-year-old debutant has set Alexandra Palace alight over the last fortnight and was one win away from producing one of the greatest sporting stories of all time by becoming the youngest world champion.

But he fell at the final hurdle and was left in tears as Humphries showed why he is the new world number one with a scintillating 7-4 victory, which saw him lift the Sid Waddell trophy for the first time.

It is a landmark success for the 28-year-old, who has now won four of the last five major tournaments after an incredible few months.

Although this was his biggest win of all, it was not exactly the most popular as the Ally Pally crowd were desperate for their new star's amazing journey to finish in glory.

Humphries may have been the champion, but Littler received a hero's reception at the end of the match and he is the story of the tournament.

Life will never be the same for Littler, who now has a global profile, as his exploits have transcended the world of darts.

He may have fallen just short of achieving sporting immortality, but this is just the beginning for Littler and his time will surely come, with many tipping him to become a multiple world champion.

More immediately, he looks set to be handed a lucrative place in the Premier League, which kicks off next month.

He will not have many regrets from the last couple of weeks, but a dart at double two in the seventh set may be one of them as had it gone in he would have gone 5-2 in front in the race to seven.

Instead, Humphries stole the set and then reeled off the next five to claim glory in style.

He has now won his last 19 matches and will be seeing this as the start of a period of possible domination as he is playing at a level no one can currently compete with.

Luke Humphries secured his first Sid Waddell Trophy (Getty Images)
Luke Humphries secured his first Sid Waddell Trophy (Getty Images)

The pair have met before when Humphries beat a then 12-year-old Littler in a pub tournament in 2019 and both have enjoyed a meteoric rise since then.

Littler must have thought he was back in the pub with the way Humphries started as he won five successive legs to give himself darts for a 2-0 lead. He missed, though, and Littler pounced with 142 and 120 checkouts to level at 1-1.

After 'Cool Hand' went 2-1 up, Littler hit back by reeling off three successive sets to lead 4-2.

The seventh set proved pivotal as Littler missed double two to go three up and Humphries, who had earlier taken out the big fish, capitalised to steal it and then drew level at 4-4 after a 121 checkout.

The tide had truly turned and Humphries continued his hot streak to go 6-4 up, which left outgoing referee Russ Bray consoling a tearful Littler, with his opponent finishing the job and sinking to his knees in joy.

"I honestly could not put into words how great this feels," Humphries said moments after his winning dart.

"Throughout the back of my mind all day was, 'Get this one now because he's an incredible player'. I was really, really proud of my performance. He's an incredible talent, he's going to win many I'm sure.

Luke Littler won the runners-up trophy on his debut (Getty Images)
Luke Littler won the runners-up trophy on his debut (Getty Images)

"I was 4-2 down and he missed one dart, at 5-2 it becomes a really uphill task. To come back, I can't lie my hand was shaking like mad but that double 8 just fell in for me.

"I'm world champion, world No1. I can't ask for more, I really can't."

Littler allowed himself a small cheer while lifting the runners-up trophy and remarked that simply winning a game when he comes back to Ally Pally next year is his goal.

"It's been unbelievable, the one negative was letting Luke break me too often," he admitted. "Every game's been good, that one really annoyed me but fair play to Luke he deserves it.

"I'm happy, top 32, runner-up on my debut, Unbelievable. [Next year] win a game and see what happens after, might not get to another final for ten years. I do want to go and win it."