Luke Littler ruled out of World Cup of Darts on PDC rule despite pending Premier League glory

Luke Littler of England reacts with Michael Smith of England during the Semi Final match between Luke Littler of England and Michael Smith of England on Night 16 of the 2024 BetMGM Premier League Darts at Utilita Arena Sheffield on May 16, 2024 in Sheffield, England
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

PDC regulations mean that darts sensation Luke Littler won't be able to represent England at the World Cup of Darts. Instead, his Premier League semi-final opponent Michael Smith and Luke Humphries, who defeated him in the Paddy Power PDC World Darts Championship final, will fly the flag for England in Germany.

The tournament kicks off in Frankfurt on June 16 and wraps up on June 19. Smith and Humphries have been chosen as they're currently England's top two players in the PDC order of merit. Despite Littler's impressive run to the world championship final and victories in the Bahrain Darts Masters, Austrian Darts Open and Belgian Darts Open, he's still only ranked as the world's No. 25 player.

This ranking automatically rules him out of contention for Team England, reports the Mirror. The PDC Order of Merit, which determines the ranking of darts players, is based on the amount of prize money they've earned over a two-year period. As Littler only made his senior tour debut in December 2023, he's still around 18 months behind most players in the table.

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Littler secured his spot at Alexandra Palace by clinching the World Youth Darts Championship in November 2023. According to the table, Littler has managed to pocket £303,500 over the two-year period.

Despite his impressive performance, Littler still trails behind Humphries, who has amassed winnings of £1,496,500 and Smith with £1,059,250 over the past two years. He also lags behind fellow English players Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross, who rank fourth and sixth respectively.

However, if Littler continues his current form, he's likely to climb up the rankings. He secured a spot in the semi-finals at the 02 Arena by topping the Premier League table. He's set to face Smith in the semis, a player he's already encountered seven times this Premier League season, winning twice and losing five times. Despite Smith's favourable record against him, Littler remains optimistic.

"I've got Michael, [and] everybody is saying it's going to be tough but this is what it comes down to," Littler told Sky Sports. "As long as you get yourself into the top four, you've just got to give it your all and see what happens.

"I've said I might win when it matters. I would be happy to win it, I'm young, living my dream, if I get my hands on the trophy I'll be happy."

Smith, when asked about Littler's impact, said: "I don't think it's calmed down. Even the Premier League nights, he's shipped off doing interviews, pictures and us boys are practising doing nothing. You can see on social media all the followers, and you can see how big it's getting now. You can see we're no longer being branded a pub sport now, we're becoming elite and into the faces of everybody."