Michael van Gerwen highlights key to beating Luke Littler as new rivalry emerges ahead of Premier League

Luke Littler was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in Den Bosch (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)
Luke Littler was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in Den Bosch (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

Luke Littler took the world by storm when the then-16-year-old reached the final of the Darts World Championship.

He then went on to make a nine-darter against Nathan Aspinall in the Bahrain Darts Masters quarter-final before going on to beat Michael van Gerwen in the final to win his first senior PDC title.

Van Gerwen vowed he would improve for his next meeting with the youngster, and he managed to beat him at the Dutch Darts Masters.

"Luke put me under so much pressure," said Van Gerwen, who won his 16th World Series of Darts crown, reported by Sky Sports.

"Luke has a very bright future ahead of him. We all know that, but you still want to stop him, and you have to do the right things against him, which is what I did tonight.

"His scoring power is immense so you have to keep on fighting, but I am glad that I was able to.

"I’ve had some really tough matches in finals over the last year. I underperformed a lot of times, but it’s important to keep your fighting spirit and never give up."

During the final of the Dutch masters, there was little to separate van Gerwen and Littler until the last leg when the Dutch player punished a mistake (a missed 170) from the teenager to win 8-6.

Littler has been compared to van Gerwen for his early rise to prominence. The three-time PDC world champion was just 17 when he made a televised nine-darter on his first PDC tour, but did not have the same success that year in the world championships, missing a match dart in the first round, and going on to lose to Phil Taylor.

The Premier League Darts is ahead of Littler, and the first match takes place on Thursday 1 February, when he will have a rematch against current world champion Luke Humphries in the opening match.