Luke Littler beat Luke Humphries and Gerwyn Price before losing 8-6 to Michael van Gerwen in the Dutch Darts Masters final; Watch the 2024 Premier League Darts season every Thursday from February 1, starting in Cardiff, live on Sky Sports
Image: Michael van Gerwen won the Dutch Darts Masters on home soil
Michael van Gerwen denied teenage sensation Luke Littler a second successive World Series title after claiming an 8-6 victory in a remarkable Dutch Darts Masters final.
Littler came through a final-leg decider to despatch Luke Humphries in a repeat of this month’s dramatic World Championship final, then saw off Gerwyn Price 7-4 to reach a World Series final for the second week running.
The 17-year-old was once again pitted against Van Gerwen, who had survived scares against Raymond van Barneveld and Gian van Veen to reach the final, where the Dutchman avenged last week’s Bahrain Darts Masters loss by taking the title on home soil.
Dutch Darts Masters results
Quarter-Finals: L Littler (Eng) bt L Humphries (Eng) 6-5, G Price (Wal) bt K Doets (Ned) 6-3, M van Gerwen (Ned) bt R van Barneveld (Ned) 6-5, G van Veen (Ned) bt D Noppert (Ned) 6-3
Semi Finals: L Littler (Eng) bt G Price (Wal) 7-4, M van Gerwen (Ned) bt G van Veen (Ned) 7-4
Final: M van Gerwen (Ned) bt L Littler (Eng) 8-6
- Recap: Dutch Darts Masters as it happened
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- Stream the biggest moments on NOW | Get Sky Sports
Image: Luke Littler missed opportunities in the 11th and 13th legs to break Van Gerwen's throw
Littler outscored his opponent with a 106.71 average and made more 180s than Van Gerwen, although the three-time major champion came through a close contest to lift the trophy at De Maaspoort in Den Bosch.
Van Gerwen denies Littler more glory
The first two legs went with throw before Van Gerwen responded to losing the third by immediately breaking back with a stunning 11-darter, before taking out a 78 finish on D12 to move 3-2 ahead.
Image: Michael van Gerwen claimed an 8-6 victory in Saturday's final in Den Bosch
Littler replied with a 104 checkout on tops for a 12-dart hold as the pair continued to trade legs, while Van Gerwen fired in a timely 130 finish to edge 5-4 up after being put under pressure by the teenager.
Littler missed a bullseye opportunity in the 11th leg but won the next in a 14-darter, only to be punished by a Van Gerwen 13-dart leg in the 13th after missing two darts on D8 to break the Dutchman’s throw.
The event was agonisingly close to going into a final-leg decider when Littler shaved the bullseye wire when chasing the ‘Big Fish’ finish, as Van Gerwen punished by taking out an 85 finish and securing victory with a 12-darter.
Littler: MVG got me in the end!
Luke Littler, speaking to ITV: “I put him under pressure or tried to – he just wouldn’t miss! The crowd have been amazing, they want Michael to win and I get that. But how many 140s did I hit? He finally got me at the end.
“Hopefully I haven’t burnt myself out for the Premier League next week! I can’t wait to go to Cardiff.”
Image: Luke Littler narrowly missed out on a second World Series title of the year
Michael van Gerwen, speaking to ITV: “Luke Littler will have a bright future ahead of him, we all know that. His scoring power is immense. He doesn’t care about anything and he does his own thing. I think that’s good. It was a great tournament.
“I needed my best performance. We all know I had some really tough games in the last year and I underperformed a lot of times. You have to make sure you keep your fighting spirit.”
Dramatic day in Den Bosch
Van Gerwen had earlier come back from 5-2 down to snatch a quarter-final victory against Van Barneveld, breaking throw with a 144 finish and 12-dart leg before taking out 124 in the decider, while Littler also needed a final leg to see off Humphries.
Littler broke Humphries with a 105 checkout and responded to losing the next four legs by rattling off three consecutive 14-darters to edge 5-4 ahead, then recovered from wasting three match darts in the 10th leg to nail the bullseye for an 88 checkout in the next.
Image: Luke Humphries was knocked out in the opening match of the quarter-finals
Price booked his semi-final spot after firing six maximums in a 6-3 victory over Kevin Doets, where he opened with eight perfect darts in the penultimate leg before missing D12, while Gian van Veen won the first five legs of his victory by the same margin against Danny Noppert.
Littler never trailed in match against Price, who only converted four out of 16 attempts at double, with the Englishman winning three straight legs and throwing a 98.21 average to defeat the Ice Man at the semi-final stage for the second successive week.
Image: Gerwyn Price (right) was beaten by Luke Littler for the second week in a row
Van Gerwen also struggled with his finishing against Van Veen, missing 18 of his 25 attempts, although replied to being broken by his compatriot in the eighth leg to win the next three and complete a 7-4 victory and secure his showdown with Littler.
What’s next for Humphries and Littler?
Littler and Humphries only have to wait until Thursday to meet again, with the pair closing out the quarter-final fixtures at the opening night of the BetMGM Premier League in Cardiff.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen begins his bid for a record-extending eighth Premier League crown against last year’s world champion Michael Smith, while Peter Wright opens against Rob Cross and Price takes on Nathan Aspinall.
Check out how MVG won a record-breaking seventh Premier League title in style at the O2 in London last May
The Premier League consists of 16 mini-events during the regular season for players to earn points, with each league night comprising quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final over the best of 11 legs.
Players receive two points per semi-final appearance, three points per runner-up finish and five points per final win, with the top four in the season-long standings then progressing to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 23.
Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday, February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday, May 23. Stream darts and more on Sky Sports without a contract through NOW