Luke Littler produced a sensational nine-dart finish as he defeated Luke Humphries 11-7 to claim a historic BetMGM Premier League triumph on a record-breaking night at The O2, London on Thursday.

Littler – the youngest player to ever feature in the Premier League – capped off a dream debut campaign by storming to victory in front of 14,000 fans in the capital – the biggest UK crowd in PDC history.

The 17-year-old – a runner-up to Humphries in January’s World Championship showpiece – avenged that defeat in astonishing style as the two debutants battled it out in a compelling final.

“I’m a major winner! It feels incredible,” reflected Littler, who averaged 105.60 and crashed in nine 180s to secure the biggest title of his fledgling career.

“It’s so good to win in front of my family. I was saying to Luke, I didn’t know what to do after I won!

“There were people doubting me when I was selected, but now I’ve picked up the trophy. They’re not doubting me anymore!

“I have been practising really hard today. I was so focused, and I’m just so happy to add my name to the list of major winners.”

Littler punished a profligate start from Humphries to race into a 2-0 lead, but the world number one opened his account with an 11-dart break in leg three, before restoring parity at two apiece.

The teenage sensation hit back with legs of 12, 13 and 11 darts on throw to retain the initiative, although a tenacious Humphries – aided by a crucial 116 finish in leg eight – levelled at 5-5 at the interval.

However, Littler then conjured up a staggering spell to pull clear, returning from the break with a nine-darter, to become only the second player alongside Phil Taylor to achieve perfection in a Premier League final.

The Warrington wonderkid then backed up his nine-dart heroics with legs of 14 and 12 darts to move 8-5 ahead, and another 12-dart hold in leg 15 moved him to within two legs of history.

Humphries refused to relent and delivered an outrageous tops-tops 134 finish to reduce the arrears to 7-9, but an inspired Littler wasn’t to be denied, wrapping up proceedings with back-to-back 13-darters.

“I was trying to stick in there, but credit to Luke, he was fantastic there,” reflected a gracious Humphries, who averaged 102.47 in defeat.

“Tonight Luke was much stronger than I was, and if you look at the season as a whole, he deserved to be Premier League champion.

“I think we’re the best two players in the world at the moment, and it was another great battle. I just love playing him, and we’re going to have plenty more battles in the future.

“I’m really proud to make the final. Of course I’m gutted not to win, but I’ve made six out of seven major finals now, and I can only build on this.”

Earlier in the night, Humphries dumped out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in convincing style, averaging 101 to close out a 10-5 success and set up another showdown against Littler.

The World Champion – buoyed by a brilliant 132 finish in leg four – reeled off six consecutive legs to seize control and establish an emphatic 8-3 cushion.

Van Gerwen responded with 105 and 86 checkouts to reduce the arrears, only for Humphries to hit back with a magnificent 125 combination on tops to ally any fears of a late fightback.

In the evening’s opening semi-final, Littler stormed through to Thursday’s showpiece after overcoming Michael Smith by the same 10-5 scoreline.

Smith had won five of the pair’s seven meetings in this year’s league phase, but the teenage superstar made amends in some style, firing in a ton-topping average to progress.

Littler made an electrifying start to the contest, following up a 144 checkout with back-to-back 12-darters to race into a 4-1 lead, and he maintained that buffer throughout.

Smith began to falter on the outer ring midway through the contest, as Littler followed up a clinical 107 kill in leg 12 with an 11-dart hold on his way to victory.

Littler – who now sets his sights on US Darts Masters glory in New York next week – pockets £315,000 in total from this year’s Premier League, with four nightly wins earning him a £40,000 bonus in addition to the £275,000 top prize.

Humphries, meanwhile, claimed £125,000 as runner-up, and also walks away with a further £40,000 in bonus prize money, having featured in seven finals across the 17 nights.

Despite losing out in his bid for a record-extending eighth Premier League crown, Van Gerwen’s haul of four nightly wins during the season boosted his £85,000 prize money to £125,000.

Elsewhere, Smith – a winner on Nights One and Nights 16 – earned £105,000 after featuring in the Play-Offs for a second consecutive campaign.

Final
Luke Littler 11-7 Luke Humphries

SOURCE-PDC

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