IT was so close, but Luke 'The Nuke' Littler lost to Michael van Gerwen in the Dutch Darts Masters Final.

On home soil, Van Gerwen won the title for the first time with an 8-6 success over the 17-year-old new hero on the block.

For the Dutchman, it was revenge for the previous week's loss to Littler in the Bahrain Darts Masters.

The 17-year-old former Padgate Academy student, who grew up in Runcorn initially but now lives in Warrington, can take lots of confidence into Thursday's Premier League start in Cardiff, though, on the back of reaching three successive finals at the start of his senior career.

It was almost fitting that Van Gerwen took the honours in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, just up the road from where he lives.

Unusually for Littler, who has taken the sport by storm since his achievements in the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, the crowd was against him.

But he was not phased, holding his throw and piling pressure on MVG when he had the darts until falling to a sucker punch in the 14th leg.

Littler missed bull for the big fish 170 finish and Van Gerwen stole his chance, checking out on 85 to take the honours.

'The Nuke' will also look back on leg 11 at 5-5 when he had the chance to break MVG but again missed the bull.

But to end up losing with an average of 106.71 left Littler simply having to stand back and applaud the Dutchman's resilience and clinical finish when it mattered most.

Littler said on ITV3: "It went leg by leg, hold by hold. At the end I had to hold and went off with 180 and he came back with one so I was thinking 'just try to hold'. I wired the 170 and he got it.

"Throughout the game every hold was unbelievable. I put him under pressure but he just wouldn't miss.

"The crowd was amazing. Obviously they wanted Michael to win and I get that. Respect to Mike, he finally got me at the end."

He added: "Hopefully I haven't burnt myself out for the Prem next week.

"I'll just take this as match practice and the world ranking points it goes onto, but I just can't wait to go down to Cardiff now."

Van Gerwen agreed it was a great final.

"This is what people like to watch," he said after winning his 20th World Series of Darts Final.

"Luke put me under so much pressure because everyone knows he's the guy in form and Luke is going to have a bright future.

"Still you want to stop him. Still you have to do the right things against him and that's what I did.

"His scoring power is so immense and then you have to keep bettering himy, you have to keep fighting. I'm glad that I was able to."

When asked if Littler reminds him of himself as a teenager breaking onto the professional scene he said: "Yeah, he doesn't care about anything and he just does his own thing and I think that's a good thing."

Littler defeated Welshman Gerwyn Price 7-4 to reach the deciding showdown.

'The Nuke', who also beat price 7-3 in the semi-finals of his Bahrain success, achieved an average 108 and Price 109.6 in a quality contest.

Littler took a 2-0 lead but had that clawed back in.

It was then tit-for-tat until 5-4 when an incredible 10th leg led to Littler breaking Price's throw.

It was a crazy finale to the leg, despite the great scoring, with Price missing seven arrows at double and The Nuke failing with six throws until sealing it on double one.

Littler was then in charge with the arrows to seal the victory.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Luke Littler defeating Gerwyn Price in the Dutch Darts MastersLuke Littler defeating Gerwyn Price in the Dutch Darts Masters (Image: Kelly Deckers/PDC)

Earlier in the night, ‘The Nuke’ reached the semi-finals thanks to a revenge victory over world number one Luke Humphries.

Littler, defeated by Humphries in an epic World Darts Championship Final at Alexandra Palace 25 days ago, edged home 6-5 in a Cheshire derby staged in Den Bosch, The Netherlands.

He averaged 102.33 and hit five 180s in a gritty display that swayed to-and-fro.

Former Padgate Academy student Littler got off to a great start, taking a two-leg lead.

But Humphries, who lives in Frodsham, found his groove to win four successive legs.

Then came a brilliant Littler fightback.

Two 180s at the start of the seventh leg, another in the eighth laid the foundation for ‘The Nuke’ to get it back to 4-4.

After going back in front, Littler missed two darts at double for the match as Humphries levelled matters again at 5-5.

In the decider, Littler left himself 88 and he checked out on the bullseye to clinch his semi-final place.

Littler said: “Happy with the way I played.

“I said earlier I had to put at least 10pts on that 90 average (from last night) and I did.

“I went 2-0 ahead and then I think I fell asleep for the next four legs but then I got back into it and I think I played well with my finishing and scoring. I’m happy.”


TOTO Dutch Darts Masters 2024 final:

Luke Littler 6 Michael van Gerwen 8

TOTO Dutch Darts Masters 2024 semi-finals:

Luke Littler 7 Gerwyn Price 4

Michael van Gerwen 7 Gian Van Veen 4

TOTO Dutch Darts Masters 2024 quarter-finals:

Luke Littler 6 Luke Humphries 4

Gerwyn Price 6 Kevin Doets 3

Michael van Gerwen 6 Raymond van Barneveld 5

Gian van Veen 6 Danny Noppert 3

TOTO Dutch Darts Masters 2024 first round:

Nathan Aspinall 2 Danny Noppert 6

Peter Wright 2 Kevin Doets 6

Gerwyn Price 6 Dimitri Van den Bergh 3

Michael Smith 3 Gian van Veen 6

Rob Cross 5 Ray van Barneveld 6

Luke Littler 6 Dirk van Duijvenbode 2

Luke Humphries 6 Jermaine Wattimena 0

Michael van Gerwen 6 Vincent van der Voort 1