Teenage sensation Luke Littler produced a stunning display to win the opening Players Championship event on his debut in the competition.

After hitting a nine-dart finish in one of the earlier rounds, 17-year-old Littler dug deep to beat fellow Englishman Ryan Searle in a thrilling final.

Littler took it 8-7, capturing the £15,000 winner’s purse and a first ranking title after continuing his rich vein of form. He averaged 110 and notched seven 180s.

Littler became a household name during a shock run to the final of the World Championship at the turn of the year.

‘The Nuke’ then went on to beat Michael van Gerwen to win the Bahrain Masters in January, becoming the youngest player to hit a televised nine-darter in his quarter-final victory over Nathan Aspinall.

Littler’s strong form continued as he was beaten by home favourite Van Gerwen in the final of the Dutch Masters the following week.

His nine-dart finish at the Players Championship event in Wigan came as he wrapped up a 6-1 win against Michele Turetta, then he accounted for quarter-final opponent James Hurrell 6-3 before edging out Alan Soutar 7-6.

“I know my game is there, I know I can beat anyone, and I’m really happy to have won,” Littler said.

“Me and my manager know what I have to do to qualify for the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix.

“I want to try and qualify for everything, and I’ve just got to play my game. I’m taking it in my stride. It takes huge pressure off me, and now hopefully I can settle and enjoy it.”

Former world champion Gerwyn Price, meanwhile, withdrew halfway through his third round match after what he claimed were “absolutely pathetic conditions”.

Gerwyn PriceGerwyn Price forfeited his match at the Players Championship (David Davies/PA)

Price was trailing 4-2 on legs against Brendan Dolan in a best-of-11 encounter when he forfeited the match at Robin Park Tennis Centre and Dolan was handed a bye into the next round.

The Welshman later wrote on Instagram Stories: “Absolutely pathetic conditions, travel all the way to Wigan to play in a professional game and we have to play in less than amateur conditions.

“Never have (a) ever given a game up, well that’s me out tomorrow as well. Gutted because my game was really good today and I rely on these events so much.”


Price did not elaborate on why he felt the playing conditions were so poor. The second Players Championship event takes place at the same venue on Tuesday.

A Professional Darts Corporation spokesperson told the PA news agency: “Gerwyn decided not to complete his match against Brendan Dolan and left the venue immediately.

“We understand he felt the venue was cold.”