World Darts Championship: Michael van Gerwen claims he was better than Luke Littler at same age

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16-year-old Luke Littler is through to the last 16 of the World Darts Championship in his tournament debut; Michael van Gerwen is also in the fourth round as he chases a fourth title at Alexandra Palace; Watch the tournament through until January 3 on Sky Sports Darts

By Ali Stafford

Last Updated: 28/12/23 11:12am

Michael Van Gerwen says 16-year-old sensation Luke Littler is a big talent and he admires him

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Michael Van Gerwen says 16-year-old sensation Luke Littler is a big talent and he admires him

Michael Van Gerwen says 16-year-old sensation Luke Littler is a big talent and he admires him

Michael van Gerwen has paid tribute to teenager sensation Luke Littler but insists he was better than him at the same stage of his career.

Littler continued his dream World Darts Championship debut with a 4-1 victory over Matt Campbell on Wednesday evening, making him the youngest player in history to reach the last 16 at the Alexandra Palace.

The 16-year-old had already fired one of the highest averages of the tournament in his straight-sets thrashing of Christian Kist and then despatched UK Open champion Andrew Gilding, with Littler quickly becoming a fans’ favourite and a championship contender.

Littler becomes the youngest player to qualify for the last 16 of the World Darts Championship, but will he celebrate with his trademark celebratory kebab?

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Littler becomes the youngest player to qualify for the last 16 of the World Darts Championship, but will he celebrate with his trademark celebratory kebab?

Littler becomes the youngest player to qualify for the last 16 of the World Darts Championship, but will he celebrate with his trademark celebratory kebab?

Littler’s rapid rise into the spotlight has drawn comparisons with the early stages of Van Gerwen’s career, who impressed on the BDO as a teenager before switching to the PDC in 2007, although the Dutchman thinks he had more talent at the same age.

When asked if he understood the comparisons between the two after his 4-0 victory over Richard Veenstra, Van Gerwen told reporters: “Yes and no. I think if you look like talent-wise then I think I was slightly better but he doesn’t care whoever he plays and that’s why I admire him.

Littler produces a brilliant 164 finish against Matt Campbell in the World Darts Championship third round

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Littler produces a brilliant 164 finish against Matt Campbell in the World Darts Championship third round

Littler produces a brilliant 164 finish against Matt Campbell in the World Darts Championship third round

“He’s a big talent. Me and Vincent [Van der Voort] spoke about him and he has got one little thing in his throw on the end that I don’t really fancy, but for the rest he can win a lot of tournaments in the future of darts – 100 per cent.”

Littler has taken plenty of the media attention during this year’s event, leading to many of the title contenders coming in ‘under the radar’, although Van Gerwen wants to continue to be talked about as he chases a fourth world title.

Van Gerwen makes it clear that he wants Stephen Bunting next after he coasted into the last 16 at the World Darts Championship

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Van Gerwen makes it clear that he wants Stephen Bunting next after he coasted into the last 16 at the World Darts Championship

Van Gerwen makes it clear that he wants Stephen Bunting next after he coasted into the last 16 at the World Darts Championship

“Are we going to talk about the Luke Littler or are we going to talk about the world championships?” Van Gerwen asked reporters, before adding: “No, I am winding you up, of course you are going to get questions about Luke Littler.

“I wish everyone gives me attention because when you get attention it is a pleasure, it is something good. When they talk about you it is a good sign, it means you still mean something to the sport.”

Wayne Mardle is convinced Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

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Wayne Mardle is convinced Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

Wayne Mardle is convinced Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

Van Gerwen – chasing a first world title in four years – made light work of fellow Dutchman Veenstra, dropping just four legs and registering a 101.39 average to set up a last 16-meeting with either Stephen Bunting or Florian Hempel.

“I think there is more to get, I feel comfortable and I feel good and I am looking forward,” he added. “I was pleased, with the way I played it gave me confidence, that is the way want to do things. I did what I had to do.”

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months

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World Darts Championship: Michael van Gerwen claims he was better than Luke Littler at same age

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