Michael van Gerwen has vowed to “get” Luke Littler after the 16-year-old defeated him 8-5 in Friday’s Bahrain Masters final. Littler continued his rise to darts stardom by lifting his first senior PDC title at the second time of asking, weeks after reaching the World Darts Championship final.
The Nuke was playing in his first World Series tournament but wasn’t fazed in the Middle East, adding some blockbuster names to his early-career hitlist.
After beating Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung 6-3 in his opener on Thursday, Littler bettered Nathan Aspinall, Gerwyn Price and Van Gerwen to seal glory at The Dome.
Littler hit a nine-darter in his first leg of the evening against Aspinall before dismantling Price, who had beaten the teenager’s world final conqueror Luke Humphries in the quarter-finals, 7-3.
His triumph in Bahrain adds £20,000 to the £200,000 he pocketed at Alexandra Palace over the festive period.
The Warrington icon will look to add to his winnings and trophy cabinet when he’s next in action at the Dutch Masters on January 26 and 27.
Van Gerwen will be out for vengeance at his home tournament in Maaspoort Den Bosch. The three-time world champion sent Littler a warning after their Bahrain showdown.
“Of course, it’s never going to be a good week when [I’m] not winning. Simple as that. But I think he had a fantastic tournament as well,” Van Gerwen told ITV on the stage.
“I couldn’t produce what I was doing in the other games, and you only can punish yourself for that. That’s how sport works. And you have to live with that, and you need to make sure you get better for the next one.
“I want to thank everyone who made it happen. The organisers, the crowds, I think it’s been a fantastic tournament.
“But of course, I’m disappointed. That’s the way sports works. You win some, you lose some. I’ll get him [Littler], don’t worry.”
Littler oozed the class and calmness that fuelled his sensational World Darts Championship run that won the hearts of the nation, breaking Van Gerwen’s throw in legs eight and 12 on his way to victory.
He will be the youngest-ever darts player to participate in the Premier League this year, which starts in Cardiff on February 1.
And despite issuing a warning to the teenage ace, Van Gerwen insisted that he needs space to do his own thing amid the whirlwind of worldwide coverage.
The Dutchman added: “Everyone says he’s a new kid, but everyone knows he’s capable. The crowd, the television, everyone wants to make him bigger, but he’s already a good player.
“So I know you’ll want to push him, but let him grow. Let him do his own thing. You have to learn, the crowd has to learn, and everyone involved with television has to learn.
“Don’t push him too much. Of course, we know he’s a good player. But give him time, and everything will come, no problem.”