Playing at just his third senior PDC darts event, the 16-year-old – who became an overnight sensation when he reached the final of the World Darts Championship earlier this month – took out a host of huge names on a busy Friday.
Littler produced a stunning nine-darter as he beat Nathan Aspinall in the quarter-final, then saw off Gerwyn Price to set up a showdown with the great Van Gerwen in the final.
Incredibly, it was the youngster who came out on top, winning the best-of-15 match 8-5 and surviving a few nerves on doubles late on to secure a sensational victory.
Van Gerwen had been in good form heading into the final but struggled to keep pace with Littler in the early exchanges and was forced to battle in every leg.
The Dutchman’s throw was broken first and although he hit back immediately, letting out a trademark roar, it was only a short-lived revival.
Littler could have won by an even wider margin, missing three attempts at double four to allow Van Gerwen to level the scores at 5-5 – but it quickly felt as though the writing was on the wall for the 34-year-old.
His younger opponent got away with missing another couple of doubles in the 11th leg and then missed three goes at tops in the next, but with MVG misfiring too it allowed Littler to claim back-to-back legs – and now he was throwing for the title.
If there were any nerves he managed to conceal them, and, after missing all those doubles earlier on in the final, this time he kept his head and crushed double 20 at the first time of asking to seal the victory.
Speaking to ITV4 straight afterwards, he said: ‘I’m happy to win, I played well yesterday and I’ve played well again tonight.
‘No-one probably believes me but I’ve not thrown a dart since the world final!
‘Michael is one of the very best and I’m happy to win on my debut. It’s been unbelievable this week and I’m happy to come out as the winner.’
Reacting to his defeat, and Littler’s display, Van Gerwen said: ‘It’s never going to be a good week when I’m not winning but Luke had a fantastic tournament.
‘Everyone knows what he is capable of – let him grow, let him do his thing.
‘I couldn’t produce what I produced in the earlier games and you get punished. Of course I’m disappointed but that’s the way sport works.
‘I’ll get him, don’t worry!’
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