ANOTHER world title is in sight of rising Warrington darts star Luke ‘The Nuke’ Littler, who is being predicted by the legendary Phil Taylor to become one of the sport’s greatest ever players.

The 16-year-old thrower’s defence of the JDC World Championships title he won last year will go down to the final hurdle.

His place in the decider on the big stage at Alexandra Palace on December 17 was secured as his 2023 success story continued in the semi-final in Gibraltar at the weekend.

Littler, who will face Hungarian Almos Kovacs in the final, was crowned the 2023 PDC World Youth Champion a week earlier.

‘The Nuke’ will also take part in the PDC World Darts Championship for the first time, with his first-round tie being against Dutchman Christian Kist on December 20, while he has also secured a PDC tour card for 2024.

All of this has led to 16-times world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, widely recognised as the best darts player of all time, to lavish the teenager with high praise.

“He’s the best 16s player I’ve seen in my life,” said Taylor on Live Darts TV.

“We’ll see what happens over the next five years when his hormones change, he earns a few bob and wants to enjoy himself.

Warrington Guardian: Legendary thrower Phil Taylor, who has announced the World Senior Darts Tour in 2024 will be his final year on the circuitLegendary thrower Phil Taylor, who has announced the World Senior Darts Tour in 2024 will be his final year on the circuit (Image: PA Wire)

“The lad could be a millionaire, but then you’ve got to stay in and dedicate yourself. That’s going to be a bit difficult for the lad but I’m predicting he’ll be one of the best players ever.”

Back-to-back wins in the Winmau Junior Darts Open and MVG Masters in Gibraltar were a precursor to Littler battling through a quality field of 138 at the Europa Point Stadium to win his semi-final and book his spot in the biggest match in junior darts.

He averaged 97.32 in his 5-2 semi-final win over fellow Englishman Archie Self, who was the first player to a checkout, but Littler took out 117 to hold throw with his opponent waiting on tops.

Littler then hit two 180s in the second leg en route to breaking Self’s throw in 12 darts.

The defending champion, playing in his last junior world title before turning professional in the new year, then took out 136 with Self sitting on 20 and looking to break.

Self held in the next leg, but back-to-back 180s in the fifth put Littler in command – and he went out in 12 darts to move within one leg of the final.

Littler’s 177 left him on 20, but Self took out 94 to hold.

Self again rallied in the seventh leg, his 134 and 119 heaping pressure on ‘The Nuke’.

But Littler threw a 126 to leave 22, and with Self unable to clear 73, the defending champion sealed victory.

In the other semi-final, Kovacs, 17, beat Mason Teese of England by the same scoreline to ensure his final game in the JDC – he will be too old to compete next season – will be a shot at the world title.