LUKE ‘The Nuke’ Littler threw a nine-darter on his way to winning the Belgian Darts Open title on his European Tour debut.

The sensational Warrington 17-year-old defeated his Premier League rival ‘Voltage’ Rob Cross 8-7 in an amazing showdown at the Oktoberhallen in Wieze, with the lead changing hands seven times.

One of those occasions was the 11th leg when ‘The Nuke’ threw nine perfect arrows - the third time he has done so in competition this year - to take a 6-5 lead.

There was much more drama still to come, with Cross landing a 121 checkout and then Littler breaking Cross when he was staring down the barrel at 7-6 - to take the contest into a decider.

And with the arrows in his favour, he delivered to seal the £30,000 first prize, his first European Tour title and move into a provisional qualification place for July's Betfred World Matchplay.

He can add this to winning the Bahrain Darts Masters on his World Series debut in January and clinching the Players Championship on his ProTour debut last month, all following on from reaching the final of his maiden World Darts Championship over the festive season.

Cross averaged 108 for the match and Littler 104, but the former Padgate Academy student prevailed.

Littler, who also hit a nine-darter when winning on his World Series debut, said afterwards: "I'm just glad to get over the line. I lost the two legs after I hit the nine so I'm relieved to get the win.

"It's always good to be involved in a good game; me and Rob have battles and we bring the best out of each other.

"I'm really happy to hit a nine-darter, I prefer 144 to 141 to finish a nine because when the first treble 20 goes in I'm confident of following it with another.

"I know the spotlight is on me because I've done so well but I just play my darts and get on with it. I just do what I do."

Cross, competing in his ninth European Tour final after beating Gerwyn Price 7-3 in the last four, could not hide his disappointment, but saluted the victor.

“He really pushes on,” Cross said. “I wanted a big display and got a big display. To be fair I missed a few chances, but I’ve loved this crowd this weekend.

“This young man has got such a bright future in front of him. The nine-darter was impeccable, amazing. This boy’s special.”

Littler clawed back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 against Cross but another Voltage charge put the Hastings man 5-4 ahead.

‘The Nuke’ responded by breaking Cross and then going 6-5 in front with his nine-darter.

Back came Voltage for a 7-6 advantage and entered the 14th leg to win the match with the arrows in his favour, but Littler broke him to force the decider and kept his nerve to deliver when it mattered.

Littler sent out Ricardo Pietreczko 7-3 in the semi-finals earlier in the evening.

'The Nuke' broke Pietreczko in the opening leg with a 12-darter and looked comfortable at 3-1 but the German champion showed some steel and fought back to level matters.

The seventh and eighth legs were then won in the same way, leaving 65 and checking out on double 10 in 14 darts.

Littler broke Pietreczko again in 12 darts and then held his throw to complete the mission.

Stinging criticism was levelled at 'The Nuke' by Pietreczko after the German’s defeat.

Pietreczko had a word in Littler's ear on stage leaving the teenager looking puzzled, and later said in a post on Instagram: “So I appreciated him a lot, that you can play such a game at such a (young) age, but I hope the arrogance punishes him.”

Littler responded on X/Twitter by saying: “No idea what I did wrong, no idea what he said, something then don’t do it again.”

In the night's quarter-finals, Littler thrashed Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena 6-2.

He averaged 110.6 and never looked in danger of losing from the point of breaking Wattimena in the opening leg in 14 darts.

His 160 finish to hold throw for 2-0 was sumptuous, nailing treble 20 twice and then double tops.

The Dutchman, the lowest ranked competitor left in the competition at that stage, rescued a leg but six perfect arrows to start the fourth brought an 11-dart win for 'The Nuke'.

Three successive 140 scores in another 11-darter made it 4-1, then he was out in 14 darts to hold in the next one.

Wattimena managed to hold his throw with Littler breathing down his neck left with 40.

Each player missed three doubles before Littler wrapped up the eighth and final leg.

On Sunday afternoon, it must have felt good for Littler when he defeated Australian number one Damon Heta 6-3 in the last 16.

For Littler, it was some revenge for being knocked out of the UK Open in Minehead by Heta last weekend in one of the greatest TV games in memory.

The averages never got close to what both men served up seven days earlier but ‘The Nuke’ dropped a bomb in the seventh leg.

He broke Heta for the second time, doing so in 11 darts for a 4-3 lead and then held his own throw in the next leg to take charge.

The Australian did have a shot at breaking Littler in the eighth but two missed doubles cost him dearly.

‘The Nuke’ ended the game in some style with a 137 finish, established with treble 19 and then two successful arrows at double tops.

Littler and Heta broke each other’s throws in the opening two legs, the Aussie responding to Littler’s opening salvo with an 81 finish to an 11-dart leg.

A big fish 170 finish was on the cards for Littler in the sixth leg but after hitting treble 20 twice he showed his game maturity when he decided against the bull and nailed the 10 to leave himself double 20 on the next visit knowing that Heta was not on a finish.