Exclusive Interview: PDC's Dave Allen Draws Parallels Between Luke Littler and Phil Taylor

PDC's Dave Allen discusses Luke Littler's impact, darts' media evolution, and parallels to legends Phil Taylor and MVG.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-04-03

Naim Rosinski

11 minutes read

The Man Behind-The-Scenes at PDC

Dave Allen, the longstanding Head of Media at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), sat down with for an exclusive interview, offering insights into his illustrious career journey and the evolution of the sport’s media landscape. With two decades of experience under his belt, Allen reflects on the transformative impact of the teenage sensation, Luke Littler, and draws comparisons to the legendary Phil Taylor.

Allen's journey began in 2004, transitioning from sports journalism specialising in rugby league to the dynamic world of darts. "Barry sold me the vision of where he saw the game," Allen recalled, referencing his meeting with PDC Chairman Barry Hearn. "We've hugely surpassed that vision. I'm really proud of where we've come as a sport."


Image credit: Dave Allen (PDC)

The Global Spotlight on Darts

Over the years, Allen has witnessed significant shifts in the media landscape, driven by the demands of social media and the exponential growth of darts. "We've gone from one or two ranking events each month to a 50-week-a-year circuit," he explained. The proliferation of social media has revolutionised how fans engage with the sport, with instant video clips and short soundbites dominating the narrative.

“When the World Championships was back at the Circus Tavern, we used to get a handful of media titles on campus reporting at the event. This year we had over 250 different media titles come to Alexandra Palace and report at the event. It’s ground-breaking numbers”, he added. 

Welcome Luke Littler

The emergence of Luke Littler, a young prodigy making waves in the sport, has indeed catapulted darts into the mainstream spotlight. At just 16 years old, Littler made an unforgettable debut at the 2024 World Championship, stunning audiences with his remarkable talent and composure on the grand stage of Alexandra Palace. 

Allen highlighted Littler's extraordinary impact, acknowledging his meteoric rise from relative obscurity to national headlines. "The media that he brought to the World Championships alone was unprecedented," Allen remarked, highlighting Littler's innate ability to captivate audiences and generate immense interest in the sport. 

“The media really took a likening to Luke Littler, after the Raymond van Barneveld win at the Worlds. Overnight he went from a relative unknown to the casual darts reader to the front page of every national newspaper, as well headline news on the BBC and ITV, and we’ve seen this constant demand for Littler at later tournaments such as the Premier League, and UK Open”, he commented. 


Image credit: PDC

Pre-Littler Momentum: A Journey to Viral Heights

Despite Luke Littler's remarkable impact on the sport, Dave Allen emphasised that the growth of darts had been gaining momentum prior to Littler's rise to prominence. Allen underscored the significance of the previous year's World Championship final between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith, describing it as the catalyst for darts' ascent.

He noted, "What Luke Littler has done so far has had a huge impact, but one thing I’m keen to stress is that the impressive growth of darts has actually been going on for a year prior to him making a splash on the big stage. The previous year’s World Championship final between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith, were we had the most perfect nine dart leg ever, was the beginning of something special. That was the first darts moment that went viral worldwide and brought a lot of focus to the World Championships before Luke Littler had even thrown a dart." 

Allen highlighted the historic nine-dart leg as a pivotal moment, citing it as "the most watched darts clip ever by some distance." This viral sensation, according to Allen, played a pivotal role in putting darts on the map within the current media landscape. Thus, while Littler's impact is undeniable, Allen suggests that darts was already on an upwards trajectory, propelled by standout moments such as this.

The Latest Premier League Star

Moreover, Littler's inclusion in the Premier League also sparked significant discussion within the darting community, largely due to his tender age. 

Allen acknowledged the decision him and his colleagues faced when discussing whether to include Littler in the Premier League or not, noting, "When he made the final and ultimately, we spoke to Luke and his family and his management and the decision in many ways was left to them." As Littler's impressive run in the World Championship progressed, the debate intensified. "There was probably the talk on it by the time he reached the quarter finals... definitely by the time he reached the semi-finals," Allen explains.

However, despite the controversy, Littler's performances spoke volumes about his abilities. "His performances show that regardless of his age, he deserved to be in that," asserts Allen. Littler's maturity and talent were undeniable, earning him the respect of players and fans alike. As Allen elaborated, "He showed himself as one of the elite players in the sport," demonstrating both skill and composure beyond his years.

Despite concerns about the demanding schedule, Littler has embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm and determination. Allen recalled their discussions about the challenges ahead, noting Littler's willingness to face them head-on. "He knew what was coming up but wanted that challenge," says Allen. Littler recognised the significance of the opportunity presented to him, acknowledging that it might not come again. Allen commends Littler's adaptability and professionalism, stating, "He's absolutely deserved that place and he's showing just what a talent he is and mature beyond his years." 


Image credit: PDC

The Littler Effect

In terms of legacy, Allen went on to draw parallels between Littler and the legendary Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, acknowledging Taylor's instrumental role in shaping the modern darts landscape. "We wouldn't be where we are now if it wasn't for Phil," he acknowledged. However, Allen suggests that Littler's impact may transcend Taylor's, particularly in reaching a wider global and younger audience.

"What we might see is that Luke Littler might have a bigger impact in terms of taking darts as a sport to a wider global and social audience than we've ever had," Allen proposes. He compares Littler's rise to that of van Gerwen, noting that while both exhibited remarkable talent at a young age, the difference lies in the era they emerged in. 

"MVG exploded onto the scene in a similar but in 2007 there wasn’t social media," Allen explains. "Because the sport as a whole wasn't as big, and media was different then, it didn't have obviously that same impact that we are now seeing with Littler."

The Nuke vs. The Power

Allen envisions Littler's potential to attract a younger and more diverse audience to darts over the next two decades. He emphasised that while both Littler and established players like Phil Taylor have made significant contributions to the sport, their impacts manifest in different ways. 

"I think both in very different ways, but Phil, as I say, we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for all the efforts that he made alongside those founder players in the early years," Allen concluded, recognising Taylor's foundational role in shaping the modern darts landscape. Thus, Allen's observations underscore Littler's potential to usher in a new era of growth and global appeal for the sport of darts.

phil taylor MVG.jpeg

Image credit: PDC

A Bright Future for Darts

Looking ahead, Allen remains optimistic about the future of darts and its ability to continue captivating audiences worldwide. "The success of what we do is down to what the players do on stage," he concludes. With players like Luke Littler leading the charge, the future of darts looks brighter than ever.

In Allen's words, "We've seen record ticket sales, record viewing figures on TV, and that's a credit to all the players." As he continues to steer the PDC's media efforts, Allen remains committed to showcasing the sport's diversity and fostering its growth for years to come.

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.