2024 Premier League: Luke Littler Wins Night Nine in Belfast

Luke Littler triumphs at Night Nine in Belfast, vanquishing Michael van Gerwen in the semi-final and clinching victory over Nathan Aspinall in the final.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-03-28

Naim Rosinski

15 minutes read

Night Nine at the SSE Arena

As the Premier League Darts roadshow arrives at the SSE Arena in Belfast for Night Nine, the spotlight shines brightly on a clash of darting giants, Luke Humphries and Luke Littler. This evening's focal point was a rematch of the 2024 World Championship final, where Humphries, reigning world champion and current world number one, emerged victorious. Yet, the narrative of their rivalry is far from one-sided, as Littler has recently turned the tables, besting Humphries in their last three encounters. 

Alongside this thrilling matchup, fans eagerly anticipated another epic replay, as Michael van Gerwen squared off against Michael Smith, revisiting their showdown from the 2023 World Championship final. With two tantalising duels on the cards, the atmosphere crackled with anticipation, promising a night of darting drama that will be remembered for years to come.


Luke Humphries vs. Luke Littler

The night's proceedings commenced with a highly anticipated showdown between two of darts' standout performers, Luke Humphries and the emerging teenage sensation, Luke Littler. Both players entered the arena as the only contenders in the Premier League boasting a three-dart average over 100, setting the stage for a clash of immense skill and talent.

From the outset, the match showcased the remarkable scoring prowess of both competitors. Despite a fierce exchange of high-quality darts, it was Littler who initially seized the momentum, securing an early advantage with a clinical 14-dart hold of throw to claim the first leg. Exploiting a momentary lapse from the reigning world champion, Littler swiftly capitalised by breaking Humphries' throw, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

However, Humphries swiftly rallied, demonstrating his trademark resilience by immediately breaking back to level the contest at 2-2. The subsequent legs saw a rapid succession of holds from both players, with Humphries showcasing his flair with a breath-taking three-dart 148 checkout in the eighth leg to square the match at 4-4.

As the tension reached its zenith, the encounter culminated in a thrilling last-leg decider, with Humphries requiring a break of Littler's throw to keep his hopes alive in the night's competition. Despite the immense pressure, Littler displayed remarkable composure, fending off Humphries' challenge to secure victory. In a display of his burgeoning talent, the Warrington wonderkid unleashed an impressive barrage of seven 180s enroute to vanquishing Humphries, thus dashing the latter's aspirations of clinching a fourth consecutive Premier League night.


Image credit: PDC

Michael Smith vs. Michael van Gerwen

The encounter between Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen ignited with a burst of intensity, as the Bully Boy swiftly seized the initiative by breaking van Gerwen's throw with a commanding 13-dart leg. However, the Dutch maestro countered immediately, surpassing Smith's effort with an impressive 11-dart leg to reclaim the advantage by stealing the throw.

The match continued to unfold with relentless back-and-forth action, exemplified by yet another break of throw. Smith once again asserted his dominance by breaking van Gerwen's throw, this time with a blistering 12-dart leg, showcasing an exceptional standard of play with both players averaging well above 110.

As the tension mounted, Smith dug deep, solidifying his position by holding throw for the first time in the encounter, securing a steady 3-1 lead. Despite van Gerwen's resilience, Smith maintained his momentum, extending his lead to 4-2 as the Dutchman faltered, missing crucial opportunities on doubles.

However, van Gerwen ignited a comeback in the seventh leg, delivering a breath-taking three-dart 144 checkout, reigniting his challenge. Buoyed by this impetus, van Gerwen held throw to draw level, shifting the balance of the match for the first time in his favour.

In a dramatic turn of events, Mighty Mike surged ahead, seizing the lead for the first time in the match by clinching the ninth leg in typical fashion. The momentum continued to swing decisively in the Dutchman's favour as he clinched victory with another spectacular three-dart finish, this time an impressive 150 checkout, securing his fourth successive leg and setting up a semi-final clash with 17-year-old Luke Littler. 

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Image credit: PDC

Nathan Aspinall vs. Gerwyn Price

The atmosphere at the SSE Arena reached fever pitch as nearly 13,000 spectators serenaded Nathan Aspinall with renditions of his entrance anthem, "Mr. Brightside," as he made his way to the stage, setting the stage for a thrilling encounter. Aspinall wasted no time in igniting the excitement, narrowly missing the coveted big fish 170 checkout but ultimately cleaning up on double eight to claim the opening leg and ignite the crowd's enthusiasm.

Despite Aspinall's strong start, his average began to dip below Gerwyn Price's impressive three-dart average of over 100. However, the Stockport native managed to maintain parity, securing one of the next three legs to level the match at 2-2 heading into the fifth leg. With precision and determination, Aspinall held his throw to regain the lead, capitalising on missed opportunities from his Welsh opponent.

Price showcased his resilience in the sixth leg, producing a superb 103 three-dart checkout to draw level at 3-3. Undeterred, Aspinall responded with his own display of brilliance, executing an exceptional 127 finish on the bullseye.

Maintaining his momentum, Aspinall seized a pivotal moment in the match by breaking Price's throw for the first time, positioning himself on the brink of securing a spot in the night's semi-finals. However, Price mounted a fierce comeback, mirroring Aspinall's feat with a crucial break of throw to keep his hopes alive. With the tension palpable, Price followed up with a confident hold of throw to force a thrilling one-leg shootout at 5-5, with Aspinall holding the advantage of throwing first in the final leg.

Buoyed by his second 180 of the match, Aspinall remained composed under pressure in the decisive leg, leaving no room for error as he sealed victory with a clinical finish on double 16. While Aspinall's scoring may not have reached astronomical heights throughout the match, his remarkable accuracy on the doubles, missing only three darts over 11 legs, underscored his clinical prowess on the oche.


Image credit: PDC

Rob Cross vs Peter Wright

In a display reminiscent of his vintage form, Peter Wright showcased his darting prowess from the outset, delivering a scintillating 11-dart leg to surge into a 1-0 lead against Rob Cross. As both players exchanged opportunities in the following legs, they managed to hold throw, maintaining a tight contest at 2-1 in favour of the Scotsman.

Wright capitalised on Cross's errors in the fourth leg, jumping on a misstep to secure an impressive 89-checkout finished off on the bull, extending his lead to two legs. The momentum remained firmly in Snakebite's favour as he comfortably clinched a 13-dart leg, further solidifying his path to victory.

Despite Cross salvaging a leg to narrow the deficit, Wright's relentless assault continued, compounded by Cross's missed opportunities at doubles in the seventh leg, allowing the Scottish contender to move within striking distance of the semi-finals.

Although Cross managed to secure another leg, Wright maintained his composure, sealing the deal with a composed finish on double nine, ultimately clinching a 6-3 victory. This triumph marked only Wright's second win in the Premier League season thus far, signalling a potential resurgence for the seasoned campaigner on the darts circuit.


Image credit: PDC


Luke Littler vs. Michael van Gerwen

In a match characterised by early tension, Michael van Gerwen experienced a sluggish start, allowing Luke Littler to secure the first leg despite the latter missing five darts at double himself. However, van Gerwen quickly rectified his performance in the second leg, clinching a decisive 13-dart leg after surviving a dart at bullseye from the 17-year-old prodigy.

As the contest unfolded, neither player yielded in the ensuing legs, with both comfortably holding throw to level the game at two legs apiece. Although, Littler seized a pivotal moment in the sixth leg, securing a crucial break of throw to establish a two-leg advantage for the first time in the encounter.

Bolstered by his newfound momentum, Littler extended his lead further, surviving van Gerwen's attempts at a comeback to clinch a remarkable three-leg advantage with a stunning three-dart checkout of 110. Despite van Gerwen managing to claim one more leg before the conclusion, Littler remained composed, sealing the victory with a composed finish on double 12 to secure a 6-3 triumph and book his place in Belfast's final.

This victory marked Littler's second consecutive win against van Gerwen, showcasing his growing stature in the sport as he navigated past the Dutchman in convincing fashion on this occasion.


Image credit: PDC

Nathan Aspinall vs. Peter Wright

The initial stages of the semi-final encounter between Nathan Aspinall and Peter Wright failed to ignite significant excitement, with both players opening the match with below-par performances. Snakebite managed to secure the first leg with an unremarkable 18-dart leg by Premier League standards, matched by Aspinall's similar performance in the second leg.

However, Aspinall found his rhythm in the third leg, capitalising on a missed opportunity from Wright to secure a crucial break of throw with a steady 76-checkout, seizing a 2-1 lead in the process.

Despite the slow pace of the match, both players traded holds of throw in the subsequent legs, maintaining a close score line at 3-2. Yet, Aspinall once again showcased his flair with a moment of brilliance, notching an impressive 121 three-dart finish to re-establish a two-leg advantage. Wright's performance continued to falter, ultimately conceding a sloppy leg, and granting Aspinall a commanding 5-2 lead with the opportunity to seal the match with darts in hand.

Although Aspinall encountered a brief scare in the final leg, he demonstrated nerves of steel, recovering in spectacular fashion to seal victory with a composed 68-checkout finished off on the bullseye. With this win, Aspinall secured his place in his fourth Premier League night final of the season, where he would face his Target teammate, Luke Littler.


Image credit: PDC

Final: Luke Littler vs. Nathan Aspinall

In his second Premier League night final, the Warrington wonderkid, Luke Littler, came out guns blazing, clinching the first leg with relentless precision, boasting a remarkable 136 three-dart finish. However, Littler narrowly missed his signature 170 big fish finish in the second leg, allowing Nathan Aspinall to capitalise and hold throw despite being the underdog.

Aspinall then broke Littler's throw with an impressive 14-dart leg to secure his first lead of the fixture. The 32-year-old continued his dominance by holding throw in the subsequent leg, establishing a commanding 3-1 lead. Despite the pressure, Littler managed to claw back into the game, securing another leg after losing the previous three, levelling the score at 3-3 with an outrageous exhibition-like 125 finish via the bull, outer bull, bull. 

Riding the wave of momentum, Littler won his third leg in a row, regaining a 4-3 lead over his Target teammate. In the eighth leg, the 17-year-old displayed composure, pinning off a 51-checkout to once again break Aspinall's throw, edging closer to his first nightly Premier League win. 

The Asp broke Littler's throw once more to make a late comeback bid, but Littler clinched double five after missing three darts at double, securing his first-ever Premier League night victory. It marked a moment of glory in Belfast for the 17-year-old sensation.


Image credit: PDC

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.