Luke Littler told manager ‘I don’t want to play’ and sent warning | Other | Sport

Premier League champion Luke Littler waits for no-one when it comes to deciding how much free time he enjoys. And despite being a relative babe on the darts scene, the teenager has said if he wants a week off from competition, he’ll have one.

Littler, 17, has travelled to the United States to compete in this weekend’s U.S. Darts Masters, which gets underway at Madison Square Garden on Friday. He’s then due a well-deserved week off in Orlando, Florida, with his family after targeting yet more silverware in his maiden voyage to New York.

It appears The Nuke’s hype train has truly gone global as Littler made a pitstop on The MMA Hour ahead of his pro debut on American soil. And the World Darts Championship silver medallist explained his swift success in the sport has given him the privilege of being able to dictate when he does and doesn’t compete.

“Next week we’re going to Orlando,” he told host Ariel Helwani after being quizzed about the non-stop nature of his calendar. “There’s a competition at the weekend, but I just said to my manager, ‘Can I have the week off, [I] don’t want to play, [Id’ rather] go on holiday’.”

When probed about whether he feels the pressure more when exposed to a new audience, Littler rejected the notion as he gets to “pick and choose” what competitions he plays. The teenager was still playing junior tournaments as recently as December 2023 but now has his pick of the litter on the pro circuit.

Despite being so early on in his career, Littler has risen to 25th in the PDC Order of Merit, an achievement he rightly describes as “crazy.” And the Premier League kingpin – who got his revenge over world champion Luke Humphries in the final to win a £275,000 grand prize – boasts the kind of winnings most darts pros spend their entire careers chasing.

“I can pick and choose what I want to play from now on, because my rankings (sic) is good,” he explained. “And I’ve qualified for almost every event, so I can just pick and choose. And if I’m not up to [playing a certain event], or the travelling’s killing me off, then I’ll just have a week off.”

It’s not every darts player – or even the majority of pros – who can boast that same flexibility. But then that’s the the kind of cushion that comes from being the most prodigious talent the sport has ever witnessed.

Darts fans across the pond will get properly acquainted with the breakout star when he steps up at MSG come Friday. And he’ll be facing off against some familiar top seeds in the Big Apple, with Humphries, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith among his potential opponents.

The oche sensation has been taking in the sights ahead of his New York debut, including an open-top bus tour and a trip to see The Statue of Liberty. But it’s all business once again for the rising phenomenon as he seeks to add to his list of plaudits in foreign territory.

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