Humphries Retains His Cool Hand to Lift Title

Red Dragon Darts

For all the hyperbole, record TV ratings, furore and speculation, Luke Humphries arrived on the Alexandra Palace stage tonight with a simple job to do. And a job he did. In a match arc which almost replicated the highs and lows of his own career, he survived the swings and tumult to come out on top and defeat the wonderkid Luke Littler 7-4.

In doing so, he joins a recent club of darting greats to achieve that final act of vindication, to prove it all was worth it. Following in the footsteps of Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Michael Smith, he has overcome his critics and chiselled his way to the top of world darts. And he has done so in a ruthless and unrelenting three-month charge, taking the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals before finally living up to his favourite status in the biggest match of them all.

Much ink will be spilled about Littler’s glaring opportunity to go 5-2 up and cement a three-set gap which may well have crippled ‘Cool Hand’. But just as important were Humphries’s solid opening exchanges, where he kept Littler in check and ensured it would be him who dictated the flow and pace of a lightning quick game.

Humphries no doubt lost his way as he suddenly found himself 4-2 behind and up against a Littler rampage. But it was the 28-year-old’s hard work that ensured he had a chance to bridge that deficit in the first place and ultimately remain in control.

The following four sets were clinical, calm and composed, resembling Peter Wright’s incredible flourish in the 2022 final. ‘The Nuke’ may have been somewhat stewing about the double 2 and 5-2 lead that never was, but his form hardly dropped off a cliff. He continued to score highly, but found himself increasingly punished by Humphries.

‘Cool Hand’ gave Littler nowhere to run, constantly firing in maximums or 140s to open legs and leave Luke Jr with it all to do. The 12 darter to go 6-4 up was scintillating, the 14 darter that got him over the line even sweeter.

Speaking to Sky’s Abigail Davies after the match, Humphries pulled back on a remark that he had ‘completed’ darts, perhaps typical of his reserved and reticent manner. But what is completion if not tonight? From making his name unignorable in that 2018 run to a quarter-final, from battles with anxiety which destroyed his stage performances, to finally joining the pantheon of major winners. Luke Humphries has lived it, fought for it and achieved something so few ever have or ever will.

Sometimes, fairytales are better left to works of fiction. Tonight, it was Luke Humphries’s story to conclude.


Images: PDC


Latest articles

Newsletter Signup

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here