Luke Littler, a 16-year-old from Warrington in the UK, became the youngest player to reach the final of the PDC World Darts Championship on Jan. 3.
The teenager, nicknamed “The Nuke,” defeated two former world champions to reach the final, where he was ultimately defeated by 28-year-old Luke Humphries, who won the finals 7-4.
Littler’s success flooded the internet with memes.
People praised his achievement but also couldn’t help but express disbelief that Littler was 16, with some calling him “the oldest looking 16-year-old on the planet”.
When asked how he feels to have people joke about his age, Littler said he’s not “bothered”.
“It’s been going on for years when I was 14. They were saying he’s not 14, he’s not 15, but I’m above it,” he said. “I know I’m 16.”
“I just block it, laugh at them. Don’t even reply to them. Don’t give them the time of day,” he added.
Littler’s celebrity status is growing with each dart he tosses.
His Instagram account has grown from 4,000 to over one million followers in just days.
His success has generated unprecedented public interest in a sport that is generally considered niche.
A record more than 4.8 million people watched the final in the UK, with the highest ever non-football peak viewers on Sky Sports.
He has also gained the attention of celebrities like former football player, David Beckham, who played at Manchester United, the football club that Littler supports.
Littler began playing darts when he was just 18 months old.
“Aged four or five I was on a proper board but it was a bit low and then about seven to eight (years old), that’s when I started playing [at] the proper height and the proper length. So it’s just been all darts in my life so far,” he told Sky News in an interview.
Littler had entered the competition ranked 164th in the world, but has since moved into the top 32 in the rankings.
He has already secured a spot in the sport’s permanent professional league for the coming season.