Luke Littler’s rivals will have to ‘come in front of him’ to see if it will distract him on the oche, according to former darts star Chris Mason.
Mason is curious to see how the teen will deal with being ‘put in his place’ after his incredible rise to stardom.
Littler won his first professional title at the Bahrain Masters last week, defeating Michael van Gerwen in the final.
He is back at the Dutch Masters on Friday, where he will face Dirk Van Duijvenbode in the first round.
Darts stars have been told to ‘confront’ Luke Littler
Mason is looking forward to seeing the 17-year-old play at Massport and believes he is the player to beat.
But he would like to see his fellow professionals try to cause an upset if they meet him in the latter stages of the tournament.
Asked who he would like to see play, Mason said on ITV4: “Luke Littler again. I want to see what he does next.
“From December 1st to now, statistically he is the best player in world darts. It’s not an opinion, the statistics tell us that.
“Now it’s up to the players to try and put him in his place and that’s what I want to see.
“I want to see Gerwyn Price have the whole conversation and get in his face. I want to see how he deals with it. He’s 17 now, he’s not a boy anymore!”
Littler won the hearts of the nation with his record-breaking performance in the final of the World Darts Championship.
But Mason had followed his career before the tournament and was not surprised he went so far at Ely Pally.
“What an incredible 12 months. Coming off the top of the world with two Super Series titles in a row,” he said.
“I had pegged him for at least making the quarter-finals, once I saw that Gary Anderson had gone and Price had gone, and the way he dealt [Raymond] Van Barneveld… listen he was twice as far away from getting Luke Humphries into a world of trouble and potentially going on and winning the title.
“Based on those performances, I had him in the top 10. The way he won in Bahrain cemented that. He was irresistible.”
“Nine-darter ticked. 170 ticked. Beat MVG in the finals, ticked. Is there anything this guy can’t do?”
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Luke Littler not yet impressed by rise to darts stardom
Mason says Littler always had the potential to become a top professional player.
However, he questioned whether he would be able to do the same in long-distance matches.
Mason admits he has already responded strongly, adding: “I knew he had the potential, he was averaging like 109, 107, 117 on a short course, so a short one right here It was like a question mark.
“How will he deal with someone who has an average of 105 or 110 against him? How will he deal with the expectations that are now on his shoulders?
Luke Littler is able to block out media attention and focus on his darts
“He keeps ticking. He’s in that beautiful position where he’s young, he’s ambitious, he loves getting on that stage to play against big stars.
“Even though he himself is now one of, if not the, biggest star right now.”