Max Verstappen of darts? Teen sensation lauded for Drive to Survive-style effect

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen up close in his Red Bull RB19.

Teenage sensation Luke Littler has been lauded for bringing a Drive to Survive-style boost to the world of darts.

Almost a decade after a teenage Max Verstappen was announced as an F1 driver for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, another 16-year-old in the shape of Littler made a similarly striking first impression in darts.

Littler went into the PDC World Darts Championship, the jewel in the crown of professional darts, as nothing more than a rank outsider to go far in the tournament, but he ended up going all the way to the final, ultimately losing 7–4 to the newly-crowned world number one Luke Humphries.

Luke Littler: The Max Verstappen of darts?

In a sense the job was already done though for Littler, who has shot to stardom with his remarkable run to the final, with fellow darter Steve Lennon drawing comparisons to the huge popularity surge which Formula 1 has enjoyed thanks to Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries.

First aired in 2019, Drive to Survive takes fans deeper into the world of Formula 1 beyond what the TV cameras capture, and has been credited as the spark for F1 now reaching its highest level of popularity experienced yet, with the United States a key market which F1 has now cracked with the help of the series.

And Lennon believes that Littler is making a comparable impact in darts, that claim made despite Littler’s remarkable rise seeing him pinch Lennon’s ProTour spot, which he fortunately has swiftly reclaimed with a successful visit to Q-School. recommends

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“I was kind of devastated, but you also have to put your hands up and say he played some amazing darts,” said Lennon.

“What he’s doing for darts is like what Drive to Survive did for Formula 1. He’s playing some serious stuff so you can’t knock it.”

Drive to Survive is scheduled to return to Netflix screens for a sixth season in 2024, with the official release date yet to be confirmed.

It will cover an F1 2023 campaign which was dominated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as he blitzed his way to a third World Championship, winning 19 grands prix out of 22.

Red Bull claimed 21 overall, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz denying the team a historic  unbeate season by taking the chequered flag at the Singapore Grand Prix.

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