Aspinall doesn’t maintain again in four-word Littler warning earlier than World Matchplay

Darts ace Nathan Aspinall has admitted that the top players are all aiming to halt Luke Littler’s rapid rise.

The teen sensation initially made a splash at the world championship, followed by clinching the Premier League title in May. Littler has swiftly thrown his hat into the ring for darts’ most prestigious prizes, including the World Matchplay, which was bagged by Aspinall last year and kicks off again this weekend.

In an exciting first-round clash, Littler is set to go head-to-head with ex-world champion Michael van Gerwen, while reigning champ Aspinall squares off against Luke Woodhouse on the other side of the draw. When quizzed about Littler’s influence on the sport, world No5 Aspinall confessed that many top players “want to smash him” and secure a landmark victory over the young star.

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“I wouldn’t say trying to impress, I think they just want to smash him,” Aspinall told talkSPORT. “I think he is winning everything so we have to get to his level or it is just going to keep happening.

“I think it has given us a kick up the backside, it was the same guys all the time and now Luke is winning the Premier League and everything. We are like, ‘he’s 17 mate, we need to put him back in his place’.

“I think that’s what a lot of the players think. Or at least I know one of them that thinks of that. I think it has helped bring the standard up too.”

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Nathan Aspinall
Nathan Aspinall won the 2023 World Matchplay in Blackpool

‘The Asp’ is well aware of the grit required to claim major darts titles after overcoming the World Matchplay’s gruelling final last year, which stretches to a best of 35 legs. The prestigious event boasts a hefty £800k prize pot at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, where Aspinall aims to snatch the £200k top prize once again.

“It is about emotion, not getting too ahead of myself and not breaking it down too much,” Aspinall said. “Just breaking the game down is what I do, you play best of 35 legs so I just give myself little targets.

“I need to be on my game, but I can’t wait to get back on that stage with amazing memories from last year. I think to walk out as a defending champion with Mr Brightside blaring, it is going to be amazing.”