The Bully Boy enjoyed the perfect start to his campaign, beating Michael van Gerwen, Littler and then Gerwyn Price in the final to win the first weekly bonus and go top of the table.
The 33-year-old went into last year’s Premier League campaign as world champion and world number one, but can boast neither accolade this time around with Luke Humphries claiming both.
It is Littler that is attracting all the attention, though, as the 17-year-old became a global superstar for his performances over the last two months and Smith is enjoying being able to fly under the radar.
‘The best thing about this year is I turn up tonight and never get asked to do an interview,’ Smith told Sky Sports. ‘As soon as Littler walked in…I can just try and get back to it now.
‘Last year I couldn’t sit for five minutes. It was a different experience for me and I don’t think I handled it well. I was trying to play like a world champion, like world number one, putting too much pressure. This year I don’t really care, just get on with it.’
Smith added that Littler’s new stardom is only a benefit for other players financially, as well as taking the pressure of the spotlight away from them.
‘I don’t think anyone’s followed anyone as much as they’ve followed Luke, even bigger than Phil Taylor,’ said Smith. ‘He’s won 16 Worlds but Luke’s the most popular thing.
‘I’m going to ride the wave because if everyone keeps following, the sponsors keep coming in, the prize money keeps going up for us lads.
‘He can do all the hard work, do all the press that he wants, we just get paid at the end of the day.’
Smith fell early in the defence of his World Championship title but he is sounding positive as he looks to regain top form in 2024.
‘Coming into this, it’s a fresh year, I was not happy that I lost in the Worlds, I’m now a former world champion and I want it back,’ he said.
‘Coming in tonight I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong saying it’s my darts, it’s this, it’s that. It’s not the darts, it’s me, just not practicing, not doing anything right.
‘Now, the last three months I’ve been working really hard, I’ve not found it but tonight I’ve found glimpses and I’ve won.’
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