It was destination Prague this time around for Stephen as the Czech capital played host to this year’s eighth PDC European Tour event.

And it’s somewhat of a happy hunting ground for The Bullet as his one and only other appearance at the PVA Expo Prava went pretty well indeed

The year was 2019 and it resulted in a magnificent run to the final, only to be narrowly denied by Jamie Hughes. That’s the farthest Bunting has gone to date on Euro Tour duty.

Unfortunately, upon this particular return to the fairtytale city of Prague, there was no Cinderella story for the Liverpudlian.

Martijn Kleermaker proved to be the pantomime villain as far as Stephen was concerned, running out a 6-3 victor in their round one clash.

With very little between the pair’s mid 90’s averages, it was Kleermaker who slightly edged the overall scoring stats but crucially, got off to a far stronger start.

Trailing 5-1, it proved to be a mountain too tall for Bunting to climb. Even despite clawing a couple of legs back, the damage was done by the Dutchman who went on to claim a 6-3 win.

Afterwards, a rather sombre Stephen said: “Very disappointed. Gave myself far too much to do there. I’ve said it before, a strong start in these sprints to six legs is vital or you’re facing the exit.

“He broke me twice early on and before I knew it, I needed to win five legs on the bounce. Tough ask but I gave it a try.

“This one hurts, especially because I reached the final here a few years back and have some great memories of the people and the place.

“Still, that’s darts and hopefully the next time I’m in Prague, I can go one step further.”

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