Brilliant Bunting finally bowed out of the World Championships after defeat to three time winner, Michael van Gerwen at the last 16 stage.
The Christmas Bells were certainly ringing out for the popular Liverpudlian after he posted a colossal 107.28 average in his opening match to whitewash the dangerous Ryan Joyce.
It was a blistering performance from Bunting that immediately set tongues wagging after producing the highest average in the 2024 PDC World Championship to date.
Since switching up to 18g arrows, Stephen has looked a different animal. And the results are beginning to back up the popular belief that a maiden PDC TV major are just around the corner.
If there were any doubters remaining that Bunting isn’t the real deal, they were quickly silenced after the former Lakeside Champ dismissed his next opponent courtesy of another clean sheet.
Florian Hempel fought back magnificently from the jaws of defeat against Dimitri van den Bergh to earn his shot at the Bullet.
However, after his heroics against the Belgian number one, the German had no answer to another captivating display from the St Helens resident who peppered the red bit and banged in more doubles than he missed to ease through.
With 11-year old son Toby cheering his Dad on, a few quick glances to the left were encouragement enough for the Bullet to cruise home.
“Give me Bunting” was the cry from Michael van Gerwen after the Scouser’s brilliance had clearly caught the attention of The Green Machine. The Dutchman had his wish.
It was billed as a classic, especially after the pairs recent epic encounter in Minehead with MVG pipping Bunting in an exhilarating contest.
Unfortunately, the Pipers were not Piping for Bunting on this occasion as he struggled to replicate his tournament form.
And eventually, the dream ended as Van Gerwen was the leaping Lord on the Ally Pally stage sending Stephen home with thoughts of maybe in his head.
The 4-0 result didn’t reflect the heart shown by Bunting who didn’t do too much wrong in the opening two sets which both went all five legs.
But it was a case of the better man won on that particular yet leaving plenty of positives to put on the ever growing pile as Stephen departed the Palace.
As always, we caught him afterwards for a quick assessment.
“That was a very bitter sweet tournament for me. To perform like I did on that stage and beat two extremely strong opponents without dropping a single set gave me enormous belief.
“I’ve been saying for a while now, I’m going to win a big PDC TV event soon.
“My game has never been better and my confidence, never higher.
“Yes there was a lot of hype after the manner of my two wins but I never lost focus ahead of the game with MVG.
“For some reason, I just couldn’t find that scoring power against Michael and he deserved the win.
“But I always take the positives and after this tournament, they massively outweigh the negatives.
“Thanks to everyone who supported me this year and for all the well wishes I’ve received.
“Happy New Year to you all and hopefully I’ll give you something to celebrate with me in 2024.”