PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIPS 9&10: REPORT

Stephen Bunting enjoyed another relatively successful trip to Germany as he reached the quarter-finals in both events.

In a bizarre example of darting symmetry, the Bullet defeated Gian Van Veen in the last 16 before succumbing to Krzysztof Ratajski each time with the Polish Eagle twice denying Stephen a semi-final berth.

The first Groundhog esque scenario began with comprehensive 6-1 victories over Dylan Slevin and Callum Goffin as the Liverpudlian eased into his board final.

Bunting then went toe to toe with fellow namesake of the Burton variety before pipping his opponent to the post with a last leg decider, recording one of his now traditional ton plus averages in the process.

It was then he got the better of Van Veen for what would prove to be the first of two occasions that week.

Always in control of the match against the young Dutchman, Stephen claimed a narrow 6-4 victory to set up a quarter-final with the Polish number one.

However, despite both arrow smiths ending the match with impressive averages of just above 104, it was Ratajski who took advantage of his early 3-1 lead to run out out a 6-4 victor.

Onto day two, and Bunting once again began brightly with a strong performance and deserving 6-1 win over Adam Hunt.

The Bullet then had to endure another shoot-out, this time against Mario Vandenbogaerde after the Belgian squandered a 5-3 advantage.

Following that epic encounter, the next chapter in the Bunting versus Van Veen saga proved a little more comfortable as the former Lakeside Champion secured a 6-2 victory to set up successive quarter-finals.

But sadly for Stephen, it was to be a repeat of the outcome 24 hours earlier as Ratajski bounced back from losing the opening leg of the contest to romp to a 6-2 win.

With both players once again matched each other in the average stakes, this time just a fraction below the ton mark, it was the man from Warsaw who eventually ended Buntings hopes for the second day in a row.

Commenting on the draw, Bunting said “Yeah, it was strange to meet two players at the exact same stage twice on the bounce. It’s probably never happened before!

“But overall, I have to be happy with how the week went. I just try to win my board and then see what happens so managed to do that on both days.

“It doesn’t really make a difference if it was Krzysztof each time or not. The stats will show there wasn’t really much between us, just fine margins which can often determine how a game goes I guess.

“But all in all, despite not getting another Pro-Tour win, I will take it as another positive. As long as I am always there or there abouts in tournaments and in the mix, then I have a chance to pick up more titles.”

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