Wolverhampton will welcome Stephen Bunting with open arms after the Liverpudlian superbly qualified for the Grand Slam of Darts.
Prior to the Wolves spots being up for grabs, there was a small matter of the final two Players Championship events for 2023. But more about those later.
Three wins was the requirement for Bunting to seal his place at the Grand Slam. And boy, didn’t he do it in real style.
A clinical 5-1 defeat of Luc Peters set the ball rolling nicely before following up with a sterling performance and ton plus average to overcome Arron Monk.
Clearly on a mission, Stephen then rattled in a magnificent 111 average in a fine 5-2 victory over Martin Schindler to seal the deal.
Back to the brace of Pro Tours and a despite a satisfying return, nothing will conquer the jubilation of today.
Day one. And the highlight undoubtedly was a colossal 108.65 average in bagelling Daniel Klose. Not a great week to play The Bullet if you’re German it would seem!
James Wade halted Stephen shortly after that annihilation in a closely contested board final.
And in the second and last Players Championship of the year, the former Lakeside winner ended the day one step further, reaching the last 16 stage.
Strong wins over Devon Petersen, Ross Montgomery cracked things off ideally.
Gabriel Clemens was next to fall. And as a German chucker, got off lighter than his compatriots with just a 99 average against Buntings name. Job done. Board won.
But any hopes of progressing further were quashed by Danny Noppert with the Dutchman grabbing a 6-3 win and advancing to the quarter-finals.
Afterwards, we spoke to an incredibly emotional Stephen.
“Qualifying for the Grand Slam means the absolute world to me
“It’s such a difficult tournament to get into and I’m thrilled to be there again.
“Back in 2014, I reached the quarter-finals but since that, I’ve only managed to get out of the group stage twice.
“However, at the moment, I feel my game is in a really good place so I’ve never been in a better position to go all the way.
“As far as the Pro Tours go, I was happy with how I played overall.”