Cross and Bunting dominate to set a semi-final date after a thrilling Saturday night at the Grand Slam.
After James Wade and Luke Humphries came through epic last eight ties on Friday, the other quarter-final ties took held at WV Active Aldersley on the penultimate day of the £650,000 event.
Cross won 16-6 over an out-of-sorts Damon Heta and advanced to the final four, while Bunting ended Buntz’s Wolverhampton fairytale with a 16-8 victory.
Cross completed his campaign for a fifth major televised title with a clear victory over Australia’s number one, and the Eric Bristow Trophy will bear a new name in 2023.
“Unfortunately, Damon didn’t play how he could,” admitted Cross, who averaged 98 and pinned 46% of his attempts at double to cap off another classy performance.
“I was averaging 97 at one stage and I didn’t even feel like I had turned up yet. In my head it was horrific! I couldn’t find that first dart.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance at the start, but I’ll take the win, wake up tomorrow and it’s a different day.
“Having the semi-finals and final in one day is going to be tough. I’ve never experienced it before so I can’t say I’ve had that luxury, but I feel in a really good place with my game.”
Heta’s combo finishing was a highlight of his last 16 victory against Michael van Gerwen on Thursday, and he carried on from there in the early exchanges against Cross.
The former World Cup champion landed 120, 64, and 72 checkouts as the first six sets were split, but Cross took control at the second intermission, striking a decisive 12-darter to create a 6-4 lead.
Cross took advantage of Heta’s mid-game dip to gain control, following a run of three straight legs with 116 and 89 checkouts to extend his lead to 11-6.
As Heta’s game unravelled, Cross resumed his relentless march to triumph, and the Englishman extended his winning streak to ten legs as Voltage powered his way into the last 4 at the Grand Slam.
After ending Buntz’s amazing campaign with a stunning show of doubling, the 2018 World Champion will now face Bunting for a place in Sunday evening’s decider.
The American debutant won the pair’s Group E clash last weekend, but Bunting avenged that setback in spectacular fashion, converting 62% of his double tries to set a new record in Wolverhampton.
“ It means the world,” reflected the 38-year-old, who averaged 96 and crashed in six maximums to win through to his first premier televised semi-final since October 2021.
“There were some nerves tonight. I was a heavy favourite going into that game, and I still didn’t know what to expect from Stowe.
“I said to him at the end of the match, he’s a friend now. We’ve had two games on the stage, and I wish him all the best for the World Championship and the rest of his career.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of effort behind the scenes, but I couldn’t do it without the crowd cheering me on. I really appreciate the support and I cannot wait for the semi-finals now. ”
Buntz missed darts at double for 147, 106, and 146 combinations in the early exchanges, and Bunting capitalised to jump into an early 4-1 lead, helped by back-to-back 13-darters.
Bunting quickly rediscovered his range midway through the battle, winning seven of the following eight legs to gain control at 13-7. CDC Continental Cup champion Buntz rallied to level the score at six apiece, but Bunting suddenly found his range midway through the contest, winning seven of the next eight legs to seize control at 13-7.
Bunting’s 12-dart break of throw in leg 14 provided the spark, and he followed it up with clinical 93, 101, 126, and 97 finishes in a blazing stretch to go into the semi-finals.
The former Lakeside champion blasted another 12-darter on the bull to increase his lead to 14-7, and he continued the procession to bring Buntz’s record-breaking run to a stop.
Humphries and Wade will face off in the first semi-final on Sunday afternoon, before Bunting takes on Cross for a spot in the evening’s extravaganza, with a £150,000 top prize on offer to the eventual champion.
2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 18
Stephen Bunting 16-8 Stowe Buntz
Rob Cross 16-6 Damon Heta
Sunday November 19
Afternoon Session (1300-1700 GMT)
James Wade v Luke Humphries
Stephen Bunting v Rob Cross
Best of 31 legs