Deputy Editor Oscar Frost explores how Stephen ‘The Bullet’ Bunting has taken the darting world by storm through his social media presence and electric performance at the Cazoo Masters
On Sunday, Stephen ‘The Bullet’ Bunting came out on top at the Cazoo Masters in Milton Keynes, a major tournament on the world darts circuit. The Bullet defeated Michael van Gerwen 11-7 in the final, securing the Brit’s first televised win. This came just over a decade after his last big victory when he became the BDO World Champion in 2014.
On the way to the victory, Bunting defeated Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall, both of whom are in the Premier League. Not only did he beat them, but he had a combined score line of 21-3 across the two matches.
Prior to this victory, though, Bunting has become somewhat of a cult darting hero online. In the leadup to the World Championships in late 2023, the Liverpudlian’s social media following boomed.
For anyone not active on darts social media, the response to his walk-on at the World Championships must have been confusing. The Bullet was not necessarily in the best form, and yet the whole crowd seemed to be bellowing Titanium by Sia as he made his way to the stage. It was a moving scene at Ally Pally as Bunting faced the crowd and led the singalong that verged on a concert.
However, Bunting’s rise to fame online has not been by accident.
He currently has just shy of 150,000 followers on TikTok, amassing 1.3 million likes on the platform. His videos, however, have nothing to do with darts! So, how has Bunting become such a recognisable figure for darts fans through his social media presence?
Most of his content is based around current trends, as well as utilising some hilarious filters. In a recent video for example, Bunting is pictured lip-syncing to the hit song Cotton-Eyed Joe while being dressed in full lumberjack garb.
Bunting has hinted before about the fact that his social media is managed by his support team, and I believe that this has been the key to his proliferation online. He is the only sportsperson I can think of who has been able to use platforms like TikTok to grow his audience and followers without lowering his image at the top of his sport.
This goofy side of The Bullet is not necessarily new-found, either. As his recent presence has grown, videos have resurfaced of Bunting’s more amicable side from earlier in his career. The most famous of these is his rendition of Spandau Ballet’s Gold at the 2015 Dutch Darts Masters. This was after he had posted a video online of himself singing along to Andrew ‘Goldfinger’ Gilding’s walk-out.
Bunting has become one of the most recognisable players in darts, and one that the fans absolutely adore. His support is unrivalled, and the key to this rise in fame has been his social media presence. With his recent win in Milton Keynes, he could very possibly springboard on to even more success, which will only add more attention, leading to even more people to go ‘Bunting Mental’ in his upcoming appearances.