By Ryan McCracken on July 15, 2017.
Medicine Hat’s Dawson Murschell shocked the world of darts on Friday at the Tropicana Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old Hatter advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2017 US Darts Masters with a massive underdog victory over England’s James Wade.
“It’s insane,” said Murschell. “It’s all pretty crazy. I’m just starting to come down from it now.”
The Masters — the third event in the World Series of Darts — pits eight of the top North American players against eight of the Professional Darts Corporation’s best. Murschell spends the majority of his playing time with the PDC’s Unicorn Development Tour and used it to earn his way onto the world stage through the North American Championship earlier this week — where Murschell bested fellow Canadian David Cameron 6-5 before falling to eventual champion Willard Bruguier.
While it landed him alongside the fourth seed of the tournament — and sixth ranked darts players in the world — in Wade, Murschell rode the emotions to an early 3-1 lead in the best-of-11 battle.
“I was just going in there thinking in my head to just have fun and enjoy it,” he said. “But I also kept in mind the whole time that I wanted to win the match and wanted to win the tournament.”
As expected, Wade refused to go quietly. The 34-year-old Englishman stormed back to take a 4-3 lead before Murschell managed to regain his bearings, but he did it in a big way. The young Hatter known on the darts circuit as “Awesome Dawson” sent the crowd into a frenzy with his first 180 of the evening, and Wade started to crack under the pressure.
“It’s so loud. It’s incredible how loud it is with everybody screaming and chanting your name,” said Murschell. “It’s pretty intense but you’ve got to try and block it out and get on with it.”
The pair traded wins en route to a deciding 11th leg. While the finale didn’t start as planned, it sure ended in incredible fashion.
Neither player opened with their best attempt of the evening. Wade settled for an 81, then Murschell took an unfortunate 60 before having one of his darts bounce off the board a few throws later. But he wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure.
With a young standout hot on his heels, Wade missed his mark on multiple occasions — including six straight match dart misses — and Murschell sealed the upset with a 10, double-20 before erupting into celebration.
“I have no idea how he missed those six darts, but he did. I guess the pressure might have gotten him a little bit too and I just ended up nicking it in the end,” said Murschell. “I ended up lucking out and getting through.”
Murschell advances to take on world No. 17 Gerwyn Price, of Wales, in Saturday’s quarter-final matchup at 1:10 p.m.
“He’s a great player. He’s definitely in the event for a reason but I still feel good,” he said. “I’m going in with the same attitude I had today and hopefully just grind it out and pull off another win and maybe even win the whole thing.”
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