May 27th, 2020

Murschell finds some magic: Hat darts pro beat world No. 1

By SEAN ROONEY on June 11, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-PDC Europe, Stefan Strassenburg
Dawson Murschell of Canada, left, plays against Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands at the BetVictor World Cup of Darts Sunday. Murschell upset world No. 1 van Gerwen 4-2 but the top-seeded Netherlands rallied to down the Canadians 2-1.

Contrary to his nickname, the past year has not been that awesome for Dawson Murschell.

The 23-year-old from Medicine Hat had won all of around $2,350 on the Professional Darts Corporation tour in 2019 leading up to this past weekend’s World Cup in Germany. That’s a lot of first-round exits in a sport which gets a lot of attention in Europe, and it was starting to wear on him.

“This year has been kind of a nightmare for me, to be honest,” he said Monday. “It’s not that I’ve been playing so terribly, but I keep losing close ones, keep not quite getting over the line. It’s been really hard in that regard but I’ve been working incredibly hard to get back to it.”

After doing significantly better his first year on tour, Murschell trusted the experience he was getting would eventually pay off. He’d had some big wins over the years – earning upset victories the last two years at the U.S. Darts Masters in Las Vegas – but had yet to make much noise overseas.

Until Sunday.

Murschell, playing with 51-year-old amateur Jim Long in the 32-team World Cup in Hamburg, beat the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands.

The Canadians still lost the quarter-final match, Long falling to Jermaine Wattimena and the Dutch pair winning the tie-breaking doubles game that followed. Scotland, with Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, beat Ireland in the final. But Murschell is already calling it the biggest win of his career.

“The biggest thing is just the confidence I needed going forward, showing not just everyone but myself that I can do it, and putting myself in a situation where I handled an incredible amount of pressure,” he said. “I’ve always said it’s not a matter of if for me, it’s a matter of when. I still strongly believe that.”

The $13,450 (estimated in Canadian dollars) payday doesn’t hurt, either. So off he went to a London pub Monday where he plays in a casual weekly league, knowing the bill at the end of the night wouldn’t be a painful one.

“It’s a good reminder that I am where I need to be and and what I’m doing isn’t a waste of time,” said Murschell, who moved to Britain to pursue the sport at its highest level. “It’s a good little paycheck after a slow year.”

It was Murschell’s second appearance in the World Cup, having played with legendary Canadian John Part last year. They lost to Japan in the second round.

This time, Murschell and Long beat Italy 5-3 in the first round, then Australia 2-0 in the second. He edged Aussie Simon Whitlock 4-3 in that matchup, setting the stage for his test against three-time world champ van Gerwen.

Murschell missed four straight darts to win against van Gerwen before hitting a double-five to seal it.

His schedule continues with an eye on the U.S. Masters next month. He’s likely to get home to the Gas City around then. But where he calls home is starting to change, too.

“I’ve created a life over here, it’s good and I think it’s starting to show and help with my game,” said Murschell. “It was good to play like that in front of millions of people on TV, showing what I can do.”

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