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Hot on the heels of a couple of great chats with Jeff Smith and Adam Stella I had a chance to chat with another up and coming canadian darter, and it looks like he just might take off like a rocket. He is passionate and articulate, and I hope you all enjoy my conversation with him.
Tblacblog: First of all, congratulations on securing a major sponsorship deal with Winmau. As a young (22 year old?) North American player that is a pretty big accomplishment!
On your road to getting there, I think is obviously your performance in Las Vegas. I am sure by now you have heard PDC Chairman Barry Hearn's commentary about your play during your match with Dave Cameron. Obviously, Barry has to sell the brand, but clearly Mr. Hearn was impressed by what he saw in your potential. I can imagine that this would be a boost to your confidence, but does it also add some pressure, and if so, do you welcome the pressure and how do you handle it?
Dawson: It just makes the whole experience more fun for me. I love doing what I’m doing and I’m really just enjoying the whole process of becoming a professional. I always enjoy pressure, especially when it’s coming from a good place. I just make sure to prepare myself well for the task at hand and just get on with it. Handling pressure situations is the biggest part of playing darts professionally, so I’m definitely doing what I can to handle it in the best way possible to give myself the best chance of being a top ranked professional one day.
Tblacblog: Well now that you have a new sponsor, and that you will be living full timer in the U.K. to pursue darts, what is the thing you would most like to improve and/or correct in your game?
..and speaking of new sponsors how did that happen? is it something you were expecting or was it a big surprise?
Dawson: Basically I’d like to win more and beat more people. At this point for me, I’m constantly working on upping my game and my averages with different practice routines to improve my game all around.
The sponsors started coming aboard after my TV debut in Vegas, but my manager Will with ZWA sports management came on earlier this year before Vegas. I’ve been playing really well overseas now and a lot of people have started to take notice I think. Unfortunately just haven’t had my big, big break yet but that will just come with time.
Tblacblog: OK, by saying you are using practice games to bring up your averages, does that mean that it is essentially a system of improvement by doing, and that you don't specifically focus on individual mechanics like keeping your elbow level and keeping your stroke consistent and all that, maybe developing on the more intuitive/natural side of things, or am I reading too much into that?
Dawson: When it comes to mechanics, I’ve been playing long enough that it comes second nature to me now. Sometime you can pick up bad habits which are important to take care of right away. I’ll usually do this by dedicating a few hours in practice to fixing it and it will go back to normal.
Tblacblog: So are you great at darts because you love it, or do you love darts because you are great at it, and as a follow up to that, at what point did you know that darts was it for you?
Dawson: I think I’ve had success with darts because I love it so much. I love the head to head nature of it - which is why I’ve never really been a big fan of playing doubles or anything. I went to our local youth league one Sunday afternoon and all of the people there were very nice to me and made me feel included so that’s what got my interest. But then my first year at the youth nationals, I made the final. So my first time playing on the stage at nationals was how I knew this is what I want to do.
Tblacblog: Well, I think most of the people I know who are about are really into darts would prefer a one v one rather than doubles or triples or what have you.
That being said, how much is a singles match a head to head against your opponent and how much is it a head to head against yourself and just focusing on playing your game? Is it one or the other or a bit of both?
Dawson: A lot of players starting out will try and say that you just play the board. Yes, darts can often be a battle against yourself but you need to play the person in front of you. The top players will find ways and dig deep to play just a little better than their opponent. If they’re hitting 15 dart legs, you need to raise your game and hit a 12 dart leg to break their throw. One of the things John Part was always known for was playing good enough to cross the winning line - which made him so hard to beat. He found a way to play just a bit better than his opponent was playing consistently - which is how he’s won three world championships and been so successful over the years. For me, it doesn’t matter if my opponent threw a 75 average or a 105 average, all I care about is getting the win and playing the darts I need to do so because winning is everything. It doesn’t matter how you played or what you averaged as long as you get the win.
Tblacblog: John Part is a legend, not just for canada, but for the game, but he is currently ranked 159 on the PDC order of merit. and 90th in the Canadian rankings. Meaning no slight to John, why do you think he slid back so much, and do you see him having the hunger and working his way back up the rankings?
Dawson: John is a great player. He’s taken me under his wing when we’ve been at the same tournaments and we’ve been warming up together as well. I think he still has that hunger and he’s more than capable. I’ve seen it in the warmups and a bit from the exhibition tour. The man is still very, very capable. I think he just needs a big run in a big PDC tournament to get his footing again and once he does that, look out.
Tblacblog: ..and you mention working on being a 'top ranked professional'. How far do you see yourself going and do you automatically set your sights there, or do you break it up into smaller goals/challenges to focus on?
Dawson: I focus on playing one match at a time and beating everyone I play. But the end goal is to be a world champion and a world number one player someday. I know I have the potential to do anything I want to do - I just need to keep focused, keep practicing hard and keep believing in myself.
Tblacblog: also backing up a second to where you were discussing playing against your opponent and needing to hit 12 dart legs if they are throwing 15 darts legs. If you can hit a 12 dart leg, because someone hit a 15 dart leg, it really just means you can hit 12 dart legs.
So then, maybe you need the competitive pressure to get that extra bit of focus?
To me I see a Van Gerwen and he is just doing his own thing and shooting 12 darters anyway, without too much concern for any opponent not named Phil.
Dawson: Playing in England against these guys consistently teaches you to find that extra gear when you need it. That’s what a lot of North American players don’t understand is that you need to be playing over here and spend a year or two getting beat before you can learn to win over here. A lot of these guys have that extra gear which makes them very hard to beat. The competitive pressure definitely helps to shift you into that gear. The only way to describe it is a switch and I’m still learning to switch it on command but I’m getting better at it.
Tblacblog: Your opponent is ahead of you and will be getting down to the double before you. You know you have to put pressure on their throw. You don't deliver, and in fact score something horrible like an 11. Your opponent then takes it out, or alternatively you do score well but miscount and end up on a bogey number. how do you deal with and/or avoid bad turns and mistakes like that?
Dawson: Practice and experience. The biggest thing is to avoid putting yourself in those situations by rising to the occasion and focusing on the task in hand. But when things like that happen, it’s important to completely put it out of your mind and not let it affect your next turn. This takes time but eventually you start to just focus on the next shot instead of the last one.
Tblacblog: Kinda like a goalie who has let in a bad goal?
Dawson: Exactly. I actually used to play goalie in hockey for 9-10 years so that aspect of the game came relatively easy and natural for me.
Tblacblog: No doubt being able to quickly set aside mistakes is a great competitive asset to have. Would you say this is your greatest mental/psychological asset you bring to your game, or would it be something more still?
Dawson: I think my greatest asset mentally is my focus and ability to shut things out when they’re going wrong or someone is trying to put me off. I’ve gotten really good at playing my own game over the past year or two. But my other big mental asset I think is my ability to rise to occasions. I play way better against better players and in bigger situations. But I’ve just started to learn this since Vegas. Vegas was a big turning point in my game when it came to handling big situation and big moments and rising to occasions. I put so much pressure on myself in Vegas but I’ve learned now to rise above it.
DBC: OK so other than darts, you also have something called Finlay Bridge Outfitters. What is that, what is your role in it, and is this something that will continue once you are full time into the darts in the UK?
Dawson: Finlay Bridge Outfitters is a clothing line I started earlier this year. I am the owner and only employee as of now and it has been quite successful this year. When I’m away playing, my family will help me out and deliver stuff or ship stuff while I’m away.
Tblacblog: Can we expect anything new soon, like maybe a new Dawson Murschell signature dart?
I’m working with Winmau to release the perfect dart for me in the new year. They’ve been great to work with and I have the final prototype ready and we are set to go into production soon. And let me tell you, they are one of the nicest and coolest looking darts I’ve come across.
I’m also coming out with an Awesome Dawson shirt within the next couple of months I believe. I’ve been working through the designs and actually developing the shirts within my own clothing company.
Tblacblog: Your nick name, 'Awesome Dawson' is one of the better names out there, although 'Brazilliant' is pretty darn good too. Other than yourself, which is your favourite dart's nickname?
Dawson: I’m definitely going to have to give that one to SuperChin, although Braziliant is up there with the best.
Tblacblog: Thank you for taking the time, this has been really enjoyable from my side of things. Did you have any other news or anything you wanted to say to the readers and/or your fan, or even to Barry Hearn, who I am pretty sure reads every episode of this blog...?
Dawson: Just want to say thank you to everyone for the support over the years. Couldn’t be doing this without all of the support from everyone back home. Also - big shoutout to Adam Stella for the daily pump up talks before Q school. And if you are reading this Barry - big shout out to you as well for cutting out entry fees for pro tour events. That man is always moving forward, never standing still.
Tblacblog: Cheers, and again much thanks Dawson! Hope you and your family have a great Christmas and a Awesome new year.
Dawson: No problem mate. Thanks! You as well.
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