Coverage of Grand Prix–Melbourne

Posted in Event Coverage on October 11, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast


Saturday, October 10: 9:34a.m. – Round 1: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

This is what Australia’s biggest deck registration looks like:

416 players put pen to paper.

Saturday, October 10: 10:01a.m. – Last Chance Qualifier decklists

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Despite being a record Australian and New Zealand turn out, there will only be 8 rounds on day one of Grand Prix Melbourne. Having over a third of those rounds chalked up as wins before you even crack open your sealed deck is an incredible advantage, and the players know it. Those who missed out on winning byes at their local Grand Prix Trials were queuing up on Friday for a Last Chance to win a set of byes for themselves. A total of ten trials fired yesterday, which kept me busy, I can tell you. But I’m nothing if not dedicated, so here are the ten winning Grand Prix Trial decklists for your viewing pleasure.

Luke Mulcahy


Allan Barclay


Steven Aplin


Dean Villanueva


Dan Caley


Matthew “Wedges” Hare


Max Botkov


Andrew Plinston


Luke Hampton


Isaac Egan

Saturday, October 10: 10:38a.m. – Round 2: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What common or uncommon do you most want to open in Zendikar Sealed deck?

Martin Juza:

“Torch Slinger. No, Burst Lightning!”
Shuuhei Nakamura:

“Adventuring Gear.”
Dominic Lo:

“Trusty Machete.”

Justin “Juzza” Cheung:

“Journey to Nowhere.”
Hugh Glanville:

“Nimana Sell-Sword. It’s good in the Ally archetype, and good on it’s own.”
Makihito Mihara:

“Marsh Casualties.”

Saturday, October 10: 12:31p.m. – Round 3: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

While the tournament is already underway, the Pro Players still have another round before they enter the fray, and could be found around the room getting some practice in with their sealed decks.

The Japanese Pros honing their chops.

Martin Juza, Olivier Ruel and Luis Scott-Vargas discuss their card choices.

Saturday, October 10: 12:38p.m. – Round 3: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Play or draw in Zendikar sealed deck?

Kazuya Mitamura:

Jeremy Neeman:

“Tough question, I guess I have to say play. Earlier I chose to play and lost because of it, then chose to draw game two, and then lost because of that.”
Olivier Ruel:


Tomoharu Saito:

“Draw, I think.”
Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas:

Makihito Mihara:


Saturday, October 10: 1:53p.m. – Round 4: Dominic Lo vs Aaron Nicastri

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

With all the byes running out in round 4, I was spoilt for choice as far as a feature match was concerned. In the end I decided on the reigning Rookie of the Year and 2008 Australian National Champion, Aaron Nicastri vs the reigning Regional Grand Prix Champion, Dom Lo, who won Grand Prix Auckland at the end of 2008. Other matches I could have chosen were: Martin Juza vs Steven Aplin (2007 National Champ), Jeremy Neeman (2009 National Team) vs Issac Egan (LCQ winner), Olivier Ruel vs Gene Brumby (New Zealand National Team member practically every second year) and Hugh Glanville (2009 National Team) vs Luke Hampton (LCQ winner) to name, like half of them.

Lo can’t keep up with Nicastri as he takes Game 1.Lo won the die roll and elected to play, but both players were soon staring across the board at each other, as Lo’s Giant Scorpion held the ground, and Nicastri’s Gomazoa held the air. Nicastri broke the stalemate with a Sky Ruin Drake, while Lo’s unkicked Heartstabber Mosquito and Murasa Pyromancer teamed up to take down the Gomazoa. Another Ally from Lo allowed the Pyromancer to pick off another of Nicastri’s creatures, before Nicastri summoned a Roil Elemental and immediately took possession of the Pyromancer with a land. Spire Barrage from Lo on the Elemental returned the Pyromancer to its rightful owner, but outside of the red zone, Nicastri’s Blood Seeker and a Quest for the Gravelord were reaching critical mass. Lo spent a Tuktuk Grunts and a Disfigure to take down the 5/5 Giant Zombie, but it was too far behind the beatings the Sky Ruin Drake had inflicted.

Nicastri 1 – Lo 0

Lo burst out of the gates in Game 2, with a Vampire Lacerator and a Guul Draz Vampire. Nicastri spent an Into the Roil without kicker to prevent some of the incoming damage, before making Lo discard a Paralyzing Grasp with a Bala Ged Thief. “Mono Black” Lo sighed, stuck with only Swamps. He attacked in again with his Lacerator, trading it for the Thief, before finally playing an Island and destroying Nicastri’s hand with a Mind Sludge for four. Nicastri summoned his remaining card, a respectable Crypt Ripper, while Lo summoned a full size Aether Figment. Nicastri peeled another swamp off the top to ensure his investment continued to pay out, dropping Lo to 6. Lo swung back with his Figment, dropping Nicastri to 8, and passed the turn without play, all out of chumps to throw in front of the Shade. Nicastri sent in the Shade again, but didn’t pump into Lo’s seven untapped lands. Nicastri then summoned a Heartstabber Mosquito with kicker, but Lo saved his Figment and bounced the Shade with a Whiplash trap, seeming to miss that if he’d used the Trap before the Mosquito resolved, it would have had to destroy itself. Lo again passed back the turn without play, to which Nicastri mused “you either have Cancel, or the counter a spell 2/2 thing.” Nicastri cast a Quest for the Gravelord and ended without replaying his Crypt Ripper into the suspected Summoner’s Bane.

Grand Prix Auckland 2008 Champion Dominic Lo. Lo tapped out on his turn for a Sky Ruin Drake and his Figment, this time without kicker. Nicastri summoned his Shade again, and the Figment valiantly leapt in front of it. Lo again passed without play. Nicastri made a Blazing Torch, but when he went to equip it, Lo had another Whiplash Trap. Unfortunately, Nicastri had three creatures in play, and simply equipped it to the remaining one, before sending directly at Lo to take the match. “Face is good,” Rhys Gould cheered from the sidelines. “Face is good,” echoes Nicastri with a smile.

Aaron Nicastri defeats Dominic Lo 2 – 0

Saturday, October 10: 3:07p.m. – Round 5: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Meanwhile in the feature match area, Hugh Glanville defeated Cameron Veigel 2 – 0. Glanville finally cracked the top 4 at this year’s Australian National championships, after many top 8’s in the past. Also no stranger to Australian Nats top 8’s, Veigel didn’t make the team this year, but for those still following at home, is still looking for the engraved pen that went missing at Grand Prix Sydney back in 2006.

Veigel and Glanville laughing it up in the feature match area.

Saturday, October 10: 3:21p.m. – Round 5: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What’s the one item you absolutely have to have with you at a tournament?

Andrew Plinston:

“My playmat. Planeswalker playmat.”
Jeremy Neeman:

“A bottle of water.” (omg me too!)
Aaron Nicastri:

“A shirt. No, pants! I guess I would say some deodorant.”

Hugh Glanville:

“My lucky dice *eyebrow wiggle*”
Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas:

“My deckbox. I got it at Grand Prix Krakow (2007).”
Olivier Ruel:

“I wish I could bring my brother with me every time.”

Saturday, October 10: 3:57p.m. – Round 6: Tomoharu Saito

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Every year at the New Zealand National Champs, Max Botkov either comes close to the top 8, or makes it in, only to be eliminated in the quarterfinals. He started this weekend in fine form, picking up three byes in the Grand Prix trials yesterday. Tomoharu Saito won Grand Prix Singapore earlier this year, and then some, and travels the World, often seen trading with his binders out, local players between rounds.

Saito won the roll, and got things started with a turn one Vampire Lacerator, followed by a Surrakar Marauder. Not to be outdone, Botkov made a Cliff Threader, that could only watch as Saito suited up his Lacerator with a Goblin War Paint, and powered up his Marauder with a land to swing past for 6. Missing a third land drop, Botkov was soon reaching for his sideboard.

Saito and Botkov spent more time shuffling than playing.

Saito 1 – Botkov 0

Botkov sighed audibly as he instantly threw back his opening hand. After a little thought, Saito did the same. Botkov again shook his head before throwing back his six and then five card hands. Things were not looking good for the New Zealander at all. Botkov played an Island, but had nothing else as Saito summoned some early attackers. Botkov swept up his cards, “you don’t have to be on the Pro Tour to win matches like that,” he muttered as he signed the result slip.

Tomoharu Saito defeats Max Botkov 2 – 0

Saturday, October 10: 5:47p.m. – Round 7: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What’s the Trap you fear the most?

Shuuhei Nakamura:

“Lavaball Trap.”
Yuuya Watanabe:

“Pitfall Trap.”
Kazuya Mitamura:

“Arrow Volley Trap.”

Dominic Lo:

“Whiplash Trap. Card’s ridiculous.”
Andrew Plinston:

“I’m not worried about any of them.”
Martin Juza:

“I fear the one that I forget about.”

Saturday, October 10: 5:51p.m. – Round 7: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

In round 7, opponents Yohannes Siagian and David Marshall found they’d both opened some great, sought-after rares. Siagian had a Foil Misty Rainforest to go with his non-foil Verdant Catacombs, while Marshall had the opposite; Foil Verdant Catacombs and a non-foil Misty Rainforest. Nice rares guys.

Siagian and Marshall with their (no longer) hidden treasures.

Saturday, October 10: 6:02p.m. – Round 7: Play the game, see the World!

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

When I tell people that I get to fly about the World (well, mostly the Asia-Pacific region really) to attend Magic events, they struggle to comprehend how such an innocuous wee card game can have such reach, such a fan-base and such influence. When I tell them that my travel habits are nothing compared to some, they often end up walking away shaking their heads, as if seeking to dislodge something from their ear.

No stranger to travelling for Magic, Olivier Ruel has a mammoth itinerary on his hands. First, he’s flown down to Melbourne from Paris via Ho Chi Minh. From here he’ll fly to Los Angeles, and then from Dallas to Austin for the Pro Tour next weekend. Then it’s Houston to Tampa for the Grand Prix there, then back through Dallas, Los Angeles, Melbourne again, Kuala Lumpur to Osaka to Kitakyushu for yet another Grand Prix. When asked about that particular route, he admitted that he thought Melbourne was a little closer to Japan than it actually is, which explains why he’s going to be coming back through here again on his way through to the Grand Prix in Paris. After that of course, he’ll wing his way back across to the United states for the Grand Prix in Minneapolis, before coming back to Europe for the World Champs in Rome, and then home to Paris and then Lille. All told, he’ll spend over 200 hours in planes or airports over the next six weeks, nearly nine days in transit.

Martin Juza of the Czech Republic is also in possession of a rather detailed itinerary. He flew from Prague to Amsterdam, then to Seoul to Osaka to the Gold Coast down to Melbourne this weekend. Then it’s back up through the Gold Coast to Osaka, then across to Austin for the Pro Tour. From there, he also heads to Tampa for the Grand Prix, then over to Osaka on the way to Kitakyushu for that Grand Prix too. Then it’s back to Osaka, to Seoul, Amsterdam and home in Prague. But not for long, of course, because then he’s off to Paris for that Grand Prix, then back to Prague, then to Rome, then Chicago to Minneapolis for that Grand Prix, then back out of Chicago to Rome for Worlds, then home again to Prague. If you’re trying to think of anything to get either of these players for Christmas, I suggest a foot spa, or a relaxing massage.

In contrast, Luis Scott-Vargas summed up his itinerary in three words. “California, Melbourne, California,” he laughed. “I’m not very creative with my travels.” He did go on to lament that his decision to not tour the Grand Prix circuit has allowed several players to come close to catching him in the Player of the year race. While LSV is only two points behind Gabriel Nassif at this point, being 6-0 means he has a very sold chance to make that up this weekend. However, the five people behind him, Juza along with Japans Shuuhei Nakamura, Tomoharu Saito, Yuuya Watanabe and Kazuya Mitamura, have also made the trip down to Melbourne this weekend, so he’ll have to keep battling on to stay on top. Admittedly, the trip is a little easier for the Japanese, even if it is further than Ruel was thinking.

Saturday, October 10: 6:13p.m. – Round 8: Cameron Veigel vs Luis Scott-Vargas

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw


While normally, I try not to feature the same player twice on day one, Luis Scott-Vargas had been teasing me about the number of New Zealanders I’d been featuring, so I felt compelled, nay, obliged to put LSV in the limelight in the last round of day one, even though he’d been paired with Cameron “have you seen my pen? It’s engraved” Veigel.

Spoilers: Veigel does not get there.

After several ties on the dies (yes, yes, I’m aware the plural is “dice”), non-New Zealander LSV chose to draw, and got his turn two Surrakar Marauder Punished by Fire. Non-New Zealander Veigel then missed his third land drop as LSV got in for 2 with a Crypt Ripper, before Veigel took it out with a Burst Lightning. “Does he get there...” Veigel asked the crowd as he drew his card for the turn. “No,” he sighed, skipping another land drop.

Veigel eventually found a third land, and played a Hellfire Mongrel. “Stuck” on five lands, LSV dropped Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, and passed the turn. “At least you know I don’t have any lands in my hand,” he joked. “Doesn’t mean you won’t draw any,” Veigel replied with a smile. Sure enough, with a gun-shot noise, LSV dropped a land on his following turn, and then a Paralyzing Grasp on Veigel’s Mongrel. Veigel pretended to ponder his options, before swiping his cards off the table.

LSV 1 – Veigel 0

LSV makes a play for the lead in the Player of the Year Race.

Veigel got Game 2 off on the wrong foot with a mulligan to five, “be kind,” he asked as he presented his deck for the third time, keeping the five cards he found. Neither player had much in the way of action, after a Burst Lightning killed a Marauder and Giant Scorpion traded with a Turntimber Basilisk, both players settled into draw go mode for a couple of turns. LSV broke the ice and summoned a Sky Ruin Drake, and Veigel summoned a Geyser Glider. LSV again summoned Ob Nixilis without a land drop, this time Veigel had the Inferno Trap (technically, the land to play the Inferno Trap, as he’d had it Game 1 too) to remove it before it became troublesome. The Drake having decided to defend against the Glider, Veigel went for a Journey to Nowhere to break through, but in what would surprise nobody, LSV had the Cancel, and then a Malakir Gatekeeper to take out Veigel’s Glider. After a couple of blank draw steps, Veigel fanned out his hand full of lands and offered the handshake, after what seemed like an admirable attempt from a five card mulligan.

Non-New Zealander Luis Scott-Vargas defeats non-New Zealander Cameron Veigel 2 – 0

Of course, the feature match everyone thought I’d pick, had I not been provoked by one Luis “the sidekick LSV” Scott-Vargas, was playing out over on table one, Yuuya Watanabe was battling Tomoharu Saito to see which one of them would be undefeated. Saito eventually won out 2 – 1, but from what I could see, it was a pretty relaxed and friendly match, considering it was the top table at the end of day one.

Yuuya Watanabe and Tomoharu Saito fight for 8 – 0 on table one.

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