Coverage of Grand Prix–Melbourne

Posted in Event Coverage on October 11, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast


  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 5:24p.m.:
    Round 14: Player of the Year Race update
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 4:57p.m.:
    Round 14: Photo Feature
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 4:49p.m.:
    Round 14: Quick Questions
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 4:19p.m.:
    Round 13: Yuuya Watanabe vs Steven Aplin
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 1:41p.m.:
    Round 12: Drafting with Olivier Ruel and Martin Juza
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 2:39p.m.:
    Round 11: Photo Feature
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 12:29p.m.:
    Round 11: Quick Questions
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 11:51a.m.:
    Round 10: Photo Feature
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 11:15a.m.:
    Round 10: Tomoharu Saito vs Andrew Eckermann
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 10:47a.m.:
    Round 9: Drafting with Tomoharu Saito and Yuuya Watanabe
  • by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
    Sunday, 10:13a.m.:
    Round 9: Quick Questions
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1: Event Coverage
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

Sunday, October 11: 10:13a.m. – Round 9: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What color or color combination would you prefer to draft today?

Yuuya Watanabe:

“Blue/Black Control.”
Steven Aplin:

Olivier Ruel:

“Mono Green control, maybe splash White for removal.”

Tomoharu Saito:

“Don’t like green. Blue/White or Red/Black.”
Kazuya Mitamura:

“Red/Black, the same as Alara Block *laughs*”
Dominic Lo:

“White. Or any mono-color, really.”

Sunday, October 11: 10:47a.m. – Round 9: Drafting with Tomoharu Saito and Yuuya Watanabe

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Japanese Giants Tomoharu Saito (GP Singapore Champ 2009, and so on) and Yuuya Watanabe (Japan National Champ 2009, and so on) played off yesterday for the right to be undefeated on day one, and managed to find themselves seated next to each other in the top table draft this morning. And what a top table it is. Rookie of the Year 2008 Aaron Nicastri, GP LA 2009 Champ LSV and PT Honolulu Champ 2009 Kazuya Mitamura will be cracking packs along side them. Downstream of Watanabe, Saito first picked a Merfolk Seastalkers over a Kor Aeronaut s and an Into the Roil , while Watanabe picked a Trusty Machete over a Harrow and a Kazandu Blademaster . Saito then took the mana fixer, while Watanabe took a Shepherd of Lost over a Spire Barrage . Saito noted and took the Barrage signal, while Watanabe moved in on White with a Kor Sanctifier, an Armament Master and a Cliff Threader , while Saito tried to pick up any aggressive Red cards, both players working in silent unison. By the end of pack one, Watanabe was solid White with an option of Green for a River Boa and a Grazing Gladehart , and Saito had solid Red, also looking at Green as a support color with his Harrow .

Yuuya Watanabe passing to Tomoharu Saito.

Saito stayed on target with a first pick Torch Slinger over a Whiplash Trap in pack two, and followed it with another Spire Barrage . Watanabe was rewarded with a Luminarch Ascension , and picked up a Kor Skyfisher from the pack Saito had opened, then a Journey to Nowhere . Saito’s third pick was a mindbender. The Red was unimpressive, so he took a Windrider Eel over a Marsh Casualties and a Heartstabber Mosquito , Watanabe snapping up the Casualties fourth pick. Not bad for a card many of the Japanese cite as a First Pick. By the end of the second pack, Saito was mostly mono Red, including a last pick Goblin War Paint , a favorite pet card of his. When he saw it, he turned to me with a gleam in his eye, and a hint of a smile. Watanabe was mostly White, and course now open to some Black to support his Marsh Casualties .

In the last pack, Saito finally chose a Goblin Guide over a second Windrider Eel , but took one second pick over an Aether Figment and an Explorer’s Scope . Watanabe solidifying his Black with a first pick Hideous End , a Vampire Nighthawk , a Disfigure and a pleasantly surprising 6th pick Halo Hunter . Saito rounded his picks with a Geyser Glider and a pair of Ruinous Minotaur s, wanting to be as close to mono red as possible to support a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle he’d picked up earlier.

Sunday, October 11: 11:15a.m. – Round 10: Tomoharu Saito vs Andrew Eckermann

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Coming into the tenth round, only two players remain undefeated. Australia’s Andrew Eckermann, a frequent visitor to the Australian National Champs top 8’s, and Japan’s Tomoharu Saito, winner of many, many things all over the World. Saito won the roll 14 to 13 and chose to play. Earlier yesterday, he had thought this was a format where you chose to draw, but only a few rounds later, he came back to tell me that he’d changed his mind, he definitely wanted to play in Zendikar Limited.

Saito had the first play with Zektar Shrine Expedition . Eckermann matched that with a Nissa’s Chosen , which attacked past Saito’s turn three Hellfire Mongrel , before being joined by a Kraken Hatchling . Missing a fourth land drop, Saito played an Expedition Map and a Goblin War Paint on his Mongrel to push it past the Hatchling. Inspired by this, Eckermann attacked back with his Chosen, and slipped a Savage Silhouette under his 0/4, to make sure it would be able to hold off the Mongrel. Saito’s turn consisted of cracking his Map to find a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle , playing it and ending. Eckermann read the card with an “Oh,” before bouncing the Mongrel with a kicked Into the Roil and attacking in for 4. Saito replaced the Mongrel with a Ruinous Minotaur and passed it back, still not finding any more land on top of his deck. The Minotaur traded with the Chosen before Eckermann summoned a Baloth Woodcrasher . With perfect timing, Saito ripped the fourth mountain off the top to Spire Barrage the Woodcrasher, and then cashed in on and attacked with his Zektar Shrine Expedition , dropping Eckermann to 9 to Saito’s 8. Eckermann continued summoning men, this time a Welkin Tern and a Windrider Eel , the later earning a Torch Slinger on Saito’s turn. Unconcerned, Eckermann attacked back for 4, dropping Saito to 4 and summoning a sizeable defense in a Sky Ruin Drake .

Saito looking for land-drops.“This creature cannot block,” Saito declared, summoning a Goblin Shortcutter and pointing it at Eckermann’s lone defender, before showing his Elemental Appeal . “Nine points,” he announced with a grin, turning the 7/1 token and the Torch Slinger sideways. Eckermann could only smile as he scooped up his cards.

Saito 1 – Eckermann 0

Saito again began Game 1 with a Zektar Shrine Expedition , but this time on turn three after missing it in his hand on turn two. He was about to try taking back his turn two “go,” before he realized where he was and waved Eckermann on with his turn with an embarrassed “sorry,” and a smile. The Next play was from Eckermann, a turn five Sky Ruin Drake as neither player had found anything but land until then. After a little tank-time, Saito eventually took down the Drake with a Spire Barrage . Eckermann simply replaced with them a Nissa’s Chosen and a Living Tsunami . Saito had another Barrage for the Tsunami, but Eckermann had a Mold Shambler for Saito’s Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle . With a mock cry of distress, Saito placed the land in his Graveyard before summoning a Geyser Glider . Eckermann had a Grazing Gladehart , but Saito had the Torch Slinger for that, but not a landfall to send the Glider to the air. Eckermann passed his turn back with seven land open, representing all mana of things thanks to his Blue mana. Saito had the land to send his Glider up, and nothing prevented it from connecting for 4. Eckermann cast a Baloth Cage Trap at the end of Saito’s turn, but could only attack into Saito’s Torch Slinger and his freshly summoned Molten Charger with the Beast Token, leaving the best of his animals at home. “Three cards?” Saito asked, eying Eckermann’s hand, before considering his blocks. He pushed both his men in, and Eckermann had no tricks, trading with the Charger. Eckermann had no further play, so Saito aimed a kicked Torch Slinger at Eckermann, before receiving an education from a judge about the Slinger lacking the clause “or target player.”

A crowd gathers to watch the last two undefeated players duke it out.

Eckermann pondered his play, before suiting his Nissa’s Chosen up with a Savage Silhouette and sending it in alongside his Shambler, despite being on 5 life to Saito’s 18. The Slingers double blocked the Shambler, and Saito dropped to 14. When he swung back, Eckermann showed him the Lethargy Trap that would have saved him, had Saito not once again found his Elemental Appeal .

Tomoharu Saito defeats Andrew Eckermann 2 – 0 to be the last undefeated player this weekend.

Sunday, October 11: 11:51a.m. –Round 10: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
Martin Juza thinks he’s found the secret to winning the Zendikar Draft format, Pillarfield Ox. He’s 2 – 0 so far.

Sunday, October 11: 12:29p.m. –Round 11: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

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

Andrew Eckermann:

Burst Lightning , or Journey to Nowhere .”
Martin Juza:

Journey to Nowhere or Grazing Gladehart .”
Kuan Tian:

Vampire Nighthawk .”

Makihito Mihara:

Marsh Casualties .”
Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas:

Hideous End .”
Cameron Veigel:

Living Tsunami .”

Sunday, October 11: 2:39p.m. –Round 11: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Continuing on from the record Australian PTQ turn out at the Australian National Champs earlier this year, we’ve broken yet another record today with 136 players in the PTQ at the back of the room. The number of sombreros in the event is a little concerning though...

Sunday, October 11: 1:41p.m. –Round 12: Drafting with Olivier Ruel and Martin Juza

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Olivier Ruel and Martin Juza have hit every Grand Prix on the circuit over the last few months, including GP Brighton, where Ruel beat Juza in the finals, and GP Bangkok the week after, where Juza had a second finals appearance in a row. This weekend, they’re both still in the running at X-2, and their hi-five as they sat down next to each other showed that they were both content to be drafting side by side.

Both players opened a Trusty Machete , Ruel taking his over a Journey to Nowhere and a Windrider Eel , while Juza agonized over his Machete and a Sphinx of Jwar Isle . Before the draft, Juza was telling Luis Scott-Vargas how much he disliked drafting Blue. LSV was arguing that Blue was the second best color in the format next to Black, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone, as LSV is such a supporter of Blue in any format you’d think he was a majority share-holder in it. At the last second, Juza opted for the Sphinx, shipping the Machete downstream to Ruel, who wasted no time snapping it up.

And this is where things started to go somewhat pear shaped.

Juza feeding Ruel.

For his third pick, Ruel decided on a Murasa Pyromancer over Quest for the Gravelord , Soul Stair Expedition and Territorial Baloth . Earlier in the day, Ruel revealed that he was a big fan of drafting Green in this format. Not only that, but he knew that Juza, upstream of him, liked drafting Red/Black. Obviously, with his first pick being the Sphinx, Juza was going to be deviating from that plan slightly. His second pick was a Kor Sanctifier, and his third a Sky Ruin Drake , but fourth he headed back into the fold for a Torch Slinger , then a pair of Shatterskull Giant s and even a ninth pick Spire Barrage . Downstream of this, Ruel was finding his Red cards drying up. He found a Bladetusk Boar , but found the rest of his picks were mediocre Green cards. By the end of pack one, gone was the enthusiasm that fueled that early hi-five. Ruel was clenching his fist in frustration while Juza was shaking his head as he reviewed his first pack of picks.

Pack two, Ruel drafted a Baloth Cage Trap over a Whiplash Trap , a Bladetusk Boar and a Kor Skyfisher . Juza considered a Hideous End , but ended up shipping that and a Marsh Flats in favor of a Goblin Ruinblaster . Second pick, Ruel took a Grazing Gladehart over a Torch Slinger and a Territorial Baloth , while Juza took the Boar over the Whiplash Trap , and then the Torch Slinger over an Into the Roil . The only card of interest in Ruel’s third pack was a Vines of Vastwood , passing a Heartstabber Mosquito to Juza, who sighed loudly before finally abandoning his Blue for Black. By the end of the second pack, Juza was still heavily Red, now with Black instead of Blue, and Ruel was heavily Green with a little Red. Both players were shaking their heads in frustration as they slumped in their chairs.

For the final pack, both players started on target. Ruel with a Nissa’s Chosen over little else, and Juza a Geopede, passing a Bladetusk Boar . Ruel opted to draft another Grazing Gladehart over the Boar, while Juza picked a Goblin Shortcutter over an Electropotence and a Geyser Glider , as he was woefully low on 2-drops. Ruel’s confidence gradually returned as he picked more and more Green cards, while Juza settled in to grabbing as many small Red and Black guys as he could find, even wheeling the Electropotence , which he told me is an amazing card, turning all of his guys into better Torch Slinger s. Ruel was mostly happy with his deck, admitting it could use a few more creatures, while Juza was very frustrated that he passed a Machete for the Sphinx, and a Hideous End for the Ruinblaster.

Sunday, October 11: 4:19p.m. –Round 13: Yuuya Watanabe vs Steven Aplin

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Yuuya Watanabe won the Japan National Champs this year, while Steven Aplin won the Australian National Champs back in 2007, the year Watanabe won GP Kyoto and took out the Rookie of the Year title. Both players are sitting at X-2 going into this round, with a good shot at making the top 8 from here.

Aplin won the roll and came out quickly with an Armaments Master and a Kor Sanctifier, while Watanabe defended with a Gomazoa . Aplin continued to apply pressure, playing more and more small men as Watanabe stalled on four lands, having to play an unkicked Oran-Rief Recluse while Aplin had fliers, and trade a Timbermaw Larva for the Armaments Master. When Watanabe finally found his fifth land, a Sky Ruin Drake entered the battlefield. Aplin found and summoned a Merfolk Seastalkers , and was content to Islandwalk through with that while adding a Living Tsunami to his board. Watanabe held back the tide with a Whiplash Trap , hitting the Seastalkers with a Cancel on the way back down before summoning a Grazing Gladehart and casting a Khalni Heart Expedition without landfall. Things were turning into a standoff as Aplin now had the Tsunami and a Shepherd of the Lost holding his side of the table.

Finally Watanabe found a sixth land, gaining him 2 life and allowing him to summon a Baloth Woodcrasher . A further land allowed him to swing with the Baloth, now with a Quest of the Gemblades waiting in plain sight. Aplin went for the throat, taking out the Sky Ruin Drake with a Journey to Nowhere before sending in his men. Watanabe tanked for a while, before announcing blocks and dropping to 9. Aplin rounded out his turn with a Paralyzing Grasp on the Woodcrasher. When Watanabe passed back the turn without action, Aplin again crashed in, this time into a Baloth Cage Trap , with the Quest of the Gemblades allowing the Spider to take down the Tsunami. An Arrow Volley Trap took out the Baloth in return, before Aplin summoned an Emeria Angel , looking for an alternative route around the 5/7 Spider. Watanabe’s Grazing Gladehart ensuring he didn’t get too low on life. A Merfolk Seastalkers came down for Watanabe, before a Kor Hookmaster pushed the Spider aside, allowing the fliers to swoop in and take a chunk out of Watanabe. Watanabe swung back, and popped a second Khalni heart Expedition to stay alive on 1 life. He slammed his next card into his hand, trying to find a way to stop Aplin’s air force, but found nothing and scooping up his cards.

Aplin 1 – Watanabe 0

Aplin sends in the air force.

Watanabe again began the game with a Gomazoa to hold off Aplin’s men, this time a Kor Aeronaut . A Kor Hookmaster let the Aeronaut through for a couple of turns, as Aplin curved into a turn four Living Tsunami . Watanabe summoned a Merfolk Seastalkers that would be of little help against Aplin’s fliers, while Aplin had the Journey to Nowhere to take down the Gomazoa now that it had finally untapped. Watanabe had a Timbermaw Larva he could swing back for 6 with, but had no immediate solution to Aplin’s fliers and he was running out of time. A Relic Crush took out the Journey and an Adventurer’s Scope, freeing the Gomazoa . Aplin elected to let the Tsunami go during his upkeep, letting him summon a Shepherd of the Lost . Watanabe swung back again, before Aplin found and summoned a Kor Skyfisher , bouncing his Hookmaster and tapping down the Gomazoa . Watanabe activated it in response, sending it back to his library in an attempt to potentially draw it again on the following turn. He attacked back again with the Larva and the Seastalkers, dropping Aplin to 3 to Watanabe’s 5, before slamming a kicked Oran-Rief Recluse on Aplin’s Shepherd. Aplin cast a Nimbus Wings on his Hookmaster, summoned a Tempest Owl , and passed it back to Watanabe, who again attacked in, the Owl blocking the Larva and the Seastalkers dropping Aplin to 1. Aplin’s next card didn’t help him take the last 5 points, or stop the Islandwalker, so they were off to Game 3.

Aplin 1 – Watanabe 1

Watanabe in the tank.

Aplin lead Game 3 with a Cliff Threader and a Kor Outfitter , while Watanabe had a Grazing Gladehart again. Armaments Master came down, but sans Equipment for now, while Watanabe stepped up to a Windrider Eel . Not wanting to send his guys into combat, Watanabe dropped to 10 before Aplin summoned a Shepherd of the Lost . A fifth land took Watanabe back up to 12 and allowed him to summon a Sky Ruin Drake and send the Eel in for 4. Aplin swung back with everyone, the Drake eating the Master and Watanabe dropping to 5. Without a sixth land drop, Watanabe passed the turn back without play and a sigh. Only time would tell how theatrical that sigh was. Aplin stared across the board wondering what traps he could be walking into, before simply passing the turn back. Sure enough, Watanabe had an end of turn Baloth Cage Trap . The Beast got in for 4 and Watanabe summoned an Oran-Rief Survivalist , still without further landfalls to buoy him to safety. With some of Watanabe’s mana accounted for, Aplin sent in his team. Watanabe blocked and went for a Lethargy Trap , but Aplin calmly tapped all of his mana to kick a Bold Defense , rather defensively, I might add, for someone in their own combat phase. Watanabe’s Beast again swung back, and he summoned a Gomazoa and started a Khalni Heart Expedition . A Hookmaster tapped the Drake and Aplin swung in again, dropping Watanabe to 1. Aplin then Paralyzing Grasp ed the Beast. Watanabe finally found a sixth land and kicked an Oran-Rief Recluse at the Shepherd as time was called, sighing loudly but happily this time, before passing the turn back, now in relative safety.

In turn three of extra time, Watanabe sank into thought about whether he could afford to start attacking and maybe win the third game, or whether he needed to defend it to a draw, finally attacking Aplin down to 7 with his Drake and playing a Woodcrasher. Aplin drew nothing to send his men in and passed the turn back. “Turn five,” Watanabe confirmed as he drew the last card of the game. He looked down at the card and slammed a land onto the table, allowing his Woodcrasher to trample in for the win in the last turn of extra time.

Yuuya Watanabe defeats Steven Aplin 2 – 1

Watanabe now a lock for his fourth Grand Prix top 8 in a row, could be seen bouncing around the tables singing “I’m so lucky, I’m so lucky!” with a huge grin on his face as the standings before the last round were posted.

Sunday, October 11: 4:49p.m. –Round 14: Quick Questions

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What was the best card in your sealed deck yesterday?

Shuuhei Nakamura:

Reckless Scholar .”
Olivier Ruel:

Hagra Crocodile .”
Levi Hinz:

Akoum Refuge .”

Aaron Nicastri:

“3x Sky Ruin Drake .”
Kuan Tian:

“3x Hideous End .”
Luis “LSV” Scott-Vargas:

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen . Well, the
Khalni Gem
was far more important
actually *laughs*”

Sunday, October 11: 4:57p.m. –Round 14: Photo Feature

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

There are several matches on the bubble for the top 8, but none more keenly watched than Martin Juza vs Olivier Ruel. “If I win and 3 results go my way, I top 8. If you win and 4 results go your way, you top 8,” Olivier speculated as they sat down, frantically doing the math, both knowing that they have no choice but to play it out. Right now, it’s one game apiece.

Sunday, October 11: 5:24p.m. –Round 14: Player of the Year Race update

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Looking at the standings before we finish the last round, Luis Scott-Vargas and Shuuhei Nakamura have had relatively disappointing days. LSV picking only 1 point to stay behind Nassif and Nakamura probably only picking up 2. Tomoharu Saito and Yuuya Watanabe are both in the top 8, so they’ll be up there with LSV, possibly even overtaking him, while Kazuya Mitamura will pick up a couple to fall behind the rest.

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