The Brisbane City Hall, venue for this Grand Prix, is located smack in the middle of downtown Brisbane and was opened in 1930. Just over the street from the GP is the Brisbane city mall, the shopping capital of the state. The Grand Prix itself was held in a large hall, with a massive organ sitting above the stage facing the playing area. A circle of empty seats hovered above the playing floor on level two, reminiscent of when the building was the political center of Brisbane. There would be no political discussion over this weekend, as 195 Magic players came to battle for the right to be called Grand Prix Brisbane champion.
Day one opened with Odyssey sealed deck and 7 rounds of play. The Odyssey limited environment has recently been getting the grand prix treatment, being the format for GPs in Montreal, Shizuoka, Vienna and Cape Town over the past weeks. So how do you prepare for a sealed GP? Easy! Play in as many trials as you can the night before the event. Six sealed deck trials were held the night before the main tournament, with each person in the top 4 receiving a box of product for their troubles and the winner earning 3 byes. You really begin to realize just how good three byes can be when at lunchtime you are 3-0 without even tapping a land. "It's amazing, I have won nearly half of my matches before even playing a game" commented Will Copeman, a local winner of a trial held in the weeks leading up to the GP. The value of byes was clearly demonstrated by looking at the stats heading into the second day - only 6 players without byes made the cut to 64.
At the end of the first day three players had driven their sealed decks to perfect 7-0 records. Dan Romans (brother of Greg Romans who was the number one limited ranked player in Australia before Ben Seck won Cape Town), was trying to catch up on his brothers position in the rankings, sat on top of the standings for day one. The always wacky Lenny Collins and Victorian player Dante Rosati rounded out the perfect day one records. These guys would only need 3 wins or better on day two to get them into the big cash and a top 8 birth.
With the more luck based day one out of the way it was time to enter the more skill intensive Rochester draft rounds. Dan Gow, sideboard reporter for the Grand Prix, had this as his take on Odyssey Rochester draft - "Green is a popular color and it can support up to 5 players at a draft table. Black and Red are great for removal but there isn't enough out there for more then 3 players to take from each color. Anymore and it's just spread too thin". Other possible options included going white/blue, letting the mages from the school of Wakefield fight for green and those more tempted by the dark and violent side of magic to quarrel between themselves.
The Top 8 included a nice spread of players from all over Australia and a couple of Internationals. Alex Shvartsman fought his way through a tough final swiss round to lock himself into 5th place for the top 8. Brisbane hero from day one, Dan Romans, who had topped the first day standings, did enough on day two to finish in 4th for the finals. Joining Dan from team Brisbane was Pang Ming Wee, finally making a top 8 after a 9th place finish at GP Singapore. Representing Sydney were crazy man Lenny Collins, who topped the swiss on 34 points, and Egidio De Gois, a favorite among the Sydney crowd. New Zealand's hope for a repeat Australian GP champion rested in the hands of Roger Miller. The Australians would be mighty angry if the title went to New Zealand, as Gordon Lin took the GP Sydney crown over to Auckland last year. Rounding out the top 8 were two stars from the Australian state of Victoria, Richard Johnston sneaking in at 8th place, and Dante Rosati, one of the 7-0 day one players, finished the swiss rounds in 2nd place.
The home team didn't have a lot to cheer for as both the Brisbane boys bowed out in the quarters. In the end it would be a repeat of GP Sydney, with Australia playing off against New Zealand - Richard Johnston versus Roger Miller. In Sydney the New Zealander came out on top, but for GP Brisbane the reverse was the result. Richard dispatched the previous New Zealand National Champion in 2 games straight. Congratulations to Richard Johnston from Melbourne Australia, the 2001 Grand Prix Brisbane champion.