The Top 8 players of the 2001 Australian National Championships featured many new faces. The only internationally-recognized player was Ben Seck, who built on his 6-0 day one with a solid, but not exceptional day two performance using Nether-Go. Fires dominated the field on Day 2, with the Top 8 having no less then 4 Fires decks. Two Blue Skies decks and a U/W control deck filled out the rest of the Top 8.
Wei Ren, a Top 8 player from Queensland had this to offer about his deck "I played a Blue/White control deck with Blinding Angel and 1 Nether Spirit. It went 3-2-1 but I am still fairly happy with it, it's just a little weak against Blue Skies".
Overall Wei Ren was feeling more relieved then anything once he was assured of his Top 8 placing. "I came 9th at last year's Nationals, and that was based on tiebreakers, not points". Going into the double elimination finals Wei Ren had this to say about his chances - "If I avoid skies in the first round I have a good chance. Even if I don't, with a bit of luck I can pull out a win".
Michael Mercer, a Sydney based player finishing in 7th place was feeling very excited about his performance - "Unbelievable. I always thought I was good enough but this year I decided I would take a serious shot at it - and it paid off".
Michael played a Fires deck without Chimeric Idols, he had this to say about the build - "I built it to focus on speed and aggression. It's a very aggressive Fires". Michael steered his deck to a 4-1-1 performance to cement himself in the Top 8. Michael had modest goals in regards to the finals - "I want top 4, I'd even be happy with 4th place. I've already reached my goal for the weekend, but I don't think my luck has run out yet".
In second place after the 12 swiss rounds was Shun Jiang from Melbourne. When asked how he was feeling about his performance he offered a calm response - "Yeah, pretty good. This is my first Nats but I was confident. I have been doing fairly well in Melbourne. I'm really a little surprised though. I only built my deck the night before the Standard constructed day, but it's done the job". When initially asked about his expectations for the finals Shun said that he really couldn't answer. A little probing opened him up - "I would like to win, sure, everyone wants to win. I wouldn't be angry if I didn't though".
Ben Seck, a well-known player from Sydney finished in 6th place in the swiss after starting off the day perfectly with an 8-0 record. He was happy that his deck did enough to get him into the finals but was a little worried at one stage, "I was 8-0 and then I was 8-2" stated Seck, "I was a little bit worried that I may not make it". Seck was happy with his pairing in the finals up against Nadebaum and his Fires deck, as the Nether go archetype was designed to beat this deck.
Rob Nadebaum from Melbourne finished 3rd in the swiss after having to play and knock out his friend Joe Connolly in the last round. "I had no choice, if I drew with him then I wouldn't make it. It's horrible to knock out your friend but it was the only way" said Nadebaum. Although he's happy that he made the Top 8 he's not too confident in his deck, stating that the match-up for the Top 8 is the biggest deciding factor. Nadebaum is a little modest though after starting off 1-2 he was forced to win out to make the Top 8, which is no easy feat in this environment.
Andrew Grain from Melbourne ground in to the Nationals yesterday in the type 2 and was the 4th place finisher in the swiss, playing the same deck he played two days before. It shows just how much faith he has in his deck, "It's got blue cards in it, it's working well".