Steve Aplin, Tim He, James Zhang and Craig Chapman are the 2007 Australia National Team!

It was a fairy tale finish for Steve Aplin. Not only was he crowned Australia's National Champion, he faced and defeated all in his path with his Aggressive Rakdos deck, including the reigning champion Tim He and his trusty Solar Flare in the finals. Joining Aplin and He representing Australia at the World Champs, are James Zhang and Craig Chapman. Perhaps one of the strongest National teams in a long time, perhaps ever. Look out New York, Australia is coming.

top 8 bracket


(1) Simon Uppill

(8) Craig Chapman

(4) Steve Alpin

(5) Scott Gray

(2) Andrew Eckermann

(7) James Zhang

(3) Anatoli Lightfoot

(6) Timothy He


Craig Chapman

Steve Alpin

James Zhang

Timothy He


Steve Alpin

Timothy He


Steve Alpin


 Guillaume Matignon € 4,500
 Nicolas Boistard € 2,500
 Jerome Renevier € 1,500
Wilfried Ranque € 1,200
Erwan Maisonneuve € 1,050
Mickael Robin € 900
 Maxime Hermes € 750
Mathieu Le montagner € 600

pairings, results, standings


12 11 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2


12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


Sunday, July 22: 10:22 a.m. - Round Eight: Levi Hinz vs. Craig Chapman

Everyone who comes to Nationals wants to win, I'm not going to deny that, but at this point in the tournament, some people need to win more than others. Levi Hinz and Craig Chapman are both X and 2 at this point, and winning out from here will get them to the top 8 without much trouble. But once they start picking up a loss or two, things could be looking a considerably dicey.

Hinz took control of Game 1 proactively, launching into the Red Zone early and often with his tiny white friends, while Chapman appeared to showing a growing interest in real estate, playing out land after land. Judge Unworthy took the sting out of Hinzes attack force, brushing aside a Sinew Sliver and reducing the impact of a Sidewinder Sliver at the same time. Chapman finally began to fill his side of the board with flyers, a Duskrider Peregrine coming off suspend and unmorphing a Whip-Spine Drake, while holing the ground with a D'Avenant Healer. Hinz eventually found a fourth and fifth land which gave him something to reestablish an offense with, but by now Chapmans flyers were taking large slices of Hinz home for dinner. Having only 3 life left and facing a pair of 3/3 flyers, Hinz went all in, hoping he could trick Chapman into doing something that meant that he wouldn't be wearing either one of the flyers next turn. Chapman pondered his options and blocked sparingly, leaving one of his team safe for retaliation. Hinz shook his head minutely and packed up his cards for Game 2.

"Gah, you were makin' me sweat!" Chapman exclaimed.

Hinz again started out fast in Game 2, and things looked very good for him when Chapman stalled on two lands, having to use a Judge Unworthy again on a Sinew Sliver. This time however, scrying a non-land card to the top of his deck to ensure the Sliver died would mean he wouldn't be drawing a third land next turn. However, Chapman untapped and cycled a Marshaling Cry to dig up and play an Island, knowing he had fourth land waiting for him next turn. Hinz continued to apply pressure with a Bonesplitter Sliver, and added a Lymph Sliver to the table, making interactive combat potential problematic for Chapman, who has developing an army of his own, starting with a pair of Amrou Seekers and nudging back Hinzeses attacks with a Vedalken Aethermage (saucy!) The race looked to be favoring Hinz, who maintained a head start from the word go, but one declined black later and Chapman was laying out a Fortify to turn six damage into twelve and all but blowing Hinz right out of his chair to win the match.

Craig Chapman defeats Levi Hinz 2 - 0

Sunday, July 22: 10:22 a.m. - Round Nine: It's a Rock 'n Roll Photo Montage

by blisterguy

Ahh, the good ol' quick and dirty Photo Montage. No blisterguy event coverage is complete without it!

The obligatory Judge Shot. Don't they all look fresh and chipper? Which is funny because last night went a little something like this…

This is the judge staff at our dinner last night, seen here holding up imaginary signs and cheering "eight!" as some lovely young female from another table walked past. Upstanding gentlemen, the lot of them. It was her birthday if I remember correctly, there may have been some singing, but nobody can prove that.

I was of course, very well behaved. Unless you count eating all of that food there, it was indeed, way too much for a lad such as myself.

This is level three judge Lyndsay Hemmings. But don't worry, he doesn't really eat small children. At least not any more, anyway.

At the end of day one, people no longer in contention kept coming up to drop from the main event. For some reason, they kept coming to me, I assume they were unable to read the "Official Event Coverage" written on my shirt. In the end, I had to resort to having a sign on my laptop that read "If you want to drop, walk thataway!"

And now we come to the Big Foam Hand that Lyndsay brought back with him from Pro Tour Yokohama. Modeled here by Head Judge Ryan Dare, who is apparently very happy. At least I think "happy" is the word for it.

This is me trying to put the Hand to good use, but it seems that the Big Foam Hand wasn't nearly as good as my own. Did I ever mention I have Great Hands? I'm not sure I have, so consider it now on record.

"But you said we could add basic land, you didn't stipulate which basic land!"

Sunday, July 22: 11:33 a.m. - Round Ten: Matthew Lamb vs. Carl Davidson

by blisterguy

I may or may not have chosen this rounds feature match by what these lads were playing. I was looking for any match up that featured players in contention, and not playing Blue/White/Something like everyone I ended up featuring during yesterday's Standard rounds.

Davidson lead with a Terramorphic Expanse, followed by a Birds of Paradise, allowing him to play a third turn Seismic Assault. Lamb powered up his turn two Tarmogoyf with a Llanowar Reborn and employed a Call of the Herd to keep it company. Davidson held the monsters at bay with a Tarmogoyf of his own, using Life from the Loam to replenish his hand with discarded Land cards, and stacking damage before reintroducing Lands to the list of things in graveyards so that the grafted 'Goyf wouldn't eat his. Davidson then spent a couple of turns hurling Lands directly at Lamb and Loaming them back, who could only retaliate by attacking, his Selesnya Aggro deck unable to provide any surprises that would help win race the combination of Siesmic Assault and Life from the Loam.

"I topdecked the Assault, and I topdecked the Loam"
"You kept a Birds and a 'Goyf?"
"Yep, but it was much better than a one-lander!"

It was Lambs turn to go first, both players keeping their grip of seven and both players landing early Tarmogoyfs, Davidson even doubling up on his side of the table. Lamb swung in and Davidson double blocked, creating a triple-decker Tarmogoyf sandwich.

"I know you don't have any combat tricks" Davidson stated, only to see Lamb play out two Gather Courages to take down one of the blockers. "Oh, you do!" Lamb continued to bolster his army with Call of the Herd and a Serra Avenger. Despite Davidson finding his Assault and Loam combo, and a backup Assault for the one that fell to a Seed Spark from Lamb, it wasn't enough to hold off the stampede.

Lamb surprised everyone by playing a Selesnya Guildmage on his second turn instead of a Tarmogoyf, but it was at least a 3/3 with the help of a Llanowar Reborn. True to form though, he followed it up with a Call of the Herd. Davidson did very little until his fourth turn, but quickly made up for it with back to back Loxodon Hierarchs. One fell in combat when it traded with the Guildmage, and the other held down by a Faith's Fetters. More 3/3s joined Lambs team, relentlessly marching all over Davidson. Again Davidson found his Seismic Assault and Life from the Loam combo, but didn't have time to power it up enough to take down Lambs ever-increasing team, succumbing to a Gather Courage that not only saved an incoming Watchwolf, but provided more than enough damage for the win.

Matthew Lamb defeats Carl Davidson 2 - 1

Sunday, July 22: 12:12 p.m. - Round Eleven: Andrew Eckermann vs. Anatoli Lightfoot

by blisterguy

Anatoli Lightfoot is no longer the only undefeated player, he has in fact now been defeated twice and not entirely happy about that. Andrew Eckermann is hoping to be next in line to knock Lightfoot off.

Both players played out men of the green variety, in a range of sizes and colors to suit most. Lightfoot with a touch of White and Eckermann with a lovely fiery Red. Sure enough, things ground to a halt, with the ground gummed up with monsters glaring menacingly at each other. However, all Eckermann had to do was get enough creatures into play that he could finish off Lightfoot's paltry six life by throwing his team through a Scorched Rusalka. Lightfoot went all in, but couldn't prevent an incoming fiery death, and scooped before we was pinged to death by a Keldon Megaliths during Eckermanns upkeep.

"I can feel another 9th place coming already" Lightfoot bemoaned.

Game 2 was better for Lightfoot, his men were larger than Eckermanns and his Faith's Fetters gained more life than Eckermanns err… well, Eckermann didn't have anything he could use to gain life, so it wasn't long before Lightfoots fatties trampled over to take them to the decider.

…And it was decided very quickly. Lightfoot mulliganed for a third game in a row, and stalled on two land, while Eckermann built an army and enhanced it with a Moldervine Cloak. Instead of dragging it out any longer, or maybe just so I could get on and get this typed up, Lightfoot just offered his hand with a "this game is over."

Andrew Eckermann defeats Anatoli Lightfoot 2 - 1

Sunday, July 22: 1:37 p.m. - Round Twelve: Carl Davidson vs. Steven Aplin

by blisterguy

The standings look messy this round, only one match can draw into the top 8 with certainty, and there is no guarantee that they will, everyone else has to play or risk 9th place. A few 25 pointers may be able to draw once some results come in, but nobody likes their chances of pulling that one off. Neither Carl Davidson or Steven Aplin can get away with it, and are definitely going to play it out. Sounds like a feature match to me!

Game 1 was over in minutes, with Davidson failing to draw Green mana. He managed to Lightning Helix a couple of Aplin's Rakdos minions, but ultimately couldn't stop them overrunning him.

Davidson did come out gangbusters in the second however, with a turn two Troll Ascetic, followed by a Loxodon Warhammer. Aplin suspended a Rift Bolt, and Demonfired the Birds of Paradise that accelerated out the Troll. Davidson equipped the Warhammer and swung in, spreading the life totals dramatically before deploying another Birds or Paradise. The Rift Bolt took down the birds, before Aplin dropped the bomb, the Hit half of a Hit//Run. Davidson weighed up his options, and chose to sacrifice the Troll over the Warhammer, and then topdecked another Warhammer, playing that and a 4/5 Tarmogoyf. Aplin dropped a pair of Incinerates on the Tarmogoyf, only to have Davidson draw another one off of a Horizon Canopy.

Needing to get something in the way of a double-Warhammered Tarmogoyf, Aplin played out a Giant Solifuge and a Dark Confidant. Davidson could only shake his head in dismay, muttering that he should have sacrificed the Warhammer instead of the Troll, equipping his Hammers to his 'Goyf, but electing not to attack. The Confidant drew Aplin into a Seal of Fire and a Char, which he used to dispatch the 11/6 trampling, lifelink, lifelinked 'Goyf before swinging over to sock Davidson in the chin. Adding insult to injury, Davidsons deck offered up a third Loxodon Warhammer, before Aplin attacked again and leveled a Demonfire at Davidson for the win.

It turned out that Davidson was unaware that he would gain life from both instances of lifelink if he had attacked with the Tarmogoyf, which could have given him 22 life and enough time to find more men to wield the Warhammers.

Steven Aplin defeats Carl Davidson 2 - 0

Sunday, July 22: 2:50 p.m. - Round Twelve: Top Standard Decklists

by blisterguy

I was going to present the undefeated Standard deck lists here, but it seems that the Standard rounds were quite the bloodbath. In other news, Australian Judges are obsessed with nipples, my nipples. Nobody ended up achieving a 6-0 record, which is to be expected with the last few rounds sometimes littered with intentional draws. Those who managed to get 5-0-1 are already featured in the top 8 decks, so all we are left with are the two people who managed to go 5-1, Jarron Puszet and Kuan Tian.


Jarron Puszet

Download Arena Decklist

Kuan Tian

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Sunday, July 22: 3:57 p.m. - Quarterfinals Recap

by blisterguy

Armed with my pen and paper, I took to the floor as the top 8 competitors were browsing each other's decklists. I found Levi Hinz trying to trade his draft decks to a dealer for a playset of Tarmogoyfs, which he apparently intended to sell on for tonight's dinner. Needless to say it wasn't going well, so he quickly agreed to help spot matches with me in the quarter finals. James Pirie was chatting up female members of the hotel staff, who were on the verge of calling security to remove him from the premises. I hurriedly sent one of the judges over to recruitment him as well, we'd need his eyes for this and he didn't need yet another criminal conviction to his name.

Steven Aplin got the ball rolling first off by eliminating Scott Gray, Aplin's fast Rakdos beats were too quick for Gray's Angelfire Control. Gray managed to win one game after Aplin sputtered off the mark, but otherwise it was all Mogg Fanatic and Dark Confidant beatdown, backed up by a flurry of burn.

Steven Aplin defeats Scott Gray 3 - 1

Next to be voted off the top 8 island was Anatoli Lightfoot, who had the misfortune of being paired against reigning champ, Tim He. He's Solar Flare deck is almost custom build for dismantling Lightfoot's Selesnya Aggro, quite often winning games by just casting a couple of huge flyers and soaring over the top of Lightfoot's team while still sitting on a Wrath of God in hand.

Tim He Defeats Anatoli Lightfoot 3 - 0

Meanwhile, James Zhang and Andrew Eckermann were trading games and sending small men after each other. Sometimes Eckermann would throw some burn over the top to roast Zhang out, but more often than not, Zhang would Aethermage Touch an Angel of Despair into play, and then Momentary Blink it a couple of times, cleaning out Eckermann's side of the table to win the match.

James Zhang defeats Andrew Eckermann 3 - 1

Over on the last table, Craig Chapman was grinding away at Simon Uppill, who spent the first two games stumbling on mana and getting crushed under the weight of suspended Detritivores. Game 3 wasn't nearly as one-sided, Uppill managing to suspend Aeon Chroniclers to help pull him out from certain Detritivore-itis. In the end it wasn't enough, and Uppill was pushed out of the top 8 by Chapman.

Craig Chapman defeats Simon Uppill 3 - 0.

Sunday, July 22: 4:48 p.m. - Semifinals Recap

by blisterguy

Aplin vs. Chapman

Aplin again charged into his match, managing to be up two games before the Head Judge had even finished telling them they could start. Chapman won the third with a Damnation off the top and a Tendrils of Corruption to take him to safety. However, Aplin came back over the top in the fourth, with a Cryoclasm holding Chapman back long enough for Aplin's burn to take him out.

Steven Aplin defeats Craig Chapman 3 - 1

Behind door number two, the winners of 2006 were facing off. In Game 1, Zhang's Blink Touch deck couldn't manage to stop He's Solar Flare from establishing a mana base from which he could get his late game on. However, games two and three were a painful death by paper cuts for He, as Zhang repeatedly attacked his mana by Momentary Blinking Riftwing Cloudskate and Venser, Shaper Savant.

He vs. Zhang

Zhang couldn't keep up the disruption in Game 4 though, and He managed to overpower Zhang with a Tidings followed by an Angel of Despair and an Aeon Chronicler.

Both players mulliganed to six for the final game, and Zhang looked set to clinch it with an early Dimir Cutpurse, especially when he had the Remand for He's Wrath of God. The next pass at the Wrath was preceded by an Extirpate however, denying Zhang the second Remand he had in hand, and showing that his hand was a bunch of land and an Aethermage's Touch. It wasn't long before the reigning champ was swinging through the air with a pair of Skeletal Vampires to lock in a finals appearance across from Steven Aplin.

Tim He defeats James Zhang 3 - 2

Sunday, July 22: 6:10 p.m. - Finals

by blisterguy

And then there were two.

Tim He

Steven Aplin was knocked out of the top 8 at Grand Prix: Sydney by the eventual winner, James Zhang, but he's improved on that somewhat this weekend by battling his way through to the finals. His opponent is none other than two-time National Champ and defending Champion, Tim He. Unlike last year, when He bested Cameron Veigel in a Solar Flare mirror match that seemed to stretch on hours, if not days, we knew this would be over quickly tonight. He was again playing his trusty Solar Flare, but Aplin came to the table with a spicy Rakdos creation that would at least win quickly or die trying.

Aplin lost the die roll, and then proceeded to mulligan to five, which most would consider a pretty poor start to the match. Making what can only be the absolute best of a bad situation, Aplin played out a turn one Mogg Fanatic and followed it up with a Dark Confidant. A couple of Hit//Runs cleaned out He's Dimir and Azorius Signets while He swept away his assailants with a Wrath of God, and stripped Aplin of his remaining card with a Castigate.

Steve Alpin

Some topdecks in Magic come off the top with a howl of triumph or cackle of maniacal laughter, and while this one was merely quiet and methodical, no one was questioning the effectiveness of Aplin's Giant Solifuge Off the Top and straight into He's face. He retaliated with a hard cast Aeon Chronicler, only to see Aplin pull another rabbit, err Solifuge out of the hat to take what at first glance appeared to be an unwinnable Game 1.
It was He's turn to mulligan to five, causing a respectful hush to fall over the assembled crowd. Aplin's turn two Dark Confidant looked threatening, but was promptly held at bay by a Court Hussar. Aplin played a land and passed back without a play. He sensed something was up and went poking about Aplin's grip with a Castigate, and after taking a Char in the face, cast his eyes upon a world of hurt. A Keldon Megaliths, two Demonfires, a Seal of Fire and a Giant Solifuge. He reduced the Demonfire count by one and passed the turn back.

Aplin untapped, played the Solifuge and sent it and the Great One in to face the Hussar. The Confidant died, but Aplin still had a commanding board position, He was facing a lot of damage over the next turn or two. He tried to find answers by tapping low for a Tidings, only to have Aplin blast aside the defending Hussar with the Seal and a Mogg Fanatic and attacking with his Solifuge unopposed. A Cryoclasm on a Watery Grave left He shuffling up for Game 3.

He mulliganed again, but managed to deny Aplin his turn two Confidant with a Castigate (leaving two Solifuges and a Hit//Run) and then suspended an Aeon Chronicler while a Court Hussar held the ground. Aplin bided his time, suddenly Charring the Hussar to a crisp before untapping and making a Giant Solifuge. He's Chronicler came into play, and He then sank into the think tank. After a few moments of inaction, table judge and gentleman to the ladies Rob Stuart politely suggested (in dulcet tones, no less) that He make a play. The reigning Champ surprised everyone by swinging with the Chronicler, playing a Godless Shine untapped (dropping to 7 life) and assembling a Skeletal Vampire and Co.

Sure enough, the second Solifuge joined its cousin and screamed into the red zone. The Vampire teamed up with one of the Bats to soak up an insect, while the other Bat prevented a single trample damage, dropping He to four life. He untapped and sent in the Vampire and Chronicler, knocking Aplin down to six life, no doubt hoping to win the game before Aplin could draw something to finish him with. Aplin untapped, shuffled his cards about his grip for a moment before showing everyone a Char with a questioning look for He. He's hand came across the table, and a new Champion was crowned.

Steven Aplin defeats Tim He 3 - 0

Sunday, July 22: 6:45 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks

by Staff

Simon UphillAngelfire

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Andrew EckermanGruul Beatdown

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Anatoli LightfootSelesnya Aggro

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Steven AplinRakdos Aggro

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Tim HeSolar Flare

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Craig ChapmanBlue/Black/Red Control

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