Grand Prix Auckland 2008

Dominic Lo of Sydney, Australia plowed through the field on day one, and did the same again on day two, finishing at the top of the field going into the playoffs. This morning I speculated that there would be a bloodbath today, with several well-known Pros sitting at X - 1 just waiting to take on the local players. However, when the smoke cleared, only Olivier Ruel remained, and even he was dispatched by Auckland's Nick Tung in the quarterfinals. Lo and Tung squared off in the finals, with Lo's Bant deck finally flying in to win game three and the title of Grand Prix: Auckland Champion 2008.



(1) Hay, Chris

(8) Cheung, Justin

(4) Tung, Nick

(5) Ruel, Olivier

(2) Tabet, Basam

(7) Lo, Dominic

(3) Combs, Joseph

(6) Chung, Jason


Cheung, Justin 2-0

Tung, Nick 2-0

Lo, Dominic 2-0

Chung, Jason 2-0


Tung, Nick 2-1

Lo, Dominic 2-1


Lo, Dominic 2-1


  • 8:03p.m.:Finals - Nick Tung vs Dominic Lo
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • 7:10p.m.: Top 4 - Jason Chung vs Dominic Lo
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • 6:37p.m.: Top 8 - Nick Tung vs Olivier Ruel
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • 6:34p.m.: Top 8 - Decklists
    by Russell "Ralphey" Alphey
  • 6:18p.m.: Top 8 - Draft with Olivier Ruel
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 6:07p.m.: Top 8 - Player Profiles
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Featured Matches, Quick Questions, Drafting with Dominic Lo, Justin Cheung, Shuuhei Nakamura and LSV and more!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: If you missed Day One of the Auckland Grand Prix, you can find it all here!
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Lo, Dominic $3,500
2. Tung, Nick $2,300
3. Cheung, Justin $1,500
4. Chung, Jason $1,500
5. Ruel, Olivier $1,000
6. Combs, Joseph E $1,000
7. Tabet, Basam J $1,000
8. Hay, Chris $1,000

pairings, results, standings


13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1


13 12 11 10 9 8

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Sunday, December 07: 6:07p.m. - Top 8 profiles

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Name: Jason Chung

Age: 16

Home town: Auckland, New Zealand

Occupation: Student

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
6-1 Broodmate Dragon.

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
2-1, 2-0-1 Branching Bolt, Cruel Ultimatum

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?

Name: Justin Cheung

Age: 27

Home town: Sydney, Australia

Occupation: Administration

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
7-0 Titanic Ultimatum

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
3-2-1 Violent Ultimatum, Grixis Charm

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Algae Gharial

Name: Nick Tung

Age: 29

Home town: Auckland, New Zealand

Occupation: Pharmaceutical Chemist

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
5-1-1 Goblin Assault.

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
5-1 Broodmate Dragon, Undead Leotau

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Corpse Connoisseur

Name: Joe Combs

Age: 20

Home town: Rochester, New York, U.S.A.

Occupation: Student, Georgetown University

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
5-1-1 with 1 bye. Call to Heel or Wild Nacatl, both of which were duplicates. I was fairly lucky to get this record.

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
5-0-1 Draft 1 my deck was insane, probably Sharuum the Hegemon or Scourglass. Draft 2 my best card was Savage Lands

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
All of the lands, especially the uncommon ones. Don't take my word for it though, I barely trust myself about that.

Name: Chris Hay

Age: 27

Home town: Auckland, New Zealand

Occupation: Systems Analyst, ASB Bank

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
5-1-1 Broodmate Dragon (Elspeth, Knight-Errant a close second!)

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
5-1 Kederekt Leviathan, Sharuum the Hegemon

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Corpse Connoisseur. With just a couple of unearth guys, it's pure card advantage!

Name: Basam Tabet

Age: 28

Home town: Mullumbimby, Australia

Occupation: Carer

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
5-2 Dragon Fodder (no, I'm not joking) thankfully, I had 3 byes.

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
3-0 Cruel Ultimatum/Broodmate Dragon, 2-0-1 Ajani Vengeant.

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Welkin Guide/Necrogenesis.

Name: Olivier Ruel

Age: 27

Home town: Lille, France

Occupation: Chasing Shuuhei Nakamura

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
6-1, Empyrial Archangel by far, but I had to splash White and Green to run it.

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
3-0 Sharuum the Hegemon (though Sphinx Sovereign, 2x Infest, Scourglass, 2x Sanctum Gargoyle, Master of Etherium etc weren't bad.) 1-0-2 Jungle Shrine (Yes, I'm being serious.)

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Kederekt Leviathan. That card is one of the best rares in the set and it sometimes wheels, somehow... As I can see I have some space left. I'd love to say 'hi' to my dad (he always complains about me saying 'hi' to everyone but him), and to send a huge kiss to Poupette and MP.

Name: Dominic Lo

Age: 25

Home town: Sydney

Occupation: Uni Admin

What was your record on Saturday and what was the best card in your deck?
7-0 Jungle Shrine

What was your record today what was the best card in each of your draft decks?
2-1 Savage Lands, 1-0-2 Hindering Light or Rafiq of the Many

What is the most underrated card in Shards of Alara Draft?
Guardians of Akrasa

Sunday, December 07: 6:18p.m. - Top 8 Draft with Olivier Ruel

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

To say that Olivier Ruel is an experienced mage is quite frankly, putting it lightly. He's played in more Grand Prix's than the entire New Zealand population alone. Well, before this weekend, that is.

He tore a Sarkhan Vol out of his first pack, but passed a Naya Charm, a Wild Nacatl, Dragon Fodder and an Executioner's Capsule downstream. He followed that up with a Rip-Clan Crasher, a Soul's Fire and a 6th pick Wild Nacatl. By the end of pack one, Ruel seemed quite confident with his Green/Red deck.

Pack two gave him a Branching Bolt with a pump of the fist, over a Stoic Angel, a Woolly Thoctar, a Mosstodon and a Jungle Weaver. I know some of those aren't anywhere near as good as the Bolt, I only mention it because the only card that made it back to him from that pack was the Weaver. Ruel was far from the only Green drafter at the table. Pick two was a Hissing Iguana, but the third pick had nothing, and Ruel was forced to hate-draft a Fire-Field Ogre. Pick four was also quite underwhelming, a Gift of the Gargantuan, followed by a Rockslide Elemental, a Jungle Weaver and another Gift. Ruel's confidence in his draft was dropping quickly as he thumbed through the playables during the second review period.

The third pack brought Ruel a second Branching Bolt, an Algae Gharial and a Drumhunter, but he was also forced to dip into Black for a Sprouting Thrinax to go with his Thorn-Thrash Viashinos and a Thunder-Thrash Elder he'd picked up earlier.

"My deck is missing one card to be really good, a second Dragon Fodder," Ruel explained as he built his deck. "I have these devour guys to go with Sarkhan Vol, but I really need another Dragon Fodder to tie them together. I don't think I can win the whole thing with this, but probably my quarterfinals match at least. The problem with my first pick (Sarkhan Vol) is that I passed too many good Green from that pack."

Sunday, December 07: 6:34p.m. - Top 8: decklists

by Russell "Ralphey" Alphey

Joe Combs

Olivier Ruel

Justin Cheung

Jason Chung

Dominic Lo

Nick Tung

Chris Hay

Basam Tabet

Sunday, December 07: 6:37p.m. - Top 8: Nick Tung vs Olivier Ruel

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

"High roll?" Ruel asked, frowning as he rolled a 7 on three die. Tung scored 11 and chose to play

Tung kept and led with a Forest and a Swamp into Necrogenesis, followed by a Vithian Stinger. Ruel made a Druid of Anima, and fed it to a Thorn-Thrash Viashino before the Stinger could have its way with it. Tung made an Executioner's Capsule and a Court Archers, taking 4 from the Thorn-Thrash before Ruel played his Algae Gharial. The Court Archers swung in for 2, and Tung wondered how big that Gharial might get before Necrogenesis would run out of steam. The Capsule took out the Thorn-Thrash, and the Gharial came in for 2. Ruel then played his Sprouting Thrinax and sent the turn back, his face becoming a regular target for the Stinger. Tung had four colors of mana in play now, and dropped a Woolly Thoctar onto the table.

"That's good, that's good," Ruel muttered under his breath, and ended without play. Tung cycled a Ridge Rannet and continued to peck away at his opponent with the Stinger. The Thrinax chumped the Thoctar, and Tung made another Stinger while Ruel finished the Thoctar with a Branching Bolt. The 4/4 Gharial now swung in unblocked, Tung saving his Saprolings to attack back, knowing that his Stingers would help him win the race. Ruel let it through, dropping to 11 against Tung's 10 life. Tung then played a Broodmate Dragon.

"Yes," was all Ruel could say as he untapped and played a bomb of his own, Sarkhan Vol, which promptly stole the real Dragon of the two. The Dragon and the Gharial attacked Tung down to 6, but Ruel had to let the Dragon return, having nothing he could devour it with. Tung's Dragons took Game 1 on the return. Apparently during the space of that game, Dominic Lo had already dispatched Basam Tabet 2 - 0, and Justin Cheung and Jason Chung were both up a game each.

Ruel threw back his first hand in Game 2, and shook his head unbelievably before sending the next one back as well. He kept his five, and Tung kept his seven. Tung made the first play with a Cylian Elf, while Ruel faked being short on mana, cycling a Jungle Weaver before playing his third land. Tung made a Dregscape Zombie while Ruel summoned a Court Archers to his defense. Tung just made a Necrogenesis, causing Ruel to sigh, again playing his Algae Gharial. Thanks to the cycled Weaver, Tung got a head start on his Saproling army. The Archers blocked and killed the Dregscape Zombie, while the Elf and the Saproling token dropped Ruel to 15. Ruel made a Scourge Devils and sent in his Gharial for 4. Tung pumped his fist as he drew his next card.

"Cards in hand?"
"Still two," Ruel replied, staring in disbelief as Tung again summoned his Broodmate Dragon.
"Topdeck," Tung explained, as if the fist pump hadn't given it away.

Ruel again made his Sarkhan Vol, but this time increased the loyalty count to send his Scourge Devils in for 5. A Saproling chumped, and then Tung Bone Splintered the Archers, his Dragons dropping Ruel from 15 to 7. Ruel untapped, and stole the Dragon Token with Sarkhan Vol, and attacked back with his 5/5 Gharial, the Devils and his misappropriated Dragon. Saprolings calmly chumped the ground pounders, and Ruel then devoured the Token with this Thunder-Thrash Elder. Tung swung back with his remaining Dragon, and had the Resounding Roar to finish it. Ruel could barely believe it.

Nick Tung defeats Olivier Ruel 2 - 0 and no more than a minute later, Justin Cheung finished off Chris Hay 2 - 0 and Jason Chung rounded out the Quarters, beating Joe Combs 2 - 0.

Sunday, December 07: 7:10p.m. - Top 4: Jason Chung vs Dominic Lo

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Dominic Lo finished at the top of the swiss this weekend, was undefeated day one and stayed ahead of the field all the way. Jason Chung finished 3rd at the New Zealand National Champs earlier this year, so is certainly no slouch himself.

Lo got in early with a Jhessian Infiltrator, while Chung tried to make mana with Druid of the Anima to make up for missing his third land drop. Lo Oblivion Ring'd the Druid, but Chung merely ripped a land and replaced it with an Obelisk of Naya the following turn. Lo followed the Ring up with a Rhox War Monk, which Chung had a Ring of his own for. Chung continued to take 2 from Infiltrator however, while Lo made a Cloudheath Drake. Chung played a Where Ancient Treads, while Lo beat him down to 9. A Mosstodon looked like it might take out the Drake, but Lo caught it with a Spell Snip, attacked Chung down to 4 and added a Waveskimmer Aven to his team. Chung shook his head and scooped up his cards.

Lo 1 - Chung 0

Chung started Game 2 with a turn three unassisted Woolly Thoctar. Lo made a turn three Rhox Charger with the help of a Steward of Valeron, and after swinging back for 5 of his own, made a Cloudheath Drake. Chung ramped up to a Cavern Thoctar with an Obelisk of Naya, while Lo made an Akrasan Squire and an Aven Waveskimmer, attacking in the air for 6 with his Drake. Chung, now on 9 life and facing Lo's 10, played a Mosstodon and sent in the Thoctars. The Cavern Thoctar trampled Lo down to 1 life at the cost of a Squire, and Lo peeled the top card off his deck with a sigh, "not one of the bombs." He dug with a Courier's Capsule, but still couldn't find anything. They were off to Game 3.

Lo 1 - Chung 0

On the table behind them, Nick Tung was down a game against Justin Cheung.

Lo made the first play of the last game with a turn two Steward of Valeron, which Chung Excommunicated. Lo instead made a Naya Battlemage, and Chung a Drumhunter, which could definitely spell some bad news for Lo if allowed to power up unopposed. The Battlemage attacked unblocked, and Lo replayed his Steward and passed it back to see what 5 power beast Chung might have. Instead, Chung made to Oblivion Ring the Battlemage, which was saved by a Call to Heel. Lo replayed the Battlemage and added a Jhessian Infiltrator to his team. Chung got there with a Jungle Weaver and passed it back. Lo played his own Oblivion Ring, taking out the Spider and attacking Chung down to 6 with the help of a Sigil Blessing. Chung played a Sunseed Nurturer, and took down the Naya Battlemage with a Charm of the same name. The Infiltrator was still unanswered however, so Chung played Gift of the Gargantuan, netting a Mosstodon to power up the Nurturer. Lo ripped a Guardian's of Akrasa off the top to allow the Infiltrator to attack past the life gain for the win.

Dominic Lo defeats Jason Chung 2 - 1, while in the background, Nick Tung comes back to defeat Justin Cheung 2 - 1

Sunday, December 07: 8:03p.m. - Finals: Nick Tung vs Dominic Lo

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

It comes down to this. Dominic Lo kept the rest of the field at his feet all weekend. Undefeated day one and sitting at the top of the standings going into the top 8. Nick Tung was playing catch up, having to win the last round to make the playoffs, but catch up he has. Crushing Olivier Ruel in the quarterfinals and Justin Cheung in the semis. Lo currently hails from Sydney, Australia, but has lived in Wellington, New Zealand from time to time. Tung, despite claiming on his Top 8 profile that he was from Taipei, has lived in Auckland for years.

Lo won the roll, and chose to draw, making the first play of the finals, a turn two Knight of the Skyward Eye, to which Tung replied with a Cylian Elf on turn three. Dawnray Archers allowed the Knight to swing past, but couldn't stop the Elf returning the favor before being joined by a Vithian Stinger. Lo drew his card and sank into thought. He sent the Knight in for another 3 and played a Rhox War Monk, leaving the Archer to die to the Stinger. Tung then sent the Elf in, representing a trick, which Lo respected, letting it through. Tung then fed the Elf to a Thorn-Thrash Viashino. Lo made a Rhox Charger, and the War Monk dropped Tung to 10 and returned Lo to 20. Tung returned fire with his Thorn-Thrash, shot the Charger and then cleared it, the Stinger and the Knight out with a Jund Charm. Only the Thorn-Thrash and the War Monk remained. Lo attacked Tung down to 7 and refilled his hand with a Courier's Capsule, while Tung finally took out Lo's last attacker with an Executioner's Capsule. Lo replaced it with a Cloudheath Drake, and then dropped to 11 from the Thorn-Thrash. Lo teamed a Guardian's of Akrasa with the Drake to drop Tung to 3, then played a Jhessian Infiltrator and an Oblivion Ring on the Viashino. It was definitely a good Courier's Capsule, and Tung agreed, reaching for his sideboard.

Lo 1 - Tung 0

Tung elected to play, while Lo took a mulligan, settling on his six. Tung opened hostilities with a turn three Topan Ascetic off of Forest, Swamp and Mountain. Lo's third land came into play tapped, so he was still without play when Tung dropped a Jund Battlemage. Lo rallied with a Rhox Charger, but the Battlemage made a sacrificial Saproling that powered out a Bone Splinters to remove the blocker. Lo replaced it up with a Dawnray Archer and a Steward of Valeron. Tung swung in again, dropping Lo to 11 before playing a Goblin Deathraiders. Lo finally attacked back for 3 with the Steward, but had no play with his six mana and three cards in hand. Tung again sent in his Topan Ascetic, the Jund Battlemage powering out critters to let the Human Monk land for 5. After combat, Tung made a Thorn-Thrash Viashino, sacrificing a single Saproling only, in case Lo had something to bounce it back. When Lo's draw revealed no answers, he picked up his cards and said, "let's go to the next game."

Lo 1 - Tung 1

For the decider, Lo again chose to draw, with both players keeping their hands this time. Lo cantrip'd through his second turn with an Elvish Visionary, while Tung found a Mountain with his Naya Panorama, playing his trusty Topan Ascetic on turn three. Lo sent his Visionary in at the Ascetic, but Tung let it through. Lo then played a Naya Battlemage. Tung swung back, holding a Hissing Iguana in reserve. Lo played a Guardians of Akrasa and sent his Elf in for 2, with White mana up for the Battlemage to tap down one of Tung's men. Settling in for the long game, Tung made a Jund Battlemage, and attacked his Iguana into Lo's wall, but a Resounding Roar ensured the combat step had only one survivor. Lo simply upgraded his position with a Rhox Charger and sent the Elf in for 2 again. The Naya Battlemage tapped down the Ascetic, but the Charger wasn't feeling up to blocking the Iguana, and Lo dropped to 14. Tung then played Necrogenesis and passed it back.

"Cards in hand one?" Lo confirmed while he pondered his options before sending in the Charger for 4, taking Tung down to 11 and playing a Cloudheath Drake. Meanwhile, the Necrogenesis and the Jund Battlemage were getting a posse together. Tung swung in with his Topan Ascetic while Lo was tapped low, beefing it up with his Iguana and Battlemage. Lo fell from 14 to 10, and Tung tapped out himself for a Ridge Rannet, his army practically spanning the table. Lo lapsed into thought, before playing a Dawnray Archer and sending the Drake in for 5, dropping Tung to 6. When Tung went to attack back, the Naya Battlemage tapped down the 6/4, and it was Tung's turn to go into the think tank. Trying to figure out how many guys to send in, how many to pump the Ascetic with and how many to try and defend with, eventually deciding to send in a pair of Saprolings alongside the 3/3 Ascetic. The Charger ate a Saproling while in turn, the Ascetic ate the Elvish Visionary. Tung had one card in hand to Lo's four, Tung on 6 life and Lo on 7. Lo untapped and played an Akrasan Squire, and entered his attack step.

"Can I attack?"
"Yeah," Tung replied.

Lo turned his Drake sideways, three exalted triggers went on the stack and Tung simply offered his hand in congratulations with a smile.

Dominic Lo defeats Nick Tung 2 - 1