Grand Prix Brisbane Day 1 Highlights

Posted in Event Coverage on February 18, 2017

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Brisbane is usually unbearably hot at this time of year – even the locals will admit that – but a gentle coastal breeze has taken the edge off the heat and left it merely at a balmy "really, really hot".

Well it turns out "Really, really hot" is perfect weather for Brisbanites to get out of their houses and head downtown to the Brisbane Convention Centre in Southbank for a spot of Magic between friends, which meant we more than doubled previous attendance record of 466 from 2013 with a whopping 966 players.


More players than you can shake a knife at. Or a spoon. We can tell the difference, you know.

A Metagame as Wide Open as the Outback Itself

The Grand Prix Trials held yesterday painted quite a varied picture of the Modern Metagame. Of the thirteen players who won byes playing Modern, there were ten distinct archetypes, and that trend continued throughout Day 1. Noted New Zealand player Zen Takahashi tweeted this out during Round 8:

Going into Round 9, the last round of Day 1, the top tables were: 3 Eldrazi Tron, 2 Elves, 2 Esper Control, Jund, Abzan, 4-Color Scapeshift Combo, Red-Green Tron, Goryo's Vengeance Combo, Bant Company, Sram'O's Combo, Lantern Control, and Dredge.

Whether this trend continues through Day 2 towards the Top 8 is anyone's guess, of course, but right now it's looking very promising for a diverse Top 8 and Top 32.

A Glimpse at a Rogue Brew

"Sven Restel says you should feature his Blue-Black Mill deck," the Scorekeeper called out to me.

"Sorry man, I only cover decks that are winning," I replied.

"He's 7-1 with it so far."

"I'll get my pen."

Sven Restel has been a long time member of the Australian competitive Magic Community, I know I've seen him at countless events in the last ten years or so I've been attending them. I asked Sven where he got the idea for this deck.

"Back before the last Grand Prix Brisbane in 2013, I saw someone playing a Blue-Black Mill deck in a casual tournament. They kept losing with it, but only just, so I thought the deck could work with some tuning. I took it to the Grand Prix and I finished 41st, and that was in a metagame much more hostile towards it than it is now because people could still play with Deathrite Shaman. The deck used to be Esper, but I kept developing it and it gradually became just Blue-Black. It plays a lot of under-appreciated cards. Things like Visions of Beyond are very good. I hear drawing 3 cards for 1 blue mana is considered very good," he laughed.


Sven Restel has been grinding out his opponents this weekend.

Will Sven keep winning with it? I know I'll be interested in finding out. His only loss so far has been to an Esper Delve deck. "If they just have Tasigur, the Golden Fang it can be ok, but he had Gurmag Angler as well and that made it tough. It made me wish I still had Path to Exile in the deck."

Sven managed to finish 8-1 on Day 1 with his Mill deck, and graciously allowed us to publish it early. "It's not a great deck in a smaller tournament where everyone sees it coming, but when you sit down against someone in a tournament of this size, they have no idea what they're in for."

Sven Restel's Blue-Black Mill – 8-1 Day 1 Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

Pro Team Series? Get the Sleeve for MTG Mint Card

After Pro Tour Aether Revolt in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, Team MTG Mint Card are perched on top of the leaderboard tied for first place with the Japanese powerhouse Team Musashi. No. 11 Lee Shi Tian leads MTG Mint Card, so I asked him if he imagined they would be in this spot so early in the season.

"The plan was to use the Pro Team Series to get Nam Sung Wook back on the Pro Tour again. He missed Gold by 1 point last season, so he was qualified for Dublin but nothing else. I had to ask everyone else in the team if they were ok with me including him in the roster.

"I didn't think we'd be on top of the leaderboard. I had hoped we could aim for Top 4 by the end of the season, but there are some great rosters competing. Japan's team (Musashi) is crazy, Channel Fireball's teams are crazy, Pantheon..."


Team MTG Mint Card: Yam Wing Chun (non-roster), Huang Hao-Shan, Lee Shi Tian, Kelvin Chew, Zen Takahashi (non-roster), and Jason Chung.

Can MTG Mint Card hold their lead for the rest of the year? Can they get Nam Sung Wook back on the Pro Tour? They're off to a good start, at least!

The Round 9 Shakedown

Coming into the last round of the day, six players remained undefeated. On table one Akito Shinoda squared off against Albern Catan, with Shinoda's Esper Delve deck beating Catan's Elves 2-1 to be the first match on the scoreboard. Over in the feature match area, Taufik Indrakesuma's Sram'O's Combo deck looked to be in a tight spot against Jonathan Asquith's Elves deck.

"You're about to watch me get beaten," Indrakesuma said, "and badly. This is not good for me," as he passed the turn back to Asquith. I walked to off to watch the remaining match, but found out not long after that Indrakesuma won the match anyway, and 2-0. "He attacked me for 11 that turn, but I drew Puresteel Paladin off the top and started playing equipment after equipment and he died," he said with a less-than-modest shrug.

On the other Feature Match table, Oliver Oks was piloting his trusty Lantern Control deck against Lee Shi Tian's Dredge deck. In Game 3, Oks was sheltering behind an Ensnaring Bridge while Lee endeavoured to Dredge away the bulk of his library. Time was called in the round.

"I don't think we're going to need the additional turns," Oks admitted to the gathered audience. Lee finally flipped over an Ancient Grudge with just two cards left in his library. The Bridge collapsed and Lee sent in his team, eliciting a chuckle and a handshake from Oks.


Oliver Oks can only watch as Lee Shi Tian Dredges up his entire library.

"They banned Golgari Grave-Troll, but I guess that wasn't enough," Lee laughed.

Going into Day 2

As the dust settled across the play area, and the cleaning staff took to the floor with their brooms to sweep up said dust, the original 966 players were now cut down to just 285. No doubt they would all be heading back to their homes and hotels to get a good night's rest before play resumes tomorrow. I can't imagine anything else they'd do in downtown Brisbane on a lovely summer's night like this, no sir.

Also making the cut to Day 2 are Zen Takahashi, Anthony Lee, Kelvin Chew, John-Paul Kelly, James Zhang, Jay Kinkade, Timothy Nolan, Huang Hao-Shan, Luke Mulcahy, David Mines, Matt Rogers, Maitland Cameron, Tomoharu Saito and look, it's a lot of people, ok? Great people. The best people! For everyone else, there's an endless supply of side events and things to see and do here at Grand Prix Brisbane, including a PTQ for Pro Tour Amonkhet and an Australian Highlander tournament where first prize is the much coveted Mox Emerald!

Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

Come on now, it'd be unfair to publish their decklists before Day 2 starts, wouldn't it? I know, I know, you want to see Indrakesuma's cool Sram'O's Combo deck, or Lee's Dredge deck, and even Shinoda's Esper Delve list, but so do all of their Day 2 opponents, so bear with us and we promise to post them as the last round starts tomorrow, ok? I promise. Pinky promise, even.


Lee Shi Tian, Akito Shinoda, and Taufik Indrakesuma are five plus four plus zero... The math checks out.

See? I told you I wouldn’t let you down. Here are the 9-0 decklists from Day 1. As I type this, I have no idea whether they’ll also be in the Top 8, but this post will at least be updated around an hour before the Top 8 is announced, so if they do, you can consider it a sneak peek.

Akito Shinoda's Esper Delve - 9-0 Day 1 Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

Lee Shi Tian's Dredge - 9-0 Day 1 Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

Taufik Indrakesuma's Sram'O's Combo- 9-0 Day 1 Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

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