Top 5 Moments of Grand Prix Brisbane

Posted in Event Coverage on February 19, 2017

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

What a weekend it's been here at the Brisbane Convention Centre in downtown Southbank. Smack bang in the middle of the "unbearably hot" season, the weather cooperated well enough that most players were only completely sweltering in the heat if they dared to step foot outside of the venue.

With so much going on here this weekend, it's difficult to narrow down the top 5 moments for everybody, but here's what stood out to me.

5. The Opposite of a Topdeck, in a way

As time was called in the last round of Day 1, we were still waiting on the result of a match between Oliver Oks and No. 11 Lee Shi Tian to find out who our undefeated players were. They had each won a game and were in the decider. Oks' Lantern Control deck had a single Ensnaring Bridge in play holding off a sprawling army of reanimated bodies from Lee's Dredge deck.

With a bunch of land in play already, Lee was dredging cards over and over, flashing back Faithless Lootings and sacrificing Insolent Neonates to dredge back Stinkweed Imps and Life from the Loams again and again. As he got closer and closer to the bottom of his library, the bevy of Codex Shredders on Oks' side of the battlefield were poised to finish Lee off if he at all considered passing the turn back to Oks.

"I don't think we're going to need those extra turns," Oks joked with the gathered crowd.

Glancing over at the Shredders, Lee dredged a Life from the Loam one last time. Four cards left in his library, three cards, and then two, the last card revealed off the dredge was an Ancient grudge.

Oks laughed heartily as Lee flashed back the Grudge to take out the Ensnaring Bridge, and extended his hand to congratulate his opponent.

Digging to the very bottom of his deck, Lee Shi Tian pulls out the win against Oliver Oks.

4. Less of a Metagame and more of an Endless Catalogue of Awesome Decks

Sometimes a Metagame can be shallow and other times it can be deep, and then there's weekends like this where you could almost swear every single person was playing a different deck from the last.

Deck Spotlight – Anthony Lee's Modern Copy Cat Combo

Prior to Pro Tour Aether Revolt, like many of the other teams, MTG Mind Card together with MTG Bent Card tested the Copy Cat combo between Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian and concluded it was not a great choice for a Standard tournament.

"The problem is Standard is all about maximising your interaction with your opponent," Anthony Lee explained. "You're always looking for ways to disrupt what your opponent is doing, like when they try to crew vehicles, and so on. But Modern is about minimising those interactions. It's more about ignoring your opponent and trying to something big before they do."

Lee thinks Jason Chung was probably the first person to try building the deck in Modern, or maybe the idea came to Chung from Ondřej Stráský first. "Jason and Ondřej are always the first to try something weird, it's what they do.

Anthony Lee thinks the Standard Copy Cat Combo is better suited for Modern.

"You need to be proactive with this deck, it's almost more Midrange than Combo. You advance your board until you get to 6 lands and you can play Guardian, exiling a land, and then Saheeli. I think it's a mistake to play it reactively or to try to play cards like Cryptic Command."

Lee finished Day 1 at 8-1 with the deck and joked with his friends that he'd made Day 2 of a Modern Grand Prix with a Standard deck, but as you can see below, he's most definitely playing some Modern cards along with his Standard combo. Lee finished the tournament in 28th place.

Anthony Lee's Copy Cat Combo - Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

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Deck Spotlight – Dylan Brown's Esper Planeswalkers

"I started out this weekend 1-2 with no byes," Dylan Brown told me gleefully, "but I haven't lost a match since then!"

I've known Dylan for some time now, and he always knows how to get my attention. Often seen playing some unusual out-of-the-box brew – like that time when he played a 4-Color Séance deck at Grand Prix Auckland back in 2012 – he's always worth checking in with at any given constructed tournament. I asked where he'd found this particular deck.

"I saw someone post an Esper Planeswalkers deck on a local Facebook group a few weeks ago and started tweaking it. I was pretty happy with it, but the last thing I changed was go up to 4 Liliana, of the Veil, which was perfect. Isaac Egan suggested that change, and he was absolutely right.

"I lost in Round 1 to a Lantern Control deck and then beat Grixis Control, and then lost to an Affinity deck that played Bad Moon on turn 1. Like, oooookay, you do you, dude," Brown laughed. "Then I haven't lost since. My deck is really, really good against any deck that's Black-Green-X or Control. They have all of this creature removal and nothing they can really use it on except Lingering Souls tokens. People also really don't respect Narset, Transcendent. Narset hits so many cards in my deck and they just let me keep going with it.

"I haven't lost a game against Abzan at all, and I think I'm running into all of those now that I'm in the X-2 bracket. One of my opponents accidentally dropped a Twilight Mire out of their deck while shuffling for Game 1 and I was like, yes a bye!"

Dylan Brown and his trusty Planeswalker chums.

I asked Brown what the deck was weak against. "It is not good against Tron or Valakut Combo. Anything that cares about its lands, really. But the field seems so varied this weekend that it shouldn't be too hard to dodge them. I'm going to keep winning man, I'm going to make it to the Top 8."

And Dylan Brown did keep winning, and he kept stopping in to tell me about it every round, too, and I love it when it does that, his enthusiasm is infectious. All the way to Round 15, where he was 12-2 but unfortunately lost his "win and in" against eventual finalist Zen Takahashi. Despite finishing on the same number of points as James Larsen-Scott, who snuck into the Top 8 in 8th seed, Brown finished in 21st place, thanks to his very unfortunate tiebreakers.

Dylan Brown's Esper Planeswalkers - Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

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3. The Australian 7 Point Highlander Tournament

There are many ways to play Magic outside of our usual tournament formats, and people are coming up with new and fun ways all the time. There can be regional differences in how people challenge each other, too, and Australia has been home to one such format for over 20 years – Australian 7 Point Highlander.

Players build 60 card decks with no more than 1 of any card that isn't a basic land, which may sound a lot like a Vintage deck to most people, so many of the more powerful cards have points values assigned to them, and you can then only have a combined 7 points worth of cards in your deck. For example, Force of Will is worth 1 point, and Black Lotus is worth 4 points. Interestingly enough, Canada has a similar format where they build 100 cards decks with a 10 point system.

It's a long standing tradition that at least one if not more of the side events at any given Australian event be a 7 Point Highlander event, and Grand Prix Brisbane is no exception. Today there was a 7 Point Highlander tournament where first prize was a rare and very sought after Mox Emerald!

While the Grand Prix Top 8 was getting started, I tracked down the winner of the Mox, Richard Owen, who did so with his Blue-Black Storm Combo deck.

Richard Owen won a Mox Emerald in a side event earlier today.

Richard Owen's Blue-Black Storm – 1st Place, Win a Mox Tournament

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2. MTG Mint Card Breaks the Format

Earlier this week, Zen Takahashi was convinced he was going to play a Red Burn deck this weekend, but was getting increasingly frustrated with his inability to win with it, so he turned to MTG Mint Card's team captain, Lee Shi Tian and begged him to break the format again. With several Modern Pro Tour Top 8's to his name, Lee Shi Tian is no stranger to figuring out this format, but where he went with it this time I don't think anyone expected.

"I figured with Golgari Grave-Troll banned, people wouldn't sideboard against Dredge anymore," Lee explained, "and it turned out that it's still very good, even without Grave-Troll."

Lee entered the Top 8 in first place this weekend, and Takahashi wasn't far behind in fourth place. The pair faced off in the Semifinals and Takahashi emerged victorious to advance to the Finals, where he succumbed to Oliver Oks' Lantern Control deck, which did include at least some sideboard cards against Dredge.

Playing Dredge worked out very well for Zen Takahashi and Lee Shi Tian.

The only difference between Lee and Takahashi's decklists were the Red fetchlands. Lee had 4 Wooded Foothills and 3 Bloodstained Mire, while Takahashi had 2 Wooded Foothills, 2 Bloodstained Mire, and 3 Arid Mesa. Considering all of their fetchable lands were Mountains, it seems silly to call that a difference at all!

Lee Shi Tian's Dredge – Top 4, Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

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1. An Australian Magic Veteran Finally Finishes First

Oliver Oks has been no stranger to the Australian Magic scene for as long as I've been involved with it, and I've been hanging around these events with my laptop and camera for well over a decade. Often seen near the top tables, Oks has 3 Grand Prix Top 8's to his name – Melbourne in 2012, Stockholm in 2007, and Singapore in 2005, and as many Top 16's to match. However, Oks has never come away with the trophy before this today, and the look of shock on his face after winning Game 3 of the Finals this evening, as it slowly dawned on him that he had finally won a Grand Prix was priceless. I feel honoured to have been sitting next to him at the time to see it.

Congratulations Oli, you've earned it!

Get you someone who looks at you the way Oliver Oks looks at his GP trophy.

Oliver Oks' Lantern Control – Winner, Grand Prix Brisbane 2017

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