The sun had long set and the Eldritch Moon was rising over Sydney Olympic Park as GP Sydney drew to a close. Only two competitors remained; Scott Lipp, from Kansas City, and Jan Ksandr, from Prague.
Lipp went 8-0-1 in Day 1, and had spent Day 2 drafting green and white decks to finish 12-0-3, technically undefeated at the end of the Swiss rounds. A couple of months ago he'd lost to top-ranked Seth Mansfield in the Semi-Finals of Grand Prix New York; now he'd avenged that loss and taken team East-West Bowl to the finals. Winning GP Sydney would mean Lipp would lock up Gold for the season without having to go 11-4 at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.
Lipp had drafted a Green/White Humans deck, with several mid-level commons and uncommons, including two Prey Upons, an Extricator of Sin and Courageous Outrider. His sole rare was a Lupine Prototype, with a Tamiyo's Journal in the sideboard.
"The draft did not go well," Lipp said before the quarter-finals began, "I didn't open very good packs for my colours. I'm not very happy."
On the other hand, Ksandr's deck was filled with bombs, including Tamiyo, Field Researcher; Emrakul, the Promise End; Voldaren Pariah; Nephalia Moondrakes; and Dark Salvation. All Ksandr needed to do was stay alive long enough and the tide of the game would certainly turn his way.
Ksandr, a young student from Prague, had qualified for Pro Tour Eldritch Moon through a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier. He'd taken advantage of the travel to Australia to attend GP Sydney as well, navigating a field of Pro Tour players and Hall of Famers to finish the Swiss rounds at 13-2. The question now was; could he stay alive long enough against Lipp's aggressive deck?
Lipp started off curving out perfectly, summoning Noose Constrictor, Bloodbriar and Backwoods Survivalists in successive turns. Ksandr cast a Thraben Gargoyle and Gavony Unhallowed but refused to trade his creatures. It became clear why when, on Turn 5, he cast Dark Salvation to create two zombie tokens and kill the Backwood Survivalists (with the help of additional zombie of Gavony Unhallowed). Lipp continued to build his ground forces, but there was no gaps in Ksandr's zombie armour. Lipp used an Intrepid Provisioner to pump his Courageous Outrider; Ksandr simply blocked with a Stitchwing Skaab to prevent the damage.
At the end of turn Ksandr used the Skaab's discard ability to put Emrakul, the Promised End into the graveyard and then, clearly under Liliana's influence, used Rise from the Grave to zombify the enormous Eldrazi. Lipp held out another turn to witness Ksandr cast a follow-up Tamiyo, Field Researcher, then Lipp conceded.
Ksandr 1 - Lipp 0
Lipp started off behind in Game 2, mulliganing to six cards before the game had begun. However Lipp found ways to spend his mana each turn, pushish his small advantage of being on the play; first a Cultist's Staff, then a Drogskol Shieldmate, next a Bloodbriar. In opposition, Ksandr was doing very little, summoning a Skirksdag Supplicant and nothing else.
Lipp rushed the Bloodbrair and Drogskol Captain into battle. Ksandr blocked with the vampire and the two players traded a Strength of Arms for a Borrowed Malevolence, leaving both creatures alive and creating a soldier token for Lipp. Lipp finished the turn constructing a Lupine Prototype.
Ksandr cast a Stitchwing Skaab, a card that had been over-performing in the control deck. Lipp summoned an Extricator of Sin, sacrificing his soldier to upgrade it to a 3/2 eldrazi, then smashed his team in. Ksandr fell further and further behind until he conceded.
Ksandr 1 - Lipp 1
Ksandr took hold of the early game, smoothing his draws with Nagging Thoughts and killing Lipp's Lone Rider with Borrowed Malevolence. However Lipp quickly recovered, flashing in a Drogskol Shieldmate and forcing through damage. Lipp followed up with a Courageous Outrider, searching for a human on the top of his library, and choosing to keep an Extricator of Sin over an Intrepid Provisioner.
Ksandr started building towards both Emrakul, the Promised End and Tamiyo, Field Researcher, using a Crow of Dark Tidings to fill his graveyard and preparing his mana with a Terrarion. Lipp, realising side was not on his side, went even more aggressive, casting an Extricator of Sin and sacrificing a land to create a 3/2, then following up with a Lupine Prototype the same turn.
Ksandr cast Tamiyo, tapping down the Outrider and Shieldmate; however Lipp was holding two Strength of Arms and a Luminarc Mantle and able to empty his hand if he chose. Instead, the American played more cautiously. He cast Lunarch Mantle on the Eldrazi Token and attacked with it and the Extricator of Sin. Ksandr blocked with the Crow of Dark Tidings, which was finished off by a Strength of Arms.
With Tamiyo dead and his battlefield clear, Ksandr was against the wall. He attempted to kill the Lupine Prototype with a Root Out, but Lipp used the Lunarch Mantle to sacrifice it in response in order to prevent Ksandr from gaining a Clue Token. Ksandr passed the turn. Lipp attacked into Ksandr's empty board and it was all over; Lipp had won.
Ksandr 1 - Lipp 2