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Grand Prix Melbourne
Day 1 Blog

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  • Saturday, 3:39 p.m. – Sealed Trial Winner Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff







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  • Saturday, 3:39 p.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winners
    by Event Coverage Staff







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  • Saturday, 3:46 p.m. – Vintage Winner Decklist
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Australia has a strong Vintage scene, and with well-respected Vintage aficionado Luis Scott-Vargas attending the Grand Prix, a special side event was held on Friday to allow our local talent to face off against the overseas challenger.

    After several rounds of play, the dust settled to reveal a somewhat unexpected winner: Matthew Pohlen claimed the title with a mono-White deck that raised eyebrows on its way to victory, knocking LSV out in the Top 4:



     

  • Saturday, 3:55 p.m. – Deck Construction with LSV
    by Pip Foweraker
  • Luis Scott-Vargas, Magic powerhouse and global adventurer, has spent the last week relaxing with his wife in Melbourne. Under an arrangement with a local game chain, Good Games, LSV has been running deck-building workshops and shuffling cards against local players over the last few days. In his spare time, LSV's been enjoying Australia's many tourist-friendly attractions, and relishing the opportunity to settle in and eat some decent, home-cooked meals, a rarity for the avid traveller.

    LSV walked away from building his deck with a wry smile on his face. Intrigued, I pulled him aside and asked about his deck. He fanned out three cards and showed them to me: Griptide, Stromkirk Patrol, and Ranger's Guile.

    "I think this sums up my deck pretty well", he sighed.

    Not the droids he was looking for.

    A series of difficult choices had presented themselves during deck building. Despite opening a fairly impressive Dragon, neither red nor white were viable options. The remaining three colours, LSV sighed, were a mess. In the end, he had to settle for an ugly-looking G/B concoction splashing heavily for some tempo-gaining opportunities.

    "Ideally, I've built my deck with a low enough curve that I can get ahead in the early turns of the game, then concentrate on disruption until I get there." While most players are happy to be running Tracker's Instincts, ironically, it can't actually find most of the good cards in his deck. "I have to run it anyway", said LSV, "And if things don't work out, well, there's always another deck waiting in the sideboard."


     

  • Saturday, 4:22 p.m. – Sealed Deck with Jeremy Neeman
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Five years ago, if you had asked anyone who the undisputed, best Magic player in Australia was, you'd would have received a bunch of "ummm," "errr," and "is there even?" answers. These days, it's a different story. Not only did Jeremy Neeman win the last two Australian GP's, he also top 8'd PT San Juan in 2010, amongst a very steady stream of respectable Pro Tour finishes.

    Neeman's preparation for this event however, was somewhat less than usual. "The last six weeks have all been about Med School," he admitted, "I probably can't be a serious Magic player forever." Will this leave the door open for someone to dethrone the King? They'll have to get past his sealed deck first.


    "The cards that stood out first were Mayor of Avabruck, and Devil's Play. However, green is more of a support color here," he explained, motioning towards his less than spectacular team of almosts and not quites. "If I had some Travel Preparations or Avacyn's Pilgrims, maybe I could go something Green/White, but it's unexciting. White and Blue are my main color options, and Green and Red are my support colors."

    Going over his Red, Neeman revealed a Geistflame and a pair of Fires of Undeath to go with his Devil's Play, so it was no secret which of the support colors was making the cut, and which was hanging out with the rules tips cards in his sideboard. His white was quite good, "but White/Red sucks. It's just some small guys, and some more small guys with removal for small guys."

    This left Blue, which featured a Stormbound Geist, a Tower Geist, a Thought Scour, a Dream Twist, two Silent Departure, a bevy of other flashback spells, and a Secrets of the Dead. "I think it'll work," Neeman allowed with a smile.

    But will it? We'll check back with him later today to find out.


     

  • Feature Match - Round 4 – Maitland Cameron vs Luke Mulcahy
    by Pip Foweraker
  • Both opponents sat down and immediately started trash-talking each other in that friendly way that Australians do so well. Cameron made the Worlds team on his first Nationals in 2011. Mulcahy hit the Top 4 of Grand Prix: Brisbane in the same year, and managed a 15th place finish at PT: San Diego.

    Mulcahy led the action with a Silverchase Fox, while Cameron had a Black Cat to answer. A Thraben Heretic from Mulcahy wasn't quite fast enough to clear out Cameron's graveyard, allowing him to get his Black Cat killed and summon a Headless Skaab.

    Cameron summoned a Civilised Scholar. Mulcahy responded with the Angel of Flight Alabaster. "You don't have anything in your graveyard, right?" Mulcahy smiled and nodded at his Hollowhenge Spirit, which he'd discarded to Cameron's Black Cat. Cameron summoned a Bloodline Keeper, the powerful vampire earning a frown from Mulcahy, who could only come back with a Skirsdag Flayer.

    A Murder of Crows filled the skies for Cameron, but didn't attack into the Angel. Both armies stared each other down. Cameron's Civilised Scholar and Bloodline Keeper pushed him ahead in terms of cards and creatures, while Mulcahy tried to keep pace.

    Mulcahy attacked with his Hollowhenge Spirit, then pumped it with a Moment of Heroism to take down Cameron's Murder of Crows. Cameron relentlessly grew his army of vampires through the Keeper, which flipped.

    Mulcahy, left, struggles to maintain control against his opponent's relentless punning.

    'I'm feeling murderous', crowed Cameron, as he summoned a second copy of the powerful flier, his Vampires beating down relentlessly. Thanks to his Angel of Flight Alabaster, Mulcahy was able to recur and block with his Hollowhenge Spirit once more. When Cameron had a Midnight Banshee, Mulcahy headed for his sideboard.

    Maitland Cameron 1 – Luke Mulcahy 0

    Mulcahy opened play with a Dawntreader Elk, which Cameron promptly killed with a Dead Weight. Mulcahy followed up with a Loyal Cathar, while Cameron accelerated off a Deranged Assistant into a Murder of Crows.

    Mulcahy, undaunted, summoned Thraben Heretic and a Travel Preparations on both his creatures and attacked. Cameron blocked the Heretic with his Murder of Crows, and Mulcahy's Heretic had a Moment of Heroism to see him safely through combat, netting Mulcahy 5 life in the process. Cameron used a Ghoulcaller's Chant to return and re-play his Murder, although Mulcahy's Preparations loomed large indeed.

    A Gallows Warden for Mulcahy was answered by a Walking Corpse from Cameron, who looked less than impressed at the relative strengths in their two creatures. Mulcahy flashbacked his Preparations and attacked with two 4/4's, the Warden and Cathar. The Crows jumped in front of the Warden, while Cameron filled his graveyard with his Deranged Assistant but had no plays on his turn. The Walking Corpse blocked Mulcahy's Cathar, and Cameron put its death to good use by summoning a Headless Skaab while the Heretic was safely out of commission. Cameron was running low on time, falling to 5 life points on Mulcahy's next swing.

    Bloodline Keeper showed up for Cameron. "That's how I win games", he said, but looked less confident than previously. Mulcahy assessed his options "I hope you got some photos of me looking pensive, because I'm about to lose", asserted Cameron.

    This is about as pensive as Australian players get.

    Mulcahy played a Gavony Township, and both players put a temporary halt to their banter as Mulcahy declared an attack with all his creatures. Cameron's Bloodline Keeper blocked the Angel, and Skaab blocked the Cathar. The Keeper tapped to generate a smaller vampire, the Township pumped everyone, and a Tragic Slip from Cameron and Faith's Shield from Mulcahy resulted in a messy combat step. When the dust settled, Cameron looked liked he'd stabilised... Until Garruk Relentless turned up.

    Luke Mulcahy 1- Maitland Cameron 1

    Mulcahy led off with a Lingering Souls. "$@%#!", muttered Cameron, before tapping out on his fourth turn to summon a Bloodline Keeper, prompting Mulcahy to pronounce some punctuation of his own. Mulcahy's flashbacked Souls and a Thraben Heretic all swept into combat. Reluctantly, Cameron blocked one of the fliers, leaving himself seemingly exposed to a trick from Mulcahy.

    "What's going on here?"
    "I'm going to flash in all the vampires."

    Mulcahy flashed in his Hollowhenge, saving one of his attacking tokens. Cameron summoned a Deranged Assistant and passed, leaving mana open. Mulcahy shrugged and attacked with his team.

    All the vampires? Sounds un-good.

    Briarpack Alpha flashed in to pump the bat being blocked b the Keeper, but Cameron had an Undying Evil to bring him back. Cameron tapped out to summon a Stromkirk Patrol. Mulcahy had a Travel Preparations for two of his tokens, and then flashed it back to pump two more. Cameron blocked two attackers, stacking vampires to block one token and killing off the Heretic with his Stromkirk patrol. Mulcahy had an Ambush Viper, but Cameron powered up with a Geralf's Mindcrusher and a Chosen of Markov. Time was called, and both players settled in to consider a complex gamestate.

    Cameron attack with his vampire tokens. Mulcahy double-blocked one of the attacking tokens, let the Keeper flip, and Rebuked the other attacking token without taking any damage. Cameron summoned a Black Cat and a Civilised Scholar before passing. Mulcahy summoned a Loyal Cathar, and blinked in surprise when Cameron spent a few moments on his next turn rearranging his creatures. "I'm a very visual thinker", Cameron admitted.

    Cameron declared an attack with two of the impressive 4/4 Vampires, a Mindcrusher, and Markov's Minion, leaving Mulcahy's army dwindling rapidly. He assigned blockers , took a whole bunch of damage from a bunch of bloodthirsty vampires, and and died on Cameron's next attack, his final turn of extra time.

    Maitland Cameron 2 – Luke Mulcahy 1


     

  • Saturday, 5:22 p.m. – Round 5 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Where do you play Magic?

    Aaron Nicoll Anatoli Lightfoot Garry Wong
    "Good Games, Dandenong." "Mind Games, Canberra." "Good Games, Sydney."
    Luis Scott-Vargas Maitland Cameron Luke Mulcahy
    "Channel Fireball, San Jose." "Area 52, Hobart." "Games Laboratory, Melbourne."

     

  • Feature Match - Round 6 – Brett Hughes vs Luis Scott-Vargas
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Luis Scott-Vargas is, you could say, well known in the World of Magic. So much so, local store Good Games Dandenong has flown him out here for the event. Brett Hughes is not as well known, but last time the Grand Prix circuit rolled through Melbourne, he stood tall as one of the top 8.

    LSV got off to an intimidating start with a second turn Highborn Ghoul. Hughes waited for it to attack him before trying to Tragically Slip it, only to be thwarted by a Spidery Grasp. "You probably should have done that earlier," LSV chided.

    Hughes played a Niblis of the Breath, but LSV again went one better with Garruk Relentless. Hughes flashed in a Nephalia Seakite to kill the Planeswalker, and assembled a Galvanic Juggernaut. LSV cashed in a Dawntreader Elk to let a Tragic Slip give the Juggernaut the full -13/-13, and attacking Hughes down to 10 with his Ghoul.

    Luis Scott-Vargas, sporting his custom Australian flag Channel Fireball t-shirt.

    Mausoleum Guard looked like it might give Hughes some value, especially considering Grimgrin, Corpse-Born he followed it up with. LSV cast a Vengeful Vampire, but was soon losing his team to the lumbering Zombie Warrior. When Hughes failed to stop drawing and playing food for Grimgrin, LSV swiped up his cards.

    Hughes 1 – LSV 0

    "If I can't win on my best possible draw, I'm not sure it bodes well for me," Lsv joked as they shuffled. "It was probably one of my best draws, too" Hughes replied with a smile.

    Reap the Seagraf gave LSV the first play of Game 2, while Hughes made a pair of Lingering Souls. Garruk Relentless ate one of them, while Hughes, stuck on three land, none of which were a swamp, tried to keep the Planeswalker under control with the remaining Spirit Token. Hughes continued to try to connect with Garruk, but LSV continued to fend off the attacks, punching a Niblis of the Mist out of the sky with Spidery Grasp.

    With a steady stream of Wolf Tokens, LSV was in the driving seat, adding a Stromkirk Patrol to his team. When he went to flash back his Reap the Seagraf, Hughes waved him away with "no, it's alright," and they began shuffling for Game 3.

    Hughes 1 – LSV 1

    LSV threw away his opening hand in the decider, despite it having a Curse of Death's Hold. "I'll mulligan to Garruk," he announced with a smile, before keeping his 6.

    Hughes had no plays in Game 3 all the way up to his turn five Grimgrin. LSV had already settled into a nice rhythm, attacking with some 2/2's, so Hughes was nearing single digits. Hughes cast a Farbog Boneflinger to take out a Tower Geist, before feeding it to Grimgrin, who proceeded to chew up LSV's Chosen of Markov and bash its owner to 13.

    Brett Hughes and Grimgrin, what a team.

    LSV attacked Hughes down to 10 with his last 2/2, the Dawntreader Elk, and cast a Vengeful Vampire. Niblis of the Mist tapped the Vampire, before untapping Grimgrin. Grimgrin and a Tragic Slip swatted the undying Vampire out of the air for good, and LSV fell to 4 life. LSV attacked again with his Elk, before dropping two more 2/2's. Hughes cast Unburial Rites on his Boneflinger to take out LSV's two blockers, and he was done.

    "Sometimes I draw my combo," Hughes shrugged with a smile.

    Brett Hughes defeats Luis Scott-Vargas 2-1


     

  • Saturday, 6:57 p.m. – Round 7 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • What's in the Helvault?

    Dan Unwin Jeremy Neeman Luis Scott-Vargas
    "Jeremy Neeman’s love of meat. He’s gone vegan, and I share a house with him. I have to keep trying to slip sausages into everything I cook." "Sorin’s Spice Girls CD collection." "“Team GP’s."
    Luke Mulcahy Gene Brumby Antti Malin
    "My GP win." "Hellfire plus Time Vault." "Unhinged boosters!"

     

  • Feature Match - Round 7 – Luis Scott-Vargas vs Jeremy Neeman
    by Pip Foweraker
  • The two acknowledged titans of the tournament had their feature match announced to a wave of deafening applause. The last time, to my knowledge, that these two faced off on Australian soil was in the finals of Grand Prix Sydney, so they have a great respect for each other's abilities.

    Both players were happy to lay lands for the first few turns of the game, with LSV casting a Reap the Seagraf. Neeman responded with a Forbidden Alchemy into a Galvanic Juggernaut. The Juggernaut was taken down by a Briarpack Alpha, and Neeman had a Silent Departure for LSV's Zombie token and a follow-up Tower Geist.

    LSV cranked it up a notch with a Garruk Relentless, which arm-wrestled the Geist into the graveyard. Neeman used a Fires of Undeath on Garruk to clear the board. The players went back-and-forth with creatures, bounce and removal a few times without either party gaining a clear advantage, but then LSV cast a Curse of Death's Hold that swung the game his way. Neeman, finally out of options, scooped up his cards.

    Luis Scott-Vargas 1 – Jeremy Neeman 0

    Luis Scott-Vargas

    Both payers start out early with transform cards, LSV with a Wolfbitten Captive, Neeman with a Hinterland Hermit. Both players kept up the pace and raced each other, LSV Reaping the Seagraf and Neeman casting a Selhoff Occultist. Both players repeatedly declined to block, falling to 15 apiece.

    Neeman used a Forbidden Alchemy to drop a Geistflame into his graveyard, both players leaving their creatures back on defence. Neeman powered ahead in cards with a Think Twice, and flashed it back after LSV declined to play any spells.

    Silent Departure on LSV's token proved a good answer, as did Neeman's followup Galvanic Juggernaut, flipping LSV's werewolf back to a Wolfbitten Captive. LSV summoned a Tower Geist and a Highborn Ghoul. Neeman flashed back his Geistflame to kill the Captive after attacking with his team.

    Neeman attacked, and both players unleashed a barrage of tricks. LSV flashed in a Briarpack Alpha. Neeman had his Touch of Undeath. LSV shook off the damage with a Prey Upon post-combat and a Silent Departure on the Juggernaut.

    Neeman replayed his Juggernaut and a Basset Wolves, while LSV had an Orchard Spirit, a Dawntreader Elk, and the flashback on his Reap the Seagraf to even the battlefield out. Neeman Neeman attacked with both his creatures, and the Elk bravely sacrificed itself in front of the Juggernaut, while the Alpha and Wolves traded. Neeman summoned a Stormbound Geist and passed.

    LSV drew his card, looked through Neeman's graveyard, and summoned a Garruk Relentless, who brought a Wolf along with him. Neeman shrugged and attacked LSV's life points directly, ignoring the Planeswalker and crashing through the air with his Geist.

    LSV grew another wolf and passed. When Neeman looked through his graveyard and started doing math, LSV realised he was his Wolf was dead to a flashbacked Touch of Undeath, and shuffled up for the decider.

    Jeremy Neeman 1 – Luis Scott-Vargas 1

    Jeremy Neeman

    LSV began play with a Dawntreader Elk. Neeman had a Torch Devil to keep pace, but LSV had a Hunter's Guile to keep his ungulate alive and kicking when the two clashed in combat. Neeman upped the stakes with a Stormbound Geist, which LSV countered with a Tower Geist. Playing to his curve, Neeman summoned a Basset Wolves, which promptly Silently Departed moments later. Neeman had an Occultist, while LSV was content to sit back and summon a Vengeful Vampire.

    LSV found and played his Curse of Death's Hold, but Neeman ladened his graveyard with the milling from his Occultist. Sensing weakness, LSV began the beatdown, his Vampire and Geist knocking Neeman down in bite-sized nibbles. Neeman flashed back his Fires of Undeath to kill off the Geist, leaving him racing against the Vampire. Garruk joined Curse of Death's Hold on LSV's side of the board, creating a challenge indeed for Neeman.

    Neeman used his Silent Departure on the Vampire and attacked with his Geist, and LSV just swung back for more. Neeman, math checked, had a Devil's Play for an 8, leaving LSV short of victory before he could flash the powerful sorcery back for the win.

    Jeremy Neeman 2 – Luis Scott-Vargas 1


     

  • Saturday, 7:18 p.m. – Round 8 - Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • What was your mana base today?

    John-Paul Kelly Tim Fondum Isaac Egan
    "9 Plains, 6 Swamp, 1 Mountain, 1 Shimmering Grotto." "1 Haunted Fengraf, 1 Swamp, 8 Mountain, 7 Forest, 1 Traveler’s Amulet, 1 Dawntreader Elk. The Fengraf was a mistake, it should have been another Swamp." "7 Mountain, 7 Island, 1 Plains, 1 Evolving Wilds, 1 Traveler’s Amulet."
    Gene Brumby Luke Mulcahy Dan Unwin
    "1 Swamp, 8 Plains, 7 Island, 1 Traveler’s Amulet, 1 Lingering Souls." "8 Forest, 6 Plains, 2 Swamp, 1 Gavony Township, 1 Evolving Wilds. It should have been 7 Forest, 7 Plains, though." "8 Island, 8 Swamp, 1 Mountain, 1 Evolving Wilds. And my sideboarded deck was 8 Forest, 7 Mountain, 1 Evolving Wilds, 1 Swamp."

     

  • Feature Match - Round 8 – Ian Wood vs Tzu Ching Kuo
    by Pip Foweraker
  • Wood led with Avacynian Priest, Kuo with a Doomed Traveler and a Village Ironsmith. Wood had a second Priest to slow the game down, potentially at the cost of tying up his mana. Kuo continued to curve out with a Riot Devils, but had no attacks.

    Wood had to Think Twice before playing a land and passing, Kuo summoned a Selfless Cathar. And, after Wood tapped down his Devils, got in for 2 with his smaller attackers. Wood attacked with a singleton Priest before summoning a Chapel Geist.

    Wood had a Beguiler of Wills, which gave Kuo pause. He attacked with his team minus an Ironfang, and the Geist blocked Kuo's Doomed Traveler. Kuo had a Rally the Peasants, and did the math, and flashed it back. Wood took 11 from the two unblocked creatures and lost his Geist, but then used his Beguiler to take Kuo's untapped Spirit token. Wood then passed with two cards in hand and a whole host of untapped land, signifying trouble for Kuo.

    Kuo summoned a Slayer of the Wicked and an Elder Cathar. Wood had an Armored Skaab. With Wood's rapidly mounting defence and the ability to steal all of Kuo's creatures, the players headed to game 2 in short order.

    Kuo feels the pressure.

    Ian Wood 1 – Tzu Ching Kuo 0

    Both players removed the others' early creatures, but eventually Kuo got a Skirsdag Flayer to stick... Long enough for Wood to Dungeon Geists it. Kuo had a Brimstone Volley – the life expectancy of creatures in this game was exactly 0.75 turns – and Wood decided to get ahead by simply playing more men, summoning an Armored Skaab and a Niblis of the Urn. Kuo equipped his Flayer with a Wolfhunter's Quiver and killed the Niblis, but Wood had a Silverclaw Griffin to replace it.

    Wood suited up his Skaab with a Silver-Inlaid Dagger and attacked with his team. Kuo blocked with his Flayer and had a Skillful Lunge to kill off the Skaab. Wood continued to upgrade his creatures with a Soul Seizer, while Kuo's Flayer was starting to look lonely sitting on the ground with nobody to beat up.

    Kuo had a Sever the Bloodline to deal with the Soul Seizer, but Wood had another rPriest and an Elgaud Inquisitor to keep the pressure up. Kuo summoned a Doomed Traveler, while Wood kept the pressure on by equipping his guy to the dagger and declaring an attack.

    Kuo sacrificed his traveler to kill off the Griffin, and netted himself a Spirit token in the process. Wood summoned a Lantern Spirit, Kuo's life total slowly dropping has Kuo tried to keep parity. As fast as Kuo seemed able to kill off Wood's creatures, Wood replaced them.

    Wood eventually got sick of his creatures being pinged to death, and found a Wolfhunter's Quiver of his own to deal with the troublesome Flayer. Kuo recovered with a Mentor of the Meek, an Elder Cathar, and a Travel Preparations to put them both out of harm's way.

    With multiple creatures on the board for the first time all game, Kuo was able to claw out a lead. With flashback looming on his Travel Preparations and Sever the Bloodlines, the games were evened at one apiece.

    Tzu Ching Kuo 1 – Ian Wood 1

    Wood gets his beguile on.

    Kuo raced out of the gates for the decider with a Doomed Traveler and a Young Wolf. Wood summoned an Avacynian Priest, while Kuo kept accelerating with a Gather the Townsfolk. Ku used a flashed-in Briarpack Alpha to pump one of his attacking tokens, keen on dropping Woods' life total as rapidly as possible.

    Wood tapped out to summon a Beguiler of Wills, leaving himself vulnerable if Kuo had a Rally the Peasants. Kuo attacked with his team, but didn't have any pump spells, dropping Wood to 7 before he summoned a Flayer, which the Beguiler promptly stole.

    Wood shored up his defence with a Silverclaw Griffin and a Spectral Rider, continuing to pinch all of Kuo's creatures, while Kuo kept playing stoically. Were there outs he was digging to? Wood didn't give us, or Kuo, the chance to find out.

    Ian Wood 2 – Tzu Ching Kuo 1


     

  • Saturday, 8:21 p.m. – GP Melbourne Undefeated Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff



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