(Metagame Archives) We’re Coming: A Look at Vs. Down Under

By Scott Hunstad

The Australian Vs. System scene is growing. Fast. Upper Deck is doing a bang-up job promoting the game in Australia, and the results are promising. More and more of our hardcore gamers are joining the Vs. System ranks every day. Most of the major cities hold regular events and some, like Sydney, host multiple drafts/tournaments each week. Last month saw the first of what promises to be many $10k events in Australia/New Zealand, and at 81 players, the turnout was better than expected. People travelled from all over Australia and New Zealand to participate.

We’re keen. Very, very keen.

As a quick introduction, I’m Scott Hunstad, from Sydney, Australia, previously from Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been involved with the TCG scene for about ten years, and have recently launched the Australian/NZ Vs. System site VsParadise.com. From this position, I’m perhaps uniquely able to view a cross-section of both the Australian Vs. community and the individual players.

Barring the $10k Sydney event coverage, Australians are fairly unknown in the world of Vs. System. In fact, Australia has traditionally been neglected on the world-scale of TCG markets. We’re far away from “everywhere”, except perhaps Japan, and for us, travelling to high level events requires so much time and expense that it’s rarely done. That is, until now. We’re coming to PC Anaheim in (relative) force. At the moment we have nine confirmed players coming across, and with a few more PCQs taking place before the big event, that number could increase. At the first PC in Indianapolis, when Vs. was still a fledgling game in Australia, we only had a single competitor! This was the always-present-and-usually-welcome “The” Ben Seck, who fared well with a seventeenth-place finish. His performance inspired us to do better. In fact, I’ll make a call and say that I’d be quite surprised if there isn’t at least one Australian in the Top 8 of the PC. There’d better be—it costs a hell of a lot to get there!

The Sydney Scene

Sydney is currently the hotbed of Vs. play in Australia. Who gets the most players for events is a toss up between Sydney and Melbourne, but the Sydney players definitely take the game more seriously than any other city in the country.

Sydney is on the receiving end of many a PCQ. You’ll see below that some of the players coming over to the PC have four or five PCQ Top 8s to their name. The allure of the PCQ check has definitely swayed some of the more prominent Magic: The Gathering players in our community to take the plunge into Vs. with no regrets.

In Sydney, we have always had a big Sealed Pack community. We draft a lot. I began drafting DC Origins just one week after the set was released. By then, some of our guys had already drafted the set over a dozen times. With most of the serious players here having over a hundred drafts under their belts, we’re looking for positive results in the Sealed Pack portion of the PC. Four of the Top 30 Sealed Pack players in the world call Sydney home.

So, what can you expect from us? From a Constructed standpoint, we are generally not originators of decks. We net deck with the best of them, though, making modifications to support our local metagames. From the Sealed Pack side, we read the coverage of the first PC with glee as we critiqued draft picks and card valuations. Optimistic? Perhaps. The cards will be on the table at PC Anaheim and we will stand or fall accordingly.

The Players

The people below are those who have confirmed they’ll be attending the PC in December. For some of them, this will be their first overseas TCG experience, while others have been to various Magic Pro Tours.

Scott Smith – Sydney


Sealed Pack—1st World, 1st Oceania

Constructed—234th World, 9th Oceania

Scott was one of the earliest Magic: The Gathering converts when Vs. first came to Australia. Known for his boisterous behaviour and inability to hold his tongue, Scott is one of our most prolific drafters. And he wins, as evidenced by his current World #1 rating in Sealed Pack. This will be Scott’s first overseas trip to a TCG event, and in fact his first time on an airplane. Piloting a Common Enemy deck to 27th at the Sydney $10k, Scott has 2 PCQ wins and numerous Top 8’s on his record.

Luke Bartter – Sydney


Sealed Pack—56th World, 5th Oceania

Constructed—512th World, 21st Oceania

Luke started his TCG career playing the Star Wars TCG, way back when. Ironically enough, though his past is littered with dead TCGs, Luke is perhaps the only player on this list who has never touched a Magic card. Luke piloted the lone Big Brotherhood deck in the Top 8 of the Sydney $10k, and has three or four PCQ Top 8s to go with it. Luke is the glue that holds the Sydney players together, and along with Scott Smith, has taught more people how to play the game than everyone else in Sydney combined. He’s truly an ambassador for the game.

Alex Brown – Sydney


Sealed Pack—975th World, 48th in Oceania

Constructed—352nd World, 11th Oceania

Alex’s rating belies his ability, simply because he doesn’t play in many sanctioned events. He prefers to spend his time play testing, reading, writing, and thinking Vs. System. Alex placed second at the $10k tournament in Sydney and has been one of the most vocal proponents of the one-game match system. Alex excels at the minutia of deck building and testing, so look to him to preform well in the Constructed portion of the PC.

Ray Isais – Sydney


Sealed Pack—56th World, 5th Oceania

Constructed—76th World, 1st Oceania

Ray is Australia’s highest ranked Constructed player, with much success piloting his Big Brotherhood build. A poor call for the metagame of the Sydney $10k ended with a 48th place finish. Ray has playtested a variety of decks and will undoubtedly be a force for the Constructed portion of the PC. His past lives include a stint as Territorial Champion for Lord of the Rings TCG. Ray has also made the Top 8 in four or five PCQs.

Chris Foggin – Sydney

Rankings: Unknown

Chris “Foggo” Foggin is one of the proprietors of the Sydney Games Centre (SGC), which is also known as the “local” to more than a few of the players on this list. Chris is well known for his Mojo and straight Fearsome Five decks, and thus tends to take part in the lighter side of the Vs. realm. Ever the character, Chris is also looking to compete at the U.S. WarCry Championships while at Gen Con.

Scott Hunstad – Sydney


Sealed Pack—29th World, 4th Oceania

Constructed—180th World, 4th Oceania

Me. I tend to fit into the Sydney vein by focussing on the Sealed Pack side of the game. Best results include 24th at the Sydney $10k, one PCQ win, and four other PCQ Top 8’s.

Ben Seck – Melbourne (soon to be Sydney)


Sealed Pack—21st World, 3rd Oceania

Constructed—190th World, 5th Oceania

Ben is a well-known personality on the TCG circuit. The only player from Australia to compete at the first PC, Ben did remarkably well, with a seventeenth place finish. Ben currently works at a game shop in Melbourne, giving him ample time to refine his game, but will be moving back to Sydney soon. He’s known for his hit-and-miss deck construction tech and his love for all things gaming.


Ross Schaffer – Brisbane

Rankings: Unknown

Ross is the first of two Brisbane players that will be attending, both of whom are relatively unknown to the author. Ross won the Sealed Pack portion of the first PCQ to be held in Brisbane. He is an avid Magic player in addition to Vs. System, and is relatively new to the Upper Deck game.

Matthew Lawler – Brisbane

Matthew is currently unqualified for PC Anaheim, but he’s already booked his ticket. He will try to qualify prior to the event, and if not, he’ll attend the last chance qualifiers at Anaheim. No pressure there!

Paul Ross – Sydney

Paul is coming to the event via Judge Sponsorship. Paul was Australia’s first Level 2 judge, with a nearly perfect 99 percent on his examination. Enthusiastic in his position, we’re proud to have him along.


James Kong – Sydney

James made Top 8 at the Sydney $10k with Fantastic Four Burn, using, of all things, Focused Blast to force through extra damage. James is undecided about making the trip

Those Staying Behind

As much as they’d like to, not everyone has the time and/or the means to travel so far for the event. The following people could easily have been on the above list, were their circumstances slightly different.

Ben Kreis – Ben took the Sydney $10k by storm with his GK/Fearsome Five deck (a.k.a. Fearsome Knights, a.k.a. KnightLight). In a Top 8 filled with seven Sydney players and Ben (Brisbane), he played some incredible Vs., showing that he had an excellent grasp of his deck and what it could do.

David Xu – David is another Sydney Vs. player, currently ranked sixth in the world in Sealed Pack. David has shown some remarkable Sealed Pack prowess, taking decks that “seem” bad to 3-0 wins repeatedly.

Tim He – Tim is, at 16 years old, the Australian National Magic: The Gathering Champion. Tim made the Top 8 of the Sydney $10k after playing Vs. for only two months! His recent trip to the USA for Magic Worlds makes travelling overseas again so soon unviable.

Howard Mak – Howard finished unlucky ninth on resistance at the Sydney $10k, using his pet favourite, Fantastic Four beats.

Egidio DeGois – Egidio is the biggest Spider-Man fan I know. Egg is qualified via PCQ performances, but his upcoming wedding makes him unable to attend.

Paul Van Der Werk – Paul is co-owner of VsParadise.com (along with myself) and is also getting married the month prior to the event, in his words, “if I still want to be married.” He’ll have to give this PC a miss.

These guys are great players who will undoubtedly make their marks on the world Vs. System scene in the future.

And there you have itthe ins and outs of the Australian Vs. community. We will be the unknown factor at the upcoming PC, but we’re serious about this game, and we hope to post some results to prove it!

For more on Australian Vs. and some great articles about the game, visit Scott’s website, VsParadise.com.


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