(Metagame Archives) The Australians are Coming!

By Scott Hunstad

A year ago, I did a bit for Metagame.com about the Australian players who would be coming over to the second Vs. System PC in Southern California. It was an embryonic time for the game—it had been launched earlier that year and had taken up in Australia six or eight months prior. The support UDE had shown for the game in Australia and New Zealand was phenomenal and spurred on what would be the largest Australian attendance at an overseas professional level event to date. Last year, ten Australians came across to test their mettle against the best Vs. players in the world.

This year, we’re bringing twelve. And a few Kiwis, as well.
As Australians, we are fortunate that Vs. System was supported since the beginning. Australia has had no shortage of $10K events. In the last year, we’ve had four here and one more in New Zealand. We’ve been the guinea pigs on a number of occasions, too—we had the first $10K with one-game matches, the first Sealed Pack $10K, and recently, the first large scale team event.

We reckon we can play with the best in the game, and our PC performances support that; in every PC that an Australian has attended, we’ve had at least one person in the Top 20. We expect So Cal this year to be no different.
The Sydney Scene

 

Australia is a fair bit different than the US in terms of population centers. Here, we basically have five major cities of 1,000,000 people or more—one in each of the major states. After that, it drops off considerably to very small towns. What this means is that most of the gaming done in Australia is done in one of five or six places. For Vs. System, Sydney is the competition hotbed. Some of the more serious players attend two or three different Hobby Leagues each week in addition to weekend and PCQ tournaments. The focus for Sydney-siders has always been Sealed Pack. In the lead up to the last year’s PC So Cal, the boys drafted Web of Spider-Man and Man of Steel dozens of times. This time with Avengers, it’s no different. I’ve personally done about thirty Avengers Drafts, and I’m certainly not the most prolific. We’ve also had two Sealed Pack $10K events in Australia and New Zealand this year. With five Australians in the Top 20 world Sealed Pack rankings and four of those five making the trip, we expect some pretty good results on Day 2.

In fact, last year on Day 2 at So Cal, I was waiting for the pairings to be posted when I overheard two guys talking at the next table. It went something like this:

Guy 1: “How’d your draft go?”

Guy 2: “Yeah, I thought it went pretty good, but there was an Australian at our table, and they’re really good at Draft.”

Not sure if the guy ended up playing the Australian (Luke Barter, incidentally), but Luke did end up winning that pod.

Who Are We?

This year, there are some familiar faces in our ranks, as for many of us, this will be our second or third PC. Los Angeles is perhaps the ideal location for a US-based PC for us because it is only a thirteen hour flight. Win or lose, we’ll be heading to Vegas afterward to see where our luck takes us!

So, which Australians are coming across? You’ll find out below. I’ve listed their ratings (if in the Top 200 in the world) and accomplishments. I’ve also listed their various Vs. forum names, as you may know them that way. If you’ve never met us before, make sure you come and say hi at the event, and if you see anyone trying to get a pickup Draft together, that’s probably one of us.

Luke Barter – “Like”

 

Sealed Pack: 11th World, 3rd Oceania

Constructed: 159th World, 7th Oceania

Results: PC So Cal Top 32, PC Amsterdam Top 32, three $10K Top 8s

Luke was quite successful at both of his previous PC appearances, finishing in the 20-somethings at each event after solid performances in both Constructed and Draft. With another three $10K Top 8s under his belt, he is definitely one of the most successful Australian Vs. players. Luke has a very methodical play style and a love for all things Brotherhood, both of which have served him quite well on a variety of occasions. Never without a joke, Luke is the clown of the group.

Alex Brown – “Uly”

 

Sealed Pack: 6th World, 1st Oceania

Constructed: 215th World, 11th Oceania

Results: PC Indianapolis 14th, Auckland Sealed Pack $10K winner, four additional $10K Top 8s      

Alex’s thoughts about Vs. System are available at multiple Vs. sites around the globe. As prolific with his results as he is with his words, Alex is perhaps Australia’s best known player. His $10K results are second to none with a first, three second, and one third place finish across both Constructed and Sealed Pack events. Alex revels in the minutiae of deck construction and theory and will happily discuss or debate a single card change for hours. He’s looking to build on his recent success at PC Indianapolis.

Scott Hunstad – “ssteven”

 

Sealed Pack: 8th World, 2nd Oceania

Constructed: 81st World, 2nd Oceania

Results: PC Amsterdam 4th, three $10K Top 8s

This would be me. After a depressing 76th place finish at PC So Cal last year (for those unaware, money goes down to 75th), I bounced back with a Top 8 at Amsterdam and a few sprinkled $10K Top 8 first-round exits. Between playing and co-running Vs.Paradise, I spend a fairly significant amount of time on this game, as my wife can surely attest.  

James Kong – “Kongy”

Sealed Pack: 55th World, 9th Oceania

Constructed: 185th World, 9th Oceania

Results: Four $10K Top 8s

This will be James’s second PC experience, and he anticipates better things this time around. James is a very solid performer with four consecutive $10K Top 8s under his belt, each with a different deck! (Okay, so one was Sealed Pack . . .) James came to Vs. from the HeroClix/Comics realm and Vs. is his first TCG, which makes his results all the more impressive.

Paul Van der Werk – “vanwolfgang”

Sealed Pack: 169th World, 24th Oceania

Results: Two $10K Top 8s

Paul is known locally for a number of things, including co-owning Vs.Paradise with myself, his love of the X-men, and dropping from the Brisbane $10K Top 8. This will be Paul’s second PC this year; he narrowly missed Day 2 in Amsterdam. Paul has run the gaming gambit with a varied past that started with miniatures and board games and progressed on to TCGs. You can judge Paul’s level of commitment to the game by the fact that he had a Vs. Draft at his bachelor party. We didn’t even let him win.

Andrew Corney – “cornstar”

Sealed Pack: 17th World, 4th Oceania

Results: Two $10K Top 8s

Andrew is a seasoned TCG player and probably the only person on the list besides me who has been playing cards for more than ten years. Having forsaken other games to follow Vs. System religiously, Andrew will be making his first PC appearance at So Cal. In the last $10K in Australia, Andrew managed an 8-0 performance on Day 1, and he has since been eagerly testing a variety of Constructed theories.

Randall Hughes – “TheDarkKnightReturns”

Sealed Pack: 73rd World, 14th Oceania

Constructed: 190th World, 10th Oceania

Results: $10K Sydney Top 8      

Randall, Randall, Randall. Randall Hughes is perhaps the most locally-traveled Australian Vs. player; he makes frequent trips to other cities to compete in PCQs. But not for the Pro Circuit Credits, as he is sitting comfortably on 50. Randall is very meticulous in his approach to Vs. System, and his commitment to the game has been paying off.

Anthony Macali – “migga anthony”

Sealed Pack: 146th World, 21st Oceania

Results: $10K Brisbane Top 8      

Anthony is coming to represent the Melbourne Vs. scene. He’s the only player coming over to PC LA who made the jump to Vs. from Yu-Gi-Oh, and he is looking to prove that such a venture can be done successfully. One of the most successful Sealed Pack players in Melbourne, the twenty-year-old Anthony is also the youngest of those making the trip. As the legal drinking age in Australia is eighteen and he won’t be twenty-one until a month after the PC, he’ll be woefully restrained during our post-PC Vegas trip.

Kieren Otten – “honest”

Sealed Pack: Classified

Constructed: Classified      

Kieren is one of the owners of the Sydney Games Center in Sydney. He is perhaps the most vocal supporter of the Arkham Inmates that this game has now, or in fact ever will have. Earlier this year, he piloted his AI deck to a 6-4 result at $10K LA, narrowly missing out on the money, and he will be bringing the Loonies to the PC this time in an effort to prove to the world, Joker-style, that Arkham will dominate the emerging metagame.

Ross Schaffer – “Raider”

Ross is the lone Canberran representative attending this PC. He made his first appearance at So Cal last year and has been itching to go again to improve on his performance. Ross has a fairly extensive TCG history and has brought that experience with him to Vs. System.

Sam “The Hammer” Kassis – “Sam K”      

Even though Sam isn’t even close to being the oldest in the group, he’s definitely taken on the role of the father figure and kept everyone else in line. Sam is a consummate gamer—TCGs, RPGs, LARPs . . . you name it. This will be his first PC appearance.

Paul Ross – “MPM”  

Last but certainly not least, a nod must go out to Paul Ross. Well known for his Cerebro column here on Metagame.com, Paul has attended every PC since last year’s So Cal as a judge and has done a fine job representing Australia in that capacity. He’ll be looking to do so again this year. Make sure you ask him what MPM stands for!

And then there are a few guys who are not coming who you may be familiar with:

Scott Smith – “Cool Zero”

Scott is in the process of finishing up his degree in teaching and therefore will not be able to attend. Scott was the highest placing Australian finisher at last year’s PC So Cal (20th) and spent a considerable amount of time ranked number 1 in the world in Sealed Pack.

Danesh Jogia – “djogs”

Danesh had a woeful start at PC Amsterdam. He went with the X-Statix gambit when the rest of us played MK concealed. After a 2-5 start, he managed to win thirteen of his next fourteen rounds to go from narrowly making Day 2 to finishing in the Top 32. Danesh is quite busy pursuing his Mathematics PhD with a side of WoW, and therefore won’t be attending.

Ben Seck – “TBS”
Ben has had a big year with respect to Vs. System and now spends his time in San Diego working for the company that makes this fine game. He’ll certainly be around this year, but obviously in a different capacity. That’s okay, as he was never really much good at the game anyway.

So there you have it—the ins and outs of the Australian Vs. community. We’re looking forward to having some good games this weekend!

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