This Saturday 27th January, 7 Point Highlander committee founder Glenn Doyle will be welcoming players to the National Highlander Championship at CanCon 24: A tabletop game convention at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). At 150+ presale tickets already sold this event is slated to be history’s most attended 7ph event, with all players vying for not only thousands of dollars in prizes but also the prestigious title of 10th National Highlander Champion.
10 years is a long time to be hosting a premier event of this caliber but 10 years is only half the story.
“In the dim, distant past of 200 and…something, the first proto-nationals was held at Magic Nationals, run by Dr David Lowe. At the time, Canberra and Melbourne had their own separate lists, and both sides were very sure their list was the best, so Dave decided the best solution was just to average them together, in a way which made sure everyone was motivated to ensure that never had to happen again. This is where our current committee structure had its origins, with Dan Unwin, Glenn Doyle, Isaac Lee and Anatoli Lightfoot forming that first group.– Andrew Vance, Committee Alum
After that, it became a fixture of Nationals, and a common event at Cancon; Not nationals as we know it, but recognisably a predecessor.”
“Yeah CANCON as an event is older than Magic itself by a lot, the magic portion of it I think dates back to like 1996 or thereabouts, and we’ve had Highlander events at CANCON for I would say almost that long (since way before it was 7 point Highlander anyway). And previously the Highlander “national championship” was held at Australian (Magic) Nationals when that existed. So you’re talking about the 10th anniversary of the 7PH national championships being held at CANCON“– Anatoli Lightfoot, Committee Founding Member
Although this years winner will be the 10th National Highlander Champion, Glenn has been hosting highlander since the late 90s and CanCon has been the location for at least 6 years prior to the trophy’s cast in gold.
Long after our sleeves need replacing and our memories grow fuzzy we look to the trophy to remember our Champions past. 2015 was our second year with the trophy, passing from Canberra’s Jacob to Aidan. Thus begins the golden age for Canberran highlander.
The field was awash with blue decks, archetypes like Blue Moon, “Wan-Chin Red”, as well as Dark Bant/4c Kurgan all enjoying Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise at 1 point each. I went for the much more conservative option of “Chris Addie Jund”, a popular choice for newer players (I bombed).
Previous Champion Aidan brought Grixis Control and still swears by the power of the original Highlander, Boldwyr Intimidator.
In a top 8 of Blue Moon, Blue Moon control, Dark Bant and Blue Moon again, Lachlan Ward-Smith rose to the top with Elves. The Peoples Champion. I don’t have that picture but here he is the year after at the Australian Highlander Nationals with the same deck which really ruined my search results.
2017 was the first year we were able to witness the tournament-ending handshake on footage thanks to Paragon Games. With Ward-Smith defending his title all the way to the end it was Chris Addie on the fabled “Chris Addie Jund” that beat the previous 3 winners to claim the Trophy and keep it in the nations capital.
Decks looked mostly the same as previous years with the exception of Yidris Pile, cascading into Brainstorm gave a fresh look to Blue.
I decided to go back to my previous love and GP grinding companion, Reanimator. (I bombed).
Aidan stayed true to Grixis Control this year, but our Intimidator is looking a little washed up.
CBR MTG’s first year providing coverage for 2018’s CanCon gives us another opportunity to see the handshake after a top deck Ajani Vengeant seals the deal for Committee member Anatoli Lightfoot playing Jeskai Tempo against returning Yidris enjoyer Dylan Brown.
Sensei’s Divining Top was shadowbanned at 1 point and 7ph judges collectively breathed a sigh of relief. When Nationals came to Canberra in 2019 John Highlander had nothing better to do than celebrate!
At the end of the tournament it was frequent Top 8 placer and Sydney-sider Justin “Juzza” C that took the title and trophy from Canberra. Now begins the “RUG Lyf (Tempo)” Era.
There was also a Beyblade Tournament. (I bombed)
Things started to get a little hazy after that, there were discrepancies regarding the power level of some new tutors
When the 2018 National Highlander Champion challenges you to eat a card you better get your knife and fork. Thankfully I lived to tell the tale.
The Canberrans were starting to get smoked out of Top 8s by the Blue Shirted Elemelbourne Blasters (BSEMB). But of course it was Juzza again with RUG Tempo taking out the crown. Time Walk at 3 points was causing a stir in the community and something had to be done with this nimble mongoose.
After some intense negotiations RUG was pointed hard and Scheming Symmetry was back off the points list and the world was realigned.
Wow what a great year of highlander it’s been! Webcam tournaments picked up in popularity but we are all happy to have a two day CanCon event to name the 2021 and 2022 champions!
Juzza beats Jarrod in a RUG mirror finals for day one and South Australian Robert Lark takes out day two.
We would say the 2021 winner wasn’t able to hang on to the trophy for long but Juzza was gracious in the handing over of the trophy after 3 years in possession.
Doubling the players from the year prior, 2023 promised to bring the winds of change and 88 player Championship. The Trophy now rests in the rightful hands of Canberran Josh with Naya Initiative, beating out Ben on Grixis in the finals.
This year it’s up to Josh to defend his title and we wish him the best of luck! We’re all going to need it with 8 rounds of straight spell slinging.
When I asked people about there favourite memories leading up to the 10th year of Trophies, it was interesting to hear people reactions. It’s always a cliche to say but many players come for the magic, many come for the gathering. I’m thankful we can come for both.
“Vance and I both played in the very first highlander, no points list no banned cards except ante. I think from memory Luke De Saily was the winner. He was one of the best players in Canberra then.
The format was created by David Evans with help from Ben Newman, Marcus Cassar and Merlyn Evans. Marcus ran the first event with Michael Fagan at the Deakin Bridge Club. After the first event which was pretty much if you had power then you won, it was decided we needed a points list which the above mentioned people created.
I remember about 2003 is when Anatoli came to us and said the format is stale the points are wrong and offered to fix it with Tristan Gall and Paul Battum, these three were powerful wizards so ok.
Their list revolutionised things.– Glenn Doyle, Committee Founding Member
Isaac Lee who had been at uni in Canberra moved back to Melbourne and took the format there. It did really well with his drive and soon the cocky Melbournites were claiming the list was wrong and they were the best in the format.
This was proven wrong incorrect by the tenacious Canberra crew in continually beating the Melbourne crowd.
It was soon decided we should have a committee, there should be 2 from Melbourne and 2 from Canberra and one from each should be a store holder. So Issac and I were the store holder people and Anatoli and Dan Unwin were the 2 players.
Canberra seriously has always batted above its weight for strong players
Tristan and Paul
Imagine playing in a draft with these names? You barely won a game!
Still really strong with players like Dillon, Jim Wilks and plenty of others.“
After seeing Glenn’s comments it becomes clear that the trophy is important for telling the story but the people who make up the gathering is the most treasured part of any tournament experience. And I’m looking forward to many more CanCons to come.
See you on the battlefield!