Autumn Burchett spent the night before the Top 8 thinking about it. They felt the pressure and knew the impact their winning or losing on Sunday would have on many people's lives. It made one of the most nerve-wracking moments of their life even harder, and Burchett admitted they spent the night agonizing over the stakes and woke up the same.
That is, until they sat down to actually shuffle decks.
"My best ability in Magic is shutting out everything else and just focusing," Burchett explained. "I've really trained to be that way because I used to struggle with nerves, and I noticed it had an effect on my results. I wanted to play the Top 8 the same as any other round."
That meant shutting out all possible distractions, and outside of a key mistake early in the finals, Burchett was able to do just that as they completed a historic run through the Top 8 of the first-ever Mythic Championship. Then, the weight of their accomplishment seemed to hit them all at once—literally. Burchett's friends tackled them to the floor as they shared their joy over a win that would reverberate far beyond the confines of the Mythic Championship in Cleveland.
Burchett's victory was the first title of this caliber for any member of the trans or non-binary community, and as all of those concerns from Saturday came rushing back, they were well aware of the power something like this held. After all, similar strides by Burchett's predecessors had paved the way for them to make it this far.
"It was so meaningful to me when I started playing to know that Melissa DeTora had Top 8'ed a Pro Tour," Burchett recalled. "It showed me that maybe there could be a home in the game for me too, and I just hope this has the same effect for someone. "I was at dinner the night after winning, and I got a nice message from someone about how much it meant to them, and I just erupted into tears. So many people have reached out to say that because of my victory they feel more comfortable with themselves or are comfortable coming out at their LGS. Every time I see one of those messages, it just overwhelms me a little bit more. It's another step in the direction of being inclusive." What can't be lost in discussing the impact of their win is not just that Burchett won, but how they won. Burchett was a known master of the newly resurgent Mono-Blue Tempo deck, and their decisions throughout the tournament proved to be consequential and correct time after time, including a Top 8 run that included dispatching Reid Duke in the semifinal mirror match and left no doubt Burchett's victory was one for the ages. For anyone who has followed the two-time defending English National Champion, it came as no surprise. Next up is the Mythic Invitational March 28–31, and Burchett is already anxious to begin play.
"I remember when I first read the email about being invited—I was streaming, and I had to keep dead quiet and not react, but at the same time I wanted to tell everyone because it's such a big deal," she said. "It's an exhibition tournament and it's exciting and I'm really happy to be chosen."
It may seem like it's been somewhat of a meteoric rise for Burchett—from underdog English champion to the winner of the first Mythic Championship and player to watch at the Invitational—but they've been a force on the European circuit for years. That said, it's no coincidence that winning Mythic Championship I coincided with Burchett deciding recently to pursue Magic full-time. The creation of the Magic Pro League—whose members will battle against Burchett and 31 other challengers at the Invitational—has offered a path to making Magic a realistic career goal, and Burchett has their sights set on earning a spot next season.
That road began with their win at Mythic Championship I, and Burchett is ready to make some more Magic history at PAX East.
"Winning the Mythic Championship and trying to get to the MPL, that was always part of the plan, but now it's actually plausible; it's incredibly validating and gives me a bit more confidence in myself that the work I've put in paid off," they said. "I just love competing, and to play against the very best and most well-known players at that level with those kinds of prizes is always going to be exciting. I can't imagine a Mythic Championship I go to and don't feel that rush, and this is the same feeling."