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The Zendikar Rising Championship Match

December 06, 2020
Corbin Hosler

After three days, 15 swiss rounds, and an all-star Top 8 bracket, the Zendikar Rising championship match was set.

On one side was the Magic Pro League player many consider to be the best technical pilot in the world in Autumn Burchett. On the other was Brad Barclay, with his first Top Finish, looking to complete his perfect Historic run at the Zendikar Rising Championship.

Autumn Burchett

Brad Barclay

Burchett, a two-time national champion of England, won Mythic Championship I last year in a thrilling victory. She was looking to earn a second title after netting her second straight Top Finish, but Barclay was making a little history of his own: he was undefeated on the Historic format side of the event, with a perfect 10-0 in matches across Swiss the the upper bracket of the Top 8 with his Azorius Control deck.

He had already defeated Burchett's Goblins twice: once in the Top 8, and earlier in the Swiss rounds too. No one could count Burchett out, but Barclay was ready to become the last one standing.

Match 1

In the first match, both players traded resources in their openers. Barclay leveraged Aether Gust and Cast Out to keep the board clear, while Burchett resolved Conspicuous Snoop to try and pull value off the top of their deck. The value kept coming as Burchett forced off the battlefield a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, then played creatures in hand to rebuild after the Wrath of God Barclay used to try and stabilize.

Momentum was firmly in her favor as Burchett attacked Barclay down to just 5 life. But a second Wrath of God sent both players looking to the top of their deck for help—and opened the door for a comeback. England's two-time national champion found Goblin Chieftain to attack Barclay down to 3 life, but another Wrath of God and an Absorb for Barclay—as Burchett drew lands—decided the game as Barclay's slow Azorius deck turned the corner and never looked back.

The next game, however, was a clinic in how to win with Goblins. Burchett applied early pressure while building up late-game engines, and the combination kept Barclay off-balance as he sought to answer multiple threats with single target answers. In the end, it went as most Goblins victories do: with a massive swarm of attacking creatures overrunning the opponent.

It was a critical victory for Burchett, evening up the score to try and deny Barclay the chance to secure an early match lead.

The final game took an ironic turn, as it was Burchett that had card advantage in the form of double Herald's Horn—a key innovation to Goblins in the maindeck that provided Burchett a steady stream of extra cards throughout the game—while Barclay took to the air with an early Shark Typhoon creature token.

Herald's Horn Shark Typhoon

The extra cards taxed on Barclay's resources in hand, but with 23 life and Grafdigger's Cage providing him some protection but he had a double-shot of his own way to attack for the win: two copies of Shark Typhoon to go with six mana gave Barclay plenty of options.

This time the control deck that took ages to end the first game went aggressive and cycling a Shark Typhoon to make a 4/4 that stymied Burchett's attacks and pressured her life total. When Burchett's next turn failed to yield a way to confront the army of flying sharks, she conceded the first match of the championship to Barclay.

It was Barclay's incredible 11th straight match victory with Azorius Control in Historic, and he now stood just one away from finishing the tournament with Historic perfection.

Match 2

Burchett wasn't the only championship competitor who included, in their main deck, cards typically left in the sideboard. In the first game of the second match, Barclay deployed Grafdigger's Cage and limited the options Burchett had available. With a Wrath of God to follow up, Barclay found himself in control of the game as Burchett struggled to find a fourth land.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria soon followed, and the longer a fourth land failed to appear the further Burchett fell behind. When a key Censor stopped Burchett's Goblin Matron before Barclay added a second Absorb to his hand, the writing was on the wall. A couple turns later Barclay was just a single game away from claiming the championship title.

The first decision point of the next game came on the third turn when Burchett faced the option of passing the turn doing nothing or running a Goblin Chieftain into mana that represented Censor in Barcley's hand.

Goblin Chieftain Censor

Throughout their matches, Burchett had played around Censor with steadfast dedication. She chose to lean into the explosive potential of her Goblins deck and held back to deny opportunities for her opponents to use the card as an early counterspell.

This time they opted to go for it rather than pass up using their mana, and Barclay was ready with the Censor. Then he had an Absorb for the next threat, though it did mean the second copy of Herald's Horn in Burchett's hand resolved.

Wrath of God

But there was another problem for Barclay: his hand was a copy of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and five lands. Without an answer for Burchett's next round of creatures, Burchett burst onto the battlefield with Goblin Chieftain and Krenko, Mob Boss to quickly fill the board. Facing a lethal attack, Barclay needed to find Wrath of God within the two possible cards he could draw.

Cycle Shark Typhoon.


Draw step.

Wrath of God.

The perfect draw for Barclay gave him a moment to breathe, but Burchett wasn't out of threats yet. She went for it all with Muxus, Goblin Grandee, and the army-in-a-Grandee did what it usually does—put lethal attackers onto the battlefield.

Burchett was finally on the board in the finals, and needed to undo the damage done by dropping their first set through taking this third game from Barclay.

Players again traded resources early, with Cast Out removing the dangerous Herald's Horn while Burchett got out ahead of any possible Grafdigger's Cages by landing Goblin Cratermaker. Goblin Chieftain and Krenko, Mob Boss followed, knocking Barclay down to 10 life on the swing. Wrath of God bought him time, but also tapped him out and gave Burchett a window to cast Muxus—if it could come right now.

This time, it did not. Burchett sacrificed a pair of Mind Stones to dig deeper, but all that just became a Goblin Chieftain. It was enough to knock Barclay down to 6 life before it was exiled to Baffling End.

That sent Burchett back to the top of their deck, looking for any chance to close the game out. While Muxus, Goblin Grandee was waiting, Barclay had Disdainful Stroke ready to take it out.

As Barclay filled his hand activating Teferi, Burchett drew a disappointing string of lands. A few attack steps later and Brad Barclay was crowned winner of the Zendikar Rising Championship.

Barclay was no stranger to representing Scotland on the international stage, having played on several national teams at the World Magic Cup events in previous years. In those moments after his incredible victory, his thoughts went first to his local community and fellow Scottish countrymen.

Congratulations again to Brad Barclay, the Zendikar Rising Champion!

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