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.
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.
In the first match, both players traded resources in their openers. Barclay leveraged
Momentum was firmly in her favor as Burchett attacked Barclay down to just 5 life. But a second
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
The extra cards taxed on Barclay's resources in hand, but with 23 life and
This time the control deck that took ages to end the first game went aggressive and cycling a
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.
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
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
Throughout their matches, Burchett had played around
This time they opted to go for it rather than pass up using their mana, and Barclay was ready with the
But there was another problem for Barclay: his hand was a copy of
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
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
This time, it did not. Burchett sacrificed a pair of
That sent Burchett back to the top of their deck, looking for any chance to close the game out. While
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!
Congratulations to #ZNRChamps winner Brad Barclay!— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) December 7, 2020
Barclay maintained his perfect Historic record with his rogue Azorius Control deck, and went from being the champion of Scotland's heart to champion of Zendikar Rising. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/F8QQZsdOlz