Brad Barclay won the Zendikar Rising Championship with Azorius Control, defeating Autumn Burchett on Mono-Red Goblins two matches to zero in the Grand Finals.

Barclay entered the Top 8’s Historic double elimination bracket as the third seed after 16 rounds of swiss, split between seven rounds of Standard and eight rounds of Historic, while Burchett entered as the first seed. Both players made their way through the upper bracket and met in the upper finals, where Barclay won two games to one, knocking Burchett down to the lower bracket finals.

Andrea Mengucci, whom Burchett had defeated in the first round of the Top 8, worked his way through the lower bracket with Four-Color Midrange to meet Burchett in the lower finals for a rematch and a spot in the Grand Finals. But history repeated itself and Burchett triumphed once again to advance to the Grand Finals.

The completed Top 8 bracket at the Zendikar Rising Championship. (Wizards of the Coast)

The Grand Finals

Barclay and Burchett met for their rematch in an exciting all-British Grand Finals.

In Game 1 of Match 1, Burchett got off to a good start with a Herald’s Horn and plenty of pressure. They fought through multiple well-timed Wrath of Gods to get Barclay down to two life, but Barclay drew a key Absorb and multiple Shark Typhoons to take control of the game.

Burchett again had a nice start in Game 2 while Barclay couldn’t find an early board sweeper to level the field. Burchett drew a key Herald’s Horn to power through the mid-game and overwhelm Barclay in Goblins to even the match at one game apiece.

Barclay kept a borderline hand with two lands and plenty of interaction to begin Game 3 and was able to find the vital third land right away. He answered Burchett’s threats as they played them, forcing Burchett to lean on their two Herald’s Horns to try and match Barclay’s Blue-based card advantage. The Horns did great work but Barclay had a Disdainful Stroke for Burchett’s Muxus, Goblin Grandee and an Absorb for Krenko, Mob Boss to prevent them from pulling ahead. Barclay built his own army of flying Sharks to overpower Burchett and take the first match.

In Game 1 of Match 2, Burchett again got off to a good start but stumbled on mana and couldn’t deploy enough threats to consistently pressure Barclay’s life total. Barclay had the early Wrath of God to keep himself in the game and pulled too far ahead before Burchett could find enough lands to cast their most powerful spells.

Game 2 saw Barclay counter all of Burchett’s early threats, though their luck turned around when they resolved a Herald’s Horn into Goblin Matron to tutor up a Goblin Chieftain. That Chieftain combined with Krenko, Mob Boss to quickly pump out an army of Goblins while Barclay was stuck with a land-heavy hand. Barclay found a Wrath of God on the top of his deck to clear the board but Burchett had a Muxus, Goblin Grandee in reserve, instantly making another army of Goblins and allowing Burchett to climb back to even in the second match.

In the decisive Game 3, Barclay again had an early wrath to answer a good start from Burchett—this time a Shatter the Sky—and a Disdainful Stroke for their follow up Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Barclay untapped and played Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, which put him in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game. Burchett, who was empty handed at that point, had a few windows in which they could have resolved a Muxus, Goblin Grandee to try and make a game of it, but they continued to draw and play lands, allowing Barclay to go the distance with Teferi and a 5/5 flying Shark token to win the game, match, and the Zendikar Rising Championship.

This was Brad Barclay’s first top finish and his first victory. He finished the tournament without losing a single match in Historic—winning all eight rounds of swiss and all five matches in the Top 8. He is the first Scottish winner of a premiere Magic tournament and second Brit, which he accomplished by defeating the only other British champion, England’s Autumn Burchett. Their Top 8 at the Zendikar Rising Championship was Burchett’s second top finish after winning Mythic Championship I in 2019 to become the first Brit to win a major tournament.

Standard and Historic Withstand the Spotlight

The last time we saw both Standard and Historic share the stage at Magic’s highest level, at October’s 2020 Season Grand Finals, Omnath, Locus of Creation was busy dominating both formats. Player morale was at an all-time low and that point and the event resulted in Omnath’s ban in both formats, as well as the banning of Lucky Clover and Escape to the Wilds in Standard.

Since then, Standard has settled into a pretty diverse metagame through two League Weekends. Gruul Adventures continued to be the most popular deck at the Zendikar Rising Championship, making up 23.9% of the field, but it never felt dominant at any point during the weekend. It was followed in popularity by Mono-Green Food at 17.4%, Dimir Rogues at 16.8%, Temur Adventures at 10.9%, and Dimir Control at 10.3%.

The Standard metagame at the Zendikar Rising Championship. (Wizards of the Coast)

Likewise in Historic, the metagame seems to have found a sort of balance without Omnath tipping the format’s scales. Sacrifice strategies and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath continue to be the most popular archetypes and made up 30.4% and 28.3% of the field, respectively. Brad Barclay’s Azorius Control was the fifth-most popular deck choice for the weekend at 4.9%.

The Historic metagame at the Zendikar Rising Championship. (Wizards of the Coast)

Deck Lists

Historic Azorius Control by Brad Barclay (1st Place)

Planeswalkers (6)
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Narset, Parter of Veils

Spells (14)
Wrath of God
Aether Gust
Disdainful Stroke

Artifacts (2)
Grafdigger’s Cage

Enchantments (12)
Shark Typhoon
Cast Out
Baffling End
Search for Azcanta
Lands (26)
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Irrigated Farmland
Castle Ardenvale
Castle Vantress

Sideboard (15)
Narset, Parter of Veils
Timely Reinforcements
Mystical Dispute
Baffling End
Shatter the Sky
Essence Scatter
Disdainful Stroke
Dovin’s Veto
Seal Away

Historic Mono-Red Goblins by Autumn Burchett (2nd Place)

Creatures (31)
Conspicuous Snoop
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Matron
Krenko, Mob Boss
Muxus, Goblin Grandee
Skirk Prospector
Wily Goblin
Goblin Warchief

Spells (3)
Shatterskull Smashing

Artifacts (4)
Mind Stone
Herald’s Horn
Lands (22)
16 Mountain
Castle Embereth
Phyrexian Tower

Sideboard (15)
Goblin Ringleader
Goblin Trashmaster
Irencrag Feat
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Gempalm Incinerator
Goblin Cratermaker
Herald’s Horn

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