Peter Wellman reports on the match between Brad Barclay and Autumn Burchett, which was a close control-versus-aggressive matchup
At the November Magic The Gathering Zendikar Rising league weekend, Scottish player Brad Barclay went undefeated in an historic victory.
He faced off in a close final against fellow Brit, Autumn Burchett, with two off meta decks.
Brad entered the final top 8 with Autumn as the top seed and Brad as the seventh seed, with two very different decks.
They were the only players in the Historic top eight not playing a blue/black/green midrange deck or a four colour midrange variant, which included white.
Brad, in the top eight, brought the St Andrews Cross to the table with blue/white control. His deck was able to control out the slower midrange decks and had board sweepers for faster creature-based decks.
Brad was able to pivot matches around Wrath of God’s and very versatile answers, including Cast Out, a singular copy of Aether Gust, and then Shark Typhoons as win conditions.
Also, most of the deck drew itself. Censor, Cast Out and Irrigated Farmland all can be cycled for one or two mana to draw an appropriate answer. It can also find an answer quickly, being able to filter through its deck as most of the cards draw other cards.
Autumn, on the other hand, went down the aggressive route into a control room, just as Autumn did at the Magic Arena 2020 Grand Finals.
What was a sort of secret weapon in the deck was the Herald’s Horn. Added in jumpstart, this two mana artefact is a card draw engine that many of the four colour control decks found difficult to answer – both on board and in hand.
Autumn had to choose between an artefact which would draw more goblins, or the goblins in hand that could lose the game there and then.
The Brits first met each other in the upper bracket, where Brad beat Autumn in a close 2-1 series. Then both of the off-meta players made a winning run, Brad in the upper bracket, who asked the question: does my opponent have an answer for a Teferi Hero of Dominaria?’ Regularly, the answer was no.
Autumn, in the lower bracket, asked the question: do you have an answer for about 40 goblins? Regularly, the answer was also no.
The deck’s synergy and surprising amount of card advantage meant that it played out like a combo deck, creating a board of twenty power (or more) out of nowhere.
The finals in the top 8 were close. It wasn’t a case of a loss before the game began, but the control deck is favoured against the board-based creature aggressive/synergy deck. Brad’s deck matched up very well against the aggressive deck.
Brad won the first best of three off the back of copies of Absorbs and a 4/4 Shark blocking a Goblin Chieftain. Cast Out’s were one of the few tools that weekend that Brad used to deal with the Herald’s Horn that had been drawing so many cards for Autumn.
Autumn managed to take round two when Barr conceded after Autumn drew Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Brad didn’t have a counterspell and thereby conceded knowing the royal goblin would have been his end.
Also if you are wondering, outside of MTG, a Grandee is a member of Spanish or Portuguese royalty, not a goblin.
Then round three was a classic control win. Going into the the second best of three, it was another back and forth before Brad’s draws matched up better than Autumn’s. Brad won with a Teferi and attacking with a 5/5 flying shark after running Autumn out of cards.
Congratulations to Brad on his win and $15,000 prize, bringing a solid deck archetype and being able to beat the four colour good-stuff decks. The next tournament is in a month, and we hope to see both players take their top spots again. Will Autumn get a second major tournament win, or can Brad Barclay make a consecutive win?