Lessons Learned at the Zendikar Rising Championship


After a less than stellar 0-4 drop at the Zendikar Rising Championship, it's time to reflect upon mistakes made, so you can learn from them as well. Indeed there's plenty opportunity for improvement, both in preparation and execution. Here's a brief tournament report, of sorts, for a brief tournament.

The Tournament

The Championship began at 6 p.m. CET, which is not my favorite time to start a tournament. The first three rounds were Historic, where I played the Black-Red Sacrifice list I shared in my previous article. The only other round I played was Standard, were I ran Monogreen Food.

Format-Specific Insight


woe strider

I lost all three Historic rounds 1-2, playing against Four-Color Midrange (Turbo Pig), Goblins, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand. Specific gameplay mistakes that cost me were:

I believe the version of Black-Red Sacrifice I played was fine, but I think I overestimated Skysovereign, Consul Flagship's power and underestimated the deck's overall clunkiness, running eleven three-drops and multiple cards costing four or more. Going back I'd cut the 25th land and the top-end cards from my main deck, shave some Woe Strider, and try to get a bit more lean.

Angrath, the Flame-Chained was a card my sideboard should likely have had, but apparently I was not explorative enough while testing. Speaking of exploration, I wish I had found this deck:



In the one Standard match I did play before dropping I was up against Temur Adventures Ramp with Obosh, the Preypiercer, which I believe to be the toughest matchup for Monogreen Food.

I assume that the version of Monogreen Food I played was okay. It even did make the Top 8 in the hands of Tomáš Pokorný. Though overall, the archetype underperformed slightly, and that was in part because people adapted the way they should. Changes I'd make are the removal of the sixth six-drop, as those were a bit too clunky at times, probaly removing a Feasting Troll King, and trying to get an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon somewhere into the 75.

However, going into future weeks of this Standard format, I believe people should play less Monogreen, specifically because Autumn Burchett's Gruul version (listed below) is destined to be popular. Their main-deck inclusion of Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display seems like a change that turns one of Food's favorite foes into an unfavorable matchup.

Broader Lessons

Enough with the more format-specific analysis. I believe there were multiple issues I need to work on for future tournaments that go further than just the slight misbuild of either constructed deck.


First, I probaly should have taken a nap the afternoon before the tournament. I usually go to bed two hours before Day 1 would have concluded, assuming I don't drop. I already noticed how my play became worse at around 9 p.m. If I don't fully adapt my my sleep schedule, then I at least should have tried to get some extra hours before the tournament.


I always assumed I would naturally get better at most Magic-related things simply through more experience. That this is not true all the time is pretty obvious, but it got me good in this tournament nonetheless. Before this tournament I was pretty adept at just focusing on the round at hand, not thinking about how I "should" do in the tournament and all such nonsense. But now, with me trying to make Magic my livelihood, or at least entertaining the possibility, I put pressure on myself, even if unconciously at first, and that's no good.

I will have to work on myself on that end, trying to go from round to round always playing my best. I should not lose sight of the match at hand over things I can only influence through the outcome of just that match.


After reviewing my matches and realizing my technical or strategic errors, I need to work on those as well. In a broader sense this means I should and will try to be more critical of the heuristics and automatisms I use. Additionally, as I always seem to have time left on the clock at the end of a match, this might even mean playing a bit more slowly to think things through.

The next Qualifier Weekends are coming quickly, and I'll have to try to implement these changes in my process in time. I hope I'll be able to report some success in that regard.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

1 Comment

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FunkyMonkOrginale(15.12.2020 09:05)

Thanks for the insigths, and good luck in future tournaments.