Round 5: Eric Froehlich (Black-Green Delirium) vs. [6] Reid Duke (Red-White Vehicles)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 14, 2016

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Pro Tours are full of amazing battles. Sixth-ranked Reid Duke and Pro Tour Hall of Famer Eric Froehlich found themselves in one such showdown early at Pro Tour Kaladesh.

Both were among the household names in Magic. Duke, former Magic Online champion turned pro player, had earned two Pro Tour Top 8s and four Grand Prix wins from his 18 Top 8s there. With a finalist finish at 2013 Worlds as well, Duke was well on his way to a Hall of Fame resume. Froehlich had an even more impressive record, earning his way into the Hall of Fame with four Pro Tour Top 8s.

Both entered the round undefeated thus far, but one was going to have to walk away with a loss, and the first bump on the path to potential Top 8.


Both Reid Duke and Eric Froehlich had amazing resumes, and both were looking to maintain their undefeated streak in the first day.

The Decks

Vehicles were an engine in the new Standard, standing as a breakout deck from the first major tournament with Kaladesh. Duke's plan was straightforward but potent: Smuggler's Copter and Fleetwheel Cruiser were powered by creatures like Depala, Pilot Exemplar and Veteran Motorist, ensuring by land or air that the deck has plenty of powerful attackers. With more aggressive creatures and burn spells to round out the pressure, speeding away to victory was the road the deck expected to take.

Froehlich's deck was a holdover from before Kaladesh hit Standard: Black-Green Delirium. With aggressive creatures like Grim Flayer and Gnarlwood Dryad followed up by Smuggler's Copter, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Black-Green Delirium could pressure and play the long game through the graveyard.

And both Liliana, the Last Hope and Verdurous Gearhulk were lurking about too.

The Games

Froehlich led off with Servant of the Conduit into a third turn Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet as Duke considered how to approach with an active Smuggler's Copter. Looting into Pia Nalaar, Froehlich's Kalitas ensured his life total stayed higher than Duke's despite the aggressive deck's plan.

Harnessed Lightning tried to clear Froehlich's Grim Flayer, but Blossoming Defense ensured it instead turned Pia Nalaar into a Zombie token. Swinging back with everything, Froehlich dropped Duke to just 4 life.

While Duke valiantly looted away with his Copter again, it wasn't enough. Verdurous Gearhulk sealed away the game for Froehlich on his next turn.

Duke had Toolcraft Exemplar into Thraben Inspector to start off their second game, but paused to use his clue to find a third land. Froehlich's Smuggler's Copter, crewed by Servant of the Conduit, looked to tip the scales, but he also was stuck on just two lands. Duke's Fleetwheel Cruiser put Froehlich down to just 4 life on the next attack, and again the Hall of Fame player failed to find a land.

Another Fleetwheel Cruiser let Duke send in both copies, and after Grasp of Darkness and the Copter blocking, Froehlich hung on at just 1 life. Again, Froehlich failed to find a land and Duke then sent three creatures in, enough to even the match up.

The third game was similar to the first. A second turn Smuggler's Copter ensured Froehlich would have an excellent attack to follow, with Catacomb Sifter providing the Scion crew to do just that. Duke too had Smuggler's Copter—his piloted by Thraben Inspector—and a second Copter to follow.

Someone was going to steal away a victory in the skies.

Another Catacomb Sifter joined the fray for Froehlich, pushing Duke down to 11 life in their race. Duke slowed down slightly, and only had a lonesome Copter to attack with before adding Pia Nalaar to his side.


Duke surveys his position.

Froehlich was undeterred, sending in both copies of Catacomb Sifter alongside his Smuggler's Copter. Duke's untapped Copter lifted off to stop a Sifter, but still fell to 6 life despite blocking. After scrying and using Evolving Wilds, Froehlich cast Ishkanah, Grafwidow with delirium to fill the battlefield with Spider tokens.

Declaration in Stone cleared away Froehlich tokens, and Duke left his army back to block. Casting Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet before combat kept Froehlich in the driver's seat as his Copter and Ishkanah attacked.

Both of Duke's Smuggler's Copters and Thraben Inspector jumped in front of Ishkanah. Despite all the Copter action, Duke kept discarding spells and not playing any more lands. He hovered at just three.

Froehlich, however, seemed to be happier with his Catacomb Sifter triggers.

"I can barely beat you if you keep scrying to the top!" Duke exclaimed as, again, Froehlich knew what he was drawing next.

"Both of these cards are really good!" Froehlich admitted, pointing to his hand.

Duke again waited for Froehlich's attack, and discarded a land—Inspiring Vantage—as he put his Copter in the way of Froehlich's. With Blossoming Defense, Froehlich came out on top. Facing an army of Zombies and far fewer blockers, Duke relented.

"You got me," he said, extending his hand.

Duke 1 – Froehlich 2

 

Reid Duke - Red-White Vehicles

Eric Froehlich - Black-Green Delirium

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