Emotions, when so many accomplishments are on the line, can run high through players that are passionate about what they are part of. When it isn't about the prize, but rather pride of saying that you are the very best.
Eric Froehlich, a long-time Magic player who vividly remembers when he was first introduced to the game, has had an absolute roller coaster of a year, with emotions running high all throughout. Starting off the season with a new perspective on how to handle his emotions is what led to a shift in attitude from Froehlich, as he sought the advice of friends and observers on how to overcome the sometimes swingy nature of playing at the top level.
2015 World Championship Competitor Eric Froehlich
"My first experience playing Magic was in the fall of 1994," Froehlich fondly recalled. "Some kids in my fifth grade class were talking about it and I convinced my dad to go to the local comic book shop and buy a Revised Starter Kit (basically two starter decks, or six boosters nowadays with a bunch of basic lands). The rulebook was too complicated for me, so my dad read it and taught me—as a ten-year-old—the rules of the game."
"My entire fifth grade class used to play on all the breaks, but by sixth grade it was only myself and a couple other kids still interested. I would go to local tournaments and really enjoyed the competition and trying to outmaneuver those many years my senior."
With the fire igniting early for Froehlich, it was no surprise that he moved quickly into the realm of competitive space.
"My first professional level event was one of the first ever Grand Prix that were held," Froehlich recollected. "It was in Washington, D.C., in 1997, not too far from my home. Day One was Mirage/Visions Sealed Deck and I managed to scrape my way into Day Two, which would be my first taste of Rochester Draft. I loved it and navigated my way to the Top 8. Unfortunately, my family's move got delayed until the weekend of what would have been my first Pro Tour—a Junior's Pro Tour—but the fire was sparked."
"My dad took me to the Origins convention in 1999 where I was able to take down a 219 player PTQ—a fairly unheard of size for that time period—and Pro Tour London 1999 would be my first actual Pro Tour. I can't remember too much about it except for the thrill of playing my favorite game on the world's biggest stage. I started the tournament 1-1-1 before rattling off a few wins in a row to clinch Day Two [PT days were seven rounds in 1999]. I cashed in that tournaments and made it my mission to keep qualifying for Limited Pro Tours, and eventually Constructed as well."
Froehlich never spent much time away from Magic, with some of his closest friends and memories all associated with the game.
In the span of the 2014-15 Premier Play season, Froehlich would go on to put up an incredibly consistent series of finishes at each Pro Tour, including a Top 8 at Pro Tour Fate Reforged, and he also managed to win his first Grand Prix title alongside friends and teammates Luis Scott-Vargas and Paul Cheon.
The solid season and shift in his mentality towards starting off a tournament in rough shape has led to Froehlich becoming more involved than ever in Magic. He now regularly provides content for ChannelFireball and is also the co-host of the Constructed Resources podcast alongside Marshall Sutcliffe. All of this culminated on a mix of emotions at Pro Tour Magic Origins, where Froehlich started off 0-3 and seemed to be in jeopardy of losing his 2014-15 Player of the Year lead, only to rattle off a ton of wins to finish in 19th place at 11-4-1.
While Froehlich ultimately lost the title in a narrow race with Mike Sigrist, thanks to his friend's finals appearance at the Pro Tour, the weekend featured two major highlights for him. It was the first time he ever commentated at a Pro Tour thanks to his booth appearance on Sunday, a dream he has held for years.
His lifelong accomplishments and newfound approach to the game solidified him as one of the three players who will be inducted this year in the Pro Tour Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Froehlich has made it to the World Championship before, but the trophy has eluded him. Now, he'll get another shot at winning Magic's greatest title. One thing is for sure: for Froehlich, it is far more about the pride than the prizes.
The 2015 Magic: The Gathering World Championship takes place in Seattle, Washington, during PAX Prime on August 27, 28, and 30. To learn more about this year's competitors, head over to the 2015 World Championship Competitors page, and check back every weekday leading up to the World Championship for new profiles on each of this year's competitors.