Two of the game's titans in a metagame-defining matchup. Both in the Top 25 Ranked players. Froehlich with three Pro Tour Top 8's. Rietzl with four, including a win at Amsterdam in 2010. They're also teammates on Channel Fireball. This weekend, Froehlich is playing Mono-Blue Devotion. Rietzl is with Mono-Black.
"I will snap keep." - Eric Froehlich
"Alright, let's do it." - Paul Rietzl
"It's true. My range here is fairly broad."
"Rietzl minutes ago swore on his life he has never mulliganed a hand with a scry land, ever."
Froehlich's draw was almost ideal. He followed his Raptor with a Tidebinder mage and then Thassa, God of the Sea after Rietzl played an ineffectual Pack Rat. Rietzl added Nightveil Specter to his board and passed. Froehlich didn't have a fourth land, but a second Cloudfin Raptor meant he could hit with Thassa, then he evolved both his fliers with Frostburn Weird.
Now that Froehlich's God was active, Rietzl's options were dwindling. He Thoughtseized, and Froehlich turned over Master of Waves and Domestication. Rietzl just shrugged in despair. He decided to take Domestication and play it out. The game didn't last much longer. Froehlich attacked with Thassa again, not bothering to make it unblockable. Rietzl thought for a moment before deciding to take it. Froehlich turned over the fourth land he had drew and played the Master of Waves. That was enough for Rietzl.
Froehlich 1 - Rietzl 0
As they sideboarded, Froehlich jokingly asked Rietzl if he knew how to sideboard for the matchup.
"Let's just say that Matthew and I have been talking."
"That's Matthew of Castle Sperling?"
Rietzl nodded. "His theories are... avant garde."
Rietzl looked at his opener and theatrically snapped his fingers. Froehlich kept as well. The early turns played out with almost every threat from Froehlich met by an answer from Rietzl. Judge's Familiar fell to Devour Flesh. Nightveil Specter met Hero's Downfall. Master of Waves died to Pharika's Cure. Only Frostburnn Weird was allowed ot stay on the table.
Rietzl finally tapped out on his own turn to put down a Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Froehlich played Cloudfin Raptor and a Master of Waves for four tokens. When Rietzl took this last out with Doom Blade, all Froehlich could say was "Heavens." Rietzl also had another Devour Flesh. Froehlich sacrificed Frostburn Weird, keeping his flier. Both players were down to just one card in hand.
Froehlich untapped. "How about one time?" He drew and played out his hand of two Frostburn Weirds. Still another Devour Flesh from Rietzl. Froehlich animated Mutavault and sacrificed it. Now both players were empty-handed and playing off the top. Froehlich drew island, played it, and attacked all-out. Rietzl blocked one Weird with Gray Merchant and a Mutavault. Froehlich pumped to kill the Merchant, and spent the rest of his mana on extra damage on the unblocked Weird.
Rietzl untapped and drew, then immediately put down Nightveil Specter. He passed the turn.
"Cmon justice!" said Froehlich as he drew his card
"No! No justice!"
It was Bident of Thassa, tipping the balance back in Froehlich's favour. His 3/4 Cloudfin Raptor now giving him a card as it attacked. Rietzl hit back with his Specter and scored a land off the top of Froehlich's deck, but still had no way to stop the Raptor. Worse, Froehlich drew Domestication to steal the Nightveil Specter. Rietzl extended the hand.
Eric Froehlich defeats Paul Rietzl 2-0
"Close one," joked Rietzl, "I played my heart out."
"I agree. No-one has more heart than you."
Later I asked Froehlich about the matchup. He had this to say:
"I think if you have average players playing average builds of both decks, it's a little in Mono-Blue's favor. If you have an average player against Owen playing Mono-Black, then it's in Mono-Black's favor. If you have an average player against Sam Black playing Mono-Blue, then it's in Mono-Blue's favor. There's a lot of play, and the games vary with the different draws."
I also asked Paul Rietzl about Mono-Black's game post-board. He said that you want to bring in extra removal, because if you can stop their pressure, then Mono-Black has a lot of cards that let them get way ahead.