ROUND 14: CHRIS FENNELL VS. BEN FRIEDMAN

Posted in NEWS on May 25, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

For No. 18 Ranked Player Fennell, one additional Pro Point will lock him into Platinum once he attends Pro Tour Magic 2015. However, a second-place finish or a win would do him even better, giving him Platinum before he event gets to the Pro Tour, a huge upgrade to an already stellar position to be in.

For his opponent Ben Friedman, more points before the last Pro Tour of the season are always welcome. The Baltimore pro is sitting at 28 Pro Points right now, and a few more points would be critical in bringing Platinum into reach with even a Top 25 finish at the next Pro Tour.

The Games

Friedman led off with Oreskos Sun Guide into Kragma Butcher, while Fennell started with the Golden Hind into Daring Thief. Satyr Rambler joined Friedman's creatures, while Fennell added Nyxborn Triton to the table. Friedman sent in his inspired Kragma Butcher on the next turn, which warranted a Retraction Helix, tapping the Daring Thief, from Fennell. Friedman paused for a moment, wary of the impending inspired trigger from the Thief, and settled on Eagle of the Watch post-combat.

Fennell inspired his Daring Thief, swapping his Nyxborn Triton for the Eagle of the Watch. Vulpine Goliath hit play, with Friedman's best follow-up being the re-played Kragma Butcher. The Goliath's twin came down after an attack on the next turn. An attack from the two oversized vulpines forced a triple-block on one of them from Friedman, with Fennell taking out the two three-toughness blockers. Friedman dropped to 6.

No. 18 Ranked Player Chris Fennell

A bestowed Nyxborn Triton on the surviving Vulpine Goliath was more than enough to lock up the first game on the next turn when Fennell sent in his team. Friedman managed to survive the attack with a Mortal's Ardor, going to 1, but with Fennell's gargantuan Vulpine still around, Friedman conceded to Fennell's board on the next turn.

Friedman's start was faster in the second game with Deathbellow Raider into Eagle of the Watch. Fennell's first play, a third-turn Nessian Course was enchanted with Oppressive Rays, allowing Friedman to continue his assault. Akroan Skyguard gave him some flying offense, so despite Fennell's Desecration Plague to free up his Courser, he was in good shape. Tethmos High Priest followed suit, while Fennell dropped Daring Thief into play.

Two-Headed Cerberus looked like it would be enough to hold back Fennell's Daring Thief, but when Fennell went for the attack, Friedman blocked with the Cerberus and the High Priest. Hubris bounced the High Priest, and when Friedman had no tricks, the Cerberus went down.

"I want them all!" Fennell said, as Friedman dropped Stoneshock Giant into play on the next turn. When his Daring Thief triggered, he was content on taking the Eagle of the Watch in exchange for Nyxborn Triton. Friedman sent in his Giant and Akroan Skyguard, trading flying creatures and using Divine Verdict to take out Fennell's freshly played Vulpine Goliath when it blocked. Fennell sat at 5.

The Daring Thief attacked again, and Fennell reloaded with Anthousa, Setessan Hero. Friedman's Spear of Heliod allowed him to attack, throwing the Nyxborn Triton he was given into Anthousa, while the Stoneshock Giant ate Nessian Courser. Fennell quickly untapped and traded his Daring Thief for the Stoneshock Giant.

Ben Friedman

With Fennell now possessing the larger board, Friedman was at a disadvantage despite the Spear of Heliod. He could choose not to add to the board, leaving mana open for the Spear while Fennell created a larger board. His other option was to play a creature, knowing it won't match up against Fennell's options. He chose the latter, casting Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass. The Cyclops traded with Fennell's Stoneshock Giant while the Agent of Horizons got in for 3 damage after Fennell used its effect.

Friedman, with his opponent at 5, played his own powerful heroic creature with Akroan Conscriptor. However, Friedman sat at 13, which became 9 after Anthousa rumbled in for 4 on the next turn. He only had a few points to deal, but his time was running out, as Fennell added Ravenous Leucrocota to his growing board on the next turn.

When he had no heroic enablers on the next turn, things started to look grim for him. He cast Kragma Butcher and hoped for the best. An attack from the Leucrocota and Anthousa forced a double-block from Friedman, trading Conscriptors for the Leucrocota. Spear of Heliod let Friedman take out Anthousa in retaliation to the attack, and when Fennell had no follow-up, it was clear he was drawing lands. Friedman re-cast his Tethmos High Priest and attacked with the Butcher, dropping Fennell to 2.

When no creature made its way from Fennell's deck into his hand on the next draw, Fennell no longer had the ability to out-race Friedman with the Agent of Horizons. A pair of chump-blocks on the next turn later, and Fennell packed it up for the third and final game...

...which started off with Fennell going to six cards, and Friedman keeping a one-lander on six.

When Friedman passed without a land on turn two, the match looked all but over. Oppressive Rays slowed down Fennell's third-turn Agent of Horizons. Friedman's first creature of the game, Akroan Skyguard, was quickly dispatched with () into Hubris, and when Friedman had no reasonable follow-up, he offered the handshake.

Fennell 2 – Friedman 1