Posted in NEWS on March 22, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

Round 8 of the tournament, a match between a pair of players with 6-1 records. One will guarantee himself an opportunity to compete on Day 2, while the loser will face a bubble match in the last round. It's the difference between fighting to set yourself up to make a run at the Top 8 and fighting just to make Day 2.

That's the position Eric Froehlich and Abel Jacoby found themselves in Saturday evening, which may explain the stoic attitudes before the match.

The decks

You may have seen David Ochoa and his not-quite Mono-Black Devotion deck on coverage this weekend. The mono-black deck has been a mainstay on the tournament circuit, but it's only recently that players have begun to truly add a second color instead of simply a few scrylands.

Well, it turns out that Froehlich is the mastermind behind the list, and has found success maindecking Lifebane Zombie and Rakdos's Return while sideboarding powerful red options in Slaughter Games and Sire of Insanity.

"I'm the one without a job, so I've played the most Magic in the last week," Froehlich said. "Ochoa is playing my 75 this weekend."

To make room for the red cards, Froehlich cut what has been one of the stars of Mono-Black Devotion in recent months but something he feels is no longer pulling its weight.

"Pack Rat is not very good right now," he explained. "The red cards are good against control, but they're also in the Mono-Black mirror."

On the other side of the table was another mono-black deck, though it was one that really couldn't be any further on the other end of the spectrum. With cards like Tormented Hero and Rakdos Cackler, Jacoby's plan is obvious: reduce the opponent's life total to zero and quickly as possible.

Abel Jacoby shuffles up his Mono-Black Aggro deck for a match against the Br Devotion variant that has been doing well today.

The games

Consider Jacoby's goal. Now consider that he scooped up his cards while still at 19 life and without Froehlich ever attacking, and you can probably figure out from there how things went for Jacoby in Game 1.

Jacoby and Froehlich traded Thoughtseizes in the early turns, but the only creature Jacoby ever saw was a lonely Pain Seer, which met with an early downfall. That may explain why, at 19 life, he conceded in the face of an Underworld Connections that drew Froehlich five cards and stacked the pro's hand with removal spells and Gray Merchants of Asphodel.

"I conceded early because I thought it was possible he wouldn't know what I was playing," Jacoby explained. "Maybe he sideboards in the wrong cards if he thinks I'm playing Mono-Black Devotion."

If Froehlich was surprised when Jacoby led off Game 2 with a Tormented Hero, he didn't show it, and the Drown in Sorrow in his hand confirmed that there wouldn't be any surprises today.

"You don't usually play a bunch of expensive black cards and Pain Seer," Froehlich said. "I put him on aggro and boarded that way."

No free wins were had, but a great game was. Both players traded discard and removal spells for the first few turns, but an unleashed Thrill-Kill Assassin presented a problem that Froehlich couldn't handle with his 2/2s.


A flurry of trades and removal spells later, and somehow the board ended up clear with Froehlich sitting at two life and Jacoby at a precious one, numbers that weren't going to go anywhere but down thanks to Jacoby's Erebos, God of the Dead. A game that had been lively suddenly slowed as each player searched for a threat. Froehlich found those threats in Desecration Demon and Mutavault, but Jacoby found the answers in Hero's Downfall and Ultimate Price.


A few more turns of draw-go and it was Froehlich who finally found the game-ender in Whip of Erebos. The Whip immediately returned a Desecration Demon, which turned sideways and wrapped up the match.

Froehlich's win alongside Ochoa's means the two players sit at a combined 15-1 with the deck heading into the final round, positioning the variant for a strong run in Day 2.

Of course, that's still a long way away.

"It doesn't mean anything yet," Froehlich reminded us — and himself — as he stood up from the table.